Silverware went the length and breadth of the country following the New Zealand Sevens on Saturday 25 November, with clubs from Auckland, Wellington and Queenstown among the victors.
Teams from across the north and south islands flocked to Hamilton, New Zealand for the first national games of the 2023/24 NZ Gaelic games calendar. Naomh Críostóir, who were only established in 2015, assumed hosting duties for the competition, having recently hosted their first national tournament in the NZ Championships earlier in the year. An outstanding feat for an up-and-coming club.
It was a frantic day of games, with six trophies up for grabs. In the men’s senior football, hosts Naomh Críostóir, who in recent years have been competing in the junior grade, duly justified their place in the top tier by making it to the final. There they faced regular contenders in Marist Rangers of Auckland. It was a thrilling final, and in this ‘Battle of the Bombays’, it was the Auckland side who got over the line with a four-point win.
The women’s senior football saw Wellington/Hutt Valley continue their imperious form in New Zealand –and Australasia – with a resounding victory over St Pat’s Emerald City in the final. This is their fourth competition win on the trot, and few will be betting against them come the NZ Championships in March.
It was Wellington/Hutt Valley and a combined Auckland side contesting the hurling final. With Wellington eyeing up a third consecutive title, Auckland, who have been making great strides with the small ball in recent years, had different ideas. In a tight and tense game the Auckland side claimed a memorable three-point win, and in doing so, put an end to the recent Wellington-Canterbury supremacy over NZ hurling. The camogie final was also a Wellington/Hutt Valley-Auckland affair, with the camógs from the capital also aiming for three sevens titles in a row – and they didn’t disappoint, running out convincing winners, and continuing their year-on-year progress.
The men’s junior football final was a battle between the north and south islands as Wellington/Hutt Valley, another team from the capital looking to make it three sevens titles in a row, faced Queenstown Gaels. It wasn’t to be for Wellington as Queenstown, who were one of the most impressive teams in Hamilton, dominated the final and ran out convincing winners. The women’s shield final, meanwhile, was played between Celtic GFC of Auckland and Wellington/Hutt Valley’s second team. This was a high-scoring game, with goals aplenty, but the Aucklanders’ superiority up front got them over the line with a six-point victory.
Congratulations to all tournament winners, and a worthy bualadh bos to hosts Naomh Críostóir for their outstanding contribution to Gaelic games in NZ in 2023. Next up in the NZ calendar are the national championships in Queenstown on St Patrick’s weekend, and it’s sure to be a cracker.