Taking the Fields of Glory: Midwest Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA)

By Vincent Beach

Midwest News
Another beautiful day for the Midwest GAA family took place at Cleveland’s Memorial 7-A-Side on May 20th. Teams from Chicago (McBride’s, Erin Rovers, and James Joyce), Milltown, Cincinnati (2), Detroit, Pittsburgh (Celtics, Banshees) joined hosts Cleveland (Men-3, Ladies-2) for a full schedule of 28 games.

Presenting the shield and championship cups was the Mulloy Family; presenting the MVP awards was the Dunne Family; and memorializing the day was the Doherty family. Father Pat Spicer joined the faithful at the intermission of the games to remember our departed, especially the Doherty’s, and to bless the players for continued safe competition.

The Men’s final was a familiar match-up in Cleveland versus Pittsburgh. The Celtics once again hoisted the cup. For the shield division, the McBride’s won. On the Ladies’ side, Chicago’s Erin Rovers top the round-robin play over runner-up Pittsburgh Banshees. The Cleveland ladies were tied with Pitt but lost on the goals tiebreaker.

The week prior to the Memorial 7’s tournament, Pittsburgh traveled into Chicago’s 9-A-Side tournament. The Celtics compete at the junior level, beating teams from Milwaukee and Chicago to bring back hardware.

The same weekend, the north division of the Midwest men’s football competition pitted the Albany Rebels against the Buffalo Fenians in Albany, and Roc City Gaelic against the hosting Syracuse Gaels. The Fenians outlasted the Rebels by the score of 1-11 (14) to 2-6 (12), while Syracuse handled the new footballers of Rochester by the score of 7-6 (27) to 3-4 (13). 

On June 3rd the Cleveland men traveled to Xavier University to take on the Cincinnati footballers. The hosts won comfortably by the final score of 6-14 (32) to 3-11 (20).

Pittsburgh hosted a double header of hurling and ladies’ Gaelic Football, when the Fenians arrived. The Pucas supplied their development team but were able to crush the visitors by the score of 9-20 (47) to 0-7 (7).

The Fenian ladies did not fare any better unfortunately; the Banshees ran up the final tally of 8-28 (52) to 0-5 (5). The Fenian men’s Gaelic team was able to bring some joy back home after defeating Roc City in Rochester by the final score of 7-12 (33) to 0-5 (5). 

The final score update for this month covers the June 10th weekend, where Albany hosted a double header, Cleveland men’s Gaelic football hosted the Buffalo Na Fianna, and the Celtics hosted the Wolfetones of Detroit. The Rebels won soundly over Syracuse in football knocking over 12 and netting 4 (29) to the Rebels 1-3 (6).

In hurling, the Rebels went toe-to-toe with Roc City, only to have the match end in a draw 3-20 (29-AR) to 7-8 (29 – RCG). The young Na Fianna team made their 2023 debut in Cleveland but were soundly defeated by the hosts 5-16 (31) to 1-1 (4). And rounding out the weekend, the Celtics proved to be too skillful for Detroit – the final score, 2-7 (13) to 3-17 (26). 

Looking ahead, the Midwest Division has 16 games completed and 30 more to play before the Midwest Finals. Games will continue through June and July, and we will keep you posted. 

The Goalie’s Out Pitt v Detroit

Midwest Finals Cleveland
As you heard last month, the Cleveland GAA has been selected to host the Midwest GAA Finals over the August 5th-6th weekend and will be back to the Barton-Bradley fields in North Olmsted, site of the 2013 USGAA Finals. Joining the Midwest competition this year will be CLG Acla (Achill GAA), to take on the intermediate squad of the Pittsburgh Celtics – the showcase game on Saturday.

The Achill lads will also be accompanied by several members of the pipe band, who will join forces with their counterparts of the WSIA to parade the teams and entertain fans. The weekend will have a festival-like atmosphere, with food and beverage trucks, traditional music from the best players between the Atlantic and the Mississippi, sports, youth games (Saturday), the pipe bands, hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, and fine Irish culture.

The weekend is fast approaching – if you are interested in volunteering, advertising, or sponsoring, please reach out (contact info below). You will be among friends you haven’t yet met. 

West Park Shamrock Rugby
Taking a sidebar from the usual Gaelic Games to share with you some wonderful news from our rugby cousins. My boys became obsessed with rugby after American football season ended. They watched YouTube for longer than I know to learn the skills and rules. The funny shaped ball was constantly being spiraled through the kitchen, dining room, and living room all winter break.

To get the dang ball out of the house and prevent any further damage, we finally reached out to some of our GAA friends that are also involved in rugby. A few days later, the boys were at indoor sessions with the West Park Shamrocks and absolutely loving it. The coaches, players, parents, and community shared their passion, knowledge, and encouragement with the newcomers.

After a few sessions, the outdoor season was upon us. Well, the youngest of mine is holding out another year for tackle rugby, but I was able to follow the oldest as he joined the 7th-8th grade team. The Shamrock club includes flag rugby for the youngest, modified rules for the middles, and tackle for the 7th-8th graders – boys and girls.

The spring season is 7-a-side and played on the all-weather pitches at St. Ignatius High School. Now, I only followed the 7th-8th grade boys (hoping to have some future write-ups on the rest), but they finished out the regular season 9-0-1 against the likes of Rocky River, Highland, Brunswick, Medina, Cleveland RFC, South Akron, Avon Lake, Hudson, Welsh Academy, Vanguard, Shaker Heights, and St. Francis. 

The club then went on to sweep the City Championships and qualify for the State Championships. The boys snuck in a Columbus tournament that they won on May 20th, then were back south in Cincinnati on May 27th for the state tournament. The Shamrocks beat Brunswick, the Eagles of Cincinnati, and their familiar foe, Highland, to win the state title. 

Having then qualified for Nationals, they boys were back at St. Ignatius over the June 9-11 weekend. This time, the Shamrocks went 1-1 on Friday, advancing into the Tier 1 group.  Saturday’s first opponent of Cleveland select players knocked them out of the championship, but they would go on to improve their weekend record to 4-3, including a tournament ending win over Highland.

Final record was 22-3-1 on the season – impressive.  Thank you, coaches, administrators, and the West Park community! 

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  Email [email protected]

*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 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.

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