South Asian Gaelic Games 2014

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Design: Shane Moran

INTRODUCTION

On May 24 2014, the top GAA athletes and teams from all over South Asia converged on the My Dinh VFF Grounds, in the shadows of My Dinh National Stadium, to compete in the 2014 South Asian Gaelic Games. Temperatures were excruciating on the day, 39C in the shade and pushing 47C out on the field in the sun so players did very well to keep going.

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Photo: Aidan Dockery

The event was the largest South Asian GAA tournament to date, with a total of ten men’s and eight women’s teams taking part in the competition. In addition, the competition included the first ever South Asian Youth Cup, in which eight youth teams hailing from Vietnam and Malaysia competed for international trophies and renown.

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Photo: Aidan Dockery

For the hosting club, the Viet Celts , the day on the field will likely be remembered as somewhat bittersweet, as despite fielding several formidable sides and producing some fantastic results on the grass, we were unable to take home any trophies on the day. Nonetheless, it was still a great day of football for everyone involved, and one that should be remembered as a day of firsts and a step forward for both our club and the competition as a whole.

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Photo: Aidan Dockery

MEN’S COMPETITION – HANOI TEAMS
Led by captain coaches Shane Moran and Jamie McGough, who prior to the tournament had overseen the most organized and dedicated training program the club has ever known, the VC trotted out our best football team to date. VC Ones were replete with a punishing defense, a highly mobile and skilled midfield and a forward line that was equal parts talented and ruthless.  The squad came out of the gates fired up for the first game, getting the best of a solid but ultimately outgunned Thailand side.

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Photo: Aidan Dockery

In their second match, our upstart squad had the eyes of the tournament upon them as they took on South Asian GAA royalty in the form of the Singapore Gaelic Lions Ones. As the Celts had never beaten and rarely challenged Singapore’s top sides in the past, the match was to be a true litmus test of how far our club had come. Proving their skill and tenacity from the opening throw up, the Celts hounded the Lions whenever they were on the ball, led by a relentless effort on the backline by Shane Tuohy, Lee Dunning, Dan Coloe and Donnacha O’Connell in front of keeper, Dave Cunningham.

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Photo: Aidan Dockery

Indeed, in the second half, so flustered were the normally cool and clinical Singapore forwards that they missed both penalty and free kicks they would normally convert with ease. This swarming team defensive effort, coupled with good ball movement in possession a few moments of brilliance from Shane and Jamie working together up front proved too much for the Lions. The result was our boys producing arguably the best result in club history by knocking off the Singapore Ones with several points to spare.

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Photo: Aidan Dockery

In their next match, the VC Ones took on and defeated our VC Three side, which at this point was still high on courage but short on legs, having suffered several injuries and lost key players. Having swept their first three games, the Ones were then named Group B champions, as the Malaysia’s second team declined the opportunity to play them, being overheard proclaiming of our boys “I’ve seen them play, and that’s a real A team.”

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Photo: Aidan Dockery

Moving on to the semifinal of the cup competition, our top seeded A team then took on a Singapore 2, team dubbed by participants and spectators alike as “Singapore 2 and Friends” in a reference to the inclusion of several players from the other two Singapore teams in the tournament as well as one of the Saigon Gaels. In spite of going in ahead at the half, our boys would ultimately fall to the amalgamated Singapore side, as in a vitriol charged match, the more tournament experienced Lions benefited from some great individual performances as well the controversial sending off of VC standout, Shane Tuohy.

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Photo: Aidan Dockery

Despite not ending the tournament with the championship they sought and perhaps on another day would have received, the VC Ones to a man gave their all on the field, and set a new standard of play for the club to aspire to continue in the future. In addition, though our results were not as successful on the field, both our second and third teams showed the fighting spirit and the camaraderie of the club on the day, banding together and staying positive despite often fielding undermanned teams due to injuries and other tournament responsibilities.

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Photo: Aidan Dockery

For their efforts, big thanks must go to travelling GAA youth coach Faolan Smyth and Asian County Board Chairman, Joe Trolan for playing with and starring for our second side on the day in addition to refereeing countless other youth and adult games. Faolan Smyth scores an excellent goal in this clip.

Video: Alex Leonard

Also notable were Mike McMillan and Joe Vile, who fought the heat in their first ever tournament, featuring in the midfield for  the third and second side respectively. Crazy Dan Hopkins was very tenacious for the VC Seconds and may well have redefined the art of the Gaelic Football tackle in this clip.

Video: Alex Leonard

In addition, VC3 captain Ciaran Rose deserves recognition for leading a squad for which he often didn’t know if he would have enough players until moments before a match, and doing so with a smile and no hint of complaint.

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Photo: Aidan Dockery

WOMEN’S COMPETITIONVC Ladies 3

Playing against the finest women’s teams in South Asia, our sister club the Viet Celt Ladies also showed how far they have come in a short time recently. Unlike most amateur teams in Asia, which train once or twice a week maximum, many of the VC Ladies were training as many as three times a week going into the competition.

gaa-hanoi-vietnam-aidan-dockery-159Photo: Aidan Dockery

Bolstered by their unmatched work ethic and an all for one team spirit born of the many hours spent together in training, the VC Ladies went from being shocked by the fitness and skill of the Saigon Gaels in a friendly only a few months before to standing toe to toe and trading blows with some of the top teams in the competition.

gaa-hanoi-vietnam-aidan-dockery-157Photo: Aidan Dockery

Among their impressive results achieved by the two VC Ladies teams on the day were drawing with the ultimate winner of the cup competition, Singapore 2, and reaching the plate final match against Saigon. What’s more, while reaching the final might have been impressive enough, the VC Ladies showed they were not satisfied with simply being there by pushing to the brink the same Saigon team that had dominated them months before, narrowly losing a hard fought and well-played game.

 

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Photo: Aidan Dockery

Congratulations to Captain Julianne and coaches Shane + Luke and all the girls for a great tournament. You guys really outdid yourselves on the field and you did all the Celts proud. As with the men may it lead to continued growth for the future!

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Photo: Aidan Dockery

YOUTH COMPETITION
In the first ever South Asian Youth Cup, teams hailing from local schools Vietnamese Australia School (VAS) and Hanoi International School (HIS), and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia duked it for the rights to be the initial champions of their respective divisions.

Teams1

As is often the case in their competitions, teams from VAS Hanoi and HIS split the honors on the day, with the results from the championship matches ended as follows:
U12 Boys
VAS Hanoi   7.1   (22pts)
Malaysia       2.11 (17pts)

U15 Boys
VAS Hanoi  5.7 (22pts)
Hanoi IS      1.5 ( 8pts)

U17 Girls
VAS Hanoi  3.6 (15pts)
Hanoi IS      3.1 (10pts)

U17 Boys
Hanoi IS      2.5 (11pts)
VAS Hanoi  1.3 ( 6pts)

Thang3

Particularly notable on the day was the result in the Under 12 boys contest, where Jim Kiernan’s VAS Hanoi side, put together only four weeks prior, knocked off a solid Malaysian side which had been playing together for two years. Coach Kiernan also noted that his Under 17 boys “were unlucky in the competition and kept fighting until the very end”. They lost out to a fantastic HIS U17 Boys side coached by the wiley Leo Dyar with all HIS sides giving a very good account of themselves in their games.

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Congratulations to the winners and all the competitors from the youth squads at the tournaments. The work that Jim, Mike Clifford, Leo Dyar and Dave Cunningham have done over years in spreading the game to the youth of Hanoi has been nothing short of fantastic, and looking back, the inclusion of the first South Asian Youth Cup as a part of the day’s events may prove to be the greatest legacy of the 2014 South Asian Games.

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A big thank you is due to all the teams, and especially the Malaysian players and their coach, Jonathon Cleary  for travelling to the tournament, as well as Jim, Mike, Leo, Faolan and everyone else who played a part in organizing the youth games.

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Photo: Aidan Dockery

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
As with any big event, the games would not have been possible without the contributions of many people and organizations. Key among these people this year was Tournament Director, Gareth O’Hara, who worked countless hours looking after countless tasks to make sure everything was looked after so the rest of us could enjoy the day.

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Photo: Aidan Dockery

Also crucial was Dave Cunningham, who among numerous other responsibilities, put together about five different playing schedules for the day as teams continued to be added in the run up for the tournament. He also recruited a wonderful volunteer staff to help with various jobs at the event and which we could not have done without. VC Chairman, Colm Ross must also be acknowledged for his work from behind the scenes in the run up to the tournament, as well as his referee work on the day, as along with Joe Trolan, it seemed like whenever you looked up you would see him on a different field looking after a new game.

Thanks to professional photographer, Aidan Dockery who supplied most of these excellent tournament photographs (credited) . There is a link to his agency here.

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Thanks also to Alex Leonard of the Vietnam Swans who spent the day filming and you can find some of his clips above. Later, Dave Cunningham spent a lot of hours editing Alex’s footage and put together a playlist of some of the games and a highlights reel with suitable music, subtitles and graphics. The footage is to be found below so good on Dave for putting in all that effort with the editing and Alex for taking all the footage.

Video: Alex Leonard

Editing: Dave Cunningham

Hopefully Dave will do a fine a job on his thesis. Very occasionally, either sound or pictures in the shorter clips are distorted due to weather factors on the day but it doesn’t last for long.

Writer: John Shoulders – VC PRO

SPONSORS AND TOURNAMENT CHARITY

Life skill workshop

We are very proud to announce that as a result of the South Asian Gaelic Games held at My Dinh the club was able to raise 2,000 USD towards Blue Dragon’s Disability Trip 2014.

Blue Dragon

Tug or War

The trip took 74 people including 40 kids and 25 of their parents to the V Resort in HoaBinh where they took part in team building workshops and games and swimming activities. Nguyen Thai Thanh from Blue Dragon said, “This was the first time the parents and the children experienced staying in a wooden house together.

Swimming

The children and parents had a great time learning life skills through fun games. Games were designed for kids in wheelchairs as well. The parents had a chance to relax and exchange information with each other more.”

Game

Much thanks goes to the hard work of club members in contacting sponsors and indeed to the major sponsors who contributed to the running of the games; International SOS, Al Frescos Group, Schneider Electric, DeVere Group, CAMA, Noble Education, Terotech and Magners without whose contributions this would not have been possible. These companies are linked here to their logos.

logo SOS2

Al Fresco'sSchneider_Electric_CMYKdevere Group Logo

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The efforts of Dave Cunningham and his team selling sandwiches and sponsored Magners and Luke Kenny and his students from Singapore International School who painted and sold personalised, and much needed, conical hats to shade from the merciless sun on the day of the competition helped towards the total. The contributions of Shane Moran and his work in designing polo shirts that were sold as tournament merchandise also went toward raising the sponsorship.

Writer: Gareth O’Hara – Tournament Director

IRISH EMBASSY, ACB AND AWARDS

Many thanks to the Irish Embassy for their vital support for the South Asian. Garvan McCann gave the welcome speech on the Friday night and Ambassador Damien Cole presented the awards on the Saturday.

Embassy Logo

Asian County Board (ACB) Chairman, Joe Trolan wrote a piece on the South Asian for the June edition of Gaelic Sports World. The report is on page 23.

ACB_Logo

Congratulations to all the winners and finalists. Those from the youth competitions are in the youth section above. Those from the senior competitions are below. Winners named first:
Men’s Cup
Singapore 2 v Malaysia 1

Men’s Plate
Singapore 1 v Malaysia 2

Ladies’ Cup
Singapore 2 v Malaysia 1

Ladies’ Plate
Saigon Gaels v Viet Celts

The Eugene Moloney Award for Men’s MVP was won by Neil Corrigan of Singapore. The award is named after a fallen Viet Celt, journalist Eugene Moloney. Jenn Norman of Singapore won the Ladies’ MVP. Well done to both of them.

VTC3 television came down to film the event as part of a programme they are doing on Gaelic Football in Vietnam. The South Asian clip is below.

The Viet Celts

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