Nemo Rangers' Stephen Twomey plays key role for Middle East GAA

A county winner with Nemo, Twomey switched to Dubai eight years ago but maintained his interest in Gaelic games
Nemo Rangers' Stephen Twomey plays key role for Middle East GAA

Chairman of Middle East GAA Stephen Twomey with Ahmad Younis and current GAA President Larry McCarthy.

FORMER Nemo Rangers footballer Stephen Twomey will complete his tenure as the chairman of the Middle East GAA at the end of May.

Twomey, who enjoyed great success during his playing days with his beloved Nemo Rangers, moved to Dubai over eight years ago and immediately got immersed in the local GAA scene. He said having colleagues from Nemo helped him adjust to his new lifestyle in Dubai. 

“I have been livening here with my wife for the last eight and a half years. The transition was seamless as I had Kieran Stone and Mick Kearney from Nemo here when I arrived. With regular flights from Ireland, my parents Liam and Jan would come over during the year."

Twomey is starting a new role with Enterprise Ireland in July which will ensure he will remain in Dubai for the foreseeable future. 

“I was working in Dublin with Oracle Systems and transferred to Dubai in 2014. I spent six good years with Oracle.

"We contemplated moving home, but in 2019, an opportunity with Enterprise Ireland arose. I did not think I would be here this long, but we will be here another few years, as I am heading up a new role with Enterprise Ireland in July for the Middle East North African markets.” 

Stephen Twomey lifted the U21 county football title after Nemo Rangers defeated Valley Rovers.
Stephen Twomey lifted the U21 county football title after Nemo Rangers defeated Valley Rovers.

 The Cork man initially got involved with Dubai Celtic GAA Club as a committee member before moving on to the Middle East GAA where he has just completed two years as chairperson. He has enjoyed working on the various committees with Cork GAA personalities. 

“I was involved with Dubai Celts GAA as chair between 2016 and 2018 before I began as a treasurer with the Middle East GAA in 2019.

“There has been a good few Cork lads involved in committees in Dubai Celts. Jim Fox of Kildorrery served as chair and vice-chair. Luke O’Brien of Youghal heads up the underage section in Dubai, while Donal McCarthy of Carrigtwohill and Charlie Sullivan were imperative in getting Dubai Celts hurling and Naomh Alee GAA in Saudi Arabia off the ground back in 1994,” he added.

They had to display real creativity during the lockdown when there were no playing activities for long periods. He is indebted to several Cork GAA personalities for helping them come through the enforced lockdown. 

“The role can be demanding. We had 12 months of no activities due to Covid, so we had to keep the GAA community engaged in some capacity. 

People in Cork GAA really helped us out with webinars; Tomás Mulcahy gave us a big dig out in pulling an All-Star cast of Patrick Horgan, Tommy Walsh, Michael Duignan, and Aidan Tierney of Tierney Talks for a night with the All-Stars.

“On the footballing front, Tomás Ó Sé put together a lineup featuring Dr Con Murphy, Ciaran Whelan, and Oisin McConville for another night with the All-Stars. Colm Crowley the Cork GAA Games Development Administrator put together a session on training underage groups. It also helped that the current Irish Ambassador to the UAE Aidan Cronin is a Barrs man."

The 37-year-old Nemo Rangers club man who intends to take up playing over 35 football after he completes his role as chairperson said he is pleased with a number of successful initiatives he has implemented during his tenure. 

“Getting games back up and running this year was a huge win for us. The Middle East League is made up of clubs from UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. In total, we have 16 clubs and over 1,677 active members/players. Outside of the GAA activities, we have been fortunate to sign new sponsors for the league with the Arab Irish Chamber of Commerce coming on board. Jones Engineering Group and P4ML are also supporting us this year. We also raised €13,350 for Breast Cancer Ireland following a fundraiser this year.” 

HIGH STANDARD

The season in the Middle East concluded in March as playing competitively during the summer is not feasible due to the searing temperatures. A new campaign will commence in October. Stephen said the standard is very good with several former senior inter-county players participating. 

“Many of the men’s and ladies footballers, camogie and senior hurling teams would have ex-inter-county players in their ranks such as Cork camogie player Linda Collins, Mayo footballer Alan Freeman, Peter Acheson from Tipperary and former Dublin player Eric Lowndes. Our season typically runs from October to the first or second week of March. 

"The games are nine-aside with three rolling subs allowed.” 

There are a plethora of Cork players currently playing in the Middle East. Twomey is thrilled to see so many Rebels playing GAA abroad. 

“Cork is the largest county represented across the Middle East GAA. We have players, coaches, and officers from lots of clubs. Steven Heaphy of Nemo managed Abu Dhabi Na Fianna to four league titles in a row and he also coached the Middle East footballers to a World Games victory.

“Shay O’Donoghue from Blackrock, Jason O’Connell from Macroom, Sean O’Sullivan from Mayfield, and Muiris O’Donoghue from Naomh Abán are all members of the Middle East committee. 

"Brid O’Riordan was chairperson in Naomh Alee, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Ronan Murphy of Blackrock looks after the juvenile section in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Youghal man Cillian Coleman helped set up the second GAA club in Dubai Jumeirah Gaels back in 2015."

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