Niall Dempsey, chairman of the Gaelic Athletic Association's Mid-Atlantic Division, answered some questions about Irish sports.
How many teams are in the Mid-Atlantic Division GAA?
We currently have nine teams in the Mid-Atlantic Division under the direction of three clubs: Washington DC Gaels have hurling, camogie, ladies football, men's football; Baltimore Bohemian have hurling, camogie, ladies football, men's football; and Mason-Dixon in Frederick, which does men's football.
How did the division get started?
For many years (since 1988), the Washington DC Gaels was the only club in the area. They competed in the Philadelphia Division. Traveling on Sundays for games was wearing on the players, and with the addition of Baltimore and Mason-Dixon, the teams petitioned the national organization to form a new division. This was accepted, and the Mid-Atlantic Division was formed in 2007.
Compared to that starting point, how much has the organization grown since then?
Each of the clubs has added more players and advanced to higher grades. With the current clubs continuing to grow its membership, we're looking at areas like Annapolis and Richmond as potential new areas of growth. We have an active plan to form a new camogie club in Northern Virginia within the next two years.
How many teams are there across the country?
There are nine divisions with about a total of 100 adult teams. There are also youth and college club teams in many divisions. That is something we are trying to get established here also.
Is there a division championship? How often do teams play?
There is a division championship. We play throughout the summer. We are currently working on the game schedule for games. There should be games each Saturday starting in May through mid-August.
Is there ever any international play? Do any teams from Ireland play against any U.S. teams?
Adult play is generally local-national games. The youth competition does have an international aspect with teams coming from overseas to compete. New York as a separate jurisdiction plays in the All-Ireland competitions. There may on occasion be some tournament games hosted by divisions that attract a club from Ireland to compete.
Are there any special qualifications to join?
Have a pulse? That may be a bit simple, but we do encourage all to play. Generally some level of physical fitness is important as the games are very demanding from a stamina point. The clubs are also very socially engaged, and those who wish to just join to be part of the group are welcome.
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