The Fort McMurray Shamrocks Gaelic Athletic Association picked up their second straight Alberta Cup this past weekend as the Ladies’ Shamrocks team completed their second undefeated season.
Facing off against teams like the Calgary Chieftains and Edmonton Wolfetones, the women retained their ranking as the best gaelic football team in the province.
“We had a little bit more competition than last year,” said Emma Erskine. “We’re excited that we are able to match that and still come out undefeated.”
The victory puts the team in good position for the Western Canadian Championships in Edmonton on the long weekend in August. The team also plans to attend the North American Championships in Cleveland at the end of August. In addition to the title, Erskine was also named MVP of the tournament.
“It was a great honour because I’ve been playing this season with an injury,” said Erskine.
“I got injured at the first tournament in Fort McMurray so I haven’t been able to play that well all season. I actually ended up playing in net for that tournament and getting MVP while being a goalie is pretty rare, so it’s pretty exciting. It was the first tournament where we really care together as a team and showed what we could do.”
The team will now start training for Western Canadian Championships in Edmonton where they expect to face a tough challenge from Vancouver’s side.
Much of the credit for helping the team repeat this year was attributed to the stability at the coaching position the women received. Brian Walsh who played back in Ireland helped to coach a squad that had half their team composed of new players this year.
“I gave them some good training sessions that I don’t think they had last year and I’ve seen a lot of improvement in the last few weeks,” said Walsh.
“There’s no real superstars. They’re all on the same level and that’s a good thing I think. They’re all level headed. They’re all great athletes but they’re great attitudes to train and listen to whatever you have to say so I enjoy doing it as well.”
On the other side of things, the men’s squad faced many challenges before ultimately falling to their competition this past weekend. Attributing the loss to a combination of heat, lack of players and fatigue, the team will be looking to rebound and come back strong in a few weeks at Western Canadian Championships in Edmonton.