The Midwest Division was strongly represented at the USGAA Finals in Chicago over the long weekend of August 19ththrough the 21st, sending ten teams. For Intermediate Men’s Football, the Pittsburgh Celtics faced a strong Philadelphia Kevin Barry’s team on Friday afternoon and lost by a mere goal, 4-10 (22) to 3-18 (25). The Pittsburgh lady footballers fared better, handily beating Charlotte 5-17 (32) to 2-0 (6).
The Banshees continued the winning on Saturday, racking up another sound win against Chicago’s Erin Rovers by the score of 7-16 (37) to 1-2 (5). For the Ladies Junior B Championship on Sunday, the Pittsburgh ladies were again in the driver seat, beating the Fog City Harps, 8-8 (32) to 1-4 (7). The Banshees outscored their opponents on the championship run by the score of 101 to 19.
In the Junior C Hurling, the Pittsburgh Pucas saw their toughest match on Friday morning when they faced the Portland Hurling Club (Northeast Division), but Portland was never really close. The final tally, Pucas 5-24 (39) to 4-4 (16). The Pucas continued on Saturday to play Naperville (Heartland Division), winning again with the score of 3-16 (25) to 1-4 (7). Standing in the way of the Pucas first national championship was last year’s Junior D winners, Charlotte James Joyce.
The Joyces had to overcome Columbia Red Branch (2017 national champs) and St. Louis (2004 and 2011 national champs) on their way to the final. But the Pucas finished their business, dispelling the upstart Charlotte team 4-22 (34) to 0-4 (4). If the two Johnnies been there to work the sideline as requested, Charlotte may have fared better.
The Detroit Wolfetones pulled a difficult lottery when they faced Setanta (San Diego, 2007 and 2019 national champs) in the opening round on Friday. The ‘Tones hung close but could not close the final gap, losing 4-7 (19) to 5-10 (25).
At Junior C Men’s Football, the Cleveland Saints faced off Friday against the Denver Gaels. The opening half was nip and tuck with Cleveland in front 2-6 (12) to 1-7 (10). The Saints went on to win 5-13 (27) to 2-10 (16) with a notable (the referee thought so as well) appearance from their veteran and mentor, John Kernan, and three net-rippers from rookie Neil Doherty.
Scores for the Saints came from: Neil Doherty (3-1), Christian Foisy (2-0), Dan Murray (0-3), Ronan Forrestal (0-2), Sam Nords (0-2, 1F), Conor Forrestal (0-1), Jake Altman (0-1), Rhys Quinn (0-1, 1F).
On Saturday, the Saints saw a tighter match against the Worcester Fenians (Boston area). The teams played nearly level through the first half, Cleveland 1-3 (6) to Worcester 1-4 (7). In the final 10 minutes of the second half, the men of the Cuyahoga threatened time and again on goal while playing a man down after lightly given carta dearg (red card) to Ronan Forrestal, but alas, could not catch-up with the Fenians. The final score was 1-6 (10) to 1-10 (13). While Jarlath Caldwell minded the goal and kickouts, Cleveland had scores from: Sam Nords (0-3), Conor Forrestal (0-2), Daniel Murray (0-2, 1F), Christian Foisy (0-1), Rhys Quinn (0-1).
On the Junior C Ladies’ Football-side, the Cleveland Ladies met the DC Gaels and were able to soundly send the capital club out of the tournament by the final, 1-18 (21) to 1-1 (4) while slinging 24 wides. The Lady Saints blanked the Gaels in the first half and Yi Wang had a huge, diving penalty kick save. Scores came from: Sarah Walsh (1-4, 3F), Annie Coyne (0-6), Maureen Mohney (0-5), Marie Murray (0-1), Maggie Sudetic (0-1).
On Saturday, the Saints met a familiar foe in the Milltown Gaels (Milwaukee). The two clubs have gone head-to-head on numerous occasions over the past couple of years at the Cleveland Memorial 7-a-Side tournament and the Midwest Invitational in Detroit. After one half of play, Milltown led by the score of 3-1 (10) to 1-2 (5). In the second half, Cleveland clawed back to end the match 2-6 (12) to 3-2 (11) scraping by into the final. Scores provided by: Sarah Walsh (1-2), Annie Coyne (1-1), Molly Kilbane (0-1), Nikki Kovick (0-1), Claire Forrestal (0-1).
An early Sunday morning saw the entirety of the travelling Cleveland GAA on the sidelines backing their lady footballers against another familiar foe, Indianapolis (again, a well-known opponent from the Cleveland Memorial 7s). After the starting whistle and first offensive strike, Cleveland stymied the Indy kickouts and jumped to a 2-4 (10) to 1-2 (5) half-time lead. The Saints secured their first national title with a final score of 3-7 (16) to 2-2 (8). Scores came from: Maureen Mohney (1-2), Sarah Walsh (1-2, 1PK), Nikki Kovick (1-0), Claire Forrestal (0-2), Angie Dietz (0-1).
At the Developmental grades, The Midwest was represented by Pittsburgh Celtics “B” in football, Cleveland Saints in hurling, and the Cleveland Saints and Pittsburgh Na Laochra in camogie. The Celtics were handed an early defeat by the Cayman Islands on Friday by the score of 0-6 (6) to 4-5 (17).
The hurlers of Cleveland faced Kansas City in the early hours on Friday. Cleveland dispensed of KC Gaelic Athletic Club by the final tally of 3-12 (21) to 2-6 (12).
Saturday, the Saints had to face a familiar opponent with whom they dispensed just a year ago in the Boston finals, Jersey Shore GAA. While being up 8 points in the final 10 minutes, the Saints allowed the Shoremen to bounce back after two quick goals and a point.
In the final minute, Jersey Shore slung over the equalizer. Overtime consisted of two, five-minute halves. The Shoremen pointed two and the Saints one. Jersey Shore went on to win their first national title.
For the ladies, Pittsburgh Na Laochra went to overtime against Charlotte in the Junior B camogie, but James Joyce prevailed by a single point. On the other side of the four-team tournament, Cleveland faced Trinity (Milwaukee) and led at half-time 3-4 (13) to 2-5 (11). In the second half, Trinity was able to score one goal from play and one from a free while Cleveland was held to four points from frees. That’s right, another tie in regulation.
The Lady Saints punched a ticket to their first final when Lauren McLoughlin pointed from a free in the driving rain. Final score 3-9 (18) to 4-5 (17) and Cleveland talliers: Lauren McLoughlin (2F-3F), Yi Wang (1-1), Mary McLoughlin (1F-1F), Casey Sudetic (0-1), Maggie Sudetic (0-1), Nikki Kovick (0-1).
The Saints faced Charlotte James Joyce on Sunday, after most of the Lady Saints had recently hoisted the football cup. The club battled for two full halves, and once again, ended regulation in a tie. Charlotte’s deep pointers were too much for Cleveland and won out in the final. An amazing bracket of games and one of the few brackets of the weekend with parity.
Recap: USGAA Champions from the Midwest: Pittsburgh Banshees (Junior B Ladies Football), Pittsburgh Pucas (Junior C Hurling), and Cleveland St. Pat’s – St. Jarlath’s (Junior C Ladies Football). Comhghairdeas le gach duine.
October Plans. Akron will host their Al O’Leary Hurling and Camogie Tournament on October 1st. Cleveland will host their annual Golf Outing on October 22 – reach out for more information, to schedule a foursome, or to advertise.
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 2022 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 (13), Bernadette (11), and Cedric (8), grow. His other hustles are coaching CYO basketball at St. Mary of Berea, coaching soccer in Olmsted TWP, teaching Construction Management at CWRU, and laying down some engineering skills on local water/wastewater projects.