On the weekend of 14 May 2011, the South East Asia Gaelic Games were hosted in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam for the first time. The Opening Ceremony was held in the Windsor Plaza Hotel on 13 May. The Irish Ambassador, Maeve Collins, made the opening speech and Colm Ross spoke for the Viet Celts. After a number of different approaches to the sleeping process on Friday night, teams took to the field on Saturday morning.
The Irish Ambassador, Maeve Collins, threw in the first ball in the first game of the Ladies competition between the new Saigon Gaels and the DuraCelts Hanoi. Former Deputy Prime Minister of Ireland, Dick Spring, did likewise in the first game of the Men’s competition between the Saigon Gaels and Singapore Red. He also found himself doing linesman for a time and certainly has a career there if things do not work out in other areas of his life.
There was some controversy regarding the score in the second game of Group A, which featured the VC Blues vs. Malaysia Blue. It was possibly a malfunctioning pencil but after that, Gaelic football quite rightly was the focus. Davey Hayes of Shanghai was having a great tournament as was Colm Ross of the VC Reds, who finished the day with a tally of 5.1 and continues his habit of scoring one point either side of his age in SEA tournaments.
Photo: Aidan Dockery
After the group stages, Singapore Red and Shanghai went through to the Cup semi-finals from Group A and Singapore White and Malaysia Yellow went through to the Cup semi-finals from Group B. Malaysia Blue and VC Reds played a Plate quarter-final and from that, VC Reds joined VC Blues, Saigon, and Thailand in the semi-finals for the Plate.
Saigon beat Thailand in the first Plate semi-final and the VC Blues accounted for the VC Reds in the other. In the Cup semi-finals, Singapore Red beat Malaysia Yellow and Singapore Whites took out the high-flying Shanghai team.
VC Blues started very strongly in the Plate final but two goals just before both the end of the first and second halves were the turning points for a well deserved Saigon Gaels victory in the SEA Plate 2011 and a credit to a team which was founded a few short months before. Saigon Gaels look to have a good few skillful players and will be a force in South East Asia in the future.
In the Cup final, the Singapore Red and Singapore White squared off against each other. As always between these two sides, it proved to be a bruising and entertaining affair. In the end, Singapore White proved to be the stronger team and won the SEA Cup 2011 with some great scores.
A special thanks must go to all of the referees, umpires and linesmen in the Men’s competition without whom there would not have been a tournament.
Six teams representing Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand (with a few Shanghai ladies) and Singapore competed in the Women’s competition. The opening throw-in by the Irish Ambassador signaled the debut game for the recently formed ladies Saigon Gaels team, who played a strong first game but eventually, fell to their rivals from the north, the Hanoi DuraCelts.
The next few games saw Singapore dominance emerge as Singapore White remained undefeated in the rounds after wins against Malaysia, the Saigon Gaels, the DuraCelts (who were down their star player Claire Coughlan after an injury in the previous game) and their own Singapore Red. Not to be outdone, Singapore Red held their own and beat Thailand and later the DuraCelts in an evenly matched battle that either team could have won. In other matches, Malaysia continued their march towards a potential finals berth and a challenge to Singapore dominance with strong wins over Thailand and the Saigon Gaels.
Thailand claimed their only victory of the day against the debutantes from Saigon Gaels. The Gaels were not able claim a win in the tournament, but fought with spirit and improved remarkably throughout the day.
As the games heated up (both figuratively and literally), the final round of games saw Malaysia and Singapore Red fighting it out for a place in the Cup final against Singapore White. A highly competitive game of football saw Malaysia triumph over Singapore Red, ensuring them a much valued place in the Cup final.
The Plate finals pitted the DuraCelts against Singapore Red in a fierce rematch of the contest earlier that day. Despite a tied game at half time, Singapore Red went on to win the Plate with some impressive goals and points in the second half.
In the Cup final, Malaysia were up against the undefeated favorites Singapore White. Malaysia played skillful football against Singapore White, but in the end had to concede the Cup to the powerful force that is the Singapore White team.
At day’s end, the Women’s competition saw some skillful playing, great scores and even greater saves, and a note-worthy improvement in the tournament’s newest team, the Saigon Gaels. A special thanks to Claire Coughlan, Catherine Ganley, Eimear Scannell, Blathnaid MacNamara & Pat Gorham for refereeing in between their own matches.
Singapore took on Malaysia in SEA Youth Cup. Whilst Malaysia conceded something in the height department to their opponents, they were not conceding any easy scores and they made Singapore fight for their victory. Congratulations to both teams on some lovely football played and Singapore for winning the SEA Youth Cup. Ethan Cleary from Malaysia won the Youth Player of the Tournament award. Brian O’Reilly, Chairman of Saigon Gaels presented medals to both teams after the game.
The Closing Ceremony took place in the Windsor Plaza. Jim Kiernan, Gareth O’Hara and Paraic McGrath engaged in some “speechifying” and the presentation of medals and trophies followed. Claire Coughlan of the DuraCelts won the Women’s Player of the Tournament and Frankie McKenna of Singapore won the Men’s Player of the Tournament.
Afterwards, the skies opened and people had their first taste of the apocalypse. Some people did not go to bed until Monday morning.
We would like to thank all the teams who traveled and would also like to acknowledge the extremely hard work of the Viet Celts Organising Committee as a whole, and in particular the troubleshooting work of Tournament Director, Gareth O’Hara. We would like to thank the ACB Executive Committee and the Irish Embassy for their support and Brian O’Reilly of Saigon Gaels for his score tallying on the day of the tournament. We would also like to mention and thank our sponsors Diageo, Metro Cash and Carry Vietnam, International SOS together with ACB sponsors, ESB International.
The Viet Celts