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2024 TG4 All-Ireland Finals tickets

TG4 Ladies Football All Star Tour to Leave Lasting Legacy

 

THE current visit to Hong Kong by the 2012 and 2013 TG4 Allstar squads illustrates the remarkable growth of Ladies Gaelic Football world-wide, with considerable growth in Asia over the last decade reflected in the activities of 19 clubs and the involvement of over 400 players.

 

It’s a source of massive pride to everyone involved in the promotion of the game at home and abroad, Association President Pat Quill acknowledges. “It is doubtful if our founding members could have foreseen the huge growth nationally and internationally that would occur when they founded this Association in Hayes Hotel Thurles 1974.”

 

“We owe them a debt of gratitude for their initiative and all those who have helped in any way throughout the intervening years to make our Association what it is today,” he said, pointing out that at the last Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, 70% of the female players were non-Irish.”

 

“Whilst in Ireland we take Gaelic Games for granted because they are part of our culture, it gave me great pleasure to be told that Ladies Gaelic football was a life changer for the players in their new environment. English, US, Canadian, European and Asian girls living away from home put it so strongly that they hated living and working in their present environment until they took up Gaelic football. And these were women who had no connection whatsoever with Ireland,” he said.

 

“When you consider that it costs each player in the region of €3k Euro per annum to play our national sports in Europe, Asia and North America, it is proof positive of what a wonderful product we have.”

 

 

Hong Kong GAA Chairman, Michael ‘Mikey’ Barry, spoke of the club’s excitement about hosting the tour. “We have had a six-strong committee working hard to make it a memorable occasion and large number of volunteers helping out as well. The generosity of people, particularly Irish companies or Irish-run companies in Hong Kong is astounding.  We have received massive support and the fact that it is on St Patrick’s weekend means that we can anticipate a big crowd at the game,” he said.

 

The club is one of the original founding clubs in Asia, established in 1996 as Hong Kong began to attract growing numbers of Irish working in the construction and financial sectors. And, with people now staying for up to ten years and more, the population of Irish Kong-Kong born children is growing – resulting in an increased emphasis on junior players and a particular focus on international schools.

 

A former goalkeeper with the Eire Og club in Ennis and currently the Asia Hurling Officer, he points out that they have ‘a very active underage platform,’ explaining: “football is on the curriculum of up to ten international schools here and we had a visit from (Munster Council Coaching Officer) Pat O’Shea two years ago to upskill P.E. teachers and club coaches.

 

“Last year we had two girls in the city as dedicated full time coaches in the schools. The Allstars will visit a lot of the schools who we already have a relationship with.

 

“In terms of numbers, approx. 2000 kids are exposed to Gaelic football in the city and this is down to the hard work of a few people in the city. Only a very small percentage of the kids are Irish!”

 

The Ladies section of the club has a minority Irish participation. “We have and had members from the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and Finland amongst others. Girls from rugby and netball backgrounds are always keen to participate.

 

“There have been many women who have spent years as players as well as being very active committee members and have all made massive contributions to the club,” he added, singling out people like Rupa Wati (Fijian-born and brought up in New Zealand) for their long term commitment to the club.

 

“She has been an active member of the club since the beginning and is the only member of the original group that is still playing regularly. The club’s current vice-chair and incumbent secretary, Ruth Wynne is the current driving force behind the clubs recent revival (finalists at the Asian games in 2013) and is assisted by ladies captain Ellen Flaherty.

 

“The feeling around the club is that the visit of the Allstars will have a long lasting effect on the club. Currently, we have a playing base of approximately 40 ladies and the Allstars game will be preceded by an Under-16 game between two international schools. That shows we are building for the future.”

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