Breezy Point, N.Y. -- More than 100 individuals, a number likely to have doubled before the day ended, came to Breezy Point on Saturday to demonstrate the draw -- and drawing power -- of Gaelic sports worldwide.
The event, billed Gaelic Sports Day, was produced by Shannon Gaels Gaelic Football Club. The Gaels are the only Minor GAA club, serving the children of Queens with 19 teams, providing them an invaluable opportunity to develop their athletic skills while learning the values of teamwork and sportsmanship. Shannon Gaels GAA, founded in 2002, is the second largest minor club in the New York area, and one of the fastest growing minor clubs in North America.
The morning featured several matches for players over 18, including a side from NYPD which drew 11-11 to a team gathered from players living in or near Breezy Point. On an adjacent field kids received pointers from coaches, and then took practice kicks and honed their skills for upcoming games. Lunch and baked good were available to all comers -- fans, players and those just curious. A tent and exhibit was set up as well to promote the Gaels' ambitious 'Field of Dreams' initiative, which is raising $4.5 million to fund development of a seven-acre permanent facility for Gaelic sports in Queens' Frank Colden Park.
Later on Saturday, Shannon Gaels teams playing in a tourney in the Bronx in a more formal GAA playoff were to join the club for the celebration, followed by a presentation of trophies to the winning sides and live music in the evening.
Four of us from The Wild Geese in NYC -- Tommy Dullaghan, Mary Grady, Corina Galvin, and Gerry Regan -- turned out, and I for one was taken by the friendliness of the assemblage and the skills already evidenced by the club's young players.
(Photos by Gerry Regan and Mary Grady)