Tag Archives: sport

First Ever GAA World Games Take Place

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.

For more information on the GAA World Games follow the event on Facebook or Twitter.

Frampton pummels the weak Cazares as ticket prices soar ‘Higher and Higher’

Carl Frampton’s fight on Friday 4th April lasted four minutes and twenty two seconds. The clear mismatch, his ‘toughest fight to date’, was a sign of the ever more important role money plays in the world of boxing.  But for Connor Timmins, who was sitting beside me, the £60 ticket was ‘worth every penny’, and I’d agree.

Frampton’s massive appeal within Northern Ireland means he is constantly compared to Barry McGuigan.  It’s fitting, therefore, that he is managed by the ‘Clones Cyclone’, who has been quick to talk up the 27-year-old.  “I think he will be better than me…he’s a future world champion”, McGuigan recently told the Daily Express.  Critics would ask why then, did he put him up against the washed-up Mexican, Hugo Cazares?  The bookies had Frampton at one to fourteen to win the contest; it was never going to be the ‘Thriller in Manila’.

Throughout the early evening, the majority of seats were empty.  Most fans were at the bar drinking flat beer, I must admit I was with them, albeit keeping a close eye on the undercard – the star of which was the Shankill’s Marco McCullough who faced Elemir Rafael from Slovakia.  The last-minute stand-in Rafael was absolutely dreadful.  It was the biggest mismatch since a penguin was thrown into the lion’s den up in Belfast Zoo.  A third round TKO ended Rafael, whose feet were flatter than the Odyssey Arena beer.

The Odyssey Arena filling up before for main event
The Odyssey Arena filling up before for main event

A short time later the main event began.  Cazares came to the ring first, his music drowned out by the booing of the hostile crowd.  He was followed by Frampton, who came out to Jackie Wilson’s ‘Higher and Higher’.  The crowd sang every word of the perfectly fitting song.  The atmosphere was like nothing I’ve ever experienced.

In the end the fight was less than historic.  After a first round of sizing each other up, Frampton came out strong in the second.  There followed a bizarre incident in which Cazares suffered a dead leg and proceeded to prance around the ring like a demented ballerina, trying to shake it off.  With 1.38 left on the clock, Frampton caught the Mexican with a hard left hook that sent him onto the canvas, game over.

Ultimately, the fans didn’t care whether the fight was two, seven or twelve rounds.  They wanted to see a win, and this more than compensated for the over-inflated ticket price.  World-class sportsmen are rare in Northern Ireland, so they are cherished here more than anywhere else. If Barry McGuigan can convince world champion Leo Santa Cruz to give Carl Frampton a title shot in Belfast, no ticket price will be too high.