By Trevor Howlett
There’s a first time for everything.
Fort McMurray was treated to the first sanctioned Gaelic football tournament in the region’s history Saturday at Westwood field. The Fort McMurray Shamrocks hosted men’s teams from Edmonton and Calgary and a women’s team from Edmonton in the first leg of the Alberta Cup.
While the men went 0-2 and the women 2-0, everyone in the club is excited with the tournament as a whole.
“It went very well. We were surprised at the calibre of play I think the Edmonton and Calgary teams both got stronger,” said Mike Mellon who manages the Shamrocks.
“Everything went well — weather-wise and with the organization. The people on the other teams were impressed with how we hosted.”
The Edmonton Wolfe Tones defeated the men’s Shamrocks in the first game scoring two goals and nine points for a total score of 15, while Fort McMurray had no goals and eight points.
In the Shamrocks’ second game they were narrowly defeated by the Calgary Chieftains. Calgary scored three goals and put the ball over the bar for seven points for a total score of 16, while Fort McMurray had two goals and nine points for a final score of 15.
“I think in the first game it took us a while to get into it and by the time we got into it, it was too late, Edmonton had a strong team,” said Shamrocks midfielder Gary Dolan.
“We played very well in the last game, it could’ve went either way. Just a few people cramping up and a few people tired, but I’m happy with the overall performance of the team.”
The women’s Shamrocks team had two games against the women’s Wolfe Tones team playing seven-a-side and Fort McMurray took both games.
In the first game, the Shamrocks scored one goal and five points for a score of eight, while Edmonton had just two points.
In the second game, Fort McMurray dominated the Wolfe Tones, scoring seven goals and six points for a score of 27 and not allowing Edmonton to score at all.
The Shamrocks team’s performance was impressive, especially considering it was the first two games the team has played together, although a few of the players suited up for two games with Calgary last year.
“We’ve been practicing really hard and most of us are also soccer players, so it comes pretty easy to us,” said Shamrocks full forward Shaunna Mellon.
“Just through practice we’ve improved so much. Just based on playing with Calgary last year we knew the calibre of play there, so we knew we’d be competitive. “
With the success of their first tournament, the team hopes to hold another tournament next year and possibly make it into an annual event. The club has also eyed the possibility of hosting the Western Canadian Championship, which would also include teams from B.C.
Next up for both teams is a tournament in Edmonton on June 23, followed by a tournament in Calgary July 7-8.
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