A team of American women compete at the highest level against Irish all-stars in one of Ireland's national sports, Gaelic football.
In 2000, Kevin Devin and Ronan Cleary founded Charlotte James Connolly's GAA in Charlotte, North Carolina because they missed that part of Irish culture. Seventeen years later the American women of Charlotte GAA compete at the highest level of the sport in North America against teams stacked with imported Irish players.
There are over 130 clubs registered with USGAA in America, but Gaelic sports in the US are dominated by four major cities. Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, and San Francisco are known as The Big Four. No club outside of those four cities has won a US Senior Gaelic Football Championship since St. Pat's of Cleveland in 1968. The Big Four's dominance is largely attributed to a tradition of bringing over summer players from Ireland and stacking their rosters with Irish born players known as Sanctions. In 2015, I was introduced to Gaelic Football, as a lifelong athlete I was intrigued by the uniqueness of this sport and the way the Charlotte GAA accepted me wholeheartedly from the moment I stepped onto the pitch. I was asked to become a member of the clubs Board of Directors and in 2016 I became the clubs Public Relations Officer. I've followed Charlotte James Connolly's GAA for 6 years now and in the time I've seen the women of this club grow and develop their skills to a level where they can compete against a stack deck. The women of Charlotte James Connolly GAA made history in 2017, and I was lucky enough to have captured it on video. This is their story.