USGAA Newsletter: April 2020

Click here to read about the USGAA COVID-19 Response

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.

Calling all members: registration deadline is approaching

As a final reminder April 30th is the last day to register your team with the USGAA for the 2020 season.  As we navigate through this unconventional time in the USA, and the world, it is now more important than ever to be included in a community and your USGAA membership is just that! Once the effects of COVID-19 begin to lessen, USGAA divisions will be doing everything they can to make sure you are involved on, and off, the field. You don’t want to miss out through this 2020 season on all the GAA has to offer.

You can register at:

The USGAA in Ireland: OC Wild Geese Collecting Cups in Kerry

OC Wild Geese brought home some silverware after beating Lispole, a club out of West Kerry in the Junior Men’s final back in February. The second half was a nail biter when Lispole battled back to be one point down. With less than a half to go, the Wild Geese missed a penalty and had two men black carded. That didn’t stop this team! For the last 10 minutes of the game, playing two men down, the Wild Geese held the lead by one point and ended up winning with a score of 3-07 to 1-09. What an incredible achievement for the Wild Geese and USGAA to showcase our skill throughout a competition in Ireland.

Check out the full article here for more information:

Honoring Bernie

Bernie Connaughton, USGAA Chairman, was honored at the beginning of February at the Northeast GAA Awards Night; along with Martin Kerr for their service to the GAA in Boston over the years. Without the commitment and dedication of volunteers the GAA would not be flourishing in the US today.

Do you have anyone in your GAA family that you want to honor? Email with the information and we will be sure they are recognized.

GAA Congress through the eyes of a new board member – Tom Walsh

This was my first Congress as I was newly elected as USGAA Treasurer at the USGAA convention in San Diego.  In the weeks before traveling over, I spent a bit of time reviewing the proposed motions and researching the candidates seeking to succeed John Horan. 

I arrived into Dublin Thursday morning before Congress met one of our sponsors along with some other board members. One of the most important purposes of attending Congress was the opportunity to meet face to face with USGAA’s sponsors and partners at Croke Park and Munster. They provide us with a great amount of support and experience, and being able to put faces to names helps us to more effectively communicate issues that are important to our clubs. It also affords us an opportunity to describe the tremendous growth of Gaelic Games in the U.S., where a majority of members are now U.S.-born. 

Coming as a U.S. born, former club chairman and divisional treasurer, it was interesting to see the USGAA as advocate for the games and our clubs in the U.S., and how we fit within the wider world of Gaelic Games. Many of the challenges we face here in the U.S., namely access to equipment and coaching, large distances, are challenges for other international units as well.

It was also a time to get to know the other board members better.  Sure, we email and have weekly conference calls, but we are only together as a group a handful of times a year. The time together helps to build relationships that operates more effectively.

One of my favorite memories of the weekend came Thursday afternoon. Paul Keane was talking to a couple from Athlone, and they were discussing the couple’s son and daughter-in-law who live in the Bay Area. It turns out that they had played football with my club, the Denver Gaels for several years before moving to California. Until recently, the closest club to Denver would be 7-8 hours away in Kansas City or Albuquerque, so to have a connection to my club at Congress of all places came as a surprise.

Following meetings with the other international units and several of the candidates for Uchtaran, Congress began Friday evening. While there were 63 motions to be decided over the weekend, including whether to introduce a black card in hurling and the possible introduction of NFL-style challenges, the presidential election took center stage. After four counts of votes, Larry McCarthy of New York GAA was elected to succeed John Horan.  It was a significant moment for the next leader of the GAA to come directly from an overseas county. 

Saturday was focused on the remaining 50 or so motions and presentation of reports. One report that stood out was regarding the changing demographics of Ireland and effect that urbanization has had on rural communities and GAA clubs located in rural areas.  Several motions were adopted, others were withdrawn or deferred to a special congress. In most respects it runs very similar to our USGAA conventions. The venue, Croke Park, could not be beat.

With Congress finished Saturday afternoon, I met up with a former Denver Gael who now lives in Meath for dinner, and then it was off to the airport early Sunday morning for the flight back to Denver.  

2-points for the 45 meter kick at LGFA Congress

Almost two-hundred delegates from around the world ascended upon the Lough Rea Hotel in Galway over the first weekend in March for the Ladies Gaelic Football Association’s 2020 Annual Congress. The LGFA’s international units were well represented, and it was great to see and speak with familiar faces from New York GAA and Canada GAA, while meeting new counterparts from Australasia GAA and Europe GAA.  

Development Officers discussed some of the LGFA’s most recent and successful initiatives, including Gaelic 4 Mothers & Others and Gaelic 4 Teenagers. Both initiatives are aimed at promoting participation in Ladies Football specifically through fun, fitness, and friendship for target populations. These would be interesting models to pursue in some of our USGAA divisions, where there are plenty of former Ladies Football players who may like an opportunity to get back on the pitch once a week for some exercise and fun with friends and former teammates and opponents!

The most noteworthy item coming out of the weekend was a rule change which will come into effect on May 1st of this year and will award two points for the successful conversion of a 45-meter kick. “45’s” in Ladies Football must be taken off the ground in all competitions from Under 15 up to Senior level. Delegates voting in favor of the motion discussed their hope that the introduction of this rule would encourage a skill oft neglected in the Ladies game.  

Congress concluded on Saturday evening with Michael Naughton, a County Sligo native now residing in Donegal, being voted in as the President-Elect of the LGFA, a post which he will assume at next year’s Congress from current President, Marie Hickey of Laois. In his remarks both prior to and after the vote, Michael noted the significant role that the LGFA’s international units play as not only a home away from home for so many young people, but which have also contributed so significantly to the growth and development of our Gaelic Games and the Association in recent years. Michael’s previous experience includes more than a decade of service in a variety of roles, ranging from Manager of the Donegal Ladies Senior Football Team to President of the Ulster Ladies Gaelic Football Association.  

Cavan, Down, and Antrim all submitted bids to host next year’s Congress, as the provincial rotation called for an Ulster venue. Antrim was ultimately selected and will play host the 2021 LGFA Congress over the first weekend of March. 2021 also marks the 25th anniversary of Ladies Gaelic Football in Antrim, an occasion which all delegates will look forward to celebrating with the host county at the LGFA’s 2021 Congress.  

Senior Inter-County Championship Postponed in Ireland

As of April 14, The GAA in Ireland has officially postponed inter-county football and hurling championships. With the most recent announcement of another 3 week extension to the countries lockdown, the GAA postponed championship that was scheduled to start in May. The GAA is committed to completing the 2020 Allianz Leagues and working on schedule for when championship may be rescheduled to. There is a Special Congress scheduled for April 17th to discuss these topics directly but it seems that any championship games before July seems unlikely.

Check out:–1902558/ for the full article. 

Get Kitted Out with Masita

Did You Know?

In 1993, the NACB formed a History Committee, whose task was two-fold:

  1. Document Gaelic Games activities within the US since the formation of the NACB in 1959.  This would include official records such as Divisional Board Officers, Clubs competing in each Division, Winners of each Divisional Championship and the NACB Champions;
  2. Where possible, trace the history of Gaelic Games in each Division or City, pre-dating the formation of the NACB.

The result was the launch of a book which contained over 200-pages of historical information, including photo’s and other material.

Download the whole book here