This weekend’s inaugural world GAA games saw an influx of hundreds of Irish people into the heart of the UAE capital, Abu Dhabi and the blending of cultures, nationalities and ethnicities. Sponsored by Etihad Airways and supported by the Abu Dhabi Sports Council, it was the first of its kind and will no doubt go down in Irish history with the whole event captured on camera by an overhead drone.
Twenty-five teams took part in the tournament representing regional bodies including Asia, Australia, Canada, Europe, North America, United Kingdom, South Africa and the Middle East.
Representing the 'city that never sleeps' were both the New York ladies and men’s GAA teams — a fair move from the snow to the desert heat.
It was the ladies that took the silverware winning the Ladies Etihad GAA World Games Plate defeating the Asian team in the semifinal with an impressive 5-15 to Asia’s 2-1. Before defeating Europe in the final by a score of 4-11 to 2-4.
Linda McKeon's skill was evident on the day and she deservedly was selected for the ladies team of the tournament.
The men’s team were not so lucky and bowed out at semi-final stage to the Middle East. Some impressive action was seen in the group stages on Friday however with Johnny Powers long range point making video footage.
It was not all was about the game however, for Sligo native siblings, Sharon and Brian Henry, both emigrants it was a chance to reunite with family.
Sharon, a Dubai-based primary school teacher was supporting her brother Brian a project manager of a New York based plumbing firm, playing for the New York team. Others on the sidelines were GAA legendary commentator Michael O’ Muirceartaigh, Marty Morrissey and Pat Spillane. A lively social evening featuring Irish songs and dance was also held.
Manager of the New York team Mike Stones said it was a great honour to be in Abu Dabhi at the event and mens captain Sean Kelly echoed this statement saying ‘It’s a privilege to be captaining at such a prominent and historic event.
The event opened with a Business Forum on Day 1 sponsored by Enterprise Ireland. It also saw local Middle East Hurling Championship matches take place alongside Camogie.