North American Championships 2012
Planes, trains and automobiles brought thousands of Gaelic Games followers to Philadelphia for the 2012 North American G.A.A. Championship Finals on Labor Day.
The ‘City of Brotherly love and Sisterly affection’ threw its arms wide open to teams from all over the North American Continent who had come to play Hurling, Football, Camogie and Ladies Football.
Joining in the celebration of our National Games were GAA President Liam O’Neill, Camogie President Aileen Lawlor, Ladies Football President Pat Quill and Munster Council Chairman Sean Walsh.
The scene in the hotel lobby on day one must have come as a shock to non-GAA residents with hurls, helmets, gear bags and teams forming up for the roll call; and all this at 6.45am! From here it was outside to the side street where the, big yellow school buses were waiting to transport us to Penny Pack Park on the banks of the Delaware River.
On arrival at Penny Pack Park it was obvious a lot of work had been put into the organisation of the weekend with six fully laid out pitches complete with marquees as changing rooms, water stations, toilets and hospitality areas.
At 8.00am the whistles blew and the games were on. The Camogie round robin series included teams from San Francisco, Toronto, Boston, Washington DC, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Seattle, St. Louis, and Denver. Although the games were played in intense heat and humidity the action was relentless.
The game of Camogie has grown rapidly in the United States and it was encouraging to see so many “home grown” exponents of the sport displaying marvellous skill and no shortage of passion.
Those competing at junior level were all born in the US to American parents while those at senior level were a mixture of Irish and American.
The sportsmanship displayed was impressive with nothing spared on the pitch but afterwards the line-up and hand shake was a nice touch as was the three cheer chant of “One for Us, One for Them and One for the Ref”.
The Camogie Association President Aileen Lawlor had an extremely busy itinerary meeting numerous teams and hearing of their lives stateside, of family and friends in Ireland and hopes for their future in the US. She also conducted a scheduled 30 minute camogie workshop and such was the level of interest, the event lasted for up to two hours! The senior and junior finals took place later that day, with a strong Baltimore side getting the better of Seattle in a thrilling encounter while the senior accolade went to Toronto who triumphed over San Francisco in a pulsating encounter.
In her presentation speeches, President Aileen Lawlor repeatedly stressed the importance of participation over the bonus of victory and noted the significant improvement in camogie standards which was extremely apparent at this year’s North American Finals. She also highlighted her hope that such standards would be maintained, thus facilitating the continued growth of the game stateside.
The hugely impressive Organising Philadelphia and North American Committee led by Joe Lydon, Paul Mc Carthy, Mary Ruane, Harry Costello, Mary Prendiville, Gareth Fitzsimons, and many more behind the scenes held a dinner for all those involved, including guests from Ireland, to celebrate the North American Finals weekend.
In attendance were the various organising committees, referees and officials as well as President of the GAA, Liam O’Neill, President of the Camogie Association Aileen Lawlor and President of the Ladies Football Association, Pat Quill and Sean Walsh Munster Council Chairperson.
A special word of thanks to the referees who travelled from all Associations and in particular Peter Downey of Cork, who represented the Camogie Association excellently during the course of the championships.
Pictures available on North American Finals 2012: North American Finals 2012 Album