AICC MEL 2023/24 - Round 3 Review
February 12, 2024
Gaelic Games in the Middle East began amidst a flurry of activity in 2024 with the resumption of the Arab-Irish Chamber of Commerce Middle East Leagues across Senior, Intermediate and Junior divisions of our Men’s Football, Ladies’ Football, Hurling and Camogie competitions.
Round 3 of our Hurling & Camogie competitions took place at the Sevens Stadium in Dubai on Saturday, January 20th, coinciding with concerts by Ed Sheeran in the same location. 23 teams and approximately 350 players came together for the first tournament of the year, played in ideal weather conditions with a warm sun and cool breeze. In our Camogie divisions, Al Ain and Dubai Celts Lilywhites continued their fine form by winning their second consecutive Intermediate and Senior tournaments respectively, to all but ensure their crowning as league champions at the end of the season. In Intermediate Hurling, Abu Dhabi Na Fianna went one better than Round 2 when they secured their first tournament win of the season, thus ensuring that it is all to play for in Round 4 when they battle it out with Jumeirah Gaels and Sharjah Gaels for league honours. A similar finale is in store for Senior Hurling, with a Round 3 tournament win by Dubai Celts bringing the division down to the wire on the final day, where any of Dubai Celts, Abu Dhabi na Fianna McDonaghs, or Abu Dhabi na Fianna Wolfe Tones have the opportunity to come away with League honours. Thank you to all who contributed to a successful day of Hurling & Camogie, and in particular to host club, Dubai Celts.
The Sevens Stadium in Dubai was the location of yet another tournament just one week later, when Jumeirah Gaels hosted Round 3A of the Arab-Irish Chamber of Commerce Junior A & B Football leagues, with 32 teams and approximately 500 members coming together on Friday, January 26th. Games began at 3pm in the afternoon in an effort to navigate different weekend days across countries, and to accommodate teams travelling from outside the UAE. Competitive games were played out under the evening sun and further into the night, with Al Ain continuing an impressive run of form when winning the Ladies Junior A competition, and Sharjah Gaels winning their second tournament of the year in Ladies Junior B. In the Men’s Junior A competition, Abu Dhabi Na Fianna came to life with an impressive first tournament win of the year, while Laochra Gaels solidified their position at the top of the Men’s Junior B division with their third consecutive tournament win of the year. Thank you to our host club Jumeirah Gaels, and to all teams and members for their efforts and support in contributing to a successful tournament, which ran incredibly well under challenging time constraints.
On the very next day, Saturday, January 27th, Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi was the location for Round 3B of the Arab-Irish Chamber of Commerce Senior & Intermediate football leagues. Ladies Intermediate football was won by Kerry Middle East who, following their third consecutive tournament win, have left themselves in a very promising position ahead of Round 4 for achievement of a significant milestone in the club’s short history – promotion into the Ladies Senior Football ranks. In the Ladies Senior division, Jumeirah Gaels won the Senior B competition and progressed into the Senior A semi-finals. Elsewhere, Abu Dhabi Na Fianna produced a strong showing on home soil to bring home their first tournament win of the season, when they beat Sharjah Gaels in the Senior A final. Results from this tournament ensure that 4 teams – Abu Dhabi na Fianna, Sharjah Gaels, Jumeirah Gaels, and Dubai Celts - go into the final round of the league with it all to play for, with each having a mathematically possible chance of winning the league. In the Men’s Intermediate division, Qatar GAA produced another strong showing in winning their second tournament of the year, thus leaving them on the verge of a long-awaited return to the Men’s Senior football division next season. In the Men’s Senior division, Jumeirah Gaels won their second tournament of the year, leaving them in pole position going into Round 4 of the league, with Abu Dhabi na Fianna leading the chase and applying pressure.
Elsewhere, on Saturday, February 3rd, Middle East GAA hosted the second of its scheduled Juvenile tournaments for the season. Sharjah Wanderers Sports Club was the location for a fantastic day of juvenile activity, which focused on using the Go Games model to ensure that every child played every game. Thank you to all teams, parents and juvenile members who travelled from far and wide, and to H.E. Ambassador Alison Milton, Irish Ambassador to UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Afghanistan, who we were delighted to welcome to the event. A full roundup of the event will be complied by MECB Juvenile Officer, Ger Madden, very soon.
We look forward to a lot more activity across the month of February as we move towards the final rounds of the Arab-Irish Chamber of Commerce Middle East Leagues. Middle East GAA will hold its first Hurling & Camogie tournament outside the UAE in many years on February 10th, when Qatar GAA hosts Round 4, which will see Senior and Intermediate champions being crowned in our Hurling and Camogie competitions. On February 17th RAK Ropairí will host the final round of Junior B, C and D football divisions in Al Hamra, Ras Al Khaimah while, one week later, on February 23rd and 24th, Sharjah Gaels host Senior, Intermediate and Junior A divisions.
These final rounds of the league remain important to all teams as they will confirm teams to be promoted and relegated, along with finalising seeding across all divisions into the Cup and Plate championship divisons for the Middle East GAA Championship tournament, which takes place in Abu Dhabi on March 8thand 9th. If necessary, play-off games in Round 4 will be held. Off-field, Middle East GAA will attend Annual Congress in Newry, while also meeting with World GAA and Leinster GAA partners.
Lastly, Middle East GAA wishes to acknowledge and offer its heartiest congratulations to Patrick Moynagh, Naomh Alee GAA, who received the 2024 International Award from Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Larry McCarthy during the Gradaim an Uachtaráin ceremony at Croke Park in Dublin recently. Patrick has worked tirelessly to promote Gaelic Games in the region since his arrival to the Middle East in 2010 and can still be found on the sideline at numerous Middle East tournaments each year, where he continues to coach the club's ladies’ teams. Patrick was central to the creation of the Middle East GAA County Board, established in 2013, serving as the first Treasurer of the organisation before being elected to the position of Chairperson between 2016-2018. Comhghairdeachas, a Phádraig!