Clonmelman Shay O’Doherty refs final in Finland

Shay O'Doherty was in charge of an unusual GAA match last weekend.
A Clonmel man had the honour last weekend of refereeing the most northerly GAA game in the world.

A Clonmel man had the honour last weekend of refereeing the most northerly GAA game in the world.

Shay O’Doherty from Gortmalogue was in charge of the second leg of the All-Finland Gaelic Football Final between Oulu Irish Elks and Helsinki Harps, which was played just south of the Arctic Circle in Oulu on Saturday.

They are Finland’s only GAA clubs and are over 600 kilometres apart.

Shay, who was involved with St. Mary’s Hurling Club in Clonmel as an underage player, referees GAA matches all over Europe for the European County GAA Board from his home in Maastricht.

He has lived in Holland for the last 13 years working at the Mercedes Benz European centre for customer care.

Son of Joan and Seamus O’Doherty, Shay has officiated at matches in Stockholm, Malmo, Toulouse, Tallinn, Prague, Barcelona, Amsterdam and Paris.

Last weekend’s game - which Harps won by 4-7 to 0-9 - was played as part of the Irish Festival of Oulu, one of the biggest Irish music and culture festivals in Europe. The game was attended by Donal Denham, the Irish Ambassador to Finland.

More than half of the players in the final were non-Irish with one of them, Juha Jokela, travelling over 970 kilometres to get to the game.

Juha lives on the Finnish-Russian border and fell in love with the game when he saw a DVD of Gaelic Football in 2010. He has since had Gaelic footballs sent from Ireland and built his own goalposts using drain pipes.

The venue was the Raati Stadium in Oulu, a 12,000 seat ground that once hosted Liverpool in a European Cup game in 1981.