Happy New Year to everyone, I hope you had a safe and enjoyable holiday season. I must also send out a big happy anniversary to this very magazine, the Ohio Irish American News, Five years young and I think we can all agree the editor-in-chief Mr. John O’Brien Jr. has done a simply amazing job. I would like to take this time to thank John for asking me to come on board five years ago, although I do believe at the time he asked to do ‘one’ article, well I guess as my wife will tell you I’m not always good at listening.
Gaelic Games: Cleveland 2013
There’s been a lot happening in both the Irish sports world and indeed right here in Cleveland since we last met. For those in the Cleveland area I am sure by now you have heard the big news that the 2013 North American County Board (NACB) Finals will be hosted in Cleveland in 2013. For those wondering what the NACB Finals are, in layman terms, it is the North American Gaelic Games Championships, the playoffs for Gaelic games in North America.
In November’s article I wrote about how the NACB Convention was being held in Cleveland and that many motions would be voted on. Well one such motion was presented by yours truly. The motion was for the 2013 National Playoff’s to be hosted by the Midwest Division in Cleveland.
On the day of Convention, it came down to two cities, Cleveland and Seattle. Both cities made great presentations to the delegates, both deserved to win. Cleveland was selected in a vote of 96 to 30.
Small City Opportunity
I have worked on this bid for six years on behalf of our club, Cleveland St Pat’s, and on behalf of the Midwest Division. In previous years the Finals have been held in the ‘usual’ cities such as Chicago, Boston, San Fran and Philadelphia. With a recent change to the NACB by-laws, 2013 was open to bids from so called smaller cities, such as Cleveland and Seattle. Hosting the Convention this year gave us a big advantage, along with the fact that clubs from the bigger cities of Chicago and Philadelphia can drive here,
So what does this mean and why all the hoopla? The prestige end-of-season championships for all GAA clubs in North America, along with an increasing number of clubs from the Canadian GAA will be held here. Between eighty and ninety-five teams will come to Cleveland over Labor Day Weekend, 2013 to play a Gaelic Football, Hurling and Camogie (ladies Hurling).
This many teams, of players, coaches, families and fans coming to town during a holiday weekend is huge for the local community and the economy. I have been fortunate to work in partnership with the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission on this bid, in terms of advice and resources. They estimate that an event at this time of the year will have $1.2 million impact on the community.
How to Get Involved
Such a big event also brings with it a lot of prep work, work that has already begun. Initial committee meetings will be held starting this month. At the time of printing, the date and time are yet to be confirmed – please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in getting involved in the planning side of the event or simply becoming a sponsor of the event. We will need help with such areas as vendors, transportation, crowd control, fundraising and marketing, amongst other things.
Our ultimate goal in putting on the event here in Cleveland is to give as much exposure to Gaelic Games as possible, games that have been in the area for nearly ninety years, but seem to have dwindled in popularity over the past years. We aim to put on an event that will paint a welcoming picture of the strong Irish community that we have here, along with showing what a great city we live in. Lastly, in terms of giving back, we will put any profit back into the game itself, with our main goal being to develop our existing facility at the West Side Irish American Club. This will help with the future of Cleveland St Pat’s Gaelic Football Club and the Gaelic Games here in our community. Cleveland St. Pat’s Men’s and Women’s Gaelic Football Clubs, Cleveland St. Jarlath’s Gaelic Football Club and the Akron Celtic Guards Hurling Club are all local teams we can be very proud of, and support.
As you can see, this will be a great event for not only the Irish community in the Cleveland area, but for all sports and cultural fans alike. During the actual Finals Weekend we are working on other unique ideas, such as entertainment at the games to tie in with the Cleveland Rock ‘N Roll theme, along with partnering with some of the local Kamm’s Corners businesses in creating a festival type village throughout the weekend for the athletes and spectators that will be in town for the weekend. It truly does have the making a fantastic weekend, one to make us all proud. Please help us make this a fantastic weekend.
In Other News
One of the biggest news storied in Irish Sports occurred last month with the draw for the 2012 European Championships, in which the Republic of Ireland qualified for having beaten lowly Estonia over a two game playoff. The Irish are paired with current Euro Champions Spain along with Italy and Croatia, a very tough drawing.
I am confident we will qualify and make the quarter-finals at least, but on paper it does not look good. In the upcoming months I will cover more on the June tournament and a complete analysis of the Irish teams.
First last month’s question: Golf in Ireland has had enormous success this past few years, with a new breed of golfers, but which Irish golfer owns the distinction of being the 1st Irishman to win of golf’s professional majors? Fred Daly, from Portrush in the north of Ireland, won the British Open Championship in 1947.
This month’s question: The Republic of Ireland last played in the European Championships in 1988, but failed to make it through the group stages. They were eight minutes away from qualifying for the semi-finals, until which team and eventual tournament winners scored a late winner?
*Mark Owens is originally from Derry City, Ireland and has resided in the Cleveland area since 2001, where he is employed by State Farm Insurance Companies, having previously spent time studying at John Carroll University. Send questions, comments or suggestions for future articles to Mark at: email@example.com.