Suffolk County Hibernians Gaelic Football Club Hosts Inaugural Awards Night

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The Suffolk County Hibernians Gaelic football club held its inaugural awards night, in conjunction with the Michael Collins Division 11 Ancient Order of Hibernians Man of the Year Ball, at Oakland’s Restaurant in Hampton Bays on November 11.

The Hibernians Gaelic football club completed its inaugural season in the New York GAA Junior B Division earlier this past fall. It finished the campaign 1-7, but according to the team’s public relations officer, Peter Feeney, the club is proud of what it accomplished since forming in March. The Ancient Order of Hibernians is a longstanding organization of Irish immigrants in America and across the globe dating back to 1836 and is one of the founding sponsors of the Gaelic football team. Feeney, who was named the AOH’s Man of the Year on the same night, thanked Steve Lemanski, president of the AOH, for allowing the football club to share the night with them.

Shane O’Keeffe, the football club’s chairperson, doled out the awards and thanked the many involved in the development of the club. He made a special mention to one of the club’s founders and current delegate, Mike Byrne, for all of his hard work before congratulating Feeney, and another club member, Brendan O’Dwyer, who was named the AOH Officer of the Year.

One of the most difficult award selections was Best Newcomer of the Year, since half the players were new to the sport, but the decision was unanimous, Feeney said. Gustavo Gonzalez, a Hampton Bays graduate, was presented with the award. O’Keeffe said the recipient had never heard of Gaelic football before this year, yet, by the time the first round of matches came around he was one of team’s top players.

Corner back Gary Dufficy was named Player of the Year. O’Keefe said he gave 100 percent in every game and is also the club’s most humble player. Dufficy could be heard rumbling about how terrible he thought he played in every game this year, O’Keeffe said, even though he had put in a ‘Man of the Year’ performance each time.

The Club Person of the Year Award was given to Jimmy Cantwell, owner of The Claddagh Bar and Restaurant in Westhampton Beach. Feeney said Cantwell “did an incredible amount of work behind the scenes to help get the club off the ground, between fundraising, bringing in sponsorship and helping affiliate the club. He was the club’s first main sponsor and became the named sponsor to the club’s jerseys.”

Team captain Ronan Curran and vice captain Niall Dungan presented manager Peter Lynch and assistant coach Niall Toomey with tokens of appreciation. “We may not have been the most experienced team in the championship, but we were definitely the fittest, and that was down to the great training regimes planned out by Mr. Lynch and Mr. Toomey,” O’Keeffe said.

The Suffolk County Hibernians thanked everyone who supported the club in any way over the season. On behalf of the Hibs, Feeney asked fans to stick with the team next season.

“We will be out training in cold conditions this spring and giving it our very best and promise to bring the New York Championship title back to Eastern Long Island before too long,” he said.

For more information on the club, contact Peter Feeney at suffolkcountyhibernians@gmail.com, or check them out on Facebook at Hibernians GAA Club New York.

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