USGAA Newsletter: September 2019

USGAA Finals a Roaring Success in Leesburg, Virginia

The 2019 USGAA were held over the 3 days from August 23 to 25 at Morven Park, just about 45 minutes Northwest of DC. Located in the historic town of Leesburg, VA a more perfect venue could not be designed from scratch. The finals not only consist of championship games to decide the USGAA champions across 20 codes and grades of Gaelic Sports, but they are also an opportunity for the GAA community across the United States to renew acquaintances and make new connections.
With an every growing list of teams entering the finals, a total of 5 playing fields were in use from dawn to dusk for 3 straight days. The playing surfaces were immaculate and while there was plenty of room for everything required to host the finals, it was a compact layout. Every field was located within view and few steps from the central area from where events were co-ordinated.
The weekend was a slight deviation from the usual Labor Day weekend, and more than 120 teams and 3,000 traveled from near and far to be there. There were more than 100 games scheduled and even though some of the Saturday semi-finals went to extra time (overtime) things went off without a hitch. A damp opening Friday was followed by two days of perfect weather.
The Mid-Atlantic Division hosted, and although one of the smaller divisions in the USGAA umbrella, the host committee and batted well above their weight in making sure that everything was in place for the weekend. The Mid-Atlantic division last hosted the finals in 1998 and at the time consisted of one club, the Washington DC Gaels. Now there are 5 clubs in the division and with divisional competitions being organized, the future is very bright indeed for the GAA in the region.
In addition to the locals and visitors from around the country there were some very important people in attendance to experience in person the highlight of the USGAA calendar. GAA President, John Horan was in attendance along with Ladies Gaelic Football Association President Marie Hickey and Munster Council Vice Chairman, Ger Ryan. Pat O’Shea who plays a major role in the partnership between the USGAA and the Munster Council to help develop the games in North America was also in attendance. John Horan was impressed by the facilities and logistics and organization of hotels and transport by the host committee, “It’s just unbelievable what the locals here in Mid Atlantic did” said Horan. The President was also suitably impressed by the level of interest in hurling in the USGAA, “The future of the GAA here in America is in a good position and hopefully it drives on.”
In a new departure the USGAA presented 4 new cups that were named in honor of past members who had made significant contributions to the growth of the GAA in North America. The John Hehir Cup for Senior Hurling, the Owen Treacy Cup for Senior Football, The Tom O’Donoghue Cup for Intermediate Football, and the Ruairi Flanagan Cup for Junior B Football.
There were some great games and 20 worthy winners at the weekend. Vancouver JP Ryans were the first Canadian Team to take a senior hurling championship back across the border. Next season with Boston hosting the finals, the John Hehir Cup will be presented in the John’s home division, Boston-Northeast, where preparations are already underway to get the Irish Cultural Center ready for action on Labor Day weekend 2020.

Past Members Honored With 4 New Trophies at the Finals

The USGAA has embarked on a program to acknowledge the important contributions of many individuals to the growth of Gaelic Games in the US. Over the coming years, past members will be honored by the commemoration of different championship trophies with their names in recognition of their service to the organization.

“While Gaelic Games in the US has grown exponentially in the last 15 years, without the dedication and work of our past members, the foundations for that growth would not have existed”, said USGAA Chairperson Bernie Connaughton. “As we continue to develop and expand as an organization, it is only fitting that we recognize the importance of their contributions to our success.”

In 2019 there were 4 cups presented in honor of individuals who have made significant contributions to the running and development of Gaelic games in the United States. The cups were presented by family members who traveled to Leesburg to present the trophies in honor of their loved ones. The honorees were:

Senior Hurling: John Hehir

A proud Galwayman, from the village of Ardrahan, John Hehir arrived in Boston in 1954, and immediately got involved with the Boston Galway Hurling club. He was one of the founders of the then North American County Board, attending the first General Meeting in 1959.

Subsequently, he served North American GAA in a number of positions, including Chairperson from 1966-69. In later years, John regularly filled the position of Convention Chair at numerous NACB Conventions, a role he discharged with a calm and assured manner, navigating through many passionate discussions.

Senior Football: Owen Treacy

Originally from Carrickmore, Tyrone, Owen Treacy dedicated the best part of 50-years to both Philadelphia GAA and North American GAA. After coaching the Tyrone club to 4 North American Senior Football titles, Owen embarked on a notable career as an able Administrator, culminating with a spell as North American Chair from 1991-93.

He had the honor of being the first North American delegate to attend a Central Council meeting, when NACB was granted Central Council status in 1993. Bernie Treacy presented the Cup to the winning Donegal Boston team.

Intermediate Football Tom O’Donoghue

Pittsburgh-based, but Listowel-born, Tom O’Donoghue represented Pittsburgh GAA on the Midwest Board in the mid-1960’s. His time on the Midwest Board coincided with the prominence of Midwest teams at National Finals – where they provided the dominant teams, winning 6 out of 8 Senior Football titles between 1962-69.

Tom served in a number of roles for the North American Board, including the position of Chair in 1976-77. The Tom O’Donoghue Cup was presented to the winning Setanta San Diego team by Tom and Tim O’Donoghue.

Junior B: Ruairí Flanagan

Born in California, to a family steeped in GAA tradition through his father Bill (Former USGAA Honorary President) and mother Kathy, Ruairí Flanagan first played for the Sarsfields club in Millbrae, California, before joining the newly formed Eire Og club.

After spending time in Dubai, where he was an active member of the Dubai Celts team, Ruairí was living in Australia at the time of his tragic passing in 2013.

Eire Og’s subsequent success at the 2016 USGAA Finals was a poignant moment for all that knew Ruairí. as Eire Og won Junior Football honours with an all American-born team that had come up through the Youth ranks with Ruairí. The Ruairí Flanagan Cup was presented by Ruairi’s mother, Kathy.

“Each of these members served our Association in different but important ways.” said John O’Brien, one of the founding members of North American County Board in 1959. “Our goal in 1959 was to create a structure that brought all GAA people under the one umbrella. This then led to the emergence of events like the weekend’s USGAA Finals, where teams from each corner of the US compete for a National Championship.”

Entries Open for the 2019 USGAA Club of the Year

Entries are open for the 2019 Club of the year competition. Tell us about what your club’s recruiting activities, social media promotion, and any community outreach or charitable activities that your club has engaged in, especially if you tried anything different or out of the box.
Entry forms are on the USGAA web site. Just fill in the boxes and add any files or links that are relevant. The entry must be submitted by a registered officer of the club and GAA email address included. One entry per club please!
The winning entry will receive a full set of jerseys custom designed by our official apparel partners, Masita Ireland. The deadline for entries is October 4 at midnight west coast time. (Click the article headline to link to the entry form.)

What’s Happening Around the USGAA

With the 2019 USGAA Finals in the rearview mirror, clubs around the country are hosting fall season tournaments.


September 14th:

Madison, WI: Midwest Hurling Tournament, Hurling and Camogie

September 28th:

Charleston, SC: Holy City Cup – Hurling tournament with clubs from Augusta, Knoxville, Greenville, Raleigh and UNC participating./span>

October 4th:

Akron: 15th Annual Al O’Leary Tournament – 7 a-side Mens Football, Ladies Football, Hurling and Camogie


2019 USGAA Champions

The USGAA 2020 Champions

Men’s Football

  • Senior – Donegal Boston
  • Intermediate – Setanta San Diego
  • Junior A – Pittsburgh Celtics
  • Junior B – LA Cougars
  • Junior C – Setanta San Diego
  • Junior D – Charlotte James Connolly’s

Ladies Football

  • Senior – St. Brigids Chicago
  • Intermediate – Vancouver
  • Junior A – NA Aisling Gaels Chicago
  • Junior B – Na Fianna San Diego
  • Junior C – Dallas Fionn MacCumhaills


  • Senior – Vancouver JP Ryans
  • Intermediate – Offaly Boston
  • Junior A – Madison Wisconsin
  • Junior B – Worcester Fenians
  • Junior C – Na Toraidhe Philadelphia
  • Junior D – Madison Wisconsin


  • Senior – Cu Chulainn San Francisco
  • Intermediate – Twin Cities
  • Junior – Annie Moore’s NY

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Did you Know? 

From the formation of NACB in 1959, through to 1966, there existed a role titled “Coordinator”. The functions of this role included the establishment and affiliation of emerging clubs, however with the NACB reaching a critical mass of affiliated clubs in 1966 this role was deemed no longer necessary. In 2019, USGAA once again created a program to assist the establishment of new clubs in green field areas, through a combination of USGAA and Divisional support activities coordinated by the USGAA Games Development Officer.