A post from our very own Bros about the impending weekend
It’s been six long months since I last set foot in Brussels – the longest I’ve stayed away since 2008, and I feel it, most acutely, in my soul. I’m in denial that Brussels and Belgium GAA continues on without me – sure how in the name of God could it survive without the Bomber? But it does, and training goes on, and new members join, and the craic is had and Championships are won. But it’s incredibly comforting to know that when I do return I can slide right back in as if I never left. And that’s all down to the club spirit of openness and the common bond that once you’ve thrown on the Craobh Rua jersey – the team, the club, Belgium GAA, never leaves you!
This is the second year for the Ladies All Stars and turnout from our side is a bit low. I could have done a bit more to cajole former players to book flights, but we have Malice, Aine Mc, and Rosine making the huge effort to fly over from Dublin. I’ve also tempted Jess, Mary B, Amy-Louise, Aine Murph and Clare Applebee to don the jersey for the day! We have numbers for a Camogie match and for the football we’re going to divide up the games into All Stars V Belgium GAA, Over 30s v Under 30s, but my personal favourite is 2008/2009 vs the rest. With the latter I’m allowed to return to my 23 year old self walking through the gates of Park 50 basking in the sunshine, with a quick glance up at the lads to spot the talent – not bad in fairness. At my first training, despite having clocked Anay, Babs invited me to Madrid for the tournament. That’s how it is with Belgium GAA – throw yourself into it or stay on the sidelines.
2008 was the most special. We had five pan-euro tournaments that year – hard fought. We had the bare bones of a team and had epic battles. Our spirit strengthened, friendships were forged. We were a new club, a new team, against the odds, taking on Europe. Victories in Madrid, Luxembourg, Rennes, Munich ensued and we took our first European Championship in Maastricht. We didn’t know what it meant but we knew it felt good to win and we didn’t want to let go of that trophy. And we haven’t since!
Camogie holds a place in my heart – in all the sports I’ve played I have never felt a bond with my teammates as I have with a hurl in my hand. The sacrifice and determination to win a Camogie championship takes sheer hard work, one that binds a team together for life. Ill never forget Aisling Fenton stopping a fast sliotar with her chest in Thurles. She tempted serious injury by putting her body on the line for the good of the team. I sympathise with people who have never experienced that connection.
Whenever Belgium GAA wins, we use to shout out “Its a great day for the Parish”. There is a sense of community instilled in the Club. The Club welcomes anyone who has moved to the parish with open arms. Members give up so much of their time for the good of the parish- to coach, plan trainings, fundraise, volunteer, collect goalposts in a different country, sell raffle tickets, clean toilets after a Fr.Ted night – but they reap what they sow – Belgium GAA is the best club in Europe.
I have moved back to Dublin to start a different life but I am grateful to the universe for allowing me be part of this club. I learnt a lot in my years, some great lessons on and off the pitch that made me a better person. Even now in Dublin, my closest friends are ex-club members and I know for certain that they will be friends for life. There is something so special about this club, the community it creates, the meitheal it instills. I miss it dearly.
Craobh Rua abú!