Last weekend’s immensely successful staging of Shanghai’s first Asian Gaelic Games tournament has ensured that the event will return to China’s commercial hub next September, when teams from across Asia will once again compete to take home the Derek Brady Cup. This year’s unlikely winners were the Dubai Celts, who pipped Hong Kong to the post in extra time, with the ladies trophy collected by feisty Beijing, a team that lost every single one of their matches this time last year. Following a stunning win over tournament favourites Singapore in the quarter-finals, Shanghai’s mens team lost out to Hong Kong in the semis, but saw their star forward, James McDonald of County Down, take home the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament award. The Shanghai Sirens ladies team held on to reach the Plate finals (one stream below the Cup), but were beaten by a powerful Singapore side, boasting, as rumour had it, a 40-year-old former inter-county player and mother of three, who went by the name of Mary, and thundered in a clutch of stunning goals in the second half.
Winners and losers aside, Shanghaiist can confirm that of all three major expat sporting events to be held in Shanghai this September (Guinness Rugby Sevens, Cricket Sixes and Gaelic Games), the Irish laid on by far the greatest spectacle. Attended by as many as two thousand people over the course of the weekend, who witnessed amongst other things, China’s first ever competitive hurling match (between Singapore and Korea) (Korea won), not an ‘i’ was undotted nor a ‘t’ uncrossed, as the many events of the weekend unfolded. Shanghai’s iconic Pearl Tower was lit up green, white and gold for the opening ceremony, attended by Irish Minister Noel Treacy and Ireland’s Ambassador to China, Declan Kelleher, proving invaluable to members of the Hong Kong team who had got lost en route, and noticing the colours lighting up the sky, headed for the tower in the hope of locating the proceedings.
Work hard and play hard was the motto of the weekend, with some highly competitive matches on the pitch, and some equally intense partying off the pitch once Sunday afternoon had come and gone. Indeed, the tardiness of this report is in part due to injuries sustained when an un-named member of the Singapore squad did an Irish jig on Shanghaiist’s big toe in the early hours of Monday morning’s post-tournament Blarneystone session. Collateral damage in the name of hardcore reporting, and nothing a few more Irish Black Russians couldn’t fix. Suffice to say, if you missed things this year, you’ll be able to whet your appetite at the All-China Championships which will take place in Beijing next May, before the fire and brimstone of the Asian Gaelic Games returns to Shanghai once again next September.
Players interested in joining the Shanghai squad should contact the Blarneystone Irish Pub, Shanghai’s Club sponsor, at 5A Dongping Lu. Training sessions will resume at the end of October with the introduction of a Shanghai league.
At Shanghai Diaries and Shanghai Streets
Shanghai hosts ancient Irish sports festival (India Daily)
Gaelic football carving out niche in China (AFP)
Full disclosure: Shanghaiist was the goalie on the Shanghai women’s team.