European Hurling and Camogie Finals – Belgium – 23 July 2011
For a weekend, Belgium was the home of hurling and camogie. In Europe, at least. We even had Joe McDonagh to serenade us with The West’s Awake from the pulpit of De Valera’s.
Some early organisational glitches aside (to be dealt with before the Pan-European Football tournament goes down in September), it was a day for Belgium GAA to be proud of. The hurlers, although well aware of the fact that they had not retained the Championship for a third year running, found the strength deep within them to win the home tournament, and did not allow their competitors, Den Haag, Luxembourg or Zurich to have an easy day. This all counted at the end of the day, when captain Phil Cushen lifted the cup, and Darragh Cotter earned himself a deserved Player of the Tournament trophy.
This fighting spirit was repeated on the next pitch, where the Belgium camogiers strove to continue the great acheivements they have gained in recent tournaments. Let it not be forgotten that prior to last year’s home tournament, Belgium had never even won a tournament, let alone a European Championship. It is a credit to the efforts of Niamh Kennedy and Irene Kirwan, the dedicated and ever-so patient trainers, that there were two camogie teams representing Belgium GAA on Saturday. Both are in need of a gentle puck-around to wind down from the year.
Thanks as usual go to De Valera’s for hosting the evening celebrations, but special thanks go to Clare Brennan, Eleanor Brennan and Maria O’ Brien, for their hard work on the day. No visitors should have to spend their time running around collecting money, giving out sandwiches and making sure that everything goes according to plan, but we are extremely lucky to have ones that do. It is wonderful that we can do so well as a club on the pitch, but just as important that we should work well together on the sideline too.