2015 US College Hurling National Championships to be Held in Montana

The National Collegiate Gaelic Athletic Association (NCGAA) has announced that the 2015 national collegiate hurling championship tournament will be hosted at the University of Montana.

The announcement comes three months after the hugely successful 2014 tournament that was hosted by the New York GAA at Woodlawn and Gaelic Park in May, an event that was contested by seven hurling teams and five football teams in the first appearance of Gaelic football at the now four year-old competition. Iona College made history by becoming the first national collegiate Gaelic football champions. Since all of the collegiate football clubs are still concentrated in the Northeast region, the NCGAA has opted to split the 2015 national tournament between hurling and football and host them in two separate locations on different weekends. The format of the football competition which will be hosted in the Northeast will be determined by the regional committee.

Brian Barry, spokesman for the Montana Grizzlies Hurling Club, the current NCGAA national hurling champions, welcomed the decision. “This is going to help us build even more on what we’ve started here,” he said. “About six hundred people showed up to watch the first ever hurling match played in state history in Grizzlies Stadium earlier this year. Our story has been all over the local news and on television. We’re confident that we can get thousands of people into this 25,000 capacity facility next year to witness our defense of our national championship title.”

Eamonn Gormley, NCGAA Chairman, said that while other locations have their strengths, Montana is the right place to host the even in 2015. “This is new territory for the GAA in America,” he said. “While it’s important that we maintain our presence in existing locations, it’s just as important that we break new ground. Kids in Montana have been inspired by what they have seen on the local TV news, and there are reports of children spontaneously playing hurling on the street with improvised hurleys fashioned from tennis racquets and hockey sticks. We have got to jump all over that and help the Grizzlies to get the sport established in the local area while the opportunity exists.”

The Grizzlies have been getting calls from local schools asking how they can get hurling going. The local club has begun an outreach effort aimed at starting a youth program and getting startup spinoff clubs established in the region. There is no top flight professional sports franchise in the state of Montana, therefore the fortunes of the collegiate NCAA teams commands huge attention in the community.

Top level collegiate sports are a massive industry in the United States, their popularity on a par with that of professional leagues with attendances of 100,000 not unheard of and live television broadcasting rights sold for millions of dollars. The NCGAA, founded in 2009, aims to tap into the brand recognition of collegiate teams and to aid the process of getting hurling and Gaelic football further into the mainstream.

The 2015 NCGAA national hurling tournament will be hosted over the Memorial Day weekend, May 23 and 24.

Posted in National | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

New York Nationals a Hard Act to Follow for New NCGAA Board

The 2014 NCGAA annual convention in New York came hot on the heels of the hugely successful national collegiate GAA championship weekend, starting within an hour of the presentation of the hurling cup to the University of Montana.

After a quick review of the year and the organization’s finances, a new board was elected with Eamonn Gormley once again returned as Chair unopposed. In the NCGAA’s unconventional structure there are three core members of Chair, Secretary and Treasurer, while the rest of the board officers are listed as Members at Large, and duties are assigned to them as needed according to their availability throughout the year. The NCGAA considers this necessary due to the varying workload of student board officers that can change depending on exam schedules and paper deadlines.

Indiana University’s Cody Hedges was reshuffled into the Secretary position, and Cal’s Richie Douglas made a comeback to the board after a year’s absence, coming back on as a member at large. UConn’s Elliot Whitney joined the board for the first time, also as member at large, and it was agreed that other positions would be filled by co-option as needed to ensure proper representation from around the country and for specialist positions. The Treasurer position was later taken by co-opting Purdue’s Spencer Peaks to remain in the role.

In motions to adjust the by-laws, once again player eligibility rules were the main point of discussion. While the weekend’s tournament saw a tightening in enforcement of rules to ensure that they are eligible, it was agreed to relax the rules regarding alumni players. If a team has less than eight players, they can use a maximum of two alumni players who were a member of the club before. The intent of this rule is to allow struggling clubs with a small number of players to stay in business and keep alumni involved, without handing an unfair advantage to clubs that have more than eight players.

The role of affiliates was also clarified, so that affiliates of a university who are unpaid volunteers recognized by the institution are still eligible to play.

A further tightening of ID handling was also agreed, so that any student ID must include an expiration date. Where it does not, supporting documentation must be produced to prove that the player is still a student at the institution. Players must also be registered and in the system by the first day of a tournament. The meeting agreed that the board would look into adopting a cloud based player registration system that would also be capable of collecting membership dues online.

While the quality of refereeing during nationals was high, it was agreed that in future tournaments referees should be briefed in advance so that a high level of discipline is maintained on the field.

The NCGAA now faces the challenge of running next year’s national championships while keeping up to the high standard that has been set by the New York hosts. The board will put out a Request for Proposals for next year’s hosts, bids will have to be submitted by the end of July, and a decision on next year’s venue will be made by the NCGAA by the end of September.

Posted in National | Comments Off

2014 College Hurling and Gaelic Football Nationals Video

Posted in National | Comments Off