ACG Shanghai Review
The All China Games 2011 got underway in Shanghai last weekend and, and with that the annual pilgrimage set out from a somewhat damp Shenzhen on Friday April 29th. The posse gradually assembled at our local youth hostel, shunning the glitz and glamour of the tournament hotel. We didn’t need the fancy rooms, soft mattresses or working toilets, we were there to play football and drink beer. No fancy sh*t.
Head Coach Conor Teebag had enforced the rules, train hard, play hard and party hard. The no-sex-before-game-day rule was employed too, with CT also abstaining , despite his best efforts not to (throughout the weeks/months leading up to the tournament). Our fearless leader had, however, arrived in SH with a game plan that would pay off dividends in the ensuing tournament.
Saturday started well with the girls off to a flying start, devastating the Suzhou opposition with their fluid play and bone-crunching tackles. The guys were up next with what was to become the most heated game of the day against Beijing side enjoying a new lease of life.
The referee barely had time to draw breath between blowing up for practically every infringement possible in a 14 minute game. Neither team would give up and came right down to the wire, ending in all square with 10 points a-piece. These two teams were to be neck and neck for the rest of the day in the race to bring home the silverware.
Guys went on to inflict heavy defeat on a Dalian team, and up next were the Shanghai A team, the best of three they fielded on the day, and indeed they showed why their confidence was brimming as they in turn got the scores. Shenzhen managed to sneak in an occasional point, which at the end of the group stages proved all important.
The group stage finished after Shenzhen guys registering another solid victory against an ever improving Suzhou side… tied for second place in the group with Beijing, our arch nemeses for the day. Overall score difference had us one point ahead of them on the first count, with hollers for a re-count eventually being accepted… our one point margin stood, and our place in the Plate Final was secure.
Our fellow runners up in the other group was of course, who else, only Hong Kong. Having being narrowly defeated in our last encounter in the All China Final 2010, it was time to set the record straight… and that we did, with a comprehensive victory over a HK side complete with a scattering of brave Celts playing with them for the day.
The ladies arrived in the bowl final on the back of two hard fought victories in what was a very demanding day of football. Despite their strength and passion combined with breathtaking skill, they were narrowly beaten by a strong Dalian girls team. Nevertheless they picked up their medals from the Ambassador and cheered like only Celts can, already setting their sights on the Asia Games in September. Little did we know that we also had an MVP in our midst. Meiling who hails from PNG, not generally considered a Gaelic football stronghold, had played her first competitive games and would later win the coveted player of the tournament.
2011 All China Men’s Plate came back to Shenzhen. We had lost only 1 game throughout the day, to the eventual winners of the tournament. The beer was flowing before we made it off the pitch, end it never tasted it so good… despite the fact it was manky Carlsberg:
Highlights of the Day:
1. Meiling winning MVP for the girls… in her first ever tournament!
2. Every Celt on the field bringing back some bling..!
3. The session in O Malleys, everyone bringin their moves… rippin them up on the floor!
Lowlights that are best forgotten…
4. Eric refusing to wear the men’s playing shirt, opting instead to wear Shirley’s slim-fit belly top…. For the entire day. Shhhudder.
5. Charity Auction: Blowing the 2011 budget on a f***** Tipperary jersey !!
6. The Fear on the plane back
See everyone back at training tonight…!