Last Saturday saw a feast of hurling in the City of the Oaks as Raleigh GAA hosted our annual home hurling tournament, the Thomas Burke Cup. Although the eventual outcome of the competition didn’t go exactly as planned, with Hampton Roads winning the final by a point against the home side, the tournament was still a great success. With 80 degree low humidity weather, in a well prepared Raleigh Vipers Rugby location, two mens teams from both Raleigh and Hampton Roads as well as a team from Richmond played their hearts out while the camógie game played between Hampton Roads versus a Raleigh/Richmond was a classic.
From the Raleigh GAA club perspective, there are number of people that we are very appreciative to for helping to make this competition so memorable. Firstly, I’d like to thank John McNeily for his trojan work as hurling co-ordinator. We’d also like to thank Shane McDermott, Eddie Foley, Eric Coughlin and Graham Fordham who all helped John put up the crossbars, nets and backstops together on Wednesday and Friday. Finbar Daly helped too with the cleanup work on Saturday.
On the day itself, others made huge contributions. We are very grateful to Eric Coughlin and Stacey Shields for bringing their grill, selling t-shirts, bringing signs for the pitch and setting up a lemonade stand which the kids ran with ruthless efficiency. Eddie Foley with his daughter Katie cooked on the grill throughout the tournament keeping the spectators fed and happy.
It would also be remiss of me not to thank all those spectators that turned up to watch – many of you are wives, girlfriends, partners, parents, brothers, sisters, and friends of players – your continued support is what gives the club energy as we strive to expand the playing of Gaelic Games in this part of North Carolina. Our sponsors, The Hibernian pub, were great hosts on Saturday night – we intend to be back there on many more occasions over the next 6 months!
The final people that I would like to thank are the most important (without whom we would not have had a tournament) – the Raleigh players! Almost 30 players played some part in what was the club’s first time fielding 2 hurling teams in a competition. Several of whom made a big effort to play – Kris Simino both Sean Higgins travelled over 2 hours to play while Chris Cox made the trip from Fort Bragg. Otherwise, we had players from Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Cary, Durham and Wake Forest which shows how the club covers the width and breadth of the Triangle. A special
shout out also goes to Mia, Ann and Dory who played camógie for the combined Raleigh /Richmond team. Without being biased, they were easily the best players on the team. Hopefully next year we will have enough to field a Raleigh Camógie team of our own!
Thankfully, Saturday’s event was captured for posterity via our media friends in WRAL and via the fantastic photography of our Hampton Roads counterparts. If you have not seen either yet, see below: