Gracefield reach semi-final at Worlds Largest GAA Club Gathering

Minister Leo Varadkar and MEP Sean Kelly were among the spectators at the Eurospar Cuisine de France Comórtas Peile Páidí Ó Sé 2013 in association with irish Life and The Gathering Ireland, a Gaelic football tournament and festival which took place at the weekend in Ventry and all over the Dingle Peninsula in Kerry.

Minister Leo Varadkar and MEP Sean Kelly were among the spectators at the Eurospar Cuisine de France Comórtas Peile Páidí Ó Sé 2013 in association with irish Life and The Gathering Ireland, a Gaelic football tournament and festival which took place at the weekend in Ventry and all over the Dingle Peninsula in Kerry.

Offaly’s Gracefield made the trip to the West Kerry Gaeltacht and enjoyed a busy weekend of football in the men’s senior competition which was eventually won by Oliver Plunkett’s.

The Offaly side started well by overcoming Fingal Raven’s of Swords in Dublin. With only two hours to get prepared for the semi-final, Gracefield took to Ventry strand for an ice bath before battling against host club An Gaeltacht in a tense game. The teams were level on four occasions before the local side pulled away with a 2-8 to 2-5 victory. Members of the team met with Minister for Sport, Tourism and Environment Leo Varadkar before their semi-final match.

The Comórtas, worth in excess of €500,000 to the local economy, is the brainchild of Páidí Ó Sé, the legendary Irish Gael and winner of eight All-Ireland senior football medals as a player and two as Kerry manager. Páidí passed away suddenly on 15th December, 2012 at the age of 57 and so this year the Comórtas was not only a celebration of Gaelic Games but of Páidí’s life and times.

A Jason Sherlock inspired Oliver Plunkett’s beat An Gaeltacht in the men’s senior final with Paul Brogan also starring. Lispole, St. Pats, Blennerville and Scartaglen won the Junior men’s, intermediate men’s and intermediate ladies final respectively. Dunedin Connolly’s of Edinburgh beat a Sean Kelly mentored Brussels Ladies side while Carnacon, led by Mayo legend Cora Staunton swept past Dublin’s Foxrock-Cabinteely in the senior ladies final.

Now in its 24th year, this year’s Comórtas has expanded into a major International Gaelic games gathering including 48 senior, intermediate and junior GAA clubs from 13 counties across Ireland but also 15 teams from England, Wales, Scotland, Germany, Spain and Brussels.

Minister Leo Varadkar said, “Páidí was a great supporter of Irish sport, tourism and the Gathering. His untimely death was felt by everyone in Kerry, across Ireland and around the world. I’m delighted that so many of his friends have come to Kerry to celebrate their links with Páidí, and with this most beautiful part of Ireland. So many players from far-flung places are here celebrating Paid i’s life, and their love of football. This is what the Gathering Ireland 2013 is all about, and it’s a fitting tribute to Páidí himself.

Páidí’s son Pádraig Ó Sé said, “The Comórtas was my Dad’s personal contribution to The Gathering initiative and the football tournament was his annual effort to promote the Kerry Gaeltacht and West Kerry region that he loved so much. He would have been delighted to see the efforts by all the teams and our main partners Eurospar and Cuisine de France to remain committed to the tournament this year and long may it continue in his honour.”

The tournament, also supported by Lee Strand Co-Operative, national radio station Newstalk 106-108FM and Fáilte Ireland, has grown in popularity in recent years. A photographic exhibition by Don MacMonagle with images from Páidí’s life was launched by former rugby international Mick Galwey. This year’s photographic exhibition also featured images of life in Limerick over the past 100 years from the Limerick Leader and Limerick Chronicle archives. The exhibition will remain in the pub for a number of months.