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09 December 2023

Irish athletes descend on Dubai

By David Daly

The UAE will host the 4th Annual Gulf Gaelic Games this weekend, with Wild Geese (Irish Expats) arriving from the four corners of the world to watch and play hurling; the world's fastest field game, and Gaelic football; from whose lineage American and Australian football hail.

The games begin at 9am tomorrow and end on Saturday evening.

International teams vying for victory have arrived from countries such as Singapore and Zimbabwe and, of course, Ireland. Visitors can look forward to seeing local teams from other sports taking to the field, including two Australian rules and soccer teams, one made up of jockey's and a selection of the visiting crew of HMS Lancaster.

UAE's Jumeriah College will field a team of final year secondary school students containing nationals from over the world under the tutelage of Kilkenny's Danny Cotterill, who has high expectations of his eager and willing students.

Gaelic games have always been inclusive and visitors can look forward to watching the equally talented and competitive ladies playing camogie (ladies hurling) and ladies football. Complementing this feast of sport will be Irish music and dancing, face painting, a bouncy castle and more, ensuring plenty of entertainment for all the family. There is no admission charge.

The local team, the Dubai Celts, is always looking for new talent and regularly has more than one hundred turn out for training. More sociable than a gym and a greater test of fitness, this weekend could be your introduction to a globally growing community of players.

Always colourful, Gaelic games has developed a parlance bank that mirrors its good humoured competitive nature. Irish commentator Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh's turn of phrase is equally a part of the memories brought away from a game; "He grabs the sliotar [ball], he's on the 50… he's on the 40… he's on the 30… he's on the ground."

While boasting fierce tribalism, supporters have always conducted themselves with good nature making occasions such as these exciting family events. For a weekend of all play and no work, clashes on the field in daylight followed by ceol agus craic (music and fun) in floodlight, head for the Emirates 7evens Stadium on Al Ain Road.


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