At the end of July all roads led to Randal’s Island New York where 250 teams travelled to play Gaelic Games in the Annual Continental Youth Championships (CYC). The magnificent Manhattan skyline provided the perfect backdrop to this hugely popular tournament.
Four codes of Gaelic games were played; football (boys and girls), hurling and camogie with 2,500 children taking part playing 600 games over four days. Over 80 officials and volunteers were responsible for bringing this year’s games to fruition. It is a mammoth task for these volunteers as the competition is the next biggest tournament in Gaelic Games after Feile.
The Sam Maguire and the Liam Mc Carthy cups were on display throughout the whole tournament. There were many photographs taken of young and old savouring the moment with these famous cups. Many stories were shared from Irish people, now resident in North America, of travelling home to support their counties on All Ireland Finals day in Croke Park.
That heartfelt pride of Gaelic Games, culture and a strong sense of community spirit is alive and well in North America and is being passed on to a whole new generation of young players.
All Gaelic sports have grown year on year in North America, and hurling and camogie are making great inroads in recent years. In 2010,
camogie had one team represented at the CYC games and this year there were 28 camogie teams taking part, drawn from seven clubs representing fantastic growth in four years. Clubs travelled from San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia and the largest contingent was from the three home clubs in New York; St Brigids, Rocklands and Shannon Gaels where camogie is in its infancy.
San Diego were represented in football (boys and girls) and have recently started coaching adult camogie. Even though it is in its very early stages for San Diego they hope to bring a camogie team to the North American Championships in Boston in a few weeks’ time. I am sure we will see a juvenile camogie team from San Diego participating at the CYC in the very near future, perhaps next year where the games will be held on the west coast in San Francisco, north of San Diego.
The CYC games requires excellent organisation. There were 16 pitches in use throughout the four days all with water stations regularly replenished as temperatures were in the mid-thirties; field marshals were at every pitch making sure each game was started on time and officials were present to ensure all was kept to schedule. There were over 40 referees in action during the tournament. Some travelled from Ireland to officiate while others were temporarily residing in the U.S. on J1 visas and there were a large number of home based referees also.
Thanks to the local NY host committee headed by Eugene Mc Ardle and to the CYC Steering Committee headed by Paul Mc Carthy and Simon Gillespie for such a wonderful event which will be a lasting memory for each and every one of those 2500 children and anyone who was fortunate enough to attend this fantastic event.
Pictured President of the Camogie Association Aileen Lawlor with one of the participating teams at the 2014 CYC Games