North American GAA

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For Gaelic games in geographic region North American, see Gaelic games in North America.
North American GAA
Irish: Meiriceá Thuaidh
County colours: Red, white, blue
Ground(s): Gaelic Park - Chicago, IL
Irish Cultural Center - Boston, MA
Páirc na nGael - San Francisco, CA
Standard kit
Regular kit

The North American County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) (Irish: Cumann Luthchleas Gael na Meiriceá Thuaidh) or North American GAA is one of the boards of the GAA, and is responsible for Gaelic games in the United States, excluding the New York metropolitan region, which is under the control of the New York GAA. The board is also responsible for the American inter-county teams in the United States outside of New York City. It is referred to as a 'County Board' because it sits at the same level in the GAA hierarchy as the County Boards in Ireland, even though its geographical area is much larger than an actual county.


Hurling and Gaelic football have been played in North America ever since Irish immigrants began landing on North American shores. The earliest games of hurling in North America were played in St. John's, Newfoundland in 1788, and there are records of football being played in Hyde Park (now the site of the Civic Center) in San Francisco as early as the 1850s. There are established clubs in the cities that traditionally have a large Irish population, such as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Boston.

When the North American county board was formed it included Canadian clubs in its area of control. However these clubs are now under the control of the Canadian county board [1]

In recent years, hurling has started to enjoy support in several other U.S. cities, as evidenced by the establishment of the Milwaukee Hurling Club in 1995 and later the Twin Cities Hurling Club (MN). Other clubs include the Indianapolis Hurling Club, the St. Louis Gaelic Athletic Club, the Denver Gaels, the Greenville Gaels, the Orlando Hurling Club and the Seattle Gaels. Hurling is also starting to gather support at the club level at some universities, such as at Purdue University and Stanford University since 2005, California State University, Monterey Bay since 2006, and UC Berkeley since 2008.

Interest in Gaelic Football has also developed amongst universities in America. Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia is the first school to have an officially recognized program after running independently since 2011. Boston College's program has been running since 2011, while two other Philadelphia-area institutions, Villanova University and Drexel University, hope to launch club programs soon.

GAA club officials recruit young Irish people who are visiting North America and will sometimes help them to find summer work. Some clubs operate with a core of Irish-born or Irish-American players who raise funds to invite players from Ireland for the summer. A debate is currently going on in the GAA about concerns about this practice, which some say should be phased out in favour of promoting the game among people who actually live in North America. Advocates say that inviting players is the only way to reach the numbers necessary to field a team, and to draw large crowds to the games. Critics say that the money spent inviting players would be better spent getting local people into the game, and would result in a stronger game in the long run. Most newer clubs have never practiced this policy and are focused on building the sport in the United States, while many longer running clubs continue to rely on international recruiting.

Early 21st century[edit]

The GAA in North America became the victim of two major developments in the early 21st century. One was the security clampdown that followed the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and the other was the massive growth in the Irish 'Celtic Tiger' economy. These two factors led to a reduction in the number of people travelling from Ireland to the U.S., and it became difficult for many Irish people to stay in the country illegally. Additionally, many Irish emigrants returned to Ireland, where they enjoyed a high standard of living that wasn't available to earlier generations.[2] These factors reduced the number of people playing GAA in larger U.S. cities.The trend was partially offset by growth in smaller cities. With the onset of economic crisis of the late 2000s the flow of emigrants back to Ireland and into America has changed once again but current U.S. immigration policies have meant that the number of Irish that used to go to America is not now the same.

The GAA in the North American County Board area is moving into a new era where the games are being spread beyond the Irish community. Youth programs are springing up across the country, as are adult clubs consisting of American-born players who don't necessarily have any Irish connections but love the games on their own merits (Cite?). The youth programs in particular are experiencing huge growth thanks to the success of the Continental Youth Championship.


NACB Championship Play-offs[edit]

Each year on Labor Day weekend, the North American Board holds a championship between the North American clubs in all U.S. cities where there are GAA-affiliated clubs (except for New York city). Playoffs are held between the Gaelic football, hurling and camogie champions of the different regions in the United States, to determine the NACB champions. Play off locations:

  • 2016 Seattle
  • 2015 Chicago
  • 2014 Boston
  • 2013 Cleveland
  • 2012 Philadelphia
  • 2011 San Francisco
  • 2010 Chicago
  • 2009 Boston
  • 2008 Boston
  • 2007 Chicago
  • 2006 Philadelphia
  • 2005 Philadelphia
  • 2004 Denver
  • 2003 Boston
  • 2002 Chicago
  • 2001 San Francisco
  • 2000 Boston
  • 1999 Chicago
  • 1998 Rockville, MD (near Washington DC)
  • 1997 Sanfrancisco
  • 1996 Boston


The championships are divided into different grades.

  • Men:
    • North American Senior Football Championship
    • North American Intermediate Football Championship
    • North American Junior A Football Championship
    • North American Junior B Football Championship
    • North American Junior C Football Championship
    • North American Junior D Football Championship
    • North American Senior Hurling Championship
    • North American Junior A Hurling Championship
    • North American Junior B Hurling Championship
    • North American Junior C Hurling Championship
  • Ladies:
    • North American Senior Ladies Football Championship
    • North American Intermediate Ladies Football Championship
    • North American Junior A Ladies Football Championship
    • North American Junior B Ladies Football Championship
    • North American Senior Camogie Championship
    • North American Junior Camogie Championship

The Continental Youth Championships[edit]

Further information: Continental Youth Championship

The Continental Youth Championship (CYC) began in 2004. This is an annual weekend tournament that takes place in various cities from year to year. Venues:

  • 2004 - New York
  • 2005 - San Francisco
  • 2006 - Boston
  • 2007 - Chicago
  • 2008 - Philadelphia
  • 2009 - San Francisco
  • 2010 - New York
  • 2011 - Boston
  • 2012 - Chicago
  • 2013 - Philadelphia
  • 2014 - New York

It involves under age teams from all three of the GAA jurisdictions in North America playing football, hurling, ladies' football, and camogie at all ages from Under 8 to Under 18.


In 2015 in the USGAA area, there were 116 adult clubs and 14 Youth clubs playing Football, Hurling or Camogie in the US outside New York City. These clubs participated in Divisional Championship competitions to qualify for the USGAA Finals in their respective sport and grade of competition. As of 2015, Gaelic games were being organized and played in over 60 cities across the US, including:

  • Akron, Albany, Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin
  • Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Burlingame
  • Charleston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbia, Columbus
  • Cayman Islands
  • Dallas, Denver, Detroit
  • Greenville, South Carolina
  • Hartford, Huntington Beach, Houston
  • Kansas City, Kalamazoo
  • Indianapolis
  • Los Angeles, Louisville
  • Madison, Milwaukee
  • Nashville, Naperville, New Hampshire, New Orleans
  • Oakland, Orlando
  • Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Portland, Portland ME
  • Rochester, Raleigh NC
  • San Antonio, St. Louis, St. Paul MN, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, South Bend, Syracuse
  • Tacoma, Twin Cities
  • Waukesha, Washington DC, Worcester, MA, Winston-Salem NC

List of clubs[edit]

See List of GAA clubs in North America

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Motreal History". Archived from the original on September 25, 2008. Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
  2. ^ "OB Sports - RTÉ television". Retrieved 2006-11-29. 

External links[edit]