Taking the Fields of Glory: Irish Sports in & Around Ohio

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

Last month we highlighted the USGAA Convention, so here we have some of the results of the various motions that will be part of the county bylaws once reviewed and approved by Headquarters. Besides the continuous shuffle of how many homegrown players or sanctions are permitted on the field in different codes and grades, there were two motions that did modify the current regulations:

1) any motion defeated at the Convention will no longer be eligible for submission for the following two years, and

2) regrading requests of teams shall be acknowledged by the USGAA and response to the request be returned in writing with an explanation. 

Ten motions were withdrawn by their submitters. The elections: Chairperson Bernie Connaughton (Northeast), Vice-Chairperson Paul Keane (Western), Secretary Liam Maloney (Western), Registrar Tom Lagan (Northwest), Treasurer Tom Walsh (Southwest), Youth Officer Paul Mulcaire (Midwest), Central Council Delegate Paddy McDevitt (Philadelphia), and Honorary President Tommy Dolan (Central). 

In Cleveland, 2021 finished with their awards banquet at the West Side Irish American Club.  Earning his “club cap” this year was Ewan Kearns. 

Ewan practiced everyday in his backyard with his older brother, Ashoka, and father (youth coach), Shawn.   Ewan’s hard work paid-off this season as he dazzled on the pitch throughout the summer with solo runs, passes, and kicks off both feet.  The club is looking forward to his future contributions. 

Player of the Year
The Men’s football team were then recognized for their playoff run.  Earning Player of the Year (POY) was Dan Murray, whose stalwart play in the middle of the field was the launch for many scores. 

Dan Murray (Middle)

Most Improved Player went to the rookie, Jake Altman. Jake came to the club as a former indoor soccer goalie. 

President Vince Beach and Jake Altman

After getting the taste of Gaelic at the Memorial 7’s, Jake worked before and after practice to improve and earn the starting 1 position.  Over the course of the season, he added 20 yards to his kickouts and quickly gained the confidence of the back five. 

Rookie of the Year
Rookie of the Year went to Ryan Bush; Ryan found his niche as a half-forward and immediately entered the starting line-up. His play was a pleasant surprise to the team as he came from a wrestling background and did not have the kicking background that most players have. 

Ladies Gaelic Football
The Ladies Gaelic Football team then took the stage and were presented with memorial medals as they were the first ladies Cleveland team to earn a birth at the USGAA finals – and not only that, win a playoff game.  Leading the team was Player of the Year, Maureen Mohney.  Maureen’s skills continue to impress throughout the Division and Country.  Her on-field leadership was critical to the team’s success this season. 

Coach Dan Murray and Maureen Mohney

Most Improved Player
Michelle Beach was recognized as Most Improved Player.  Michelle was a fitness animal this season and her defensive marking skills became known as “going into Beach-mode,” a word play on beast-mode.  She provided Coach Murray with lock-down defense. 

Coach Murray and Michelle Beach

Rookie of the Year went to Nikki Kovick.  Holy cow she can fly it.  Nikki is a natural athlete and was a target player in all of the Ladies matches this season.  She quickly picked up the skills, grá, grit, and finesse of the game.  The future is bright for Ladies’ Football in Cleveland. 

Next was the recognition of the Hurling Team in their inaugural season.  Coach Margida recapped the season and awarded the players a memorial medal for their drive to the USGAA finals game.  Leading the team was Player of the Year, Anthony Hanley.  Anthony was Mr. Clutch for the team when they needed a point to stem a momentum shift or a goal in the waning minutes of a game to pull ahead. 

Coach Margida and Anthony Haley

Most Improved Player went to Dan Murray, as he locked down the full back line.  So often throughout the season, it seemed Murz had a tennis like ability to return any volley into the Cleveland half of the field from the opposing team.  He even pushed forward for a few sneaky points. 

Rookie Hurler of the Year went to Evan Barry.  Evan was the work horse of the middle in every minute of every game.  He often entered a ruck and popped out the other side with the sliotar. 

Club Person of the Year
And finally, the award of awards – Club Person of the Year.  This year’s award went to a tireless organizer for the GAA in Cleveland, Jim Coyne.  Jim’s commitment to the Club has been relentless as he personally heads up the Memorial 7’s Football Tournament and numerous fundraisers through the season.  He shares his football knowledge with the Ladies Team throughout the summer practices and games as a coach.  At club board meeting, Jim is always there as a resource and his valuable input helps guide the Cleveland GAA forward.  The award is long deserved!  Comhghairdeas leis an uile dhuine! 

President Vince Beach and Jim Coyne

The Cleveland GAA hopes everyone enjoyed their presents of footballs, hurleys and sliotars, and jerseys from Daidí na Nollag.  For January through March, we are working on a few indoor recruitment sessions for new players – it’s a nice balance of learning the game and socializing with the teams.  Stay tuned and reach out on our website – mash the “TRY THE SPORT” button.  Remember, all are welcome, and all belong – youth and adult, new players and veterans, Irish and non-Irish, ladies and men.   

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

*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 (12), Bernadette (10), and Cedric (7), 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 concrete and water/wastewater projects.

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