On the 29th October 2016, Azur Gaels organised their first big event involving the public: AZUR GAELIC FESTIVAL, a day of discovery centred on Gaelic games and Irish culture. For a whole day, Biot’s Complexe Sportif Pierre Operto bore the colours of Ireland and the Azur Gaels, a Gaelic football club with a claim to becoming the hub of the Irish community on the Côte d’Azur thanks to such events.
The Patron of the festival was none other than Jimmy Deenihan, 5-time All-Ireland senior football champion, former Irish government minister and now best friend of the club! Jimmy and the public were treated to numerous demonstrations and workshops:
- A three-way Gaelic football tournament between Azur Gaels, GF Provence (PACA region) and SS Lazio Calcio Gaelico (Rome), followed by a headline match between the Bar Council of Ireland (Dublin) and an “all-star” Lazio-Azur XI. Lazio took home the three-way trophy with a draw and a win, while the Bar Council proved too strong for the “all-stars”. The trophy for player of the tournament was won by Brian Ó Cuiv of Lazio. Here are the results in full:
Azur 1-3 : 1-4 Lazio
Lazio 1-11 : 2-8 Provence
Azur 4-15 : 1-7 Provence
Lazio-Azur 2-10 : 8-7 Bar Council
- Introductory sessions to Gaelic football for adults and children: fascinated by the Gaelic football matches, the public were able to give it a go during the introductory sessions run by Charley Cornillau, Vice-Chairman and Youth Officer of Azur Gaels. Thanks to his work, we were able to recruit two ladies into the ladies team, most notably.
- A hurling workshop led by Dairine Williams: thanks to Dairine, many of the locals picked up a hurl for the first time ever, and tried to win a prize by hitting the sliotar as far as possible!
- An Irish dance demonstration with Azur Irish Dance Academy: a real highlight of the day. The dancers from the Academy enchanted the public with a captivating performance.
- James Hall in concert: as impressive with a Gaelic football as with his guitar and mic, James set the tone for the day with a superb concert.
The festival was also the occasion to formalise the twinning between the host club and Lazio, who welcomed us in Rome one month beforehand. The opening ceremony saw the two Chairmen, Chard Faul and Sergio Corsini, exchange jerseys and fraternal sentiments.
After a truly satisfactory day in Biot, the teams assembled at Ma Nolan’s Vieux Nice for an awesome after-party: the perfect conclusion to a successful first festival.
We’d like to thank the public, volunteers, teams, Jimmy Deenihan, referee Grégoire Bertolino, the Mairie of Biot, Azur Irish Dance Academy, James Hall, all our partners (Ma Nolan’s, O’Neills, Roots bar, the GAA and DFA) and anyone else who contributed to the success of the event, which will certainly not be the last of its kind…
Watch this space!