LIVERPOOL HOPE have rounded off another successful year for British University GAA by claiming the BUCS Championship for the third year in a row.
With matches having taken place in dire conditions from Manchester to Edinburgh over the course of the current academic year, Hope ended up comprehensively beating Dundee University 4-15 to 0-4 in the final.
Hope were rock solid and resolute in a defence in a defence marshalled by Ciaran O’Brien of Glack, Co. Derry, dominant at midfield and ruthlessly accurate in front of goal with Stephen O’Connor from St Endas (Antrim) in great form.
For Dundee, a comparatively small university, they can be proud of their progress this year under the guidance of coach and mentor Diarmaid McNulty of Tyrone.
Participation in British University GAA tournaments is growing year-on-year. The first attempt to run off an inter-varsity men’s Gaelic football event was in 1989, but it was not until 1991 that the first properly organised British Universities Gaelic Football Championship took place.
The University of Crewe and Alsager hosted and won that particular five-team competition.
Pictures from the 2016 semi-finals
In 1992 Newcastle and Sunderland Universities jointly organised and hosted a ten-team competition on two adjoining converted rugby pitches. Páirc na hÉireann in Birmingham hosted a twelve-team event in 1993, and from then onwards Birmingham was the annual venue for the tournament.
In 24 men’s Gaelic football competitions played between 1991 and 2016, St Mary’s, Strawberry Hill, and Liverpool John Moores have been the dominant colleges, winning all but nine of the titles between them.
The other winners are Liverpool Hope on four occasions, Crewe and Alsager College of Higher Education in 1991, Dundee University in 1993, Swansea University in 1994, the University of Abertay (Dundee) in 2001 and Napier University (Edinburgh) in 2010.
The most significant breakthrough for British University GAA came back in May 2002, though, when the affiliation of men’s Gaelic football to the British Universities Sports Association (BUSA) and the formal recognition of Gaelic football as a bona fide university sport in Britain.