November 2018 saw Gaels from all over Asia come together for the 2018 Fexco Asian Gaelic Games tournament hosted by Thailand GAA in Bangkok.
The 23rd annual tournament included 65 teams from 20 clubs across 18 different countries with 182 games played over the two-day festival.
The success story of the 2018 games wasn’t actually an Asian team, but one from the continent of Africa made up of predominantly Africans.
The South Africa Gaels side travelled to Bangkok with a team primarily made up of locals and marked their first-ever appearance in the games with two titles, winning both the men’s and women’s junior championships.
The team funded the 24 hour trip to Thailand themselves and it is amazing to see the commitment of these men and women who have made Gaelic Games a vital part of their lives.
Without a doubt, the @SAGaels stole the hearts and minds of all at the @FEXCOAGG this year. What fantastic people who brought their own quintessential contribution to @GAAAsia! pic.twitter.com/ekj5EHnIWc
— Fexco 2018 AGG (@FEXCOAGG) November 20, 2018
Laois attacker, Ross Munnelly was in attendance in Bangkok, acting as an honorary coach alongside Mayo star, Aidan O’Shea. Speaking to GAA’s official channel, Munnelly summed up how impressed he was by the South Africa Gaels side.
“The way these guys play the game, their handling, their touches, in particular what impressed me was their ability to tackle, they rarely foul… the see it as unforgivable not to tackle, not to try and win the ball back.” Munnelly said.
“Their enthusiasm and commitment to each other is amazing, they are probably from what I’ve seen, the most focused group out here at these Asian Games, which tells me that we have such a game in GAA that can spread worldwide and be adopted by people from totally different cultures.”
https://t.co/gvXdqgOuf0 was in Bangkok as a team from Johannesburg, South Africa experienced double success in their first ever appearance at the FEXCO @GAAAsia Gaelic Games! Watch the action on our World GAA YouTube Playlist here: https://t.co/WlsIgDLEOx
— The GAA (@officialgaa) November 20, 2018
Credit: Official GAA
Not only were they the success story of the championships, but they also provided the standout moment of the tournament. 2018 saw the role of the goalkeeper change from shot-stopper to score-take following the exploits of All-Star Rory Beggan.
Cluxton revolutionised the position, but Beggan – and Graham Brody of Laois – took it one step further last year with their marauding runs up the field that on occasion led to huge scores for their respective sides.
The influence of the modern-day goalkeeper has clearly travelled far and wide after the South Africa Gaels goalkeeper scored this stunning point from open play during the championships.
Video: Move over Rory Beggan, watch this keeper from South Africa Gaels score a point at the @FEXCOAGG in Bangkok! And watch out for a full video report coming up on the SA Gaels double success.. @GAAAsia pic.twitter.com/8wmHJDYE5S
— Jerome Quinn (@JeromeQuinn) November 20, 2018
Credit: Jerome Quinn Media
Let’s hope we can see more standout moments from goalkeepers in 2019.