SIXTEEN OVERSEAS TEAMS will participate in the International Hurling Festival event which throws in at venues in Galway today.
The competition, which is sponsored by Aer Lingus and Etihard Airways, includes sides from New York, New York, San Francisco, Canada, the UK, continental Europe, the Middle East and Australia.
The tournament also includes teams from developing hurling regions such as Buenos Aires, Milwaukee, Indianapolis and a European team made up of non-Irish nationals.
The Barley House Wolves, the team founded by members of the New Hampshire Army National Guard upon redeployment from Iraq in 2005, are one of the teams competing.
While the Australian team is made up of the All Stars selected at the 2012 championships which were held in Perth. Players are drawn from three units of the association – Western Australia (Perth), New South Wales (Sydney) and Queensland (Brisbane)
The competition runs from today until Saturday with the qualifying games taking place in the towns of Loughrea, Ballinasloe and Gort with the finals being staged at Pearse Stadium in Salthill.
The Allentown Hibernians team
Here’s what some of the travelling players thought of the competition:
John Driscoll, Allentown Hibernians hurling club secretary
“For our club playing outside of America may be the greatest thrill ever. Many times over the years we have been told this sport will never be taken for real outside of Ireland. We intend fully to show that we are passionate about the sport.”
James Kennedy, Middle East chairman
“We are delighted to be part of this wonderful initiative by the GAA and Aer Lingus. Everyone is looking forward to competing in Galway, where the Middle East All Stars will be making their debut and I can’t think of a more fitting occasion for that to happen.”
Warren M. Perry, Barley House Wolves Junior C Captain
“The Festival has given a massive boost to the club. We are delighted to have an opportunity to see and play hurling in its native land. Our club travelled to Galway in the spring of 2010, we played against both the St. Mary’s GAA Junior C Team in Athenry as well as an infantry team out of Renmore barracks.”
For more information see - www.hurlingfestival.com