Sunday 25 August 2019

International interest in GAA grows again with Super 8s half time clash

Jack Meng (left) and his wife Grace.
Jack Meng (left) and his wife Grace.
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

Thirty seven years after PJ McGrath refereed the famous 1982 All-Ireland final that saw the last attempt at five in-a-row come unstuck, his son Paraic will take the whistle in Croke Park on Sunday for a game with a difference.

McGrath will be the man in the middle for a few minutes at half time in Sunday’s ‘Super 8s’ clash between Donegal and Kerry when a group of Chinese students take on a selection from Down club St John’s in a mixed game.

The match has been pulled together to mark 40 years of diplomatic relations between China and Ireland with the Chinese team made up of students currently studying here.

They have been trained by Jack Meng, Athlone IT’s Asian Director and member of Shanghai GAA with another member of the Asian board, Seán Cunningham, getting in touch with his home club St John’s to provide the opposition.

The game marks the ever-growing interest in the GAA internationally, which has been going from strength to strength. Waterford will host the GAA world games this month with almost 100 teams expected to enter while later this year, Kuala Lumpur will host the 24th annual Asian Gaelic games tournament. Manilla hosted the first tournament back in 1996 when just a handful of teams competed but later this year approximately 1000 players are expected to line out for around 60 different teams with an estimated 15pc of those competing hailing from outside Ireland.

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