GAA/GPA All-Stars set off on historic hurling tour of Texas
THE GAA/GPA All-Stars, in association with Opel, will make history this week when they go on a hurling tour to Austin, Texas.
A 28-strong party of some of the greatest names in modern-day hurling and representing the 2014 and 2015 All-Star winners flew out from Dublin today for a week-long stay in the Lone Star State.
It will be the first time in the distinguished 44-year history of the scheme that a team of All-Star players have visited Texas.
Uachtarán CLG Aogán Ó Fearghail will lead the party which will also include team managers Anthony Daly and Anthony Cunningham, as well as 2015 All-Ireland hurling and football final referees James Owens (Wexford) and David Coldrick (Meath).
The decision to visit Texas is in recognition of the massive growth and popularity of gaelic games in the region.
Uachtarán Ó Fearghail said: “The GAA/GPA Opel All-Stars represent the very best talents and role models that we are fortunate to have playing our national games.
“To acknowledge these players for their commitment and dedication to hurling and a sport that is arguably our greatest national treasure is very important to us.
“The tour is also an important part of our overseas promotion at a time when the growth and expansion of Gaelic games world-wide echoes the original prairie fire of popularity that Michael Cusack spoke of with the fledgling GAA in the years after 1884.
“Our hope is that by bringing these wonderful players abroad to showcase their skills will leave a lasting impression on the GAA clubs in Texas and encourage them to continue their already impressive development.”
There are four GAA clubs participating in the Texas Championship - Fionn Mac Cumhaills in Dallas, Houston Gaels, San Antonio GAC and the Celtic Cowboys.
The oldest GAA club in the region and based in Austin since 2004, the Celtic Cowboys Sports Club, will be host club for the All-Star hurlers.
The club cater for men’s and women’s teams and have more than 500 members.
This year the club claimed the West Coast 7’s hurling and football double, the Texas men’s and ladies double and the men’s footballers won the clubs’ fourth North American title.
The GAA/GPA All-Stars will attend a number of official functions including a visit to the Irish Consular offices as well as leading a day of juvenile coaching on Saturday.
The touring panel is made of a number of 2014 and 2015 All-Stars, while due to the fact that there are several back-to-back All-Stars and a number of other players unable to travel, the GAA has been in a position to recognize and honour players with inclusion on the trip including John Griffin (Kerry), Neil McManus (Antrim) and Brian Carroll (Offaly).
On Sunday afternoon (local time) the highlight of the tour will be at St Edward’s University in Austin when the 2014 and 2015 teams play their exhibition hurling match, before flying home to Ireland on December 15.
2015 GAA/GPA All-Stars Hurling Team Selection
Colm Callanan (Galway)
Paul Murphy (Kilkenny)
Joey Holden (Kilkenny)
Noel Connors (Waterford)
Cillian Buckley (Kilkenny)
John Griffin (Kerry)
Neil McManus (Antrim)
David Burke (Galway)
Michael Fennelly (Kilkenny)
Ger Aylward (Kilkenny)
Richie Hogan (Kilkenny)
Shane Fives (Waterford)
Maurice Shanahan (Waterford)
2014 GAA/GPA All-Stars Hurling Team Selection
Eoin Murphy (Kilkenny)
Wayne McNamara (Limerick)
JJ Delaney (Kilkenny)
Séamus Hickey (Limerick)
Lee Chin (Wexford)
Liam Rushe (Dublin)
Kieran Bergin (Tipperary)
Declan Hannon (Limerick)
Patrick Horgan (Cork)
Patrick Maher (Tipperary)
Brian Carroll (Offaly)
Shane Dowling (Limerick)
Conor McDonald (Wexford)
David O'Callaghan (Dublin)