Monday, March 05, 2007

excerpts from Irish Examiner report: Fears for hurling in Big Apple as immigration crackdown bites

05 March 2007 - By Diarmuid O’Flynn

NEW YORK GAA Chairman, Seamus Dooley last night admitted he fears for the future of hurling in the US after falling numbers forced them to withdraw from the Ulster championship.

Dooley said the side which contested the 2006 Ulster SHC Final had lost 11 players, with two retiring from the game and nine returning to Ireland. He said that hurling is on the brink of extinction in his region due to tighter immigration laws and a lack of an underage structure.

“We would not have been competitive. It would be unfair to teams travelling out,” said Dooley of the decision to pull out of the championship. New York had been scheduled to host Down in the first semi-final of the Ulster Championship on May 20th.

Last year, the Ulster final was delayed for several months after New York failed to travel to Belfast to play Antrim, due to problems getting visas. The match was eventually played in Boston with Antrim winning the provincial title.

“Immigration is the issue, short and simple,” he admitted. “It is very hard to get work here without the proper papers and that is causing problems for a lot of people we would pick from.


“In the last five years, we have lost five hurling teams. Now all we have are Galway, Tipperary, Kilkenny/New Jersey and Offaly. “There is a big fear for hurling over here if the issue of immigration doesn’t open up. The problem is that there is such a small pick.

“Despite all of this, I really fear for hurling in New York if the immigration issue isn’t sorted.”

Dooley will be doing his bit to resolve the immigration issue this week as he heads to Capital Hill in Washington lobbying to get the McCain-Kennedy Immigration Bill passed through the US Senate. “The next couple of weeks will be very, very important not alone for sports but for business and for the Irish people here.


“Hurling will be just one of the aspects of Irish life over here that will be in dire straits if that bill isn’t passed. But I am confident it will be. But we need the Irish government to play their part.”

To read the full article, click HERE.

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