The 2012 and 2013 Ladies Football All Stars travelled to Hong Kong to play an exhibition game in the Hong Kong Football Club grounds at Happy Valley from 11th to 20th March.
A travelling party of over 70 people led by President Pat Quill, CEO Helen O’Rourke and Head of TG4 Pól Ó Gallachóir and which also included St Fintan’s Peter Rice who is National Treasurer of the LGFA had an enjoyable and successful trip.
The tour party left Dublin on Tuesday 11 March arriving in Hong Kong via London Heathrow on Wednesday afternoon and were based in The Grand Hyatt Hotel on the harbour. An enjoyable Race Night at Happy Valley Racecourse followed where the party were greeted by all officers of the Hong Kong GAA Club under chairperson Mikey Barry from Clare. Thursday was a relaxing day with a light training session and city bus tour.
Friday saw a coaching session with local youth teams followed by a Juvenile ladies game, an adult local club game of ladies football, men’s Compromise Rules game between HK Gaelic dragons and Aussie Dragons for the Jim Stynes Cup. An interesting feature of this game was that the first half was played with an oval ball whilst the second half was played with a Gaelic football. The Gaelic Dragons mad a great second half comeback to achieve victory. There was also a Shelmalier connection with the local ladies juvenile and Adult games with JJ Neville formerly of Curracloe and now resident in Hong Kong whose daughter Niamh played in both games. JJ has played an integral role in Gaelic football being accepted onto the Hong Kong International Schools’ syllabus, as an official Physical Education subject.
The Ladies All Star game completed the schedule with a 7.30 throw in with Minister Brendan Howlin, Ambassador Paul Kavanagh, Chairperson of the Asian GAA Board Joe Trolan of Derry who travelled from Seoul amongst the dignitaries in attendance of approx. 600 people. The girls gave a top class exhibition of ladies Gaelic football which left the attendance in awe of the pace and skills of the girls before the 2012 team emerged victorious on a scoreline of 9-19 to 5-14. A Banquet and exchange of gifts followed in the Hong Kong Football Clubs excellent facilities.
The travelling party were Guests of Honour at the St Patrick’s Society Ball in the Grand Hyatt Hotel, which was followed by a visit to Delaney’s Irish Pub to watch the Ireland V France rugby game at 1.00 am HK time. Eleven Local schools were visited for two hour coaching sessions on the Monday morning, which engendered a very positive response from children and teachers the majority of whom never saw the game previously and which resulted in at least two schools forming teams to play against each other. The touring party also took in the All-Ireland Club finals from Croke Park in the wee hours of the morning in Delaney’s.
The party departed Hong Kong on Wednesday night 11.45 and arrived back safely in Dublin at 8 am on Thursday morning via Heathrow. It was a hugely successful trip, a just reward for the dedication and commitment that they give to Ladies Football. It was also a huge boost to the local GAA and ladies football clubs and fostered lasting memories and friendships amongst the travelling party.