As we take another step closer to Winter, we look back on an action-packed month across Canada!
In the Western Division, all roads led to Red Deer on August 19th as the Calgary Chieftains and Edmonton Wolfe Tones met to finish the 2023 Battle of Alberta. There was great anticipation around the games as both clubs travelled strong and with the belief, they were good enough to bring a cup home with them. The opening game was the first of two Ladies Football games that would be played on the day. Having not been able to field a team in previous games, it was fantastic to see Edmonton take the win, while the Calgary Ladies did very well, the Edmonton ladies looked sharp!
Next up was the Men’s Football, games between Calgary and Edmonton are always exciting as there is a huge rivalry between both clubs! The Edmonton lads battled hard, but the Calgary lads were on a different level and got the win. Having won the first instalment back in June, this meant the Men’s Football Championship was going to penalties. As the Referee marked out the penalty spot and practiced his counting, both Men’s teams chose their top 5 kickers. It was a tough contest, but the Edmonton lads came out on top and held onto the Men’s Football Cup for another year.
Third up was the Hurling, both teams battled hard but the Calgary Chieftains were just to strong on the day. Their recent hurling sessions proved to be the difference as they looked sharp and accurate with ball in hand.
The last game of the day was the Ladies Football game. It was end-to-end stuff, with both teams trading scores frequently. The Calgary girls put their heads down and held onto their lead to win the game and take it to penalties to decide on the winner. The field was lined with players and coaches as the girls stepped up to the penalty spot. Despite some fantastic saves and some sharp goals, Calgary came out on top and would travel down the road with the Alberta Ladies Cup once again.
A massive well done to both teams for keeping GAA so competitive in Alberta, not an easy task when both clubs are separated by over 280 km and are covered in snow 6 months of the year!
Over in the Toronto Division, all eyes were on Le Cheile Camogie as they packed their bags and headed to Denver to defend their USGAA Senior Camogie title. Their first game of the tournament was against Liberty Gales, a foe that Le Cheile are very familiar with, despite wild weather the girls held out and got the win after a very hard-fought battle. Setting them up for their second game of the tournament against Boston. They went onto win this one with a bit more ease with a score line of 6-16 to Boston’s 1-10. After two big games, the legs were surely starting to feel it, but with the title on the line, the girls took to the field to play Annie Moore’s of New York. This game was a spicy one! Both teams traded scores, with Le Cheile hitting the net a few times, but Annie Moore’s kept knocking over the points to keep the game tight. However, Le Cheile had the powerhouse that is Maria Higgins in defence keeping everything out and Le Cheile went onto win the game and keep their USGAA Senior Camogie title for one more year.
A massive congratulations to the players, coaches, and supporters for an incredible achievement! An extraordinary feat to go down to the US and bring home a title for the second year in a row!
Back in Toronto city, the Championship finals took place on August 26th. The Ladies game had St Pats and St Mikes facing off while the Men’s game had Toronto Gaels and St Vincent’s face each other, a repeat of the 2023 Toronto League Finals. Surely these games wouldn’t be as exciting as those earlier in the year… As the crowds filled into Centennial Park the pipers could be heard tuning up, the Ladies game was the first of the day. What started as a gloriously sunny day for GAA soon descended into conditions more comparable to Dromara of a Tuesday evening in February. The players were not put off by this however and played smashing football, St Pat’s started with a solid defence and weren’t making things easy for St Mikes despite St Mikes getting the first score of the day. St Pats started to dominate before eventually coming out on top and retaining the Senior Ladies trophy.
Next up was the Men’s Football final and what a game this one was! Both teams working tirelessly in brutal conditions as points were exchanged between both teams before St Vincent’s pulled ahead and went on to win the game! Amongst those on the field in the rain, were two very experienced Irish Referees who travelled over the games. Shane Curley took charge of the Ladies game with Niall McKenna keeping an eye on the Men’s game. A massive thanks to both refs for making the trip and a huge well done to all in Toronto GAA on another excellent year!
Over in the Vancouver Division it was also Finals time as the Vancouver teams prepared for the two biggest days of the GAA year in Burnaby. First up were the Hurling finals on August 12th, with 7 games on the schedule it was lining up to be a busy day! The sun was out in force in Burnaby as the first teams took to the field at 9am; JP Ryan’s & Vancouver Wolfe Tones to battle it out for the Junior B Championship. In their first year as a club, the Tones took home the Junior B championship with a dominant display to ensure the new club went home with the first championship in their history. Next up was the Junior Hurling Championship Final between Cu Chulainn & JP Ryan’s, this was one for the ages! The ferocity and intensity could be felt on the sideline by everyone, even the Canada GAA PRO ducking for shade amongst the trees! Both teams put in serious performances, before JP Ryan’s snatched victory with a goal from a 21-yard free to win by a point.
Next up was the Junior Camogie Exhibition game that saw ISSC and Cu Chulainn take to the field and demonstrate just how far Camogie has come in Vancouver since Cu Chulainn started their Camogie club and gave ISSC more competition. In the Intermediate Hurling Final, Cu Chulainn and JP Ryan’s faced off for the second time that day, with both teams very familiar with each other it was another titanic battle. But victory went the way of Cu Chulainn as they proved to strong on the day. In the Senior Camogie Final, ISSC and Cu Chulainn took to the field again to battle out for the Camogie bragging rights around Vancouver. With some savage talent on display, Cu Chulainn took home the Senior title in their first year in the Senior Camogie Championship.
The last Hurling game of the day saw JP Ryan’s and Vancouver Wolfe Tones line out. JP Ryan’s were going for their 4th title while Vancouver Wolfe Tones found themselves in the Senior Championship in their first year as a club, a tremendous achievement! JP Ryan’s went on to win the game and the title but with the level of skill shown by Vancouver Wolfe Tones in the games, it won’t be long before we see them lift the Senior Trophy.
Two weeks later, clubs once again set foot in Burnaby for the Vancouver Football Championship on another glorious day that saw a crowd of young GAA fans gather for another fun filled day.
The first game of the day was the Junior Ladies Final between ISSC and Vancouver Eire Og which saw ISSC take home first place. Next up was the Junior Men’s Final that saw Vancouver Eire Og and St Finnian’s battle it out for the bragging rights. This one went to extra time before St Finnian’s won by 1 point. As midday rolled around, the Intermediate Ladies final between ISSC and Fraser Valley Gaels kicked off with ISSC hoping to get their second trophy of the day. They did just that, with a dominant display to take home the intermediate championship against a spirited Fraser Valley. St Finnian’s and Eire Og once again took to the field to see which club was more dominant, with St Finnian’s proving to be just to much for Eire Og in the Intermediate category.
It was the turn of the Senior Finals, that saw St Finnian’s face off against ISSC in their third final of the day. All eyes were on this one as the crowds wondered if ISSC could make it 3/3, and they did, proving their dominance in the Vancouver GAA Ladies Football scene. The last game of the day saw St Finnian’s and Eire Og meet on the field for the third time before a titanic battle would ensue between both teams! The challenges were well timed and hard, the points were accurate and frequent throughout the 60 minutes of football. As the ref blew the whistle for full time, it was Eire Og who were celebrating as they won the Senior Final.
Vancouver GAA has grown so much over the last number of years, the work being done is phenomenal and is a sight to be seen! Well done to all the clubs who took to the fields throughout the year and on the two finals days!
As another month ends, we look forward to our annual Canada GAA Convention on the first weekend of December, this year it will be held in Calgary Alberta. Break out the skis and meet us on the slopes for what is sure to be a superb weekend in Calgary!