Charleston claim Paul Gleeson Cup at Tartan Day South

Apr. 7, 2013

In all, 45 hurlers from the Southeastern Division of the North American GAA came together in Cayce, South Carolina on Saturday, April 6th, for the second annual Tartan Day South hurling tournament. However, this was the first year that a trophy was on offer, affectionately named after the Consulate General of Ireland in Atlanta, the prestigious Paul Gleeson Cup.

The first match of the day was a semi-final between the Greenville Gaels of Greenville, SC and a Georgia amalgamation team from Atlanta and Carrollton. This turned out to be a high-scoring contest with goals on the minds of both teams. Greenville raced into an early lead, but Georgia stuck to the task and managed to close the gap towards the middle of the game. However, in an exciting second-half Greenville's scoring power proved too much, as they ran out winners by 21 points and advanced to the final.

In the second semi-final, Charleston matched up with the Cú Chulainn squad from Raleigh, NC for the first meeting between these two young sides. To help them fill numbers, they were joined by a selection of players from Hampton, VA and Augusta, GA. Charleston had travelled in large numbers, bringing 19 players on the day, which was an amazing turnout considering that the club only had two members this event last year. The action on the field was again focused on goals galore as Charleston scored seven in the first-half to lead at the half break by 21 points. The second-half proved a much tighter affair with Augusta's Kristopher Wells scoring some great, long-range points for Raleigh. Charleston had some fine performances in attack with no fewer than eight players getting their names on the score sheet (Richie Jennings, Wes Murphy, Johnny Mc Kinney, Jeremiah Schenzel, Bobby Balles, Scott Landreth, Brian Hottinger and John Flanagan). The final score was Charleston 9 goals and 4 points (31 points to Raleigh 4 points).

With that, this meant that Charleston advanced to play Greenville in the cup final, with the Raleigh and Georgia teams meeting in the third-place play-off. That game again proved to be high scoring with 15 goals scored altogether. Alas, Raleigh, playing back-to-back games, eventually came unstuck with Georgia managing to pull away at the finish and on a scoreline of 12 goals and 9 points to 2 goals and 3 points to claim third spot overall.

The cup final was a high-quality meeting of Charleston and Greenville, two teams quite familiar with one another. Both South Carolina teams put on a great exhibition for the interested crowds as the day was winding down at the Historic Columbia Speedway. This game was a great battle with both defenses strong throughout, meaning goals were a lot harder to come by. Both teams showed that they were well able to score points from long distance. Indeed, some the long-range shooting was a particular feature of the game, emphasizing the improved quality of hurling in the South Eastern Division.

The first-half saw only one goal scored from the stick of Charleston's Richie Jennings to leave Charleston up by five points at half-time on a score of 1 goal and 6 points to 4 points. In the second-half Charleston was able to use their larger squad to their advantage to keep the points flowing and the defense tight.

Full credit must go to defensive work of Ryan Shrum, Brian Bland, Jay McNealey, Jason Fenstermaker, Nick Dowling, Clay Gibson, David O'Sullivan and goalkeeper Brendan Dagg who managed to not concede any goals in the course of the day. In midfield, players Matt Priede and Brendan Henning set up some great attacks for the forwards to score a total of 3 goals and 12 points to Greenville's final tally of 7 points.

It was Charleston's first ever victory and the celebrations afterwards were just reward for early season dedication and attendance at practice by all players involved.

A special note to congratulate the fine performance of Shannon Farrelly. Shannon joined the Charleston team recently and is the first and only female player. Hopefully she can be the first of many girls playing the game locally.

Hurling in the southeastern United States is growing at rapid rates. The next tournament is in Charleston, SC on May 4, 2013.