Special Occasion for Australian Expats
As GAA squads from around the world enter their final month of preparation for the forthcoming 2nd Etihad GAA World Games this August in Dublin, expats especially, are relishing the chance to showcase overseas competition on an occasion that for many will be very special. Indeed, for some in Australia, the World Games can’t come quick enough.
Four teams from Australasia GAA (Australia & New Zealand) will be taking the longest journey of teams heading to the week-long festival of games, August 7-14. Both men’s and ladies football teams, as well as hurling and camogie squads will be represented, selected from state teams that competed in last year’s Australasian State Championships in Wellington, New Zealand.
The camogie group was chosen from the best New South Wales (NSW), Queensland and Victoria players and is captained by former Kilkenny player and long-time Central Coast club member in Sydney, Keira Kinahan Murphy.
Keira led NSW to glory in Wellington where she garnered ‘Player of the Tournament’. She feels that in all her playing years the world games will be a pivotal moment in her Camogie career.
“It’s an absolute honour to represent Australia in Ireland, it really and truly is something very special to me and to also be selected as the captain of the team is just the icing on the cake,” said Kinahan Murphy.
“I adored playing with my club Ballyhale Shamrocks back home and also with the Kilkenny seniors for 7 years prior to moving to Australia where I have spent the last 10 years.
“To leave home and leave the Kilkenny panel was a very big decision for me aged 22. I had no real intention of staying in Australia for longer than 6 months but to have the opportunity to be part of a GAA community so far from home and to have the chance to represent this country, which we now call home, is just amazing and something I plan on making the absolute most of while in Dublin.”
Training and romance
The Murphy part of her name was added two years ago when she got married to team manager and Central Coast coach, Wexford native, Adrian Murphy. The pair met through the GAA and from that moment have not looked back. “I met Keira at practice, love at first training I suppose,” laughed Murphy. “We had a lot in common and we really hit it off. We are both very competitive and have a massive love for the game,” he said.
Keira has a similar perspective.
“Camogie and Hurling means everything to us, it’s a massive part of our lives. We both grew up in families that enjoyed the game and we had a similar upbringing where we loved to play. We’re both competitive and wanted to do the best we could. It’s what brought us together out here in Sydney.”
But the similarities don’t just end there.
“It’s quite funny I could be playing a game and things might not be going well so I will be thinking to myself we need to make changes, I think we need to move x to this position. Two seconds later I will hear Adrian shouting the exact same instruction to us. Our brains seem to be synced when it comes to camogie and hurling. We have been through so much together over the past ten years in sport and our personal lives and to have this opportunity and for both of us to be part of it [World Games] together makes it all the more special.”
On the field in Dublin, the captain will be ably assisted by Queensland and Eire Og club stalwart Marie O’Halloran as vice-captain, while team coach will be Ciaran Wright. On account of the big distances between the three states, the squad has had only the one training/team bonding session recently in Sydney. Still, the manager thinks that the side, who field 5 former inter-county players, will be very competitive at the World Games.
“We have a great bunch of dedicated girls who are enthusiastic and looking forward to the event in Dublin. Everyone is very excited and what an amazing achievement for all involved to be selected to represent their adopted home country of Australia. We have a competitive bunch and they will all be gunning for glory back home in front of their families and friends,” said Murphy.
Coaching camogie has also given him a new appreciation of women in sport.
“Since going into coaching ladies teams I have earned a great respect for ladies in sport. I have watched girls work hard if not harder than men. I owe a lot to the GAA here in Australia, it's made living here a home away from home, I have made some amazing friends but most of all I found a wife.
“Managing the Australasian Camogie team is the highest honour for me so far as a Camogie manager, it makes it extra special and motivates me the fact that it's the first Camogie World Games (football only in 2015) and I could lead this team out in Croke Park. I feel I know these girls very well from playing with and against them in past state games, I know I can get the best out of them and with a bit of hard work I know we can win it.
“August can't come quick enough.”