Updated: Aug 31
This year, with USGAA Finals in Chicago, a good troupe of Gaels packed their bags, checked in for flights, and headed to the windy city to take part in the festivities. The club sent teams for men's football, ladies' football, and hurling.
The first match of the weekend was for the ladies' footballers. The women were scheduled to play against Cleveland on Friday morning, and the sun was shining and the temperature was warm as they warmed up before the match. Despite a strong effort from the team and good passing moving the ball from the backs up to the scoring area further up the field, a strong Cleveland side put pressure on the Gaels defenders from the throw in. Although the women put in several excellent runs and racked up several good scores, the end of the match saw Cleveland advance onto the next round. You can see from photos from their match here.
Later that day, the men's footballers were slated to play against Austin's Celtic Cowboys. Having lost to Dallas in the final last year, the lads perhaps had a bit of anger to work out against Texans in general, because from the throw-in, DC was in full control of the match. Every single ball was fiercely contest and the boys in blue won well more than their fair share of the fifty-fifty balls. Smart movement from the forwards saw a number of cutting runs that ended with the ball in the back of the Austin net (or chain link fence, as is the case with some of the pitches in Chicago). The midfielders sent over their share of points to add to the tally and the end of the game came well before the final whistle. With one win under their belt, the men moved on to the next round on Saturday. Photos from the men's match against Austin are here.
Friday night saw a line of storms move through the area, continuing into the wee hours of Saturday, inundating some of the pitches and turning some of Gaelic Park's pathways into muddy scenes from a western movie. Despite the forecasted rain, the men lucked out with a bit of sunshine again when they took the pitch early on Saturday morning against the Delco Gaels. After having dispatched Austin with relative ease the day before, Delco proved a much tougher opponent for the footballers. DC played well against the Philly team, making good runs and dispatching their fair share of footballs over the crossbar. Despite their best efforts, the day didn't end up going DC's way at the final whistle. Photos from the footballers' game against Delco are here.
The next game up was for the hurlers, who faced off against Madison's Jr. A team early in the afternoon. Unlike the footballers, the hurlers got no similar luck with the rainy forecast and the ball was thrown in under the absolute pours of rain. The awful conditions made the first half a slippery affair, with short passing the name the game. After the half, the sun broke through the clouds and the weather changed from torrential downpour to a humid heat—familiar territory for us. Although the lads put in a noble effort, Madison proved a formidable opponent who had the upper hand throughout the contest. With the final whistle of the match, DC's hunt for silverware had come to an end for 2022. Photos from the hurler's contest against Madison are here.
That is not to say that the weekend was over, by any stretch of the imagination though. As is the case every year, the end of the pursuit of trophies simply means the beginning of the pursuit of camaraderie and teambuilding. In Gaelic Park's beer garden, games of flip cup were arranged, old tales of glory were rehashed, and everyone had a good time.
During the senior matches on the main pitch, the club had a chance to meet with two representatives from the Embassy in DC, Finbar Brown, Agriculture Counselor, and Martin Heydon, Minister of State at Dept of Agriculture, Food & Marine. Always happy to build transatlantic ties, we had a chat with the two, and got a photo with our new hurling kits from this year.
All in all, despite bringing no trophies home at the end of the contest, the end-of-year competition was good craic for all involved and the best place to start out the pursuit of silverware in 2023! Up the Gaels!
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