2019 Year in Review & Awards

Dec. 3, 2019 • Andrew Maron

On November 22, the Charleston GAA met for it’s annual End of the Year party at McCann’s Irish Pub in Mt Pleasant. The night started off with a slide show of pictures from the past year while food was supplied to all who came for this special occasion. Everyone enjoyed their time reminiscing a great year and eating delicious food prepared by McCann's. After a few moments of glaring confusion as to how to get the computer to sync up to the projector, the club’s chair started the awards presentation.

It was started off by giving a quick history lesson to the origins of the club and the years leading up to this year. 

On October 18, 2011 Ryan Shrum and Brendan Dagg met for the first time to puc around at the soccer fields at Patriot’s Point and discuss their master plan to start a hurling club here in Charleston. I doubt they realized the long lasting impact they would have on so many people throughout the years. 

In 2012 the club officially kicked off with initial practices dominated by Citadel cadets but throughout the year the club would grow. In November of that year the club would travel to Augusta to play in its first ever tournament as a complete team. 

2013 saw a large growth in membership. The team won it’s first ever tournament, the Paul Gleeson Cup, in Columbia at the Tartan Day festival. It also got it’s first ever sponsor in Molly Darcy’s. The club also got a boost when All-County player from Clare Shane Golden came over that summer. Charleston went on to win 2 more cups and appear in the finals in another. The club also held its first Holy City Cup with Charlotte winning the tournament. 

2014 saw the club winning it’s home tournament for the first time as well as having its first pub league. There were 3 teams involved with Daragh Doran Real Estate winning it all. The Vice Chair, Clay Gibson, found in a Habitat for Humanity store the future trophy of the Fall league. At the time it was called the Bill Murray Cup in honor of the favorite local celebrity. It would later become the Founder’s Cup to honor the founding members. 

2015 the club continued the pub league and traveling to regional tournaments. No tournaments were won this year but Charleston did win the first ever SE Division Championship in Atlanta. 

2016 was the peak year of the club and the unfortunate start of decline. Charleston had another solid pub league, won 2 tournaments, were in the finals in 2 other tournaments, had an overall record of 8-2, and gained new sponsors including Guinness as our main jersey sponsor. But also that year our beloved bar, Molly Darcy’s closed its doors, we lost our practice space to city youth sports, and had a large amount of players move out of town. 

2017 was not a kind year. The team did not travel to any tournaments, there was no pub league, no awards night, and attendance at practices were at all time low. Luckily in 2018 the club saw rejuvenation from a new influx of players and a re-energized veteran presence. The club hosted its first ever “friendly” tournament which was a huge success, won the Holy City Cup, re-started the pub league and saw an increase in attendance.

After the long, boring history lesson that made everyone feel as if they were back in High School (luckily no test was at the end) the chair went into the highlights of the year. The year saw 2 successful pub leagues, one in the spring and one in the fall. The team traveled to 5 tournaments: Greenville, Knoxville, Augusta, Raleigh, and Nationals. Charleston also hosted 2 local tournaments with the Holy City Cup having 8 total teams participate making it the largest tournament to date. There were a lot of firsts in the club this year such as going to Nationals as a team, sending delegates to the USGAA convention and getting a motion passed, players got reversible practice pinnies, there was an MVP mug awarded to players to drink out of after winning, new sponsors, new jerseys with a new main sponsor in McCanns, Irish Pub Tour, Irish Whiskey Tasting, and new coaching structure. There was also a huge increase in attendance in practices, games and tournaments. The year was truly one to remember and hopefully one that will prove to be the ultimate turning point in the club.

After all that (90+ slides, can you imagine!) the awards part of the night started. These awards were different since this was the first year players had to be nominated for the award. So it was an honor to just be nominated for them in the first place. First were some less serious awards.

Most Likely to Get Hurt

Clay Gibson

Most Likely to Get a Yellow Card

Chris Stratton

Who Wore it Best*

Ryan Shrum

Benedict Arnold Award**

Rob Brown

Club Favorite Irish Person

Brendan Dagg

Best Team Couple

Will and Tiff Nichols


Next were the more serious awards:

Rookie of the Year

Joseph O’Callaghan

Camogie Player of the Year

Caitlyn Lees

Most Improved Player

Ryan Barrs

Offensive Player of the Year

Jordan Smitley

Defensive Player of the Year

Rob Coyle

Club Supporter of the Year

Nathalie Morgan

Leadership Award

Ryan Finn

President’s Award

Will Nichols


Finally the last two awards are seen as the most important in the club.  So it was decided to honor the men who started this whole thing and name these prestigous awards after them.  The MVP would become the Brendan Dagg Award which goes to the most outstanding player on the field and the Club Person of the Year became the Ryan Shrum Award which goes to the club member that goes well above the call of duty to ensure the club’s success on and off the field.  These two awards were put into plaques where the past and future winners will go on to them and be displayed for all to see at Tommy Condon’s Irish Pub in downtown Charleston.  The winners of these awards were:

Brendan Dagg Award (MVP)

Brandon Callahan

Ryan Shrum Award (Clubperson)

Andrew Maron

It was an overall great night with lots of laughs and comraderie.  The presentation was light hearted and enjoyable as the chair was apparantly bored at work and found some of the most humiliating and funny pictures of the nominees and winners of the awards.  It is always enjoyable to sit back and rejoice in the fruits of one’s hard work and this entire club deserved it as everyone played a huge part in it’s come back success.

ON TO 2020! Up Charleston!

*the new club uniform shorts were quite short, so this award was to who wore them the best

**as described in the history part, Charleston had a large number of players leave the club but not the sport.  Many went on to play hurling in their new cities and this awards was for the favorite former player who is on another team