On a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon on August 24th, all roads led to Centennial Park for the 2014 Toronto GAA Football Championships.
Three Championship finals were contested on the day – Intermediate Men, Ladies, and Senior Men. A great crowd gathered at the Park to cheer on their teams and take in the pomp and ceremony that graced the day. The flags of Canada, Ireland and the 32 counties flew high above the playing field, a piper piped in the teams at the start of their respective games and the anthems of both countries were sung proudly. Additionally, the Toronto GAA was delighted to welcome referee Eamon McHugh, from Aghyaran, County Tyrone, who traveled to Toronto at the request to the Ulster Council from the Canadian Board. Eamon took charge of the finals of both the Ladies and the Senior Men.
St. Vincent’s took on the Toronto Gaels in the Intermediate Championship final refereed by Sean Harte. In what could be considered one of the best games of the day, the Toronto Gaels could have been excused for having one eye on the senior final which they were competing in later on in the day. The Gaels came out of the gate strong and took the game to a very strong St. Vincent’s team, but, as the game wore on, St. Vincent’s began to use their size and strength to overpower the gallant Toronto Gaels effort to come away with a victory. The final score was St. Vincent’s 3-10, Toronto Gaels 1-7.
Eamon McHugh took charge of the Ladies Championship final which saw Durham Robert Emmets square off against St. Mike’s Ladies. The Durham ladies have been the power house in the ladies championship this year and in the final it was business as usual for the ladies from Durham. Their superb fitness and skill helped them to a convincing victory over a very committed and hardworking St. Mike’s team with a final score of Durham Emmets 4-16 to 0-2 for St. Mike’s.
The final match of the day saw St. Mike’s take on the Toronto Gaels in the Senior Mens Championship final. This was a highly anticipated game between the two best men’s teams in the city after a grueling and extremely competitive championship campaign by all the teams involved. Both teams lived up to the billing in the first half. Each team traded scores in the opening 20 minutes and as they went in at half time there was very little to choose between the teams. St. Mike’s came out of the blocks quickly in the second half and set a very fast tempo. This allowed them to get on top of the Gaels team with two quick goals. The Gaels then had to throw caution to the wind and go after the game. The experienced St. Mike’s team were able to capitalize on the space in the back line by scoring two more goals before the end of the game to prove the old adage that goals win games. The final score was St. Mike’s 4-13 to 0-8 for Toronto Gaels.
Special thanks to Eamon McHugh for making the trip to Toronto. Thanks to the Ulster Council for accommodating our referee request. Also, sincere thanks to all the volunteers who worked diligently on Championship Sunday to set up the flags and prepare the pitch for the games and to the umpires and linesmen who assisted with the games.
Congratulations to all the teams who are collecting the silverware this year. It has been a busy season of Gaelic games in Toronto with mens and ladies football, hurling and camogie. The Toronto GAA continues to benefit from the new arrivals from Ireland who want to get involved. With such great dedication from all of our clubs this year, we look forward to the 2015 season.