Taking the Fields of Glory: GAA and COVID

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

Another stalwart of Cleveland GAA is west bound for work.  We wish Chris Weimer the best of luck and look forward to our paths crossing once again.  Chris began playing in 2011 with the St. Pat’s club anchoring the middle of the field with spectacular catches and distributions.  He was instrumental in Pat’s turn-around to a winning club as they garnished Midwest titles in 2014 and 2015; a national runner-up in 2013 and a national championship in 2015. 

Chris also picked up two all-stars with the Midwest Division and multiple Player of the Year with Cleveland.  His presence off the field was equally impressive embodying the GAA volunteer spirit at every event Cleveland hosted – we may have to use some of that fundraising dollars on a flight back home if we need a ringer, wink.  Safe travels, slán abhaile (safe home), agus go n-éirí an t-ádh leat a chara (and may good luck be with you, friend). 

As it goes, we say goodbye to one and welcome another.  Congratulations to Lindsey and Steve Pepin on the birth of their daughter, future duel code sensation, 2040 ladies’ footballer of the year, 2039 camogie scorer of year, Mila Gianna Pepin. She has already recruited her cousin, Emilia.  What a bright future!  Congrats again to the Pipe and Trotter clanns.    

Around the Midwest for October, the Akron Celtic Guards will host their Annual Al O’Leary hurling tournament on the 17th.  Seven-a-side teams are expected from Cleveland, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, and possibly Purdue. 

The following weekend, Midwest clubs will meet in Pittsburgh for the division’s annual general meeting (AGM).  The AGM decides any proposed changes in the byelaws and new officers for the 2021 year.  Current officers provide year end reports, Clubs also provide updates, and development for the upcoming season is discussed. 

Cleveland continues to hold training session for both the youth and adults at the West Side Irish American Club for as long as the weather allows.  To stay fit and active, indoor sessions are being planned as well. 

At the time of writing (first week of October), the big news out if Ireland has been spectacular county championship finals followed by the cessation of all club GAA activities on October 5.  Leading into this week, we have seen countless late time winning scores, extra-time deciders, and replays.  Several counties had clubs end their decades long county final winning droughts which has led to great excitement among supporters.  With the news of Armagh county shutting down activities last week, delays in games due to teams testing positive with COVID, as well as the field-rushing and celebrations at county finals by supporters, headquarters (Croke Park) has flipped the circuit breaker on all activities on the entire island. 

In fairness, Croke park did provide warnings to all that post-game celebrations had to meet COVID guidelines the week before the shutdown.  Adherence to guidelines can hardly be controlled by Croke Park or even some county boards, and many have noted that the real issues are not seen with crowds at the match, but rather at in-town celebrations after.  Likewise, the spread of COVID has not been related to field play, but rather social gatherings, carpooling, and school interactions.  It is a real heartbreaker for many club players as 11 counties have not completed their championship – some being delayed due to later starts when their counties were still in lock-down. 

Players may now have to wait until mid-December when the intercounty league and championship are done.  The actual dates will depend on when each county is knocked out of the championship, and as always, what COVID level each county is at this winter when spikes are expected.  A level 4 or 5 will shutdown club play.         

100th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday
The GAA are also commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the Croke Park Bloody Sunday.  On November 21, fourteen civilians lost their lives when British forces opened fire on players and 15,000 spectators during the “the great Challenge Match” between Tipperary and Dublin.  This autumn, Croke Park is releasing each week a remembrance video for every person: William Robinson (11 years old, shot while sitting in tree overlooking the field), Mick Hogan (24, Tipperary player), Jane Boyle (26, due to be married later that week, shot while holding the arm of her fiancée), James Teehan (26, publican, crushed in crowd near Cusick stand), James Mathews (38, father, shot while scaling wall at the northeastern corner of the grounds), James Burke (44, crushed in crowd at St James avenue), Daniel Carroll (31, shot on the street after fleeing the grounds by a police truck), Michael Feery (40, WWI veteran, shot), Tom Hogan (19, shot in shoulder and later died of wounds), Patrick O’Dowd (57, shot after helping others over the wall), Jerome O’Leary (10, shot while sitting on the Canal End wall), Tom Ryan (27, shot in back while whispering the Act of Contrition to the dying Mick Hogan), John William Scott (14, shot in chest),  and Joe Traynor (20, shot twice in the back while fleeing over the Canal End wall).  Is cuimhin linn iad. 

Go raibh míle maith agaibh (thanks y’all) to our readers and supporters.  We need your help and involvement, but would most like to share the fun of Irish sport and Cleveland community with you.  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 for all ages. 

Follow @ClevelandGaelic on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the 2020 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 (11), Bernadette (9), and Cedric (6), 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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