The Western Canadian Gaelic Football Championships that were staged in Calgary, Alberta, can only be described as a feast of quality football. Mens and ladies teams from both the Calgary Chieftains and the Edmonton Wolfe Tones along with the men of Red Deer/Lethbridge Eire Og, Fort McMurray Shamrocks, Vancouver Celts and Vancouver Harps raved about the proceedings of July 30 and 31.
A top-class field was played upon at the Calgary Canadian Irish Athletic Club and the awards banquet night at the Unicorn Pub was highlighted with some great food and craic.
Chairman Barry Sinclair said, “I think everyone involved in organizing the weekend from the Chieftains and the Western Canadian Divisional Board have a lot to be proud of. Next year is going to have a lot to live up to, but I can only see it going from strength to strength.”
Sinclair added, “I also think Fort Mac need special recognition for competing in their first championship. All in all I thought it was a fantastic weekend of football and a great way to launch the one weekend only format.”
The 2010 Champion Vancouver Harps men played some great football on the first day with defeats of the Celts and Eire Og in round robin play. The 2009 Edmonton Wolfe Tone Champions saw their way through in round robin play over the Chieftains and Shamrocks.
Though there were quarter-finals and semi-finals to be hammered out on the second day, ultimately it went down to the classic rumble of the last few years – Tones vs. Harps. Vancouver went on to win 2-13 to 1-7 over Edmonton for the Western Canadian Championship. The MVP was Michael Harnett (Vancouver Harps) and the winning captain was Freddy Gannon who graciously received the Tom Butler Cup.
Disappointedly, the Vancouver Harps Ladies did not defend their four in a row championship streak and so the ladies of Alberta knew that there was going to a new winner. Both squads demonstrated great skill but also, keen tactical awareness in the three matches played out.
The first match Saturday morning was for the Calgary Cup which Edmonton won handily enough playing 11 a side with only two Irish born players. Later in the afternoon, a 9 a side match was played with a rather rattling result as the Chieftains defeated the Wolfe Tones 2-7 to 2-4. There was a strong sense that the five Irish born players on the Chieftains might just make the Western Canadian Championship game a competitive and fired up adventure on the Sunday with such a positive result.
Still, it was a former Canadian World Cup GAA player Ainsley Baldwin who seemed unstoppable at times, and the Edmonton Wolfe Tones were to take their 4th Western Canadian Championship title 5-7 to 2-1 and the Tom Gibbons Memorial Trophy was theirs after a four year drought.
Two very deserving and hard working co-captains, Kim Budd and Jessie McKitrick of the Wolfe Tones, were applauded for their leadership over the weekend and the MVP selected was Kenmare, Co. Kerry’s Michelle Cremin of the Edmonton Wolf Tones.
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