Belgium GAA descends on Maastricht

On Saturday 6 November, the European football finals took place in Maastricht, for the third and final time in as many years. It was an epic day for Belgium GAA, the only club to bring 6 teams (plus a number of supporters) to a tournament, which was attended by 420 players in total.

The day started off like any other November morning, dismal and grey, as everyone waited around Schuman for the convoy of cars heading to the Netherlands. Thankfully, by the time the first whistles blew, the rain had eased slightly and by the afternoon, some watery sunshine trickled through the clouds.

The Belgian Men were divided between two competitions: Championship and Shield. Although recording a definitive win over Luxembourg, the A team came up against severe resistance from Den Haag and Paris, and came 3rd overall in the Championship. The B team went confidently into the Shield, recording wins over Lyon and Rennes, before being beaten by a mere 4 points by Amsterdam (the ultimate winners of the Shield tournament) in their last group match.

Meanwhile, the C team, also playing in the Shield, faced some difficulties against Liffre and Prague, but beat St. Malo in the final group match. In the words of Dave Barrett, “To put this in perspective, St. Malo beat out the Bs in Munich and also in a playoff on Saturday. In our home tournament in June, I felt afterwards we were wasting our time as the lads were trampled on. However, the team was much stronger on Saturday and we’d expect some of the lads to step up to the A & B teams next year.”

For more of Dave’s analysis in the coming days and weeks, read his blog here.

Although confirmed as European Ladies Football Champions (since the Munich tournament in September), the Belgian ladies were not about to take the day lightly. For the first time in their short history, the squad boasted 3 teams (A, B and An Bheilg), and each team marked their own victory on the day. The A team won the tournament, beating Paris in the final, the B team overcame Copenhagen in the 5th/6th place play-off, and the C team beat Paris Gold in the 7th/8th place play-off. Many thanks go to our (injured) sideline staff, Laura Whiskerd and Stephanie Dunn, who managed to be in about 6 places at once.

All credit to Maastricht Gaels and to all those involved in making Maastricht yet another memorable tournament on the European GAA calendar.

Photos of the day, with thanks to Stephanie Dunn and Jelena Radakovic, will be available on the website as soon as possible.

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