USGAA Newsletter: March 2020

GAA & USGAA Respond to COVID-19

As we navigate through the current Global Pandemic, and the impact it has on our daily lives, we recognize that at this time, in many aspects, organized sport is very much a trivial matter, and maybe even an irrelevant matter.

However, we know that many of you want to look to the future and understand what post-crisis events might look like, and in this case the 2020 USGAA Season.

Obviously, the below comments come with the large caveat that we are living through a fast-evolving situation, and everything is subject to change. 

What we know:

  • The situation is unprecedented in this lifetime, indeed maybe many lifetimes;
  • Making predictions or plans is foolhardy, because the situation changes daily;
  • Social-distancing, along with good hand-hygiene and proper coughing protocol, is the recommended “current best method” to stop the virus-spread – this obviously, and sensibly, prohibits the organizing of team sports.

What we don’t know:

  • The frivolous answer to this is “everything else”, but probably the most obvious unknown is when normal life will resume.

What to expect:

The GAA is a community-based organization – that is its core and its strength.

When this current situation passes, and it will pass, GAA members will have the opportunity to show leadership in their communities, by ensuring a quick return to normality – games should be put on the field at the first opportunity.

To say that the 2020 season will be different may turn out to be an understatement, however we do expect there to be a season of some form, and therefore we should all be ready to hit the ground running when restrictions are lifted.

Until this happens, we can all play our part to reduce the impact of the Novel Coronavirus disease, to get us to the “No new cases today” phase, to shorten the lockdown and restrictions period, by encouraging our families, friends, neighbors and colleagues to respect social distancing, hand-hygiene, coughing protocol, and any other Local Health Authority requirements. 

Stay ready, stay healthy, and stay safe.


A bit of history

On February 28th, 2001, the GAA took the then unprecedented step (for modern times), of postponing all Intercounty games for one month, in addition to prohibiting any club games that required travel across County boundaries. Indeed, just as was the case this week, the St. Patrick’s Day Festival in Dublin was also postponed.

The cause of these decisions was a confirmed case of Foot-and-Mouth disease (FMD) on the island of Ireland. As FMD was potentially devastating to the Agriculture industry, then, as now, one of Ireland’s leading industries, the GAA, other Sporting Bodies, and Event Organizers recognized the need to restrict unnecessary travel.

While the current COVID-19 pandemic is much different, its impact measured in human lives, and globally, the statements of the time contain many of the same phrases and directions that we have become familiar with in recent weeks:

  • Take advice from Local Medical authorities;
  • Continuously monitor the situation;
  • Don’t be selfish and inconsiderate – put the greater interest first;

The various restrictions that are now in place, and the challenges we face, are certainly unprecedented in living memory. 

However, one thing remains constant through difficult times such as these:  Community-based organizations such as the GAA, have a very important role to play. 

  • We can keep people connected, ensuring that even when in self-isolation people do not feel isolated;
  • We can encourage others to observe any local ordinances;
  • We can generate positivity and hope, which go a long way to lifting spirits.

And most importantly, when the situation stabilizes, as it did in 2001, we can be ready to resume normal life and “play ball”.

We hope everyone continues to stay safe, and USGAA looks forward to seeing everybody in action on the fields very soon.

CYC 2020 and GAA Summer’s Feile Canceled – Planning for 2020/2021 & Our Commitment to Youth Programs

After much thought, and reviewing all available options, for the first time in its 17-year history The Continental Youth Championships (CYC) has had to be canceled due to an unprecedented situation.

The CYC Steering committee felt that the COVID-19 pandemic, and the impact it is having in the US and Canada, posed too much of a risk to our kids, and their families, who participate in the CYC each year.

The CYC Steering Committee will not be sitting back and just waiting for next year to come. Clubs are being solicited for ideas on how to create games for the youth players, when things go back to normal this summer.

We look forward to seeing everyone next year in Chicago for CYC 2021.

The USGAA Youth Committee will be monitoring the Corona Virus situation, and its impact on youth programs. Clubs will be updated as information and cancelations becomes available.  

On March 18th, the GAA made the decision to cancel this Summer’s Feile compeititon, which was scheduled to take place in Ireland. This will affect 4 of our USGAA Clubs.

However, as of today, the Liberty Bell Tournament is still scheduled to take place on July 18th\19th in Philadelphia.  Everyone involved in Youth GAA across the US is going to work even harder, so that once the clearance is given to resume activity, a plan is in place to get the kids playing games again.

Please stay safe and follow your city and states guidelines. USGAA Youth is looking forward to seeing all our Clubs, Families on the pitches sometime soon.

Important Update on 2020 Registration

As of February 1st 2020, USGAA Registration is open to players and social members to register using Stack Sports.

Divisional Registrars have been collecting individual Club Registrars details in order to be added to the Admin side of the system. The majority of Club Admins have already been notified, and the remainder of Club Admins will be notified as these details are added to Stack Sports. 

The system and process are essentially the same as in 2019, with the added requirement that clubs pay their Annual USGAA Club Affiliation fee online. The 2020 edition of the Registration Manual has been released and forwarded to the Divisional Registrars. 

Further details, and the link to the USGAA Registration system, is available on the USGAA website:

http://usgaa.org/registration/

As in previous years, April 30th is the deadline for USGAA Registration and for USGAA club-to-club transfers. 

Homegrown players who have never previously registered with an adult GAA club may register with a USGAA club on or before August 1st, in order to play in USGAA and\or Divisional Championships – year-round registration is available for first time Homegrown players, but such players are not eligible for Divisional or USGAA Championships.

Related to the Covid-19 virus, and the uncertainty of the situation in the coming weeks/months, it was determined to maintain these Registration deadlines such that when the situation stabilizes we will be ready to resume our normal activities such as City Leagues, Tournaments and Championships.

Larry McCarthy Becomes First Overseas President of the GAA

History was made at last month’s GAA Congress, when New York-based Larry McCarthy was elected President-elect of the GAA. When he takes office in 2021, he will become the first “Overseas” President in the GAA’s 136-year history.

As a regular visitor to CYC, and other USGAA events, Larry is familiar to many of our members, and USGAA offers our congratulations and best wishes to the new President-elect.

In other Congress news, 26 of the 63 Motions were passed, with the remainder being defeated, withdrawn, or referred to Council for further analysis. The 2 most relevant to USGAA were:

  • Motion 6, which passed, states that in Football a player receiving a kickout cannot pass it back to his Goalkeeper;
  • Motion 32, which contained 14 different proposals, all of which impacted USGAA – 10 of these proposals were eventually tabled. A detailed summary of Motion 32’s status has been circulated to all clubs.

While at Congress, USGAA held a number of meetings with various GAA groups, all of which were very constructive and positive. These included Munster GAA, LGFA, Camogie Association, Sponsors and the GPA.

A number of these meetings have resulted in firm proposals that will benefit Gaelic Games in the US, and which will be circulated once finalized.

Ask Larry McCarthy a Question

Newly elected GAA President-elect, Larry McCarthy, has agreed to participate in a Q&A Session with members of USGAA, by taking questions submitted online.

While we welcome Larry’s thoughts on all things GAA-related, preference will obviously be given to topics specifically related to USGAA, the wider GAA community in North America, and the games themselves.

To submit your questions, please use the button below. Be sure get your questions in by March 31, 2020. We will try to use as many questions as possible, and publish the session in a special issue over the coming weeks.

Welcome to the USGAA Family

As reported at 2019 USGAA Convention, affiliation stood at 143 clubs across the region administered by USGAA – a 32% growth in 4 short years. 

Just 2.5 months into 2020, and with the season not yet up and running in most of the country, it seems that this growth-rate is set to continue, and that our goal of 150 clubs will be achieved this year.

From new Camogie Clubs in traditional cities such as Shamrocks (Philadelphia) and Fenians (Boston), to hurling in Los Angeles and football in Savannah (which has hosted 195 St. Patrick’s Day Parade’s, dating back to 1820’s), GAA has never been more popular in this country, and clubs are being formed at an increasing rate.

A little over 12 months ago, USGAA Games Development implemented a program to foster this growth and help these clubs successfully establish themselves. Grants totaling $2,500 are available for new clubs, over 4 phases, with clearly laid out objectives to be completed at each stage of their growth.

Recognizing that many of these clubs are formed by people new to the GAA, this information is readily available on the USGAA Website, by clicking a “Start a New Club” button on the homepage.

By the time Affiliation closes on April 30th, we expect to see new clubs in Grand Rapids and Little Rock – both of whom have already begun work on Phase 1 of the New Adult Club Plan.

Around the Country: 10 Divisions, 1 mission

In 2019, a total of 32 Tournaments were sanctioned by USGAA, ranging from January in Florida to October in Connecticut. Every indication was that 2020 was going to see a record number of tournaments, and well exceed last year’s total.

Taking advantage of the pleasant weather offered during the early months of the year, Florida has been the location of the opening 2 tournaments in the 2020 Tournament Calendar – the Florida Cup, hosted by Tampa Bay GAA, and the South Florida 7’s hosted in Boca Raton by St. Patrick’s GAA.

The Florida Cup was won by Twin Cities Robert Emmets, and St. Patricks were successful in the South Florida 7’s.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has cut a swathe through the March\April calendar, which is traditionally a busy period for tournaments – as of this writing, events have been postponed in Butte, Tacoma, Nashville and Austin, with the real possibility of other tournaments also been affected. 

However, the good news for all players is that these events are simply being rescheduled, not cancelled – when the situation stabilizes, there will be games available for everyone to participate in.

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Did You Know?

The 1946 All-Ireland football final between Roscommon and Kerry was postponed until October 6th due to a National Emergency effort to save the harvest because of an extremely wet summer.

Indeed, due to a draw in the rescheduled game, it took a further delay until October 27th, before the 1946 All-Ireland Football Championship was decided, Kerry finally overcoming Roscommon by 2-8 to 0-10.

For further instances of delays or abandonments in various All-Ireland series, including because of a row over the price of train tickets, please read here:

https://www.rte.ie/brainstorm/2020/0318/1123837-gaa-cancellations-postponements/