Talking Sport with Stephen Glennon
One of the sporting success stories from North American GAA in 2017 – Charlotte James Connolly’s senior ladies football team – is to play a series of challenge games around Ireland in May, with Galway one of the destinations on their whistle-stop Irish tour.
It is hoped the North Carolina outfit, which created history last September when they claimed their first ever North American senior ladies football crown in San Francisco, will play against a local club side or Galway representational outfit on Thursday, May 24, at a venue to be confirmed.
What was utterly remarkable about Charlotte’s achievement – they defeated Fog City Harps in an intensely contested senior decider on a scoreline of 4-7 to 3-9 – was that they won the North American title boasting of just two Irish-born players.
Unlike many of their rivals in the USA, they do not get the same influx of inter-county players on J1 visas over the Summer and, so, they have built a team primarily from former colleges soccer stars.
Just to add to the sense of history, this was the first time since 1972 that a North American senior title in any Gaelic games code was won by a team outside the traditional US power bases of Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco.
“It was huge for us and for this group of girls in particular,” begins Craughwell native Kevin Devin, who co-founded Charlotte James Connolly’s in 2000. “It was huge because they have won Junior ‘B’ to Junior ‘A’ to Intermediate to Senior (all North American Championships) in the space of 10 years which is a fair achievement in itself.
“They had found it very difficult to overcome that San Francisco team, Fog City Harps, on previous occasions. Fog City would have a different approach to what we would have. Whereas we recruit from what we have locally, they tend to recruit from Ireland. So, we found every time we came up against them that you were up against inter-county players.”
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.