2022 All Britain Competition triumphs over adversity
By John Harrington
An incredible collective effort from all involved meant the 2022 All Britain Competition (ABC) which took place last weekend was a huge success despite the challenges posed by some inclement weather.
The 10th anniversary of the ABC, a four-day festival of Gaelic Games for young players from GAA clubs and schools across Britain aged from U-8 to U-18, was due to be the biggest yet with 279 clubs and 30 secondary and primary schools registered to take part.
But torrential rain on the Friday meant the Go Games and schools matches scheduled for that day had to be postponed.
Despite that set-back, roughly 2,400 players ended up playing over 400 games on the Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, which was a huge achievement considering the adversity faced by the volunteers who made it all happen.
“The effort that the committee and all the volunteers put in place so it could actualy go ahead was phenomenal,” says Britain GAA’s head of Games Development and Operations, Stephen Lavery.
“A lorry-load of rubber mats were ordered and we covered the car-park and the walk-ways and did a lot of work around the grounds to get it ready.
“The Community Development Administrators put in amazing work coordinating the event and each match.
“The host club Tír Chonaill Gaels did a brilliant job too and had so many people there who really chipped in. It was just a phenomenal coming together of a lot of people to make it happen.
“I'd really like to thank GAA President, Larry McCarthy, for coming, and the GAA's International Manger, Charlie Harrison for his support too. Not only did Charlie come over for the weekend, he was always asking, 'what do you need? what do you need?'
“I think he just got the vibe of volunteerism and the way everyone stepped up and just buzzed off that.”
In his role as the GAA’s International Manager, Harrison looks after 450 GAA unites across the world, and his visit to London for the ABC was yet another reminder that we’re all part of the one community regardless of where we play our Gaelic Games.
“Everyone from all over Britain coming together in one place solidifies that sense of identity and community that the GAA has,” said Harrison.
“To be able to give kids the games opportunity and to come together in the one venue is great.
“It's a massive undertaking for everybody to get this off in a three-day period and have so many games played every day is fantastic. The volunteer army that help this get underway is huge.”
The ABC has grown year on year since its inception, and Provincial Council of Britain Chairperson, Noel O’Sullivan, derives a huge among of satisfaction from the positive way it touches the lives of so many.
“The 10th year anniversary means an awful lot,” he said. “We've had meetings once a month for the last 12 months to organise this.
“The amount of work that's involved...I just could not describe it.
“The amount of satisfaction that we've gotten from looking at the kids’ faces, looking at the parents, to see the enjoyment of what is all around us, you cannot put a price on it.”
With the popularity of Gaelic Games rising all the time in Britain, Stephen Lavery expects the ABC to continue to become bigger and better ever year. So much so, that the plan is to devise a new format in 2023 to cater for the growing numbers of participants.
“We're all just absolutely buzzing over here with how it has grown in the last number of years and we're already looking forward to next year,” said Lavery.
"We'll have to look at the format because as a competition it has probably outgrown its current format. We'll have a review meeting next month and we'll sit down, put out a survey, and get all the clubs, volunteers, parents, and players to give us their feedback and we'll review the whole thing and look at how we might change things for next year."
All Britain Competition 2022 Winners (All age-grades up to U-12 are non-competitive)
U13 Football Boys Cup: St Kiernans
U13 Football Boys Shield: Gael London
U13 Football Boys Plate: St Colmcilles (Maroon)
U14 Football Girls Cup: Rodger Casements
U14 Football Girls Shield: Glen Rovers
U14 Football Girls Plate: Erin Go Bragh
U14 Hurling Boys Cup: Erin Go Bragh
U14 Hurling Boys Shield: John Mitchels
U15 Football Boys Cup: Limavady Cúchulainn
U15 Football Boys Shield: Tara (Gold)
U15 Football Boys Plate: Tara (Green)
U16 Football Girls Cup: Rodger Casements
U16 Football Girls Shield: St Colmcilles (White)
U16 Football Girls Plate: Shared between Claddagh Gaels and St Brendans
U17 Football Boys Cup: Tara
U17 Football Boys Shield: St Clarets
U17 Football Boys Plate: Rodger Casements
U17 Hurling Boys Cup: Thomas McCurtains
U17 Hurling Boys Shield: Erin Go Bragh
U18 Football Girls Cup: St Finbars
U18 Football Girls Shield: Tara
U18 Football Girls Plate: Claddagh Gaels