Weekly Feature

2017-08-10 / Editorial

Gaelic Games a great weekend deserving of high praise

State Assembly

The month of July went out with a bang, as the City of Buffalo and the Town of West Seneca hosted the 2017 Gaelic Athletic Association Continental Youth Championships Gaelic Games. The Gaelic football and hurling tournament took place over a course of four days at the West Seneca Soccer Complex. Gaelic football and hurling are the national sports of Ireland. The Continental Youth Championships, the largest youth Gaelic Games tournament to be held outside of Ireland, have been played since 2004. For the last 12 years, the championship has been held in a rotation of cities, including Boston, New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

Our area was awarded the 2017 games after the incredible work of the Buffalo Fenians, Buffalo’s Gaelic football and hurling league, and a trip to Ireland to pitch Buffalo as the perfect place for this tournament. It was the first time in Continental Youth Championships history the games were awarded to a city outside the regular rotation.

The week began with a special showcasing of the University at Buffalo’s renowned collection of famous Irish author and poet James Joyce’s works at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library. The next day, more than 2,500 athletes from 250 teams and their families arrived from across the U.S, Canada and for the first time in CYC history, from Ireland. The games officially kicked off on Thursday.

Walking around the West Seneca Soccer Complex, it was great to hear so many praising the tournament. Many veterans of the games were in awe of the facility, and the friends from Ireland said it reminded them of home.

Friday evening was a special treat for those at Niagara Falls as, thanks to the help from the Niagara Falls Illumination Board, the Falls were illuminated in the colors of Ireland, celebrating Buffalo hosting the 2017 Continental Youth Championships Gaelic Games. On Saturday and Sunday the championship games were played.

Along with the families, dignitaries from New York and Ireland were in attendance cheering on the athletes, including state Assemblyman Michael Cusick; Michael Fitzpatrick, president and secretary of the American-Irish Legislators; Barbara Jones, consul general of Ireland for New York; and Aogan O Fearghail, president of the Gaelic Athletic Association.

It was truly incredible what Buffalo and West Seneca accomplished in four short days. More than 18,000 people came through the area for the games, filling 1,100 hotel rooms and leaving an economic footprint of $3 million.

Congratulations to Paul Mulcaire, his team at the Buffalo Fenians and the host committee for an exemplary weekend. Thank you to the Town of West Seneca, Supervisor Sheila Meegan, and Councilmen William Hanley and Eugene Hart for their leadership in orchestrating this tournament.

Thank you to the West Seneca police and the EMTs for ensuring a safe tournament. And thank you to all the volunteers who came down to the fields and welcomed our guests with open arms.

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