We were deeply saddened to learn of the recent passing of our first-ever president, Tommie Kearns.
Tommie displayed tremendous dedication to the Irish community in Australia, as seen by his involvement with Irish organisations such as Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, the Claddagh Association, and his years of service to GAA in Western Australia and Gaelic games across Australia.
Appointed as the inaugural president of the Gaelic Athletic Association of Australia in Sydney in June 1974, Tommie’s contribution helped lay the foundations for our success over the past 49 years. We thank Tommie for his immense commitment to our association.
Our deepest condolences go to the Kearns family, friends, and the Irish community in Perth during this difficult time.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.
Welcome to the second edition of the Australasia Gaelic games newsletter. 2023 has been a hectic year to date, so we have plenty of updates from across the region and beyond. This edition includes news on upcoming tournaments, a welcome return to an Australasia affiliate, state-by-state updates, and of course, a look at our world games success in Derry. We hope you enjoy it, and if you haven’t already, subscribe here to receive our future newsletters in your inbox.
Australasia were crowned World Champions three times at Celtic Park on Friday 28 July as our Irish men’s and women’s footballers, and camogie team claimed some great final wins.
After a hectic week of games played at Derry GAA’s Centre of Excellence in Owenbeg, four of our teams qualified for the finals in Celtic Park: our hurlers, camógs, and Irish men’s and Irish women’s footballers, with the latter three winning their finals convincingly. Our hurlers were pipped by Middle East in a thrilling final, while our international-born men’s and women’s football teams lost their respective semi-finals to the eventual winners.
Featuring in our fourth GAA World Games since 2015, this edition was our most successful with three of our six teams bringing silverware back down under.
You can view the results and read a full round-up of the games here: World Games 2023
Welcome to the first edition of the Australasia Gaelic games newsletter. We have heaps of updates on recent activity from across Australia and New Zealand, including season round-ups from Victoria and New South Wales, some comings and goings, and this month’s GAA World Games in Derry.
We plan to publish the newsletter every few months, depending on activity. For now, enjoy this edition, and if you haven’t already, subscribe here to receive our future newsletters.
Victoria’s season drew to a close with the championship finals on Sunday 2 July. Well done to all in Victoria for another successful season, and congratulations to the state’s champions for 2023. Read the round-up from each of the finals below.
St Kevin’s 4-9 – 4-6 Sinn Féin
Sunday 2 July
St Kevin’s and Sinn Féin met in the women’s senior football final, the third meeting of this pairing in finals in 2023. With Sinn Féin taking the Pearses Sevens title, and St. Kevin’s victorious in the league final, the championship final was aptly the decider for the year. It was all Kevin’s in the first half with an eight-point difference at half time, but Cormac O’Neill’s Sinn Fein came out firing in the second half, clawing back to make it a draw game. It seemed like the momentum was all with Sinn Féin, however St Kevin’s dug deep and found that extra gear that was evident all season to kick the final three points of the game. At full time it was St Kevin’s 4-9 to Sinn Fein 4-6. Captain Mona Sheridan was amongst St Kevin’s best and accepted the cup, with Anna Jones named player of the match. Australasia World Games player Tricia Melanaphy was a star for Sinn Féin, and will be one to watch in Derry at the end of the month.
Garryowen 3-15 – 2-9 Wolfe Tones
Sunday 2 July
This final was eagerly awaited between two great rivals in Garryowen and Wolfe Tones. Wolfe Tones started very strongly getting three points in the first five minutes but this was nullified by an opportunist goal on the break from Garryowen. Wolfe Tones’ tactics worked well in the first half causing several critical turnovers, which helped them build a small lead at half time. The second half was a different story, however. Garryowen’s running game clicked into action and their superior ball handling, speed and fitness was telling. Wolfe Tones did score a fine goal on the break to keep them in the game but Garryowen’s on-field leaders, namely Conor Dorman, Stephen Cahill and Shane Buckley came to the fore, particularly in the final quarter to finish their opponents off in some style. Matthew O’Sullivan at full-forward had a fine game for Garryowen scoring three wonderful points from play when it really mattered. Some observers said he was reminiscent of his fellow county man, the legendary Eoin ‘Bomber’ Liston.
Melbourne Shamrocks 6-10 – 0-2 Garryowen
Sunday 2 July
Melbourne Shamrocks avenged their league final defeat with huge win over Garryowen. Shamrocks built up a healthy lead in the first half with some well-taken goals by their inside forwards, and went in at the break leading by 4-4 to 0-2. They continued their dominance in the second half, but credit to Garryowen who never gave up and battled hard until the final whistle. Shamrocks captain Lisa McCarthy was presented with the championship cup for 2023, while Orla Beagan deservedly received the player of the match award.
Melbourne Shamrocks 1-24 – 2-18 Garryowen
Sunday 2 July
In a repeat of the league final, Melbourne Shamrocks and Garryowen battled it out for the 2023 championship title. In a titanic tussle that ebbed and flowed, both teams produced a fantastic hour of hurling. Shamrocks went in at the short whistle leading by a goal, 1-9 to 0-9. The second half produced some delightful scores by both teams in an action-packed 30 minutes of hurling. After a great effort by Garryowen, Shamrocks finished the stronger and held out for a three-point win on a scoreline of 1-24 to 2-18. Paul Morris accepted the cup on behalf of his team, while Kieran Bennett received the player of the match award following his outstanding display.
Garryowen 3-9 – 0-13 Pádraig Pearses
Sunday 2 July
Whilst Garryowen started out as favourites, Pádraig Pearses took the game to them from the start with their combative and direct style of play in an entertaining encounter. Pearses delivered the ball quickly into Brian Lowry to great effect throughout the game, and he finished with 0-8 points from play and frees, a tremendous individual contribution. However, Garryowen’s powerful running game proved to be more incisive and their three goals were ultimately decisive. Jonathan Quinlan (man of the match) at midfield was imperious for Garryowen, and he won a huge share of possession under considerable pressure at vital stages in the game. And Eddie Goggin, the veteran corner forward, was a constant and deadly threat to the Pearses defence. The game moved at a great pace in both halves and was played in a very sporting fashion. Garryowen were full value for their win against a brave Pearses outfit.
Sinn Féin 3-9 – 4-4 Pádraig Pearses
Sunday 25 June
The women’s intermediate football was the first of Victoria’s championship finals to be played. In a game that saw seven green flags raised, Sinn Féin eked out a two-point win to take home the title.
On Sunday 4 June, Geelong Gaels was excited to celebrate the 160th anniversary of the ‘Geelong Rules’ (read below) as part of the National Celtic Folk Festival in Portarlington. The Gaels’ youth section, the Grasshoppers, were led to an exhibition hurling match by a pipe band before putting their hurling skills on display for the large crowd that had followed them to the pitch. Afterwards, members of the public donned helmets and grabbed hurleys to have a go at some of the skills of hurling under the guidance of our coaches.
The day concluded with a poc fada for both juniors and adults. The sound of sliotar on hurley rang across the Portarlington foreshore as participant after participant tried their hand at the long poc in the hope of being crowned our 2023 champion. After some intense competition and quality striking the poc fada champions where Clare Mullen and Alan Corcoran.
Many thanks go to the organisers of the National Celtic Festival, especially Una McAlinden and Shauna McConnell, for welcoming us into the festival, as well as the coaches and families of the Geelong Gaels who attended the event. We look forward to continuing our involvement in coming years.
Many believe that the establishment of the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1884 (and hurling rules adopted in 1885) was the first time a set of hurling rules were published, however a group of hurlers in Geelong Australia agreed on a set of rules for a St. Patrick’s Day game over years earlier.
The 1801 Act of Union and later the Great Famine caused vast numbers of Irish people to emigrate to America and Australia bringing with them their native culture and traditions. It was less 15 years after the height of the famine that a group of Irish emigrants decided to play a hurling match in Germantown (now Grovedale outside Geelong, Australia). The game involved 25 players from Geelong competing against a country team for St. Patricks Day in 1863.
Before the game went ahead, due to the fact that those involved had come from all parts of Ireland, an agreed set of rules was required. On the 12th of March, the organisers held a meeting at Mr. Loughnan’s Royal Charter Hotel. At this meeting the group of hurlers proposed and seconded the 6 following rules:
Rule 1: That no tripping be allowed
Rule 2: That fair jostling, shoulder to shoulder, be allowed
Rule 3: That the ball shall not when in play be lifted from the ground by the hand except it alight in water or in a ditch, or meet with some other obstruction, when it may be so lifted, but shall then be thrown fair, and in the course it would have gone had it have not met with any impediment to its progress
Rule 4: That any player making a stroke with his hurley with the intention of doing any bodily harm to an opponent, be given up at once to the authorities by the stewards.
Rule 5: That any player inadvertently transgressing the foregoing rules, shall justify the stewards’ interference, who shall caution the player, and if the ball shall have been played foully it shall be brought back to the place whence it may have been wrongly played.
Rule 6: That any member appearing on the ground during the progress of the game the worse of drink, he shall be expelled from the game
At the end of the meeting “it was unanimously resolved that the following rules and regulations be adopted”.
Two days later a written record of the meeting and rules was published in the Geelong Advertiser on 14 March 1863. Unbeknownst to those involved at the time they inadvertently had agreed on the oldest published set of rules for the game of hurling in the world (including Ireland).
The Victoria league finals concluded on Sunday 28 May at La Trobe University, Bundoora. Congratulations to all league winners, including the fledgling Young Melbourne club, who claimed their first-ever league silverware, as well as Garryowen, who won three of their four finals. Read the round-up from each of the finals below.
St Kevin’s 2-06 – 1-05 Sinn Féin
Sunday 28 May
In the women’s senior football final, Sinn Féin took on St Kevin’s. The standard in ladies football has risen greatly this year with hotly contested games throughout the league. It was victory for St Kevin’s on a final scoreline of 2-06 to 1-05. Mona Sheridan in her first year at St. Kevin’s accepted the trophy as captain, with player of the match going to Jayne Moore.
Garryowen 0-18 – 1-11 Wolfe Tones
Sunday 28 May
The men’s senior football final saw Garryowen take on rivals Wolfe Tones again. This was an exceptional match with both teams fighting eagerly for the victory. Garryowen came out on top with the score at the final whistle being 0-18 to 1-11. Garryowen captain Stephen Cahill lifted the cup, with the player of the match being awarded to Fearghal McMahon.
Garryowen 1-9 – 1-3 Melbourne Shamrocks
Sunday 28 May
In the camogie final, we had reigning winners Melbourne Shamrocks take on Garryowen. In a first for the Garryowen team, they came away as victors with the final score of 1-9 to 1-3. Garryowen captain Paula Collins raised the cup, and the player of the tournament was awarded to Sinéad Touhy. President Conor Hennessy commented that the standard of camogie has risen in Victoria, and it is promising to see how it progresses in the coming year.
Melbourne Shamrocks 1-25 – 0-16 Garryowen
Sunday 28 May
The hurling final saw an incredible tussle between Melbourne Shamrocks and Garryowen. Shamrocks were victorious at full time with an outstanding result of 1-25 to 0-16. Melbourne Shamrocks captain Paul Morris picked up the silverware with the player of the match being awarded to Jason Stanley.
Pádraig Pearses 2-6 – 0-4 Sinn Féin
Sunday 21 May
Pádraig Pearses claimed the intermediate league with a convincing eight-point win over Sinn Féin, with a final score of 2-6 to 0-4.
Garryowen 2-7 – 1-8 Wolfe Tones
Saturday 20 May
The men’s intermediate league final pitted old rivals Garryowen against Wolfe Tones. There’s never a dull moment when these two clubs play, with their usual high standard on display throughout the competition. The men in red and black got over the line this time round on a scoreline of 2-7 Garryowen to Wolfe Tones’ 1-8. Garryowen’s captain Mark O’Driscoll accepted the trophy, and the player of the match was awarded to Eddie Goggin. The men’s intermediate league had seven teams participating for the first time. This is a great sign of the significant growth in participation in Victoria in 2023.
Young Melbourne 3-12 – 3-10 Pádraig Pearses
Saturday 20 May
The shield final was contested by Young Melbourne and Pádraig Pearses, with Young Melbourne snatching victory by a couple of points after extra time. It was a memorable win for the fledgling club, and a testament to the great strides they’ve made since they formation. The final score was Young Melbourne 3-12 to Pearses 3-10. Young Melbourne’s captain Ollie McKeon lifted the shield, with the player of the match going to Graham Glynn.
The GFHA Australasia convention was held in Atura Airport Hotel in Adelaide on 31 March and 1 April. Here are some of the main updates from the convention.
The Australasia State Games will not be held in 2023. With the World Games taking place in Derry in July, it was agreed that it is not feasible to host the competition this year. The State Games will return in 2024, with the host state to be confirmed. 2024 is also the 50th anniversary of GFHA Australasia, so the games will be a great anniversary event.
The Australasia Regional Games (junior championships) will be held in Geelong, Victoria on Saturday 11 November 2023. This would be a great opportunity for junior and social players to play in national tournament.
GFHA Australasia Secretary Gerard Roe will be stepping down in July. His successor will be Teresa Connolly-Hughes Daly. Teresa comes from the Penrith Gaels club in Sydney and is the current Secretary of New South Wales GFHA. Although Teresa has big shoes to fill, we’re sure she’ll do a fine job in leading the association.