New York GAA development will be on show at World Games
New York GAA are set to double the number of teams at the 2nd GAA World Games next month in Dublin, Aug 7-14, and in the process highlight successful development in preparing home grown squads for the tournament.
At the inaugural GAA World Games last year at Abu Dhabi, New York GAA had a men’s and ladies Gaelic football team made up of Americans and Irish but this time a total of seven sides will be in action. While numbers increase because of the additions of Hurling and Camogie, the commitment to games development remains the same as there will be All American men’s and ladies individual football teams present as well as a fully-fledged American hurling squad. Teams of Irish ladies and men’s footballers plus Camogs will also be travelling.
“The reason for the increase is the inclusion of Hurling, Camogie and more emphasis on the native born teams,” explained New York GAA World Games co-chairperson Simon Gillespie.
“New York GAA is delighted with all 7 teams participating both Irish and American teams and they will all represent our county with pride and we are really looking forward to our participation in future World Games,” he added.
Preparation for the games has been ongoing and excitement is building ahead of the event.
“There is a lot of excitement among the players and supporters of NYGAA are eager to see our teams do well and hope they enjoy the experience over in Dublin.”
Youth to adult player
Highlighting the work put into New York GAA development over the years, two players (amongst others) heading to Ireland with the men’s and ladies teams have come up through the youth ranks. Lining out for the all native men’s football side, American Shane Horgan who is also a member of the NY senior team, is an example of a youth product to top adult level.
“I’ve been playing Gaelic since I was 6. My older brother Conor, whose on the team [world games side] as well, started playing and when I went to a game and saw him play I wanted to give it a shot,” declared the young American.
“I’ve been playing ever since from U8 to the senior division and all the boys on our team have also come up through the minor ranks and play for teams involved with the senior board.
Feile and minor captain
Horgan honed his skills when as a U14 he played in one of those talented New York Feile teams and the experience of that competition has not been forgotten.
“I played in the Feile competition in 2007 in County Leitrim and 2008 in Cavan. I captained both teams and in 2008 we lost in sudden death in the Division 2 final.
When New York entered the All Ireland Minor Football Championship for the first time in 2010 (participation since put on hold), Horgan was on the team that lost to Galway and captained the side the following year when falling to Mayo at Croke Park. He since has graduated to the senior team and played in the recent loss to Roscommon.
“Anytime I get to represent New York, is an honor and privilege,” he said.
Compete at highest level
Now the young New Yorker has his sights squarely set on next month’s World Games in Dublin.
“I’m very excited for these World Games as they will bring a new challenge in my Gaelic career. Anytime I get to play in Ireland it’s an awesome experience, and it is quite special playing in the home of the game makes you wanna’ compete even harder to show why you love the game so much and to show that you can compete at the highest level.”
Like so many other non-Irish GAA players making it to the games, their sport means a considerable amount to them personally.
“Gaelic football is everything to me. My friends joke that without Gaelic football I’d be lost and they are sorta right, but it’s what I enjoy playing and it gives me an opportunity to make my family and club proud.
Third time lucky
Likewise on the NY American Ladies team, Bronx native and student Nora Kilkenny, has also come up through the youth ranks. She performed at Feile before going on to play with the adult team in the Junior All Ireland finals of 2011 and 2014 (lost both). Nora competed for NY in Abu Dhabi and is now looking forward to returning to Ireland to finally garner success.
“I started playing Gaelic with St. Raymond’s club when I was seven years old with the U-8 team through U-18 and have you come up through the youth ranks as have others on the All American team.
“When I was 12 years old my Dad (club coach) encouraged me to try out for the U-14 Girls Feile team. I made the team by the skin of my teeth but was ecstatic. This was the first ever New York Girls Feile team and my first time wearing a New York jersey in 2006. The Ladies' Junior All Ireland [finals] was the highest level of competition I have competed in while in Ireland.
“The GAA world games in Abu Dhabi last year were an experience of a lifetime. I was really blown away by the national platform that Gaelic football has reached and hope to see it continue to prosper".
“This world games is extremely special for me because the games are taking place at University College Dublin, the college that my Dad graduated from in 1984. Also, I will be playing alongside my sister Katie Kilkenny. My goal is to win a final in Croke Park, which would be my third attempt!”