The timing’s exceptional.

This weekend, Queenstown’s hosting, for the first time, the New Zealand Gaelic Athletic Association champs — welcoming over 400 Gaelic football and camogie players, a variation of hurling played by women, and hurlers.

They’re playing in 33 different teams from across NZ over two days, with their coaching and support staff, families and mates.

The ‘‘blitz tournament’’ just so happens to also coincide with St Patrick’s Day.

Queenstown Gaels president Lisa Whelan says it’ll be a ‘‘baptism of fire’’ for the local committee, having never hosted anything like this before.

‘‘It’s absolutely insane.

‘‘We’re a little bit overwhelmed by the number of people coming down … we didn’t expect that number to sign up, but … as soon as people heard the champs were going to be held in Queenstown, and over St Patrick’s Day [weekend], everyone was just an instant ‘yes’.’’

Whelan says games are being played across four different pitches at the Queenstown Events Centre, every 30 minutes from 9.30am tomorrow till the last games at 4.30pm.

Sunday’s action, from 9.30am, will include a showcase from the next generation of gaels.

‘‘We’ve recently started doing training for children, which is something we’ve managed to do before, so the kids are going to do a little match … it’s just really cute, they’re three onwards in age and learning how to play Gaelic.

‘‘It’s quite nice to see a new generation of gaels coming through; I think it’s quite nice for the Irish community to share their culture with their kids.’’

The last of the games will start about 4.15pm on Sunday, after which the NZ champions will be crowned.

Whelan says the junior Queenstown women won the Gaelic champs in Hamilton last year and are hell-bent on defending their title, while she also has high hopes for the junior men, who won a sevens title last year.

The Gaels are stoked, too, to have senior men’s and women’s teams entered for the first time — pre-Covid they had a senior team, but have battled with numbers for a few years.

The champs are free for punters to attend — Whelan says they’re hopeful of getting a liquor licence from Queenstown’s council, and while people can bring their own picnics and soft drinks, there’ll also be food trucks and a coffee cart on site.

And she’s ensured the Frankton Arm Tavern has stocked up on Guinness for the after-match on Sunday.

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