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Middle East GAA stages successful juvenile tournament
By Robbie Corcoran, Juvenile Development Officer Middle East County Board
February 4, 2023 was an historic day for Middle East GAA as the Board staged its first official juvenile tournament.
More than 200 kids from across the Middle East region gathered in Sharjah in the UAE to participate in Gaelic football, hurling and camogie games. Teams from Dubai ire g, Abu Dhabi Na Fianna, RAK Ropair, Arabian Celts, Naomh Alee Riyadh, and Qatar GAA competed at U6, U8, U11, and U15 age groups.
It was fantastic to see such a wide range of cultures and nationalities join together to participate in what was a truly magnificent festival of Gaelic Games.
The day started at 10am with player registration followed by a parade of all the participants, evoking images from home of the historic File na ng which many of the parents and coaches in attendance had themselves played in some years ago.
Middle East GAA's juvenile tournament took place on February 4.
Four pitches were in action throughout the day as the U8 and U11 hurling and camogie kicked things off followed closely by the football action on all four pitches. The U6s and U8s served up a host of games full of skill and determination, all done with a smile on their faces, with the kids even finding time to stay active on the large bouncy castles between matches and as the early afternoon Dhuhr call to prayer bellowed from the adjoining Al Rusul Mosque, the games continued in earnest.
In the U11 and U15 football age groups there was silverware up for grabs and the games were suitably competitive. Four teams in each age group battled it out in a round-robin series of games to determine the finalists. In the U11s, Abu Dhabi Na Fianna with a little help from two RAK Ropair players narrowly defeated Dubai ire g in a thrilling final. The U15 final pitted Qatar GAA against Dubai ire g in a game laden with brilliant attacking and high-intensity football, it was the team from Doha that came out on top by a single score.
Once the games were finished, the players and coaches enjoyed some well-earned food and ice-cream followed by a presentation of medals and trophies on the main stage. As the sun started to set over the city of Sharjah, everyone enjoyed the live Irish music and had the chance to take a breath and reminisce on what was a truly spectacular day of juvenile Gaelic Games.