Saudi Arabia gets its first underage GAA teams

February 28, 2013
The Naomh alee Gaels in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, broke new ground recently with the launch of their Juvenile GAA programme for 7 to 14 years old boys and girls.

In a new departure for the most populous country in the Middle East, almost 200 people attended the launch at a GAA Family Fund day at Salwa Garden Village in Riyadh. The Juvenile event, which included coaching drills, shooting skills and mini-games for all participants, was a significant success, with the children receiving a commemorative Naomh Alee GAA shirt to mark the occasion.

Local dairy food company, Al Marai, with a significant Irish heritage, provided free refreshments to all participants on the day.

Inaugural Riyadh GAA 7's Tournament
The first Saudi Arabian GAA &'s tournament was hosted by Naomh Alee on 24th January last at the BAE Sports grounds in Riyadh. The competition featured both a men's and women's gaelic football tournaments with eight teams contesting the titles of inaugural Riyadh 7's Champions.

The women's final was contested by the Naomh Alee Banshees and the Puck's, with the Banshees exacting revenge for their earlier defeat by the Pucks in the group stages. Team Captain Roisin O'Sullivan, in her final game for the Banshees led the team to collect their title at the final whistle.

The men's event saw some keenly contested matches, with representatives from Ireland, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Holland, Australia and elsewhere, all vying for honours on the day. The Men's 7's final was a match-up between the physically imposing Falcon's team and Eire Og from Naomh Alee, with Eire Og securing the win following a fine penalty save from Goal Keeper Richie O'Leary.

The Club will follow up the success of the Riyadh 7's with a 9-a-side tournament later in the Calendar.

Civic Reception with the Irish Ambassador
Naomh Alee were hosted by the Irish Ambassador to Saudi Arabia at the Irish Embassy in Riyadh, to mark the three Middle East and Gulf Gaelic Games titles won by the club during 2012. Speaking at the event, the Club Chairman Patrick Moynagh noted the work ethic and effort of the club members, players and committee in making the club both self sufficient and successful during 2012. Dr Niall Holohan, Irish Ambassador, reflected on the key role played by the GAA, not only at home, but especially overseas. Naomh Alee was, he said, fulfilling that role particularly well in the Middle East.

Good wishes for the new GAA season were conveyed by the President of Ulster Council and Vice President of the GAA, Mr Aogan Farrell, in a written address to the club gathering and later at Provincial Congress in February.

Gulf Gaelic Games 2013
All eyes focus on Dubai during March for the Gulf Games 2013. Once again, Naomh Alee will bring four teams to the Middle East and Gulf Champions, and will seek to match or beat the performances of 2012. Best wishes are extended to the Naomh Alee Roses, the Riyadh Banshees, Naomh Alee Setanta and Eire Og in their hunt for further Championship success.

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