independent

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Aine showing Eastern promise

Published 22/01/2013 | 15:15

Swords native Aine Deasy, pictured back left, with her Oryx na hEireann teammates.

IRISH clubs may be counting the cost of emigration with every passing week, but it may still come as a surprise to hear that the GAA in The Middle East is thriving.

Countries like Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Oman and Saudi Arabia have men and women out training a couple of times a week and participating in tournaments throughout the year. Oryx na hEireann in Qatar have gone from strength to strength since 2004 and Swords native Aine Deasy is playing a central role, lining out for the ladies team and fulfilling PRO duties for the club. The Oryx men's team fielded three teams this season and have an ever-growing number attending training. They participate in all Middle East and Asian tournaments with consistent success, having been crowned Men's Middle East League winners in 2010/11 and 2011/12 and Middle East Championship winners in 2012. The ME League was only set up in the 2010-11 season with the ME Championship founded in 2012. The regional success of the team was followed by the winning of the All Junior 7's held in St. Jude's in September. The Ladies team, formed in 2009 now has two teams and recently won their first title and piece of silverware at the Middle East Gaelic Games, which took place in Bahrain. The ladies showed sheer determination and worked very hard throughout the competition to secure victory and now qualify to play in the League in future tournaments. Aine was a member of that team and she insists that the GAA scene in the Middle East can really help Irish people to settle into a new culture and way of life. 'Many people who have emigrated have settled in very well because they have found a home away from home,' she says. 'The sense of familiarity and comfort comes from taking part in training sessions, social events and traveling to tournaments in the Middle East where you regularly see familiar faces from college, school and even your neighbourhood back home. 'The cultural switch can be made easier when things are as 'western' as possible and in the the Middle East this includes playing GAA. Oryx na hEireann is not just about training and playing in tournaments, as there is a huge social element to the club. I suppose, it is seen as the starting point for countless Irish people moving to Qatar as a way to settle into life in the Middle East, networking for a new job, of just enjoying themselves in their new surroundings. 'Membership of the club spans a range of nationalities, ages and backgrounds, and everyone will find something that they enjoy.'

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