Author: Conor Dormer
Sweltering RMIT was the location on Saturday for the most anticipated sporting occasion of the year in Vietnam, The Saigon Gaels One Day Ladies Tournament Invitational And Exhibition Men's Game. Catchy name aside, this event was a great chance for the Gaels ladies to get some competitive game time on a grass pitch and work on tactics and real game scenario's. The ladies welcomed representatives from all across Asia, players from Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Johor Bahru, Thailand, Hong Kong were divided across three teams and the Saigon Swans AFL team were also present in good numbers.
After a good warm - up in very hot conditions everyone's spirits were lifted when the beer and ice arrived and with the alcohol cooling nicely the first round of ladies games kicked off. We all hummed Amhrán na bhFiann before throw in.
The sharpness and competitiveness of the first round of ladies games was akin to that seen at any Asian tournament. The green Gaels team started well with a hard fought draw with the yellows while the white Gaels ladies team were unlucky to only get a draw against the AFL Swans, having outplayed them for much of the second half.
With the ladies taking a well earned break the men stepped on the pitch and played out an interesting 3 - period full length exhibition game. New members were stretching their legs in a game for the first time since joining and the standard was high. Goals were the name of the game and a high scoring affair saw the yellow team beat the greens 4- 6 to 3-6 but more importantly for the men it gave players and coaches the opportunity to evaluate positions and game styles more and to blood in new players. With big manly hugs and handshakes, plus the obligatory photo out of the way at full time, the men decided to open the beers and retire for the rest of the day.
The ladies, got straight back into the action and were unlucky to fall short in the final round of games but can take positives from the green team putting on an impressive 2-3 against the blues. This ended the round robin aspect of the day. The final game of the day saw the Gaels paired up with the AFL Swans to play the rest of Asia select in a full length, International rules exhibition game. This was a fine test of fitness and ball skill and the Gaels/Swans ran out comfortable winners by 3-2(11) - 0-6, again proving their ruthlessness in front of goal.
This was invaluable game experience for the ladies and they can take great pride in the manner in which they moved the ball and their skill in front of goal. The movement and hand passing drills they have all been working on over the last few weeks were evident on the day and it's full steam ahead for the next Asian tournament in Hanoi.
They competitive games over, our chairman Cormac brought proceedings to an end with a speech and was conscious to thank all the ladies that had travelled from abroad to play on the day. From a Gaels point of view it was great to see so many new members, men and woman, joining the club since the new year and we are delighted to have everyone on board.
We also said goodbye to Sean Campbell who is leaving us to bless the rains down in Africa. Sean was presented with a Gaels jersey and was thanked in a speech by JR & Teaguey. JR claimed his allergies were acting up but the tears seemed real.
Formalities out of the way everyone settled in for some light refreshments and of course a long session ensued well into the night. A big thanks has to go to everyone who helped out on the day by stepping in as umpires and referees and taking charge of the bar. Of course we know that Cormac and the rest of the committee deserve great praise for organising the event and all the drinks. Our sponsors Vsource and Buddha bar are long term supporters of the club and we couldn't organise any event without them.