Taking the Field of Glory: GAA Monthly
Midwest Gaelic Athletic Association
By Vincent Beach
We are getting close… the Midwest GAA schedule will be published within days of the paper going to print, so get the early news online (ClevelandGAA.com). After much discussion of blitz-style weekends last year, where multiple cities would meet in one location for a collection of games, this year’s proposed schedule goes back to a home and away series.
With multiple codes in a few towns now, the blitz is being replaced with GAA Days on a few Saturdays, where each city’s men’s football, ladies’ football, and hurling teams will go head-to-head. The proposed schedule will be debated by each club before the Division finalizes the document.
Right now, ladies’ football includes Buffalo, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh; Hurling includes Akron, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Roc City (Rochester, NY). The men’s football will consist of the three groups: Group 1 w/ Albany, Buffalo Fenians, and Syracuse; Group 2 w/ Buffalo Na Fianna, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh; and Group 3 w/ Cincinnati and Detroit. Cincinnati and Detroit could round out their schedule with friendlies.
The other news is the emergence of the second team in Buffalo, Na Fianna. Na Fianna emerged in early 2020 as a hurling club grown from the city’s youth program. The club participated well in the early season blitz in Pittsburgh last year, before the pandemic shut down games.
The Midwest season will follow championship rules, cumulating into a knock-out Finals weekend. The group play throughout the summer will determine seeding in the Finals. Top finishers and runnner-ups will represent the division at the USGAA Finals in Boston.
Where and when? The Midwest Division did not receive any bids for hosting this year’s Finals. There is a tentative proposal for Pittsburgh to host on an earlier weekend, July 31-Aug1. The timing is within the desirable break of 2-3 weeks before the USGAA finals. More updates to come.
News came out of Chicago in early March that the Continental Youth Championships (CYC’s), the GAA’s largest event outside of Ireland, that was planned for July 29-August 1, will be canceled due massive logistics and planning required ahead of a still uncertain pandemic. With the largest youth tournament canceled, smaller, regional tournaments are being promoted.
The regional tournaments will likely span one or two days on a weekend as opposed to four or five days of activities that constructed the CYC’s. The Midwest is hosting one such regional invitational tournament on June 26th in Detroit. Another one that we have been keeping on the schedule is the Liberty Bell on July 17th in Philadelphia. For our Midwest youth players, the Midwest Finals are expected to round out the summer of games in late July/early August.
The Cleveland teams are rolling with trainings through April, leading into the Memorial 7’s football tournament on May 8th. Visit clevelandGAA.com, for training updates that are planned for Edgewater Park, Impett Park, and the Westside Irish American Club (WSIA).
The May 8th Memorial 7’s football tournament will be held at the WSIA. Teams from around the Midwest and Chicago have already committed.
On the Hurling Side
By Damon Margida
Hurling is the National Sport of Ireland. Open to both men and women (called Camogie). For the unfiltered experience, YouTube is best for the complete picture.
Hurling is a fast paced and physical sport. Not without reason, it is described as The Clash of the Ash or The Fastest Game on Grass. Hurling combines the skills of many sports; Wiki describes it this way:
The History of Hurling
“The history of hurling is long and often unclear, stretching back over three millennia. References to stick-and-ball games are found in Irish mythology. The game is thought to be related to the games of shinty that is played primarily in Scotland, cammag on the Isle of Man and bandy that was played formerly in England and Wales. There is evidence that in ancient times it was also played in Iceland, old sagas “suggesting that it was something that was brought from the Gaelic area to Iceland”.
Hurling is older than the recorded history It is thought to predate the arrival of the Celts. It has been a distinct Irish pastime for at least 3000 years. The earliest written references to the sport in Brehon law date from the fifth century.”
Local Hurling Team
Joining Cleveland St. Pat’s Gaelic Football Club, The Cleveland St. Pat’s Hurling Team was created in 2020, and had a lot of FIRST year recruits. We have plenty of equipment for first year recruits; you just need cleats and to be brave!
Practice is on Sundays in Brecksville, and in Olmsted Falls during the week. Last year with Covid, we were safely able to get the team up and running. We even played a few games vs. the Akron, Pittsburgh, and Indy clubs.
This year we will be creating local relaxed games to learn and have fun, as well as strengthening our squad to compete nationally. We will continue to run practices and games with prescribed safety rules in place.
Hurling is a great sport for all age ranges, a great bunch of people with friendships that last a lifetime. It offers a chance to try something truly unique, cherished and fun. It is a wonderful sport and a big, historic part of our Irish culture. I look forward to you checking us out: www.ClevelandGAA.com For more information on Hurling, contact us at wa********@ms*.com.
Back to Gaelic Football
The Cleveland Youth will open the summer program for all ages, boys and girls, on Sunday June 6th. The groups will be divided between the fields and play at the same time; the program will continue each Sunday throughout the summer.
Annual Night at the Races
The annual fundraiser is rescheduled for May 22 at the WSIA. This year seating will span the Main hall and the outdoor pavilion for increased spacing. Check out the club website and the WSIA website for tickets, advertising, or donations.
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 2021 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 (10), and Cedric (6), grow. His other hustles are coaching CYO basketball at St. Mary of Berea, coaching soccer in Olmsted TWP, and slangin’ some engineering skills on local concrete and pipe projects.