The first ever Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) World Games took place in Abu Dhabi last weekend.
Twenty-five teams from across the globe gathered to compete in games of traditional Irish sports, including Gaelic football, hurling, camogie and rounders.
The competition, played over two days, started on Friday 6 March and ended with a day of semi-finals and finals on Saturday 7 March. The event was hosted by Abu Dhabi Na Fianna at the Zayed Sports City, which has hosted major sporting events, such as the Fifa Club World Cup.
Trevor Buckley, chairperson of Abu Dhabi Na Fianna said, “It reflects the globalisation of the games and is representative of the amount of Irish people worldwide who’ve had to emigrate for various reasons. The fact we’re trying to promote the games and keep everyone involved is very special to us and a great honour.”
He went on to say, “The response has been very positive, especially since it’s the first Games and a lot of teams have travelled huge distances to take part. That shows its appeal. And even though the numbers are quite large already, we hope they will continue to grow in the future.”
Erin Loughnana travelled from Toronto to represent Canada in the games. She said the diversity of the teams was clear when they were discussing the training preparation of the different teams. The Middle East team was accustomed to training in the desert climate of Abu Dhabi, while the Canadian national team held their preparation training indoors, due to the -3 degrees weather in Toronto.
The competition has been hailed as a forward step in the globalisation of Gaelic games with male and female athletes from North America, South America, Canada, the United Kingdom, Mainland Europe, South Africa, Asia, Australasia and the Middle East all taking part. The World Games hopes to follow the path made by other international fixtures such as the International Rules Series between Ireland and Australia, and the All Stars game, played in Boston.
The winners of the tournament was dominated by the Middle East teams. The men’s finalists were the both of the Middle East’s entrants, with the seconds’ team coming out as the victors.