GAA London Tir Chonaill Gaels International Seven's 2011
Saints make it three in a row!
By Ciaran McKenna
All Saints from Ballymena Co. Antrim successfully defended their Tir Chonaill Gaels international Seven’s title last Saturday in Greenford picking up the trophy for the third successive year, coming through two penalty shoot-outs along the way.
Scorching hot weather greeted all 16 of the men’s teams and the ladies for the tenth annual Tir Chonaill Gaels International 7’s tournament which has become the biggest tournament in Britain with teams travelling over from Ireland to be a part of the action.
Last year’s finalist Heston Gaels topped Group A winning all three of their opening matches to cruise into the Quarter final’s, while Fulham Irish just about scraped their way into the next stage finishing second in the group with two victories.
Cuchullains from Newcastle were the talk of the tournament early on in Group B, as they picked up comfortable victories in all three of their matches and were looking early favourites to win the competition.
St Kiernans qualified for the quarter-finals on point’s difference at the expense of Stars of Erin from Dublin as both teams picked up one win and a draw in their three games..
Meanwhile, the hosts Tir Chonaill Gaels topped Group C with three comfortable victories to book their place in the quarter-finals with Round Towers joining them after two wins from their three.
The holders All Saints took Group D by the scruff of the neck as expected, showing exactly why they remained strong contenders to take the crown again smashing in five goals against Roger Casements from Coventry in their opening match. Parnells finished joint top with the Saint’s to complete the last eight line up.
Cuchullains overcame Fulham Irish in the quarter finals by 3-1 to 2-3, while the 2010 finalists Heston Gaels dumped Parnells out of the tournament with a 5-4 to 1-3 victory to reach the last four.
St Kiernans proved why they remained contenders for the title with victory against hosts Tir Chonaill Gaels to put an end to their day with a 2-6 to 1-6 win, while All Saints booked their place in the semi’s with a routine win against Round Towers.
With an hour break to relax and prepare for the semi-final’s players from all four of the remaining teams done their best to cool down as the sun shone down in Greenford.
The semi-finals both got underway at virtually the same time with Heston Gaels overcoming early favourites Cuchullains of Newcastle on pitch 1.
Meanwhile, all eyes were on pitch 2 as nothing could separate All Saints and St Kiernans as both finished level after twenty minutes which meant the two would battle it out on penalty kicks.
Perhaps experience of winning the tournament in previous years favoured All Saints as they just about scraped victory to book their place in another final as two of Kiernans’ penalties were missed.
Elsewhere, in the ladies Parnells took on Tara in the final as player of the tournament Hannah Noonan guided her team to victory with some vital scores.
For the second year in a row it would be All Saints of Antrim taking on Heston Gaels in the final with both now running on empty after a long draining day in the sweltering heat now certainly taking its toll on both sets of players.
After twenty minutes of non stop action nothing could separate the two sides with good performances coming from Heston Gaels’ Michael Keane and All Saints captain Kevin McAlister.
With both teams level, it meant we were to see our second and final penalty shoot-out of the afternoon.
Neither side deserved to lose this way but unfortunately somebody had to lose and after seeing off Kiernans already on penalty kicks in the last round All Saints were not to be denied as they clinched victory over Heston courtesy of the dreaded penalty shoot out.
Despite not being able to guide his team to victory in the final, Heston Gaels’ Michael Keane was awarded men’s player of the tournament, while Ladies champions Parnells’ Hannah Noonan bagged the woman’s award.
Tir Chonail Gaels chairman Tom Mohan was delighted with how the day went and the standard of football played on the day and thanked the Guild in South Harrow for sponsoring the event. “It was fantastic, a great turn out! Everything went to time, some excellent football and no controversies. Probably the biggest turn out we’ve had in the tournaments ten year history,” he said.
GROUP A SD Pts
Heston Gaels +23 6
Fulham Irish +4 4
NL Shamrocks -14 1
St Brendans (Manchester) -15 1
GROUP B SD Pts
Cuchullains (Newcastle) +26 6
St Kiernans +1 3
Stars of Erin (Dublin) -2 3
Harlesden Harps -25 0
GROUP C SD Pts
TCG +31 6
Round Towers +15 4
Cuchulainns (London) -17 2
Moindearg -29 0
GROUP D SD Pts
All Saints (Antrim) +14 4
Parnells +3 4
R Casements (Coventry) -11 2
Clarets -13 2
Cuchullains (Newcastle) 3-1
Fulham Irish 2-3
St Kiernans 2-6
Heston Gaels 5-4
All Saints (Antrim) 0-9
Round Towers 1-2
Heston Gaels 2-7
Cuchullains (Newcastle) 0-5
All Saints (Antrim) 2-4 All Saints won on pens
St Kiernans 1-7
All Saints (Antrim) 0-9 All Saints won on pens 4-3
Heston Gaels 1-6