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Canton to host GAA championships over Labor Day Weekend

By Sophie Gayter, Special to the Reporter, special to the BIR, July 30, 2014

GAA North American Championships come to Canton this monthGAA North American Championships come to Canton this monthBoston’s Northeast Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) has been a focal point for the Irish community in the area for years. Offering locals the opportunity to play a variety of Gaelic sports including Gaelic Football and Hurling, the GAA has numerous teams in the Boston area in addition to teams who come from as far as Maine, New Hampshire, and Connecticut to participate in the Boston Northeast division.

The Northeast GAA season runs from April to Labor Day weekend, with between 140 to 170 games played each year. All games are played live on the grounds of the Irish Cultural Center in Canton and are very well attended by folks looking to connect with a piece of Ireland here in Massachusetts.

“On any given Sunday, we have games running all day from about 10:30 in the morning, where we have a huge youth program, right through the afternoon where we have our men’s and women’s matches,” said Northeast GAA Chairman John Cunningham.

In his first year as chairman of the Northeast GAA, Cunningham is aiming to bring the love and passion that local Irish people feel for Gaelic sport to other people in the area.

“Our goal is to expand our viewership,” said Cunningham, “We have been working with local TV channels to get our matches on local sports networks. So far it’s only Irish people and we need to expand to the non-Irish community.”

This upcoming Labor Day weekend, the Boston GAA will be hosting the North American Championships at the ICC in Canton. What started in 1998 as a small event has grown to become the most significant GAA tournament of the year this side of the Atlantic.

“I believe this year’s finals in Canton will be the biggest finals that have ever taken place in GAA history in North America, “ said Cunningham, “We are expecting to have almost 5,000 people attend the games over the course of the weekend, as well as a number of dignitaries over from Ireland including GAA President Liam O’Neill.”

Run by the North American County Board (NACB) of the Gaelic Athletic Association, the finals in Canton will see hundreds of Gaelic sport fans gather at the ICC for a weekend-long celebration of Irish culture and sport. Starting on Frida,y August 29, the championships will run from 8a.m.- 6p.m. all day on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Labor Day weekend.

“At this year’s championships, we will have 111 teams who have come to the Boston area from all over the country, and from Canada to the Cayman Islands to compete in the finals,” said Cunningham.

For more information on schedules and match times, including information on the North American Championships, visit the Boston GAA website at bostongaa.com or on Twitter @GAABoston. Tickets for regular season GAA matches are $10. For the Labor Day weekend National Championships—tickets will be $15 on Friday and Saturday, $20 on Sunday, and $40 for a weekend pass.