Following the success last year of the GAA World games in which Meath man Paddy Darcy from Dunderry was involved in a co-ordinationg role, more than 1,700 Gaelic footballers, hurlers and camogie players from 10 regions around the globe are bringing Gaelic games home to Ireland for the 2016 Etihad Airways GAA World Games in Dublin this August.
Meath clubs will have an opportunity to host some of the visiting clubs in a twinnig procees in which clubs from Klidare and Dublin will also be involved.
A total of 87 teams from 20 countries will travel to Dublin for a week-long festival of Gaelic games activity between 7th and 14th August 7 at UCD’s Belfield campus, with the finals being played at Croke Park.
Teams from as far away as Australia, South Africa and Argentina will be present, as well as teams from China, Canada, the Middle East, the US, Europe and Britain.
It is expected that as many as 7,000 people will be involved in the Etihad Airways GAA World Games festival in Dublin between players, team officials, administrators, families and supporters.
The GAA will host the visiting teams in a grand opening ceremony at Croke Park before the All-Ireland senior hurling semi-final on Sunday 7th August, an event that will have a massive TV audience through RTE, Sky and GAAGo.
More than 500 games will be played over the course of the week-long festival.
The visiting teams will also take part in a major cultural heritage night and concert at the Helix
Theatre in DCU and a dedicated coaching forum before a closing ceremony at Croke Park at the end of the week.
GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail said: “The success of last year’s Etihad Airways GAA World Games in Abu Dhabi is still fresh in the memory and everyone involved in the GAA is very eager to see that we continue to develop this exciting initiative.
“In the years immediately after the formation of the GAA in 1884, Michael Cusack described the growth and expansion of Gaelic games activity as “being like a prairie fire.
"This event will showcase the extent to which the passion and participation for Gaelic games has now spread far beyond our shores and will acknowledge the keepers of this flame.
“It is an event that simply would not be possible without the support and commitment of Etihad
Airways which has played an integral part in making the dream of a GAA World Games become a
“It is also important to recognise the support of Tony Towell and all in O’Neill’s for ensuring that every team that competes here in August will really look the part.”
It is planned to twin each of the visiting teams with a host club from Dublin, Kildare and Meath which will enable them to forge new links with Ireland and also gain expert coaching while they are here. It will also increase their support base.
This event will highlight the phenomenal global expansion of GAA clubs overseas with more than 400 GAA clubs now in existence outside of Ireland.
From Abu Dhabi to Zambia, the games that are played in every corner of Ireland are now being played in every corner of the world.
A key feature of the 2016 World Games event will be that the growing number of new GAA clubs made up of non-native Irish people who have discovered Gaelic games and have made it their sport of choice.
Among others, this diversity will be evidenced by a native Chinese ladies football team and a native South African men’s football team who have confirmed that they will travel to take part.
The GAA will support the event with a major publicity campaign, as well as providing an army of
volunteers who will help run the event at Belfield.
The finals will then be played at Croke Park on Thursday 11th August in football, ladies football, hurling and camogie with eight finals covering the four codes and with a decider for Irish born and also non-Irish competing teams.