2008 Australasian Championships Report
There were many upset winners at the 2008 Australasian Championships held in Adelaide in October but none more than South Australia in women’s football who defeated the red hot favourites from Western Australia by 1 point in the final. The West who were going for a first ever “four in a row” by any State in Women’s football would have been unbackable if betting had been allowed.
The game started as expected with WA racing to an early 5 point lead and most waited to see if the match would be just about over by half time. The SA Girls had other ideas and gradually they pegged back the lead to be level at the break. Again in the second half the large crowd waited to see when the West would take charge but the pressure from SA never allowed this to happen. With five minutes remaining WA held a one point lead only for the home State to score two quick points which allowed them to go in front and hold on for the last tense three minutes.
Another shock was NSW not making a final in one of the four codes played. The closest they game was when they lost by four points to Victoria in a hurling semi final. This set up a final between undefeated WA and Victoria. The standard of hurling was at the highest standard throughout all games with hurling legend Paddy Hegarty commenting “that it was the best he had seen in 20 years.”
WA who had won all games up to the final were slight favourites. The match see-sawed throughout with no more than 2 points separating the teams. The West missed a lot more shots than Victoria and ultimately it came back to haunt them. With two minutes left they led by a point but a goal followed by a point from Victoria saw them win by 2 points to lift their first hurling trophy since 1991.
Whilst only three teams participated in minor football, the boys from Western Australia, Victoria and South Australia served up some high quality football. Two of the games were decided by 1 point with that margin in the semi final seeing Victoria progress to the final at the expense of South Australia. In the final they played Western Australia who were unbeaten in the lead-up. The game was played like a game of chess with players cancelling each other out resulting not in a checkmate but in a stalemate for 15 minutes in the second half when scores were tied at 5 points each.
The West was the first to break the deadlock and that resulted in the floodgates opening when they piled on 1–8 to 1 point to run out worthy winners.
The final in senior football was between Victoria and South Australia. SA was going for its first men’s trophy in 25 years and Victoria its first since 2002. The home crowd were on their feet early as SA within three minutes scored 1-1 to leave Victoria playing catch-up football. They quickly got into their stride and by half time held a comfortable lead thanks to their ability to prevent SA scoring again in the remaining 27 minutes of the game.
They were never under threat and ran out winners with a scoreline of 3-15 to 2-4
500 people attended the Presentation Dinner on the Sunday evening of the finals. Presentations were made to winning team mentors, best players in each code and Australasian teams in each code.
Best players were as follows:
Hurling: Patrick Fitzgerald- Victoria
Minor Football: Michael Dufficy - Victoria
Senior Football: Mick Finn - Victoria
Women’s Football: Marie Keating – NSW & Shelley Matchem - Western Australia
To view photographs from the Championships Finals as well as all the teams and award winners at the Presentation Dinner click here
All photos are courtesy of Epsom Road Studios, Official Photographer for the games. These and many more from the Championships can be viewed and purchased at www.epsomrdstudios.com.au
The 2009 Australasian Championships are scheduled for Melbourne
2008 AUSTRALASIAN GAELIC FOOTBALL & HURLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
ALL ROADS LEAD TO ADELAIDE
The 2008 Australasian Gaelic Football and Hurling Championships will be held in Adelaide at Westminster School, Alison Avenue, Marion Park from Monday 29 September through to the finals on Sunday 5 October.
South Australia as host State has been working long and hard to ensure the success of the games and I am sure their efforts will be rewarded.
This year there are 17 teams competing with six men’s, five women’s, three minor and three hurling. In excess of 400 players will compete over seven days seeking to have their State teams crowned Australasian Champions. There will be plenty of action with 41 games to be played by teams from Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland and Hutt Valley-Wellington.
Victoria, with last years winning Coach Vinny Reid back in charge is reportedly confident of going back-to-back. In 2007 they had a very fast, strong and tall squad and the same is expected this year. South Australia last year certainly felt going in to the Championships that they could regain the trophy they held from 2003-2005 however they proved no match for the “Vics” in a preliminary match and grand final. No doubt they have learnt from their previous meetings and are planning to reverse results this year. The late withdrawal of Western Australia in 2007 robbed them of the opportunity to defend their 2006 title. They promised to return in 2008 and it is great to see them keeping that promise. WA has been renowned for fielding small quick teams. It will be interesting to see what sort of squad takes part in 2008 as they will also need some tall timber to combat the height of opposing players from Victoria & South Australia. There is a major incentive to finish on top after the minor round as that team will earn a rest day on Friday with the final on Saturday.
New South Wales no doubt will be favourites to retain their trophy and make it five wins from six consecutive Championships. Their highly competitive State season which has just ended has them match hardened to take on all challengers. Added to this is the fact that they have their winning Coach in Tommy Joe Johnson at the helm again. Victoria is always about the mark as can be seen from the fact that they have contested seven of the last ten senior football finals. Last year when they came back from a huge deficit in the final to only lose to NSW by a goal showed how desperate they were to be champions for the first time since 2002. They look like having a very strong team and will be one of the favourites again this year. South Australia being the host State has one of their best chances in years to win the Championships. Whilst many recognized faces are part of the squad there is a new management team in place. Will they lift the trophy for the first time in 25 years? Reports from Perth indicate that Western Australia are raring to put behind their poor performances in 2007 and replace them with the type of play that saw them crowned champions in 2006. Similarly Queensland has a belief that this year they can make at least the semi finals as their squad contains a number of young but experienced footballers. Hutt Valley-Wellington made a welcome return to the Championships last year. It made their players and management very aware of the difference in the levels between Championships and State leagues. In 2007 they lost two games by 1 and 2 points respectively and with experience under their belt don’t be surprised to see them fare much better this year.
No women’s team has ever won 4 Championships in a row so there is a huge incentive for Western Australia’s triple winning Coach Fred McCormack and his team to achieve this. Their squad list shows quite a few new players but any team with players of the ability of the Padgetts, Campbell, Kilburn, Rath, Williamson, Ammoscato etc. deserves to be ranked as favourite. Queensland which has been one of the power brokers of recent years by contrast appears to have a list that contains many new players. It will be very interesting to see how they go this year under new Coach Leith Poulsen. Cathy Hughes from New South Wales was so looking forward to representing Australasia at the 2008 International Tournament in Ireland. She was hugely disappointed when it was cancelled but decided there and then to Coach the NSW team. Their list includes a number of previous Australasian selected players and their first game on Monday against Western Australia is eagerly anticipated.
South Australian and Victorian teams continue to be amongst the most enthusiastic of participants. Every year they bring excitement to the Championships on and off the field. Victoria this year will be boosted by a large number of girls with previous experience playing in Ireland. Add to this players of the likes of Kristen Burke and Karen Winterton and they will be very much worth watching. Mick Lawlor from South Australia has made the transition from many years as State senior football Coach to Coach of the women’s team. He has many experienced players on his list which is supplemented by many new young footballers. This blend of youth and experience could be a telling factor this year.
The re-emergence of Western Australia as a hurling State in 2006 led to them travelling to compete in the 2007 Championships in Sydney. They were considered to be one of the unluckiest teams from all codes losing both preliminary games by a point. Crucial injuries played a part in them losing their semi final. Undaunted, they are back again this year under the guidance of John Whelahan and are determined to reach the final, at least.
It’s great to see Victoria back again in hurling for the first time since 2004. There have been many close games at State level this year in Melbourne which should have the Victorian players ready for action on the big stage.
No doubt New South Wales will be hot favorites to win the Hurling Championships. They have a huge group of experienced players to choose from. Each year they are always at the games trying to ensure the trophy remains in the Harbor City where it has held pride of place since 1992.
This year, those attending will notice on roads leading to the ground as well as the playing venue lots of posters, banners, bunting etc. On finals day there will also be displays from the Adelaide Irish Pipe Band and Irish Dancers to celebrate Gaelic Games. Much of this has been made possible through a grant from the Overseas Committee in Croke Park at the initiative of our good friend Sheamus Howlin who chairs the committee.
The Championships will culminate with a Presentation Dinner for 500 people at “The Shores Complex” West Beach on Sunday night 5 October.
To view the program and results click here
NOTES ON A WEEKEND AT CONGRESS IN IRELAND
I recently attended the 2008 GAA Congress in Ireland with Sligo being the venue. Travelling across from Belfast via Fermanagh was a pleasant drive in the sunshine until 3kms from Sligo when dark clouds brought rain. 2 kms out brought hailstones and on arriving in Sligo Town down came the snow!!
The welcome provided by the people in Sligo and at Congress contrary to the cold weather was very warm.
Meetings of the overseas units and Congress were held in the Radisson Hotel which was an imposing structure. The first gathering was an informal meeting of overseas delegates from Canada, North America, Europe, London and Australasia. This informal meeting was held for the first time in 2006 at the suggestion of Australasia and allowed for general “off the record” debate on matters that would not be raised at formal meetings such as development at various levels, problems faced, positive outcomes etc. Everyone found there was probably more benefit from this than the structured meeting and it was agreed unanimously to have the informal group meeting each year.
The meeting proper was chaired by Sheamus Howlin, Chairman of the Overseas Committee with members of the committee in attendance. Two candidates for President – Elect, Christy Cooney and Liam O’Neill also attended. The President Nicky Brennan spoke for 10 minutes and was appreciative of the positive work being carried out overseas. Another interesting speaker was Ray Bassett from the Department of Foreign Affairs who outlined the criteria when seeking Departmental funding for various overseas positions/projects.
All units gave reports on their activities. Australasia’s included:
- Adult/Underage & Games Development
- Club Development
- Grounds & Facilities
A disappointing part of the meeting was the inability of the Ladies GAA to provide any information on the 2008 International Tournament set down for Dublin in September.
Prior to Congress there were various workshops available. I attended the “GAA Brand Union” session which was very informative and dealt with having the words GAA as part of all initiatives that the association was involved in. As well, there was the launch of the new GAA logo which was the first time in over 100 years it had changed.
I was not the only representative for Australasia at Congress as I was joined by Noel Carey (brother of Steve Carey from Sydney) and his wife as well as Annie and Owen Gallagher from Auckland. Annie works in Galway and Owen flew in from London to attend.
Friday evening was taken up with many reports especially finance. There was an excellent finish to the Friday session when Sheamus Howlin gave a PowerPoint presentation on overseas units. A booklet with contacts for all overseas units was also distributed.
Further information on overseas units is available at www.gaa.ie/page/gaa_abroad.html
Saturday at Congress was eagerly anticipated as the next President to take over in 2009 was to be elected. In what was expected to be a close vote Christy Cooney won by a margin of 70 and he made an emotional acceptance speech. Christy had earlier intimated his continued support for the Australasian association.
Many motions were discussed with the most notable one that created passionate speeches relating to payments to players. This was subsequently passed. Others that gained support included all Counties being given a second opportunity in the All Ireland series and all hurlers being required from 2009 to wear helmets.
Attending Congress also gave the opportunity to network with many people and meet with friends and supporters of the overseas units none more so than Joe McDonagh who was the President that set the Australasian association on the road to where they are now by obtaining funding for the position of Secretary.
Whilst In Ireland I also had meetings with/attended sessions with:
- Department of Foreign Affairs
- Overseas Development Committee
- Coaching & Games Development
- Ladies GAA
- Youth Development
- O’Neills Sports
- Azzuri Sports
THE GAELS IN NEW SOUTH WALES GET READY FOR SEASON 2008
Aidan Savage the New South Wales PRO reports that there has been some movement in the State club scene. Sadly the Irish Rovers men’s football club has been forced to fold, Cormac McAnallens have replaced Irish Australians in women’s football and camogie is all set to go for a third year with 4 teams currently registered.
Some NSW clubs took the opportunity of pre-season competition at the Melbourne Padraig Pearse annual 7-a-side tournament in the first week of February. It was a successful venture for the 8 NSW clubs who made the trip to Victoria as the finalists in the hurling, men’s football and women’s competitions were all from Sydney. This meant all 3 trophies came over the border to NSW for the first time.
In recent years, the first NSW sanctioned competition of the season had been the summer competition which took place in Wentworth Park in the city. A 2008 initiative brought the competition to Wollongong to continue the good work to promote Gaelic games in the area by NSW GAA's newest club the University of Wollongong “Fighting Leprechauns.”
It was held on Sun 9th March and with first class facilities at the University of Wollongong, it was a very successful venture. After 27 matches over 8 hours in men’s and women’s football, congratulations went to Cormac McAnallens who won the men’s football defeating Young Irelands in extra time in a closely fought final. Clan Na Gaels second team took the silverware in the women’s football competition beating Central Coast by one point, scored by a free with the last kick of the game. Nav Sports interviewed the NSW Secretary and filmed some of the action on the day. It can be viewed by clicking the video link to Gaelic football at www.navsports.com.au.
The photos below show action and enjoyment at the recent summer competition in Wollongong.
The eagerly awaited Central Coast pre season competition held in Gosford, 2 hours north of Sydney on 30th March is next up with 15-a-side competitions in men’s and women’s football, camogie and hurling. The league starts on Sunday, 6th April with all games being played at Princes Park, Auburn.
For more information on Gaelic games in New South Wales click on the State Clubs link.