Weekly Feature

2017-07-20 / Front Page

Gaelic Games kick off July 27


Anyone looking to play soccer in West Seneca will have to wait. As of tomorrow, the 2017 Gaelic Athletic Association Continental Youth Championship will take over the West Seneca Soccer Complex.

The four-day tournament, to be held from July 27 to 30, will consist of Gaelic football and hurling competitions involving up to 250 teams.

Tomorrow, barriers, temporary buildings and field equipment will start to arrive at the Soccer Complex, located at 3747 Seneca St.

“The Buffalo Bills is working with us, too,” Town Supervisor Sheila Meegan said. “It’s a collection of a lot of different organizations chipping in their talents and their equipment to really ease the burden all around.”

On Saturday, the athletic fields will be laid out and striped for the various sports and tournaments that will take place the following weekend.

Tuesday, more than 3,000 players and their families, hailing from various countries, arrive in the region. Registration is taking place Wednesday, and the first game kicks off at 8:30 a.m. Thursday with a blessing.

“It’ll be busy,” Meegan cautioned.

West Seneca Chamber of Commerce members have submitted maps to the Gaelic Games committee, highlighting information for visitors.

According to Chamber Director Kelly Oldenburg, Chamber members expect to see an increase in business while the games are in progress.

“We’ve been going to a lot of our restaurants here in town, and other little things that people can do, so that we can get information to people in their welcome packets,” Meegan said.

A ceremonial dinner, traditional Masses and a James Joyce private collection will all enhance tournament week, Meegan said.

Featuring the national sports of Ireland, the games bring in athletes from age groups under 8 through under 18.

The Continental Youth Championships is the largest youth Gaelic Games to be held outside of Ireland, bringing an expected 20,000 guests to the Greater Buffalo-Niagara region. This will be the first time Buffalo has hosted the games, which began in 2004 and have been held in various major cities, such as New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

While the Gaelic Games may not include sports many people here recognize, it has had a long history in Buffalo within the Irish community.

Paul Mulcaire, chairman of the 2017 Continental Youth Championship Host Committee, said the Buffalo Fenians Gaelic Athletic Association has been coordinating Gaelic Games for area youth since 2005, and there is photographic documentation that sees Gaelic Games being organized in Buffalo as far back as 1922.

The Buffalo Fenians will host a celebration at the Buffalo Irish Center Saturday night, carrying on the celebratory atmosphere.

On the morning of July 30, a closing ceremony with a Mass will be offered to send athletes and their families home safely.

Meegan said it sounds like the tournament will be an incredible event.

There is even talk of the event returning to West Seneca in 2019.

“They’re so impressed with how many fields we have and how beautiful it is compared to the ones that actually have these tournament fields in play, in Boston and Chicago. They said ours is more of an event place,” she said.

For more information on the games, visit www.cyc gaa.org.

email: jwaters@beenews.com

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