More than 750 players, male and female, arrived from all over the Asian Pacific region for the Asian Gaelic Games in Kuala Lumpur, chasing silver and winning titles, at this most prestigious overseas event in the GAA calendar. Contrast this to the first games in 1996 which had 72 players take part in Manila.
Local team Orang Eire hosted the event at the sports grounds of the Putrajaya International Convention Centre, where the organisation and the logistics were excellent.
Kuala Lumpur has a great shopping and dining infrastructure that were visited by many of the visiting players and supporters, and the Istana Hotel was a super venue for the end of games party with close on a thousand people attending.
The Vice President of the GAA, Martin Skelly, who attended the Games, said that he was amazed at the high level of organisation and the fantastic commitment of players and officials. He also pledged the total support of the Leinster Council, who are twinned with the Asia games.
There were 21 teams from Asia Pacific and the Middle East for the running of this event for the eighteenth time.
It is hard to convey what an exciting festival of all that is Irish that this event has become, a really great coming together of the Irish diaspora in Asia and the Middle East with a common love of Gaelic games. It has to be experienced to truly appreciate it – for example, the wonderful commentaries from Micheal O Muircheantaigh to name but one.
The event was also attended by Declan Kelly,theIrish Ambassador to Malaysia, Pat Quill; Chairman LGFA, Joe Trolan; Chairman of the Asian County Board, Brian Mullins; Director of Sport at UCD, Tom Daly; Chairman of the International Operations Committee and Bernard Brogan, Dublin All Ireland Medal winner.
The Ladies final was between Shanghai and Singapore, who have won this final four times in the past. But the elusive five in a row was not to be as the Shanghai team captained by Eithne O’Neill from Tyrone literally destroyed the Singapore team with a score line of 1-6 to no score.
The Men’s final for the Derek Brady Cup was also a hard fought game with favourites Dubai being beaten by Qatar by 1-8 to 0-8.
This was the first time that Qatar has won this competition in what really was a thrilling game.
Etihad Airways, which sponsors the All Ireland Hurling Final, fly from Dublin to Kuala Lumpur via its Abu Dhabi hub and also from many other cities within Asia.