Kerry football legend Paidi O Se was in New York last week to launch his 2009 Gaelic football tournament, which takes place in Dingle, Co. Kerry at the end of February/start of March. Speaking from the New York offices of Tourism Ireland on Wednesday, O Se, who has been at the pulse of football since he was a teenager, said he was looking forward to expanding his tournament, which is in it's 19th year, to include sports men and women from across the Atlantic seas. The tournament, called "Comortas Peile Paidi O Se" (or the Paidi O Se football tournament), is an invite-only weekend. Senior club men and women's team and their supporters descend upon the Dingle Peninsula in West Kerry to celebrate the game of Gaelic football and other Irish traditions. In past years, and expected again this year, over 1,000 people visit Dingle for the action packed weekend. "The weekend is three quarters serious with the football, but there is still a lot of time for loosening out and having a few pints," O Se, a robust 5' 9" character, told the Irish Voice. What began with two club teams in 1989 has ballooned to eight and this year a further expansion is to take place. The tournament will give a heartfelt Irish welcome to 40 American football players from the Philadelphia Blue Flame American football club and 40 more American supporters. The Philly Blues will play an exhibition game against Ireland's University of Limerick's American football team at the end of the weekend long tournament. Team founder, Officer Joseph Hansbury of the Philadelphia Police Force, told the Irish Voice that more than half of the team are Irish American and are "really looking forward" to the weeklong trip. "This is a great opportunity for some of the team to get to Ireland who normally couldn't afford the trip," said Hansbury, adding that although some of the team have paid their own passage, fundraising has been done to pay for more. "We received great support for the AOH groups down here also," he said. Staying in cottages on the outskirts of Dingle town, the Blue Flames are excited about the prospect of spending time with Irish footballers, taking in the sites of the country, enjoying simple Irish hospitality, and no doubt a pint at O Se's bar in the village of Ventry in Dingle. O Se said that Co. Kerry, responsible for breeding more quality footballers than any other county in Ireland, is delighted to be able to host the American footballers at this year's tournament and is already making plans to expand the guest list in 2010. While in New York, O Se and his colleague Derry Murphy, also of Dingle, met with members of the NYPD and the FDNY to finalize details pertaining to an exhibition game between both New York teams in Dingle in 2010. "We are expecting about 500 people from both the NYPD and the FDNY to join us in Kerry in 2010," said O Se. To flavor up the tournament, each year O Se honores two outstanding Irish people, one for his/her contribution to the sport and another for his/her media coverage of GAA throughout the years. The 2009 Hall of Fame Award for contribution to Irish sports will be awarded to John Riordan, the former chairman of the New York GAA and a West Kerry native, at the tournament next month. For his contribution to the world of sports journalism Micheal O'Muireceartaigh, one of the best sports personalities in Irish radio for many years, will also receive an award.
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore