Shels man John Joe Neville home from Hong Kong at the moment and staying in Curracloe, is often to be seen with the children in Hollymount,shared the latest happenings in Gaelic Football from the other side of the world.
As the Championships at home heats up, Hong Kong is heating up on the training field. With temperatures predicted to hit 33 oC and 90% humidity at the weekend training would seem to be only for the brave hearted. However with the date for the Asian Championships set for Oct 17/18th the defending Asian men’s champions have little choice but to brave the heat as they attempt to make history this year by being the only club to make it four in a row. This year the competition may believe they scent blood after the loss of two players off last years team back to Ireland Diarmuid Kinsella and MJ Tierney however Hong Kong have proved over the past three years that they have the depth to cope with this and we fully expect to prove this come October.
This year the club began it Primary Schools program. In a move designed to bring Gaelic Football to a completely new audience the club teamed up with five primary schools and introduced Gaelic Football as part of PE for the last term. The club brought a coach over from Ireland to assist the schools and to help the PE teachers understand and coach the sport. In a hugely successful program over 600 kids were introduced to Gaelic Football for the first time. They consisted of a wide variety of nationalities however, the one thing they all had in common was that not one was born in Ireland. Unfortunately, the planned Blitz for the second last week of term had to be abandoned due to the fact all the primary schools were closed early as a precaution against swine flu. Although the two weeks holidays were a welcome joy for the kids, there was huge disappointment in not playing the first ever interschool’s tournament in Asia.
May and June were also a busy time for the adults with the annual internal summer league tournament and the All China Games (ACG) in Shanghai, taking place over the two months. The ACG is competition for all the clubs in China, six clubs from throughout China take part in the annual one-day event. Our Summer League is a tournament where we organise the teams on a regional basis and this year The Fr Sean Burke Cup was won by a team under the name Fr Murphys. Strange thing is though, the team comprised of three Irish, seven Aussies, one Kiwi and an Englishman!
Outside of events in the GAA, it has also been an eventful year for Hong Kong. Hong Kong like the rest of the world it has been hit hard by the global financial crises. The finance industry in Hong Kong is a massive employer and provided quite a few opportunities for young Irish people over the past few years however with this drying up along with other employment opportunities the flow of new blood into the city came to a halt. Hong Kong however has seen it all before having been through all of this back in 1997 and 2003, as a result the folk of this city are resilient lot. So through all the global doom and gloom Hong Kong has remained somewhat upbeat as to what the future holds. As one door closes another opens, today that open door is teaching as the lack of qualified native English speaking teachers, ensure a healthy demand for overseas candidates. Throughout all of this, the HKGAA will continue to bring Gaelic Football to new schools and a completely new audience as the number of schools enlisted for next year has doubled – at least something other the unemployment rate has doubled!