2006 News


AUCKLAND 2006 SEASON

Structure

In July we had our AGM and a new committee was elected with great hope of a reinvigoration of the GAA scene here in Auckland. Kevin Harrington was elected as President, to be backed up by the incredible energy and organization skills of Gerald Lohan as Secretary.

We also had the determined and passionate Feilim Gormley elected as PRO, Liam O’Keeffe as Hurling development officer and Martin Cleary as Treasurer along with representatives of the various clubs and New Committee.
All in al we’d put together a team that had one aim in mind, to build on previous great efforts made by our predecessors, most notably Mike Fox and Gay Kelly, to make Auckland a stronghold of Gaelic games in Australasia.
From the start we set ourselves three main targets
• To improve the timing and organization of match days.
• To improve discipline on the field with consistent refereeing
• To rekindle the off-field social scene.

From the outset we restructured the timing of the games so that we had a men’s and women’s game running at the same time. This allowed us to run games off in a more compact format, leaving less scope for games to be delayed. We also insisted that they start on time and, to date, we have had only two games not start on time. One was due to the referee being held up in traffic and the other actually started five minutes early.

The referees were selected from a panel and given the full support of the committee, a fact made known to all managers and players in a pre-season meeting. This ensured that discipline was greatly improved by the players knowing that the refereeing was being done in a serious fashion, and the referees had the confidence to do their jobs fully with the full and unequivocal support of the committee.

The men’s league has been extremely competitive and, for the first time in living memory, we have reached a play-off situation with Gaels and Celtic drawn for points at the end of the normal season. The play-off is scheduled for Thursday the 14th of December and, if the previous games between these sides is anything to go by, it will be “a ripper!”.

For the women’s League we had four full teams with the Harps club providing a second team, thanks almost solely to the efforts of Patricia O’Neill. Gaels Marist won the league, but only clinched it by winning the last game of the season so close was the competition. We were treated to some great football from the girls which was always competitive and a pleasure to watch. But more importantly, everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, both the experienced campaigners and the girls, Kiwi, Scottish, English, Canadian, Samoan and Irish who were new to the game.
Championship this weekend

We kicked off hurling in Auckland this year too following a number of visiting teams, Cork as All-Ireland winners in January ’05 and AIB and Bank of Ireland in October of the same year generating huge interest in the game over here.
It’s worthy of mention that, of the 45 players nominated by the GPA for their annual “team of the year” selection, 15 of them played in Seddon Fields in Auckland over the last couple of years.

So far we’ve had regular training runs and a couple of matches, all extremely well patronized by both players and spectators. We even managed a trip to Wellington to take on a Wellington selection last January to coincide with the World Rugby 7’s being played the same weekend. A great trip and one that will be repeated soon.

On the social side of things we have had great success. Playin two games at a time has led to a shortening of the day and ensured that we had greater numbers in the club rooms at any given time, allied to a bit of music and the friendly service of Teri Twohig behind the bar has resulted in a much greater sense of community and “the craic” has followed.
In order to make the days at Seddon Fields more family friendly, we added a large play-pen for the younger ones where Mammy can drop off the kids and have a quiet chat with friends, happy that the kids are being occupied by toys, blackboards, jigsaws etc etc.
Thanks for this innovation goes to Barry Brennan who sponsored the whole thing.

For the older kids we’ve been holding informal coaching courtesy of Rob McDonnell, a recent immigrant from the mighty county of Dublin. Hopefully in a few years we’ll produce a home grown star to take on the best Ireland has to offer.

Finally, from the social point of view, on the 16th of December, we are holding a gala dinner dance which will be the highlight of the year socially. It’s being held in the premises of the Irish club in Auckland and we are having a champagne reception on guests arrival, a three course meal catered and a band and DJ to dance and sing on into the wee small hours

The future for Auckland GAA is bright. In the New Year we are planning a trip to take on Wellington in Gaelic Football and Hurling matches, again to coincide with the Wellington leg of the World Rugby 7’s. If last year was anything to go by, it should be a fantastic trip.

While we will be holding our annual 7-a-side competition to coincide with the St Patrick’s festival week, we are also going to organize a tournament for players new to the game, with each panel restricted to three experienced footballers and the remainder to be guys who’ve never played before. This will be great fun but on a more serious note will spread our recruitment net wider in this rugby mad nation to see if we can unearth some talent for next season.

Finally, we are traveling to Sydney in October for the State Games. Watch this space.


The association would like to thank Fred McCormack for allowing Jenny Munro to compile the following story on how the West Australian Women's team prepared for the final of the 2006 Australasian Championships.

Jenny is a budding journalist from Queensland and provided excellent match reports on a nightly basis throughout the Championships that kept everyone informed "worldwide".

Thanks Jenny.

Behind Closed Doors….. with the Wily coach of the West Fred McCormack and the WA women’s team

IT’S perhaps not quite as scary as facing them on the field, but it was with some trepidation that I ventured into the WA dressing room prior to the 2006 Australasian women’s grand final against Queensland, to find out what really does go on “Behind Closed Doors”.

While I was as curious as everyone else as to the secret of the WA women’s success, I was a little nervous about the assignment, especially being from the northern reaches of the eastern seaboard myself.

So, to set the record straight now, no, I wasn’t sent by the Queensland team to spy on the home side’s tactics (in fact, the order came straight from the top - perhaps Gerard Roe was getting a little tired of the monotony of my match reports), and the WA side was generous enough to take my word for it and accept my presence.

 

When I arrived in the changeroom an hour before the game, Fred was therewriting on the whiteboard, while trainer Mick was doing his thing, preparing first aid, water bottles and the like.

Fred seemed reasonably relaxed, and when asked about the WA team’s preparation, spilled the first of his team’s secrets.

“The girls’ll have plenty of whisky and gin and tonics before the game,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye.

However, the whiteboard showed a more serious side: outlined were positions, a list of key game play points, and a few words of wisdom: “Have a no-doubt, clearly defined goal for yourself and this team today”; “It’s the cracks that make us stronger” and “They are ready – ARE YOU?”

As the team filed into the room, I put on my most innocent face and tried to remain inconspicuous, but my efforts to be invisible felt a little in vain as I sat in the corner in my stripy blue jumper, in a sea of black and gold.

But after the initial few surprised looks, the team continued with their pre-match routine: changing, strapping up, applying sunscreen and so on.

While there must have been a few nerves, the mood in the room was generally jovial and relaxed, but when Fred started talking, there was a focused silence.

He spent around fifteen minutes briefing his team, going through the points on the board (can’t expand on them as Fred said he has them copyrighted!!!) so – while still maintaining his sense of humour, coming out with the occasional quip: “’It’s the cracks that make us stronger’….that sounds a bit queer doesn’t it?”

As the team began its warm up with a kicking drill in the main changeroom, I took to chatting with injured player Jane Padgett who had damaged her knee in a netball accident just a few weeks prior to the Games and now spent her time on the sideline with her knee in a brace and a clipboard in her hand, as the team’s official statistician.

It was through Jane that I gained a few first-hand insights into the team.

I found out, for example, that the team had spent the week staying together at a hotel in the city.

In keeping the team together, the aim was to minimize the outside influences of family, friends and partners, while also simulating the environment the team experienced in other years of traveling away to play.


It all made sense, as I had spoken to Fred before the championships began, and gained this insight for a preview story (found on sportsaustralia.com):

The WA women have retained most of the successful 2005 squad, but coach Fred McCormack is cautious about being too optimistic, saying playing at home is not necessarily advantageous.

Each participating state hosts the Games on a rotational basis, so this is the first time in seven years WA has hosted the event, and Fred is unsure whether his team’s success away over the last six years will translate into success at home.

“I don’t think playing at home has the advantage people think it has,’’ he said.

“When we go away, there is the buzz of going away, we gel as a team, we focus on the job and don’t have as many outside influences.

“(Playing at home) is good for the girls, it’s exciting, but it also adds pressure.”

However, despite his doubts, McCormack said he believes his team can defend its title.

“We’ve got a team good enough to win it,” he said.

“I think we are the equal of that team (which won in 2005) - what will determine the outcome is whether the other teams have improved.”

“Being at home (after six years of playing away) will be the X-factor.”

Was keeping the team together and away from outside influences the stroke of genius that would lead to victory for the WA women?

Or was it Wily Fred’s coaching pearls of wisdom, or the all-round skills the team already had?

Or maybe it was the whisky and gin and tonics that did the trick…

Whatever it was, there was an air of quiet confidence as Fred ushered his team out to the field.

“Be ready, girls, be ready,” he said. “Let’s get out there.”

Sixty-five minutes and much nervous pacing by the seasoned coach later, the final whistle blew, and Fred broke out in his wily, knowing smile.

Jenny Munro

 


2006 AUSTRALASIAN GAELIC FOOTBALL & HURLING CHAMPIONSHIPS

FINALS DAY

Western Australia took home the spoils on finals day, with the locals coming away with wins in the seniors’, women’s and minors’ grand finals, and only missing out on a clean sweep after New South Wales won a close tussle in the hurling.

Minors: WA Gold v WA Black Swans

With talent and enthusiasm in abundance this year, the minors competition was very close, and after each WA side had beaten each other once, this was the game that counted.

It was the Black Swans who got off to a good start with first touch of the ball and an early goal to Scott Lewis.

However WA Gold soon hit back with a goal from Keiran Hodge, to bring the scores level at 1-2 (5) 1-2 (5).

But the Black Swans kept up their edge to hold a slender 1-5 (8) to 1-3 (6) lead at halftime.

While play remained fairly even in the second half, WA Gold began to make a comeback, with a Daniel Donnelly goal boosting his side into the lead.

The Gold team continued to pressure the Black Swans goal which was well defended, with the goalie making some impressive saves.

Gold continued to build on its lead while the Black Swans couldn’t get the points they needed, with Gold taking away the 2-10 (16) to 1-8 (11) win at fulltime.

Hurling: WA v NSW

The end result didn’t indicate the closeness of the game with New South Wales coming from behind to take a 3-17 (26) to 3-8 (17) over WA in the hurling final.

In a high quality game, matchplay was mostly even, with WA captain Tom Femmon scoring an early goal, but New South Wales taking a two-point lead into halftime after a higher success rate with overs.

WA came back strongly in the first ten minutes of the second half, with Kieran Lyons and John Whelahan scoring a goal each for the home side to put their side three points ahead.

However New South Wales slowly came back to the fore, only closing the gap and taking over the lead in the last seven minutes, with goals from Donagh Duane and Seamus Collins giving New South Wales a strong finish for the win.

Women: WA v Qld

The Western Australian women became back-to-back champions when they took a solid 3-7 (16) to 0-4 (4) win over Queensland, whom the home side also met in the 2005 grand final.

However, although the Queenslanders took a beating from the WA side earlier in the week, the visitors kept up with the title favourites for most of the first half, only trailing 0-4 (4) to 1-4 (7) at the break.

In the second half, Queensland had trouble getting past the WA defence, who gained several turnovers, and went for the rest of the game without scoring a single point.

But the WA side only went from strength to strength, building up its lead with two more goals to become the 2006 champions by the final whistle.

Seniors: WA v Vic

A two-point win to the Western Australian senior side in extra time against Victoria was the icing on the cake in a fairytale ending to the Games for the host state.

In an extremely close tussle, the two sides remained neck-and-neck for much of the match, with Victoria taking the slight 0-6 to 0-5 lead into halftime.

A WA goal early in the second half gave the home side a boost, but the scores remained very close throughout the half, with the scores locked at 0-12 (12) and 1-9 (12) at the fulltime whistle, calling for extra time.

The Victorians pressured the goal area early on in extra time, but WA defended well to keep its championship hopes alive.

At the extra time halftime break the scores were still deadlocked, 0-13 (13) to 1-10 (13).

The game was close right to the end, with Olan Murphy providing critical points for the home side and Shane Kelly for the visitors.

However it was WA who was on the receiving end of several turnovers, and made the most of them to be ahead at the end of extra time with a score of 1-13 (16) to 0-14 (14), much to the jubilation of the home crowd.

DAY 5

Semi-finals day saw all the local teams perform well, with Western Australian sides going through to grand finals in all divisions.

The senior WA side, after beating Queensland in the first semi final, will now face Victoria in the grand final, after the southerners ended New South Wales’ campaign for a fourth consecutive title in the second semi.

The Western Australian women are looking strong for their title defence against Queensland, in what will be a rematch of the 2005 grand final.

The WA minors’ grand final will be an all-WA affair, after Queensland was knocked out in the semis by the WA Black Swans, who will now face WA Gold.

The hurling final will take place between Western Australia and New South Wales, as they are the only two teams in the competition.

Seniors: Qld v WA

The locals made their mark early on semi-final day, with the WA seniors taking a strong win over Queensland to go through to the grand final.

The WA side showed dominance from the start, with Michael O’Callaghan on fire scoring three goals and four points to help his side along to a strong 4-8 (21) 0-1 (1) lead at half time, with Martin Kennedy contributing the other goal.

The home side continued to control the game in the second half, keeping Queensland from scoring at all.

The Queenslanders worked hard to get the ball into their own territory, but the WA defence was too tight, forcing a number of turnovers.

While WA only managed one goal for the second half, from Kris McEntee, the over count was high, leading to a fulltime score of 5-18 (33) to 0-1 (1).

Women: WA v WA Black Swans

The defending champions didn’t give their WA counterparts the Black Swans as much grief as they did the Queenslanders, but took away a comfortable 1-15 (18) to 0-1 (1) win nonetheless.

Play was fairly even to begin with, but WA emerged to take control of the game, with the ball remaining mostly in its own half for the end of the first half and much of the second.

The titleholders only held a 0-6 (6) to 0-1 (1) lead at half time, but held their opponents scoreless for the second half to increase the winning margin to 17.

Kelsey Jones scored the only goal for the match in the second half, also contributing two points, while Renae Campbell again scored well with five points.

Other scorers were Shelley Matcham and Lydia Padgett for the winning side, while Anna Haynes scored the only point for the Black Swans.

Minors: WA Black Swans v Qld

The Western Australian Black Swans got off to a good start and seemed to have the edge in the opening stages of the game against Queensland, scoring the first points and holding the visiting side scoreless until around 15 minutes into the game.

However the Queenslanders soon caught up and brought the score level at two all, before WA’s Daniel Alsop scored a goal to put the Black Swans ahead.

Then a Nick Black goal for Queensland right on halftime had the scores deadlocked at 1-3 (6) to 1-3 (6) at the break.

The Black Swans came out strongly again in the second half, putting the first points on the board and managing to maintain the upper hand of the game for most of the half, only allowing Queensland two more points for the match.

Goals to Scott Lewis and Sean Doyle in final stages of the match put the result beyond doubt as the locals posted a final score of 3-8 (11) to 1-5 (8).

Hurling: NSW v WA

The first hurling match of the Championships was a competitive one with Western Australia bringing home a win after New South Wales led for most of the game.

New South Wales opened the scoring and soon had a goal on the board thanks to David Walsh, putting the visitors ahead 1-7 (10) to 0-3 (3) midway through the first half.

Play continued evenly and New South Wales kept up its lead to go into the break 1-9 (12) to 0-6 (6).

New South Wales continued to have the upper hand in the opening stages of the second half, scoring the first points again.

However, as the visiting side tired the WA side picked up, with a goal from Dermot McDermott turning the tables midway through the second half to threaten the New South Wales lead.

A second WA goal, this time to Diarmaid Grace, put the home side ahead in the dying stages of the game, and stayed ahead to record a 2-11 (17) to 1-12 (15) win at the final whistle.

Women: Qld v Vic

The Queensland women set themselves up for a rematch of the 2005 grand final against Western Australia after taking away a 3-10 (19) to 0-5 (5) win over Victoria in the semi final.

Queensland appeared to have the upper hand in the first half, although the scores remained close.

However, goals to Grainne Heduan and Michelle Cubis and three overs by Mel Cowie gave the Queensland side a good lead heading into the break, with a halftime score of 2-6 (12) to 0-3 (3) giving the girls in red some breathing space.

The second half saw the Victorians gain more possession and pressure the goal area, but the hard work didn’t convert into points as the Queenslanders forced the turnovers, with Megan Oliver performing well at fullback, backed up by Karen Edgerton.

Cowie scored Queensland’s third goal to consolidate her side’s lead, while Cubis and Jen Smith added two overs each to the scoreboard, increasing the Queenslanders’ winning margin to 14 points at fulltime.

Seniors: NSW v Vic

The last match of the day saw Victoria end New South Wales’ campaign to be the first senior team in Australasian history to win four consecutive championships, with the Victorians coming away with a 0-15 (15) to 1-6 (9) win to put themselves in the grand final.

It was New South Wales who got off to a good start, with Paddy Matthews opening the scoring with a goal in the first few minutes of play.

Both teams played evenly for much of the first half, but Victoria began to hold more territory towards the end of the half, chipping away with one-pointers as New South Wales gave away some turnovers.

The Victorians held a narrow 1-1 (4) to 0-6 (6) lead at halftime, and managed to hold onto the lead for most of the second half.

Danny Bourne contributed well for the Victorian side with five points, while Eoin Quinn kicked four and Ciaran Rabbit and Kael Downes helped out with two each.

Connor Evans worked hard at fullback for New South Wales, while the Victorian backs played well to keep the ball up the other end of the field, with Paddy O’Farrell effective at centre halfback and Joe Kelly a stand-out in the midfield.

Paddy Matthews added two overs to his points tally while Mal Cunningham was the other main contributor for New South Wales with four points.

DAY FOUR

While day four was a rest day for the women’s and senior men’s teams, the Queensland minors faced two games against the two local sides, in what is turning out to be an extremely close competition.

The visitors first took on the Black Swans in a low-scoring game which saw the two sides neck-and-neck for most of the way.

With a score of only 0-3 to 0-2 in Queensland’s favour at halftime, it was still anyone’s game right up until the final whistle.

Both sides had ample opportunities to score, but with both showing only an average success rate, it came down to who could be more accurate in the time remaining.

Each team displayed tight defensive work, with Thomas Bamford and Andrew Henning holding the Queensland attack off while Jack Dixon and Martin Morgan were strong for the visiting side, especially in the second half.

However it was Queensland who was ahead at the end to take the win, in the lowest score seen at these championships, 0-7 to 0-4.

The Queensland side then had a three-hour break before regrouping for the second match of the day, against Western Australia Gold.

The game remained fairly even throughout the first half, with each side matching each other for points, with the score locked at four-all towards the end of the half.

Queensland’s Josh Meninga then gave his side a boost with a goal shortly before halftime, to go into the break with a 1-4 (7) to 0-4 (4) lead.

However, the Queensland side tired in the second half, and WA got to the ball first on many occasions, turning them into points more often than Queensland.

WA’s Joel Fiegert came good in the second half with some good work in the backline, while Adrian Cagnana played a key role in the forwards after switching from the backs, scoring a goal for the home side to put Queensland under pressure.

Daniel Donnelly also continued to play a valuable role for WA, setting up and finishing off a number of plays as well as scoring two overs.

Jack Dixon continued to play well for Queensland, as did Kent Delbridge, who scored a number of points for the visiting side.

However the Queenslanders took their chances and tried for goals rather than overs, while the WA side chipped away by going for the single points, which saw them come out winners in the end, 1-10 (13) to 1-5 (8).

DAY THREE

Seniors: Qld v Victoria

It was all about the points in the opening game for day three, as Victoria handed Queensland a sound beating to get ahead on the seniors’ ladder.

With the seniors’ championship currently a three-way tussle between the Victorians, title-holders New South Wales and home side Western Australia, Victoria’s 8-17 (41) to 0-5 (5) win against the Queenslanders provided a boost for the southerners’ for-and-against tally to position them well for the finals.

However, the Victorians got away to a slow start as the Queensland side began strongly, with little scoring from either side in the early stages of the game.

Victoria posted a solid 2-7 (13) to 0-3 (3) lead at the half-time break but did most of its scoring in the second half, putting the Queensland defence under intense pressure as it struggled to get the ball out from the back line.

Every mistake hurt for the fatiguing Queensland team, with the Victorians seizing the majority of loose balls and turning them into points.

Prolific scorers for Victoria were Eion Quinn with three goals and four overs and Ciaran Rabbit and Darren Bourne who both scored two goals and three overs.

Scoring the precious few points for Queensland were Cameron Carney with three overs and Andrew Peers with two.

Minors: WA Gold v Qld

The extreme closeness of the minors’ competition was demonstrated again in the match between Western Australia Gold and Queensland, with the Queensland side scraping through with a 1-12 (15) to 2-8 (14) win.

There was much action in the middle with few points scored in the early stages of the game, before a number of goals came in quick succession.

WA was the first to net a three-pointer courtesy of Daniel Donnelly, while Queensland soon followed suit with Troy Randall doing the honours.

Mark Kelly then followed up with WA’s second goal of the day to give the home side a 2-4 (10) to 1-5 (8) lead by halftime.

However Queensland went on the attack early in the second half, bringing the scores even and then edging ahead.

Half-forward Nick Black played a key role for Queensland, kicking five overs, with Matthew Saunders also helping out with three overs of his own. Kieran Hodge kept WA up with the visitors with three overs.

However the Western Australian defence couldn’t stop Black and Saunders from breaking through the centre and consistently following through with points as the Queenslanders held on for the one-point win.

Women: WA Black Swans v Victoria

If the Victorian women were expecting an easy game against the WA Black Swans, it wasn’t to be, as the home side put up a good fight to come within four points of a win against the more experienced side.

Victoria did however appear to be the dominant team in the opening half, with the ball staying mostly in Victorian territory.

After posting a 0-8 (8) to 0-3 (3) lead at half time, the Victorians continued strongly into the second half with Julia Boyle scoring a goal in the opening minutes.

The Black Swans however soon hit back and a goal and over from Aislinn Burke kept the visiting side from getting too comfortable.

But the Victorians stayed strong and made the most of any WA mistakes as the home side tired.

Victorian forwards Michelle Collier and Kirsten Burke were effective in attack, while the Black Swans’ Louise Knitter also impressed.

However the WA backs and goalie Emma Duffield kept the pressure up on the Victorian attack, not letting much through before Victoria held on for the 1-10 (13) to 1-7 (10) win.

Seniors: NSW v WA

The second seniors match of the day saw the home side continue its winning streak, taking the prized scalp of three-time champion New South Wales, 1-10 (13) to 1-6 (9).

The Western Australians began well, with Paul Kilbane effective in the midfield to help his side open the scoring and take a lead into halftime 0-6 (6) to 0-2 (2).

The second half saw New South Wales claim back some territory as the visitors went on the attack, with Niall Cunningham and Barry Devine contributing valuable points, while a Tom Burne goal closed his side’s scoreline deficit to just one point.

The two sides then fought for the lead after a New South Wales over brought the scores level.

A Colm McHugh goal for Western Australia gave the host side some breathing space, but New South Wales continued to pressure the WA defence, which held up well with Ryan Daly playing a key role.

The win for WA has put the home side in a strong position in first place on the seniors’ points table, while New South Wales faces a tough road to the finals after placing third.

Minors: WA Gold v WA Black Swans

In their second match-up for the week, the WA Black Swans turned the tables on WA Gold in taking a close 0-12 (12) to 1-7 (10) win to atone for their earlier loss in the minors’ competition.

The first half saw few points scored in an even contest before Kieran Hodge netted a goal shortly before half time to give the Gold team a 1-4 (7) to 0-5 (5) lead.

However, the Black Swans came out firing in the second half, kicking several overs and pressuring the Gold goal to eventually get in front.

Black Swans Darren Cunningham and Colin McNabb were strong in the midfield, as was Tim Dutt, with all scoring points during the game, while Luke Paterson had an outstanding game for WA Gold, with Daniel Padua also playing well in defence.

In an even final quarter, WA Gold began to fight back and the points came in equal shares, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Black Swans who held on for victory.

Women: WA v Qld

The Western Australian women blew everyone away with an unexpectedly easy win over rivals Queensland, romping home with a scoreline of 6-8 (26) 1-6 (9) in a rematch of the 2005 grand final.

While the game began fairly evenly in terms of matchplay, it was WA who was more successful in its attempts at points, showing more accuracy throughout the game as the Queensland side struggled to find the posts.

However it was WA’s ability to find the net that hurt the Queenslanders, putting the home side well ahead with numerous three-pointers.

WA’s Renae Campbell played a dominant game at centre half-forward, scoring one goal and four overs in the process, while Lydia Padgett also played well in attack.

Kelsey Jones contributed an early goal for the Western Australians, while Emma Pender and Kelly Tyrrell both scored two goals each in the second half.

Mel Cowie found the net for Queensland in a penalty kick in the latter stages of the match, while Trish Brown kept up her skilful work in the midfield, contributing two overs for the game, as did Natalie Hughes.

While Queensland came out with some occasional passages of brilliance, it was WA who held the upper hand for the majority of the match, and will be looking to take that advantage to the grand final on Sunday.

Queensland will play Victoria in the semi-final to determine who will get to challenge the home side for the 2006 championship in the final.

DAY TWO

Minors: WA Gold v WA Black Swans

Wet weather may have dampened day one of the Australasian Games, but day two began in fine conditions, with a local derby between the two Western Australian minors’ sides – the Black Swans and Western Australia Gold – kicking off proceedings.

While the Black Swans were made up of more experienced players, many of the Gold side were new to the round ball sport, having crossed over from Aussie Rules.

However, it was Gold who glistened in the end with a 3-8 (17) to 2-7 (13) win, although the Black Swans put their opponents under a great deal of pressure in the final quarter.

The Black Swans got off to a strong start in the second half with two quick goals by Andrew Henning bringing the scores to 2-3 (9) 3-3 (12), but were unable to convert their hard work at the end of the game into match-winning points.

Both teams were competitive all game, with each sharing an equal amount of territory and possession until the final stages of the match when the Black Swans stepped up the pressure.

However, hard work by the Gold backs and several crucial saves by Gold goalie Shaun Hurt kept the defending side ahead for the win.

For Western Australia Gold, Daniel Donnelly scored two goals while Mark Kelly scored the third.

Michael Pizzali also contributed well for the Gold team with several overs, while Joel Fieg was vital in the midfield as was Adrian Cagnana in the backline.

Women: Qld v Victoria

The Queensland women continued their winning streak when they accounted for Victoria in the second match of the day.

Queensland got off to a strong start with two quick goals from Kildare product Grainne Heduan, while Victoria did not score until 15 minutes into the game, with Kathryn Winterton producing the first of only two points scored by the Victorians for the match.

Trish Brown, a recent Australian representative in the women’s rugby world cup, showed flair in the midfield to trouble the Victorian defence, as did her offsider Ronni Browning.

The speed and ability of the Queenslanders to pick up loose balls kept the girls in red in safe territory for much of the game, although Victoria was able to break out on occasions.

However, when the Victorians made their breaks they weren’t able to deliver the goods in terms of points, although they began to show more promise towards the end of the first half as they put pressure on the goals.

Queensland led at the break 2-3 (9) to 0-2 (2), and were able to keep their opponents scoreless for the entire second half for a final score of 2-10 (16) to 0-2 (2).

Seniors: WA v Qld

Western Australia went on the attack early against Queensland, never looking back as the home side led all the way to a 1-21 (24) to 0-3 (3) win at the final whistle.

Colm McHugh opened the scoring for the home side with an over, his first of several points scored throughout the match, backed up by fellow forward Olan Murphy.

WA led by 0-10 (10) to nil at halftime, holding Queensland to only three overs for the rest of the match.

Queensland midfielder Cameron Carney again proved to be a key player for his side, scoring one of his side’s overs after an impressive break through the centres.

Pat Breen and Paul Kilrane were high scorers for the host side, producing three and four points respectively.

Michael O’Callaghan scored the only goal for the match, to give WA a winning margin of 23 points.

Women: WA v WA Black Swans

The second local derby of the day saw the defending champions show why they are on the money for a second consecutive title when they gave their hosting counterparts the Black Swans a sound beating.

The title-holders dominated for much of the match, although the Black Swans made some breaks and were able to convert some opportunities into points, with Josephine O’Callaghan and Anna Haynes both kicking overs.

Lydia Pagett and Emma Pender both scored two goals each for the other WA side, with Renae Campbell chipping in with a goal of her own as her side cruised to a 5-10 (25) to 0-3 (3) lead at half time.

Pagett also kicked six overs, while Angie Doyle and Shelley Matchem were also strong in attack with four overs apiece.

The second half saw greater defence in goals with only one scored for the half, from the boot of Kez Jones.

However, the title-holders were relentless in attack, coming home with a final score of 6-22 (40) to 0-5 (5).

Seniors: NSW v Victoria

In one of the closer and more unpredictable games of the championships so far, Victoria pulled off a win against the defending champions New South Wales in the final seniors match for the day.

In an even and low-scoring first half, New South Wales gained a slight edge to post a narrow 0-4 (4) to 0-2 (2) lead by half time.

No points were scored in the second half until 10 minutes in, when Victoria’s Joe Kelly punched in a goal to give his side a one-point lead.

New South Wales soon responded with an over to bring the scores level.

However, when the Victorians had a player sent off midway through the half, New South Wales were unable to capitalise on the advantage as the Victorians continued to pressure the goal area.

Mick Finn of Victoria was impressive with his dominance in the midfield, while Conor Evans and Martin McGearty performed well for New South Wales, with McGearty kicking three overs for the match and Barry Devine two.

Eoin Quinn also continued his good form, contributing a penalty goal to give his side a 2-2 (8) to 0-5 (5) lead.

The Victorians only conceded one more point in the match to take the win with a final score of 2-2 (8) 0-6 (6).

DAY ONE

After days of fine Perth weather, anyone could have thought we were in Ireland as wind, rain and cooler temperatures descended on EFTel Oval for day one of the Gaelic Games for 2006.

First to brave the elements were the Queensland women and the Western Australian Black Swans, the second of two WA women’s teams entered in this year’s competition.

Champions in 2004 and runners-up last year, Queensland showed they are still a force to be reckoned with, taking a comfortable 2-9 (15) to 0-3 (3) win against the home side.

Queensland opened the scoring early with a number of overs, with new Irish recruit Grainne Heduan scoring the first goal of the championships to cement her side’s early lead.

While the Queenslanders showed smooth teamwork in attack, the WA side proved competitive and kept the ball coming back into their own territory, converting a number of attempts at goal to put themselves on the board.

However it was Queensland who held a 1-6 (9) to 0-2 (2) lead at halftime, putting the visitors in good stead for the rest of the game.

But as the sides ran on for the second half, the wind and rain kicked in to prove the main opponent for both sides, compounding the difficult and slippery conditions.

Queensland was first off the mark with a goal to midfielder Trish Brown, and the girls in red continued to hold the edge for the remainder of the game, despite both sides making numerous mistakes in the wet.

The Queensland women next face Victoria, while the Black Swans will play the other Western Australian women’s team, the defending champions from 2005.

The young Queensland senior side faced a tough task against the more experienced and defending champions New South Wales, who are aiming to be the first team in the history of the championships to take four consecutive titles.

New South Wales opened strongly, dominating territory and possession to establish themselves well on the scoreboard, with Garreth Walch, Barry Devine and Niall Cunningham each netting goals.

Queensland made some promising breaks, but were unable to follow through on their opportunities, although Cameron Carney managed to kick an over to put his side on the scoreboard just before half-time.

New South Wales held a commanding 5-10 (25) to 0-1 (1) lead at the break, but the Queensland side came out fighting in the second half, scoring the first points and keeping gameplay fairly even.

However, although the second half was a lower scoring one with Queensland making more plays, including some close attempts at goal and a skilful over by Adam Floreani, New South Wales retained its dominance to take the win with a final score of 6-19 (37) to 0-5 (5).

The next women’s match saw the defending champions and host side Western Australia take on Victoria in a low-scoring game.

WA came out hard and fast, going on the attack early and opening the scoring in style with a goal from the boot of Angie Doyle.

Despite WA maintaining most of the territory for the first half, the game remained fairly even, with Victoria fighting back well but failing to put points on the board.

Doyle continued to show her flair with another goal shortly before half-time, making the most of a stylish set-up by teammate Renae Campbell, to give the WA girls a solid lead 2-4 (10) to 0-0 (0) at half-time.

Victoria came back fighting in the second half, claiming back some territory and putting the pressure on WA, with Julia Boyle netting a penalty goal as well as kicking a one-pointer to put her side on the board.

Play continued fairly evenly but Doyle scored her second goal for the day to put WA ahead for the win, 3-4 (13) to 1-1 (4).

The game ended under a cloud as a nasty head-clash between WA’s Shelley Matchem and Victoria’s Shilette Baker saw both players exit the field, with Baker taken to hospital and in doubt to be fit for the rest of the week.

The final match of the day took place between the Western Australian and Victorian Senior sides.

The home side came out on top 3-8 (17) to 1-9 (12) in an exciting and close finish after Victoria held the lead at half-time, 1-4 (7) to 0-3 (3).

There was minimal scoring in the early stages of the game, with Eoin Quinn kicking a penalty goal for Victoria 15 minutes into the game to put his side ahead 1-1 (4) to 0-1 (1).

Victoria went on the attack in the final minutes of the first half to give themselves a reasonable lead, but it was all about Western Australia in the second half, who challenged the visiting side point for point after an Owen Murphy goal brought the scores to 1-4 (7) 1-5 (8).

The score see-sawed in the final quarter of the game in a nail-biting finish, but it was WA who delivered the goods as Owen Murphy kicked his second goal for the day, followed shortly after by another WA goal, knocked in by Daniel Jennings, to give the home side the win at the final whistle.

WA’s Colm McHugh missed out on any three-pointers but sent the ball over the bar four times to make a significant contribution for his team, while Eoin McLintock also played well for the home side.

Paddy O’Farrell was also a stand-out player for the Victorian side, in a key role at centre halfback, keeping the visitors in the game until the very end.


2006 AUSTRALASIAN GAELIC FOOTBALL & HURLING CHAMPIONSHIPS

The 2006 Australasian Gaelic football and Hurling Championships will be held in Perth at EFTel Oval (formerly Lathlain Park) from Tuesday 3 October through to the finals on Sunday 8 October.

Over six playing days there will be 27 games in minor, senior and women’s football and hurling. Teams will represent all affiliates except South Australia and Auckland in at least one of the codes viz. Western Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

Minor Football
There will be a new name on the Minor trophy after the decision by South Australia to withdraw their teams in all codes. It had been expected that South Australia would have been going for 4 in a row as they chased the record set by Victoria who won five consecutive trophies from 1980 - 1984. Western Australia and Queensland ensured there would be minor football at the Championships with the boys from the West entering two teams (Western Australia Gold & Western Australia Black Swans) and Queensland. The W Australian teams will be coached by John Collins from London and John Lehane the other.

Queensland will be coached by Jackie Peacock who was a recent mentor of a successful Australasian women’s team. Nicholas Carpenter has been a driving force in getting the team to Perth and will as Manager be an able assistant to the Coach.

Whilst their preparations have been a bit unsettled, all teams are now training twice weekly for what is expected to be a closely fought competition.

Senior Football
New South Wales as reigning champions have been working hard at getting together a squad they believe will retain the trophy. They are notorious for playing their best football in the latter stages of the championships and are looking at doing something no other senior team has done – win four senior Championships in a row. Joe Middleton is back coaching and with Michael Cunningham as manager they have assembled a strong squad.

Queensland with the furthest to travel has shown their commitment to the Championships by getting together a very young squad. They are an unknown quantity but are not going to Perth just to make up the numbers. They see the Championships as an excellent way to expose players to the highest level which hopefully will see a stronger local competition in Brisbane.

Victoria again has Vinny Reid and Karol Downs amongst their mentors. Like NSW they see the Championships as the pinnacle of men’s Gaelic football in Australasia and wouldn’t contemplate not being part of the competition. They have a strong mix of local and overseas players and are sure to be prominent come the finals.

Western Australia has had a large influx of Irish players in 2006 and this has seen an increase in the standard of games during their 2006 season. Local players have also come to the fore and as a result the local competition has been the closest for many years. Marty Green the Morley coach was appointed early in the year as the State Coach and has had many training sessions with a large squad. Marty was a player when WA won their first Championships way back in 1978 in Adelaide. Having last won in 1987 they feel that 19 years is too long a period to wait to be crowned champions and believe there is no better opportunity to rectify this than when playing on home soil.

Women’s Football
Western Australia’s wily coach Fred McCormack will no doubt again be looking to use all his mind games to retain the trophy they won in Brisbane in 2005. It was a shock to many when they beat Queensland last year however Fred is a great believer in tactics and more than any other coach rotates his squad. No doubt he already has prepared a plan for the new interchange system in 2006. Many of the team from last year will be there again along with quite a number of new players and are sure to be in the mix to take out the Championship.

With the late withdrawal of the South Australian women’s team Western Australia felt they had enough quality players to enter a second team. As a result the West Australian Black Swans will be part of this years games. Already they are well into training with Julianne Langley who is Coach of St. Finbar’s and who played for WA in 2005 appointed as the Coach. Lucy Gallup from Southern District who is a niece of ex WA Premier Geoff Gallup is the Manager.

If preparations count for anything then the Victorian team should be well up for the games. They have been training/fundraising/organising for many months. They are displaying an enthusiasm for the Championships that is second to none and deserve to be rewarded in some way for this. Many of their players have had previous Championships experience and blended with new faces they see themselves as possible finalists…………..at least!

Queensland women have an abundance of talent to select from. Tertia Dex is again the Coach and along with Leith Poulsen as manager will be hell bent on inflicting a loss on the host team just as WA did to them last year. Many of their players who were in the Australasian team such as Ronni Browning will be will in the squad and as such they have to be considered one of the favourites.

Hurling
It is through the dedication of the Club mentors in New South Wales and the re-emergence of Western Australia as a hurling State that we will see hurling at the 2006 Championships. The effort of NSW players and officials to ensure that Western Australia has an opportunity to play hurling as the host State cannot be underestimated.

One thing that is assured is that we can expect to see a high quality final as the players in the WA team are expected to be as skilful and fit as those from NSW. Having hurling matches almost every week in Perth during the season has them match hardened. Tim Hickey and Barney McKenna who are mentors of the team know what to expect and have planned accordingly.

GERARD ROE
SECRETARY


News from around the States May 2006

Western Australia
The GAAWA have certainly got their act together with PRO David Isaacson reporting several exciting developments.

WA govt. promises new home ground for GAAWA
The big news from the west is the recent announcement of government funding for our joint submission with the Gosnells Baseball Club at the Tom Bateman Reserve in Canning Vale. Minister for Sport and Recreation the Hon John Kobelke was the bearer of the good news. This will be a significant development in the life of the association here in Western Australia. A place to call ‘HOME’ at last. A first class facility is planned - change rooms, canteen, office, function and storerooms are part of the master plan. Congratulations to all concerned, getting us to this stage. Special mention must go to our development officer, Fred McCormack. Tenacity is only part of it, it’s no surprise he’s also coach to our successful Ladies football team.

St Patrick’s Sports Week
Meanwhile the action continues at Collier Reserve, Como with the St Patrick’s Sports Day split into a qualifying round on the 19 March and finals on the 26 March. Both days were family oriented and included 7-a-side football for ladies and men in football, a hurling exhibition, relay races, tug-o-war and plenty of music, craic and dance. A well-stocked canteen ensured plenty of nourishment for all. Southern Districts were victorious in the men’s competition, Greenwood Ladies continued where they left off last season – victors this time over St Finbarrs. Aside from the regular clubs, representative teams from the Irish Club and Woodbridge GFC joined in the competition. We also have two hurling teams in full competitive mode, well done to John Whelehan and his merry band of ‘swingers’.

Season 2006
April saw the Preseason Cup (Ladies’) and Father Kelly Cup (men’s) as warm ups to the season proper that commenced on Sunday 30th April. All 5 clubs - Greenwood, St Finbarrs, Southern Districts, Western Shamrocks and Morley Gaels – will have Men’s and Women’s teams in the League season that runs through to August. Fixtures will be posted shortly on www.irishscene.com.au

Singapore GAA Visit
The GAA in Singapore this year hosted visits from both the Men’s and Ladies’ Gaelic Football All Stars teams with crowds of around 3,000 turning out and school clinics giving Gaelic football a huge boost in Singapore. On the weekend of 23-25 June it will be Singapore GAA’s turn to be hosted when they send Men and Ladies’ teams to Perth. Final program details are being finalised and hurling will be part of the program also.

Australasian GAA Championships
WA host the Australasian Championships in 2006 with games played from Tuesday 3rd to Sunday 8 October. Teams from all over Australia will gather for the annual festival of football and hurling. WA women will put their title on the line after their memorable win last year in Brisbane.

South Australia
Mick Emmett contributed to the following and his match reports make riveting reading on www.gaelicfootballsa.com.au

Summer competitions continue to thrive
Gaelic Football is alive and well in South Australia with the summer based competition continuing to attract a lot of players, particularly the men, who play other codes in winter. Some of the clubs are based around Soccer or Aussie Rules clubs keeping fit and in match practice with the fast paced skilful game that is Gaelic football. In 2005/2006 10 Men’s and 6 Women’s teams participated in the State League at St Mary’s Pk, the GFHASA’s headquarters on the south side of the city and a further 10 Men’s teams in a midweek 9-a-side competition and 7 Men’s teams in a midweek 7-a-side competition at Gaza Football Club, north of the city.

The Men’s final, the Hannigan Cup, was an absolute thriller with Western Ireland defeating Na Fianna 0-17 to 1-12, the Women’s final was an equally thrilling win to Irish Aust Rovers 0-17 to Irish Australians 0-16.

Women’s winter league
2006 sees the introduction of a women’s winter competition in order to better prepare our girls for the Australasian Championships and the Irish Australians being the first club to play a home game at their Bailey Reserve facility.

Teams of the Year
Men and women’s teams of the year were also named for the first time. Individual awards were won by Ken Fay (Na Fianna- men’s player of the year), Anita Bone (Irish Australians-women’s player of the year), Wade Saunders (Onkaparinga- 9 a side player of the year), Chris Carey (Blacks Boys- 7 a side player of the year) and Jacob Peters (UniSa- minor player of the year).

New South Wales
Melinda Bright reports the opening to the Gaelic season has indeed been a busy and productive one in NSW.

Summer Competition
The 10-a-side Gaelic football summer competition ran successfully again in the month of February and gave all clubs the opportunity to get new recruits on the paddock. New club Cormac McAnallens made their debut in the senior football competition and proved to be very competitive. Many of the ladies clubs were able to field two teams in the 10-a-side competition and all games were hotly contested. Eventual champions in the 6-team ladies competition were Clan na Gael (1) who defeated Michael Cusacks (2) 3-4 to 1-7. The 6-team senior football final was also contested by Clan na Gael (1) who were defeated by Young Ireland 0-9 to 1-5.

International Rules Tournament
On Sunday 5 March 2006, NSW ran an International Rules Blitz Day at Auburn. Six Gaelic football teams and six Australian Rules football teams contested the title. The day was well attended and the committee kept busy all day. The committee officially thanked Padraig Hurley and Peter Connaire for their help on the day as the pair of them did an excellent job refereeing the hybrid rules.

The final couldn't have been closer, or contested by two better teams. One team, Michael Cusacks, flying the GAA flag and the other East Coast, a Sydney AFL team. When the full time hooter blew the scores were deadlocked. In extra time East Coast scored first but needed a bigger score. Michael Cusacks were able to score an 'under' and take the title. Feedback from the majority of clubs in both codes was very positive.

Central Coast Tournament
This annual tournament at San Remo near Gosford on the central coast and hosted by the Central Coast GAA club is an excellent last opportunity for clubs to hone their skills and strategies for the league season. This year the tournament hosted the inaugural Camogie (Women’s Hurling) competition with five 7-a-side teams participating. The day was a huge success with a large crowd of participants and spectators for all 4 codes – Men’s and Ladies Football and Hurling and Camogie. Michael Cusacks were the most successful club on the day beating Cormac McAnnallens in the Men’s Football final and Clan na Gael in the Ladies Football final. In the Hurling Central Coast won. They also won the Camogie final over Michael Cusacks.

League season
The regular season began at the Gaelic grounds in Auburn, Sydney on April 9th. This year 4 ladies teams - Central Coast, Clan na Gael, Irish Australians & Michael Cusacks; 5 camogie teams - Central Coast, Cormac McAnallens, Clan na Gael, Craobh Padraig and Michael Cusacks; 6 senior football teams - Cormac McAnallens, Clan na Gael, Irish Rovers, Michael Cusacks, Penrith Gaels and Young Ireland; and 4 Hurling teams - Central Coast, Craobh Padraig, Michael Cusacks and Sydney Shamrocks will all take part.

NZ – Wellington
Anne O’Carroll reports that although the GAA scene in Wellington/Hutt Valley region of New Zealand is small, it is enthusiastic and has had some remarkable success of late. Wellington sent Men and Women’s 7-a-side teams to Auckland for the 7’s tournament on 12 March 2006. The Men’s won 2 games and lost to the finalists by 2 points and 1 point. The Women’s won all 5 matches including the final. She also reported that Auckland sent a Hurling team to Wellington, and the hurleys had to be dug up out of the back of sheds etc but Wellington actually managed to win the game with a strong second half, sparking celebrations late into the night at Molly Malones pub.

The regular season was played over summer and featured a number of teams. Use of St Patrick’s College grounds for no charge was gratefully appreciated.

NZ – Auckland
Gay Kelly reports from Auckland:

Auckland has 4 men’s teams and 4 women’s teams, with season running from October to December for the League and Championship 15 aside. Gaels won the League in both women and men’s. The Championship was also won by Gaels in the men’s but Harps was victorious in the Women’s. The season ended with an All Star match.

We also have an annual International Rules game and on Sunday 5th March 2006 representative teams from the Auckland AFL and Auckland GAA clashed at the Gaelic grounds at Seddon Fields, Point Chevalier. Final score was Auckland GAA 5 - 8 - 6 60 defeated Auckland AFL 0 -5- 9 24.

A sevens tournament was played on 12th March 2006 in which Wellington participated in both women’s and men’s, Wellington Women took the sevens title this year, whilst Auckland Gaels made it a very good year for themselves with another title.

The visit of the Irish Bank team revived Hurling and the Auckland Hurling men went down to compete against Wellington. The day was a great success and there is enthusiasm to grow the small ball game in NZ.

Even though we still only have 4 teams in each code, we have attracted a lot of New Zealand players, most especially in the women’s teams and there are now a lot of different cultures playing Gaelic. We also have a lot of junior players coming to the games and are hope to develop this more.


2006 AUSTRALASIAN GAA CONGRESS

The 2006 Australasian GAA Congress will be held in Adelaide on 18 & 19 February. Delegates from Perth,Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland will be in attendance.

Some of the important matters to be discussed include:

• Agreeing on a new Strategic Plan which will map out the direction for the Australasian and State associations for the period 2006 – 2009

• 24 Motions are on the Agenda with some of the more interesting ones being:

- The “Visa Rule” which currently stands at 10 for non-residents in State men’s and women’s teams. South Australia want to see it reduced to 8 whilst New South Wales would like to see the rule removed altogether or have players on 4-year visas classed as residents.

- States having to pay a fee at three nomination phases to participate in the Australasian Championships. This proposed new rule is designed to ensure late withdrawals are penalised and the host State is not financially disadvantaged. (SA)

- only resident players to be picked on Australasian teams. (SA)

As a result of Australasia being so successful at the last three International competitions, Congress willalso be debating whether to seek entry into the All Ireland Women’s football Competition at the Junior or Senior level.

The new Shared Business Agreement between the Australasian association and Gaelic Gear in Ireland will also be tabled. This new agreement will provided Clubs with up to the minute playing strips and equipment at very competitive rates and also provide the association with a guaranteed financial return over the four years of the agreement.