The opening day of the 11th edition of the Dubai Corporate Games saw close to 3,000 participants swap their office desks for a team sport at the American University in Media City.
The two-day sporting spectacle allows team spirit to takeover and trophies are up for grabs for the winning teams competing in a number of sports, including football, basketball, tennis, volleyball, tug-of-war and health and fitness workshops.
You can follow the event on social media, by using the hashtag #DubaiCorporateGames – and here are some of the best social media posts from Friday’s events:
Don't forget about our photo contest! Tag your best photos and like our Facebook for a chance to win!! pic.twitter.com/e24X2e1jbc— Dubai CorporateGames (@DubaiCorpGames) March 11, 2016
Once a year I get to put my Mars corporate jersey on and compete at the @dubaicorporategames amongst hundreds others who work full time and fitness is just their hobby! Thank you @trainwithfast for a fun strongman competition ??? #corporategames #dubai #mydubai #strongman #trainwithfast #mars #noweakness
This is a repeat of last year’s decider which Dragons won in clinical fashion, but Bulls have grown in confidence and look a more composed outfit since their maiden season in 2015.
Both sides have tasted victory over each other in recent months; the Bulls prevailed in the pre-season cup back in October, but Dragons atoned in November, winning by 47 points in round two of the league.
If the Dragons can attain the same level of dominance around the middle, they will be hard to handle.
With Matt Burn, Dalton Tucker and Coby Reynolds pulling the strings from deep, they have the opportunity to unleash the significant qualities of Ryan Perkins in attack.
Dragons coach Rich Wharton is relishing the prospect of clinching back-to-back titles, telling Sport360: “We’re super excited and know that it’s going to be a very tough game.
“We know the Bulls want to get one back on us from last year, but we’ve trained and prepared well all season.”
“We’re getting lots of numbers down at training. In addition to that, we’ve had a positive attitude and are looking forward to a great hit-out in the final.”
This should be an enthralling, wide open game, with Andy Campbell’s Bulls sure to be resilient.
In many ways they have looked a more effective team since losing against their rivals in November, hammering Abu Dhabi Falcons and Doha Kangaroos by a staggering average of 106 points in their past two fixtures.
In Nathan Holly and talisman Rob Moffatt, Bulls have key men who pose a threat with and without the ball.
“We’re better prepared for this game and we’ve put a lot of work in the lead up to the final,” said Bulls captain Campbell. “Momentum has been lifting every since winning the pre-season cup and we probably got a bit complacent against the Dragons in round two when we lost.”
“There was a lot of fire in us after that defeat and we won our next two games. We want to carry our form into Friday.”
The competition, which began in 2010, is a nine-a-side format with Irish, international and local players involved with teams from across the Gulf.
It’s been a record year for gaelic games in the region with 72 teams competing across senior, intermediate and junior grades in both gaelic and hurling.
In the senior division, Dubai A are in control on 26 points, two points ahead of defending champions Abu Dhabi na Fianna A with Qatar a further two points adrift in third.
Dubai A will be bolstered by the presence of Aindreas Doyle, Eoin Reilly, Niall Healy and Tom King – key men who have been integral to the Celts’ success this season.
Abu Dhabi na Fianna, meanwhile, have excellent performers in Danny Curran and Rob Browne and should pose a threat against their rivals.
More excitement is expected in the intermediate division where Sharjah Gaels lead by two points ahead of Dubai C and Clann na hOman from Muscat.
Sharjah triumphed in two out of the three rounds, and opposition defences will need to be extra vigilant in order to marshal star men Neily Cunningham, Liam Harrington and Eoin Cantwell.
Elsewhere, in the junior section an impressive twelve teams lined out in the two rounds to date.
It’s a three round competition with Dubai’s Jumeirah Gaels claiming victory in Bahrain, and Sharjah Gaels B winning round two in Al Ain in January.
Sharjah, led by the immense Alan Naughton, top the section with Jumeirah Gaels just one point behind. Both teams are expected to make Friday’s decider with one team gaining promotion to next season’s intermediate division.
Meanwhile, in the ladies senior category, Abu Dhabi na Fianna – unbeaten in three years up until November – should contest the final against Dubai Celts.
In the intermediate section, Dubai Celts B are the team to beat.