THE TG4/O’Neills Ladies Football Allstars of the past two years are not the only visitors to Dubai this week, although they are the teams with the highest profile. No fewer than 40 teams drawn from 26 clubs are taking part in the seven-a-side Gulf Gaelic Games festival, the second to be promoted by the Dubai Celts club which was formed in 1995.
In total, 500 players are taking part in the tournament, which features Gaelic football, hurling, camogie and ladies football. They will be representing eight countries – Ireland, England, Germany, UAE (United Arab Emirates), Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Corkman Daithi Hanley, chairman of the Dubai Celts club, points out that 130 games will be played on four pitches over a two-day period, tomorrow (Friday) and Saturday. The Allstars exhibition game will be the centre-piece of tomorrow’s promotion. Last year, this role was filled by the Vodafone Allstar footballers.
“It’s the biggest international Gaelic sevens in the world,’’ he says. “We stand to be corrected, but as far as we are concerned it is!’’
*Gaelic games have been played in the Arabian Gulf for the past 13 years, ever since two teams of workers employed by Irish firms played a hurling game in Riyadh, in Saudi Arabia. The Celts claim to have members from every county in Ireland.