When the games took off so did the atmosphere, and between the beats of pop music and Irish classics, the new players grew in confidence and the more experienced showed them how it was done.
“We were amazed how some of them took to it,” said Farrell. “There was a team entered from Breezy Point here and they really took to it, and we were surprised how capable they were.
“And that might kick start something, a GAA team in the Rockaways area. So if that happened it would be fantastic.”
American Rob Sheeley of the Manhattan Gaels football club encouraged those new to the sport to be persistent. He recalled how he ventured into the unknown with Gaelic football and went from playing sports like basketball, baseball and soccer to a game that was counter-intuitive to everything he knew. But it only took one training session to get him hooked on the Irish sport.
“Today was an excellent experience. People got together to really make a difference,” he said.
“To be able to just do anything is great, and to be around the people who are willing to set it up and organize it is encouraging and inspiring. It’s great to be a part of it all.”
At around 4 p.m., the winners were escorted to the stage by the Breezy Point Catholic Club Pipe and Drum Band to receive their well-earned cups. Of the 20 teams who had competed, it was the NYPD Gaelic Football Club team and the Breezy Gaels team that won the day with the Breezy Cup and the Irish American Cup respectively.
Peter McCormack, NYPD Gaelic Football Club president, originally from Ballybofey in Co. Donegal, was delighted for his team’s win and the opportunity to partake in the cause.
“We were invited out here today to participate in the Breezy Point recovery efforts and we’re delighted to be here to help the residents recover and raise money,” he said.
The NYPD team will also travel to Ireland in October to play an international tour in Croke Park, and will continue to give back to the Irish community when they visit McCormack’s hometown of Ballybofey to play members of the GPA and All-Ireland champions in a charity game.
Saturday was a great success all around, drawing the community in with open arms and letting everyone go only when as much fun as possible had been squeezed from the day.
Children took advantage of bouncing castles and played their own sports while the adults took advantage of good food, played Gaelic football with tireless energy or cheered enthusiastically from the sidelines.
“It was great to see everybody here and raise a few bob in the process as well. The Irish American community have been very good and have given a lot of sponsorship and donations as well, so all told it was a great success,” Farrell said.
The sun shone down on the people of Breezy Point on Saturday in a day of fun and team spirit that celebrated the tough times behind them, brought hope for better days ahead and garnered a team spirit for any obstacles they may face in the future.