The USGAA Finals: Then and Now
Thirty years ago, a group of 19 enthusiastic Irishmen started a club that is best known today as the Washington DC Gaels. While Irish Football had been played in the DC area in the preceding decades, it was this club that would prove to be the beginning of the strong establishment of Gaelic games in the DC Metro area.
In 1998, the Washington DC Gaels took on the immense and exciting project of hosting the NACB finals. At Kingsview Middle School in Germantown MD, three fields saw a successful championship summarized by this comment in the Awards ceremony book, “We built it. They came. We conquered. They left. We tore it down.” If you can’t tell by that traditional, humble Irish bragging, the DC men’s football team were Junior National Champions that year!
Over the next decade, the Gaels added Hurling and Camogie. Just a few years later, the Baltimore Bohemians were formed and today the Mid-Atlantic Division boasts a total of five clubs with all four codes being well represented: DC Gaels, Baltimore Bohemians, Coastal Virginia Hurling and Camogie, Michael Collins Football Club in Alexandria, & Richmond Battery Hurling and Camogie Club. Our Mid-Atlantic region is also home to several fall and spring leagues, as well as collegiate hurling clubs.
Much has changed since DC hosted the 1998 finals. That schedule was comprised of 49 games (39 adult, 10 youth), nine adult final games, and required ONLY three fields. This year the 2019 finals board is anticipating 100+ adult teams who will play on five beautiful and co-located fields; each field hosting up to six full-time matches daily over the course of three days. A massive number of spectators and players are anticipated to flood the area and well over 2,500 people are expected to attend with eleven divisions being represented, including international teams from Canada and the Cayman Islands.
The opportunity for the Mid-Atlantic region to host finals brings to mind the massive changes that started with just one club which ultimately evolved into a division which has endured over the two past decades. While the Mid-Atlantic Division clubs have grown in numbers, expanded in codes, and bore hundreds of players that have come and gone over the years, what has not changed is the pervading sense of community and camaraderie that results from dedicated players coming together to play a sport they love.
As you lace up your boots to play at your divisional home games this year, prepare yourselves to play your hardest and secure the opportunity to be a part of this year's USGAA finals. We are proud and excited to introduce your clubs to phenomenal pitches and top-level refereeing at Morven Park. The weekend will be full of nods to the deep Irish heritage and culture that many have come to know and love - and perhaps even a new tradition or two to boot!
For more information and to start planning your DC experience,
sign up for our newsletter at www.usgaafinals2019.com.
Continue to check out the site for more updates on the weekend.
We are working hard to make it one of the best ever!