Irish Football and Hurling: Midwest Gaelic Athletic Association Monthly Highlights

Taking the Field of Glory: GAA Monthly 
Midwest Gaelic Athletic Association
By Vincent Beach

It was a big weekend for Cleveland GAA on December 7th,  down at the Flat Iron Café.  The club held its annual general meeting, where officer reports were provided – all reported that the club was in good health and growing.  There was only one motion on the agenda and that was officially expanding the board membership to include a registrar and Ladies’ representative.  It was passed unanimously. 

The next order of business was election of officers.  The 2020 board, lending credence to the growth of Ladies Football and new players on the Men’s team, is: Chairperson Vincent Beach, Vice-Chairperson Maura English, Secretary Amelia Kaylor, Registrar Tom Beach, Treasurer Daniel Kampman, Public Relations Officer Marcelina Sladewska, Ladies’ Representative Sarah Dunn, and Men’s Representative Chris Greggila. 
The Youth Board will be holding their meeting in early January to elect the Youth Officer.  The Cleveland GAA believes in renewal of leadership and thus has a 5-year term limit per position.  This encourages new involvement.  


A special thank you to Tom Beach for 5 years of service as Secretary.  During his tenure, the club saw the amalgamation between St. Pat’s and St. Jarlath’s, the growth of the youth program, the development of a second men’s team, and the resurrection of the ladies’ team. 

Within the USGAA with whom the secretary is the primary contact for the club,  Tom guided all the registration from a paper-based system to the new online system.  As noted above, we are happy to have him continue this renewed registrar’s position as the club’s size now warrants a dedicated officer to help new players, new arrivals, and the USGAA tournament registration processes. 

Rule Changes 
Through the GAA Congress, all football will now include the following changes: 
1)  the “forward mark”:  Players and fans have become familiar with ‘the mark” introduced a few years back for kick-outs that are cleanly caught beyond the 45 meter line by either the offense or defense.  It is now being referred to as the “defensive mark.” 

The new mark has been termed the “offensive mark” or “forward mark”.  This mark shifts the play forward for clean catches made inside the oppositions 45-meter line.  The clean catch will be rewarded with a free kick just as with the defensive mark.  Again, players can choose to play through the mark or signal to the referee that they wish to take the free. 
If the ball is caught within the 13-meter line, the free is brought back to the 13-meter line.  Good luck full backs! 

2) The “Sin Bin”:  Remember that these rules apply to football and not hurling.  In lieu of the black card for cynical play resulting in the sending off of a player for the remainder of the game, the player will spend 10 minutes off of the field.  Re-entry is reserved for a stoppage of play. 
The offending team will still play down a player during those ten minutes.  Upon a second black, or a yellow card, then a black card, the combination still results in a red card (player ejected and team plays down). 

3) Kick-outs.  The kick-out line once again changes from the 13-meter to the 20-meter line. In addition, the ball must travel 13 meters in the forward direction before being touched by a player.  Players must be beyond of the 20-meter line and outside of the D (not often found on USGAA pitches). 

USGGAA Rule Change
Subject to ratification by GAA HQ (aka Croke Park), the USGAA approved motions at the November USGAA Convention in San Diego are expected to go into place by the end of January.  One important item for local play is the limitation on home-based players (Irish players who now reside in the club’s area) at the Junior C level for men’s football.  The limitation is for three home based players on the field at one time.  There are options for teams with many home-based players to compete at higher grades (Junior A-B, Intermediate, and Senior). 

The Junior C level was once considered the developmental grade but has since become competitive amongst many smaller market cities.  Likewise, Junior D has come into existence to provide all-American teams with a space to compete meaningfully at the USGAA Finals.  The hope with the limitation on certain players (sanctions, home based) is that it promotes and encourages investment in local players – again, at the lower levels of competition. 

Where this becomes interesting is that the Midwest GAA is largely a Junior level division.  The recent USGAA finals found Cleveland against a largely home-based player studded San Diego who deservedly won out the Junior C national championship.  In many respects, players and clubs should strive to be the best, but the question of quantities of sanctions (players brought over temporarily for summer play) and home-based players on the field at a given time is habitually fought over at each USGAA Convention in order that parity be achieved at the national finals. 

UPCOMING 
Cleveland hosts indoor session youth football and hurling from January through April.  See our flyer or visit our website and Facebook page (clevelandgaa.com or @clevelandgaelic) for more information.  Night at the Races – February 15th at the WSIA is the club’s largest, and some say, most fun fundraising event of the year.  It’s always a sellout, so contact the club to reserve your tickets.   

Go raibh míle maith agaibh
(thanks y’all) to our readers and supporters.  Consider getting involved at any level.  Fáilte (welcome) to all.  The Gaelic Athletic Association is Ireland’s largest sporting organization and a bit of home for the Irish abroad here in the US of A.  Beyond sports, the Association also promotes Irish music, song and dance, and the Irish language as an integral part of its objectives. Cleveland GAA is open to all who want to play competitive sports, meet new people, and join an athletic, fitness-minded club. 

Follow @ClevelandGaelic on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the 2019 activities for Men, Women, and Youth.  Or, visit ClevelandGAA.com.

*Vincent Thomas Francis Xavier Beach is a proud Greater Clevelander and emigrant of Michigan.  He joined the St. Pat’s Gaelic Football Club in 1999 and, with much help, is the current caretaker of the Cleveland GAA.  His Irish is a cross of dialects from the University of Cincinnati and An Cheathrú Rua.  With his wife, Michelle, he enjoys watching time absolutely fly by as their children, Ambrose (10), Bernadette (8), and Cedric (5), grow.  His other hustles are teaching Irish at PJs, coaching CYO basketball at St. Mary of Berea, coaching soccer in Olmsted TWP, and slangin’ some engineering skills on local concrete and pipe projects.

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