In early April, the Notre Dame Gaelic Athletic Association competed in its first-ever Nationals in Orlando, Florida—winning the national title in Gaelic football and placing second in hurling.
This is quite the feat for a club that was formed only four years ago. Team members' passion for the sport, and for the camaraderie they experience by being a part of it, is captured in photos and on video on the GAA Club's Facebook page.
The club is advised by Keough Naughton Institute faculty fellow Professor Mary O'Callaghan, who accompanied the team to the championship game. The Keough-Naughton Institute assisted with funding for the team's trip.
Club members were congratulated in person on their national championship on April 22, when Dr. Jack Chambers, the Minister of State for Gaeltacht Affairs and Sport, visited campus for the musical program at the Snite in connection with the art exhibit, Who Do We Say We Are? Irish Art 1922 | 2022, and the Blue-Gold game.
Mark Kinnerk, Club President, sent in this report.
Only four years after its origination, the Notre Dame Gaelic Athletic Association competed in its first-ever Nationals on April 9, 2022 in Orlando, Florida. The GAA club represented Notre Dame in both hurling and Gaelic football, two of Ireland’s national sports.
With Notre Dame’s great ties to Ireland, the club had a cultural and competitive edge entering the tournament. The club traveled with a squad of 30 players, entering one football team and two hurling teams, Notre Dame Gold and Notre Dame Navy. The Fighting Irish were dominant in the Gaelic football championship, winning all their games and proceeding to the final against the University of Pittsburgh. While Pitt played an unconventional style of Gaelic football and led the game by three points at halftime, Notre Dame started the second half strong and played an incredibly tactical game to win their first National Championship.
While the hot Florida sun continued to beat down on Notre Dame’s iconic gold helmets, the GAA club competed strongly in hurling, with both teams putting in brave and passionate performances. Notre Dame Gold advanced to the championship final against Pitt in windy conditions. The Fighting Irish started the game against the wind and found it to be a huge factor as they headed into halftime nine points down. With the wind at their backs in the second half, but also very tired bodies, Notre Dame brought the game back to within three points before facing a last-minute free save.
While Notre Dame just missed taking home both titles in their first-ever Nationals, it was still an incredible achievement and one the leadership is incredibly proud of. The national championship win capped off a stellar season for Notre Dame, who also won the NCGAA Central Region Hurling Championships in November. The appearance at Nationals also represents the culmination of a four-year journey for the club’s seniors who helped establish Notre Dame GAA in 2018. Seniors Jeff Howard, Maureen Kenny, Charlie Sheehan, and Tommy Gotsch, along with Alumni Fintan Birch, Nicole White, and John Prendergast, put in tireless work over the past four years to get the club to where it is today. Despite being just four years old, Notre Dame GAA has grown to 45 active members and is nationally competitive in both Gaelic football and hurling—a testament to the leadership of the founding group. While these founding seniors are moving on, the club has built a strong tradition in Gaelic sports at Notre Dame and will look to sustain its success in the future.