Westmeath’s largest flagship event of The Gathering - the European Gaelic Football Championship finals - was launched this week at Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT ) in front of an august selection of guests.
Over the weekend of October 19-20 the AIT will host an estimated 600 footballers, representing 24 male and 12 female clubs, from clubs as far apart as Moscow and Rome in an anticipated 80 games.
“This major GAA event in Athlone will see the town become not only the centre of Ireland, but also the centre of Gaelic sports in Europe for the weekend. It is the culmination of another fantastic Gaelic games season in Europe that has seen participation from almost 70 clubs in 24 countries, having grown from just four clubs in 1999,” said Tony Bass, European GAA secretary.
“It is an exciting period for the GAA in Europe to reach the climax of their season in Ireland. It provides a fantastic opportunity for their Irish players and non-Irish players to be a part of the GAA Gathering celebrations. I wish all players, teams, and officials a warm welcome and the very best of luck in Athlone,” said Liam Ó Neill, uachtarán, Cumann Lúthchleas Gael.
“This will be the largest event in Westmeath’s celebration of The Gathering and fits in perfectly with Athlone’s celebration of its designation as a European Town of Sport for 2013 which Westmeath GAA is proud to support,” added Sean Sheridan, cathaoirleach of Westmeath GAA.
Westmeath prodigals include Davy Gavin from Mullingar Shamrocks, via Barcelona, and Jennifer Nolan from Athlone, via Vienna.