Category Archives: 10 year anniversary

GAA wins European Citizen’s Prize 2013 – as nominated by Sean Kelly MEP

[Words by European County Board] 

 



I am delighted to announce that the Gaelic Athletic Association has become the first Irish winner of the European Citizen’s Prize (2013)’, Sean Kelly MEP confirmed today. 


“The honour represents an international tribute to the GAA’s massive contribution to citizens in Europe. The Association is a wonderful example of our European ideals of volunteerism, citizenship and promotion of healthy pastimes for young people,” Mr Kelly, a former GAA President said.


He stressed the prize’s relevance to both the 2011 European Year of Volunteering, as it is the largest voluntary organisation in Ireland, with over 250,000 people volunteering on a weekly basis through the GAA. 

The GAA will be awarded a special medal during a dedicated awards ceremony to be held in Ireland later this year. The Association will also showcase its organisation at the European Parliament in Brussels at a further European Citizen’s Prize ceremony with other winners on 16-17th October 2013.


The European Citizen’s Prize was launched by the European Parliament in 2008 to recognise the exceptional achievements of individuals, groups or organisations each year.

 

A brief history of Belgium GAA

Some highly recommended reading material on the history of Belgium GAA from former player, captain and trainer Eoin Sheanon for livegaelic.com

http://www.livegaelic.com/gaa-abroad/gaa-abroad-belgium-gaa/

Belgium GAA

A friend of mine once asked me was Belgium in Brussels or was Brussels in Belgium? Indeed.
Ordinarily famed for its chocolate, the pissing boy and “the place that tells us what to do”, Brussels is not generally recognised; never mind as a GAA stronghold.

But visit any of the city’s watering holes, such as DeValera’s on Place Flagey or The Old Oak on Rue Franklin and you will see the trophies, jerseys and memorabilia of Belgium’s only Gaelic Football club.

Originally founded in 2004, Brussels Hurling club was renamed Brussels Hurling and Camogie club in 2007. A year later, this fledgling club, based in the heart of Europe, changed its name for the third time in 4 years to “Belgium GAA.” This time to accommodate football, not just camogie. The demand for the big ball game was healthy and Dave Barrett, a Cork native, working with Toyota, at their plant in Evere on the outskirts of the city, decided that the time was ripe to put a team together.

The club has grown exponentially over the years and has many individuals to thank for that. Conan MacOscair, who moved to Brussels over ten years ago, was there when the club was founded. Conan played hurling for Setanta and was used to the bright lights of that famed pitch in Ballymun, the San Siro, before his big move to Brussels. Conan runs the Delish Cafe in the centre of town but still takes the time to train the Belgium footballers whenever the opportunity arises.

Breeding Ground

The club’s chairperson is Maria Brosnan, a Kerry native who worked as a Press Officer for Fianna Fail in the European Parliament, a breeding ground for new recruits. At one point in 2011, there were 12 Members of the club working in Committees and Plenary sessions on Rue Wiertz. The European Parliament is also host to the club’s honorary President, none other than Sean Kelly –former President of the GAA.

Are they any good? Well, their ladies are the best in Europe, having just completed five European County titles in a row. They have some outstanding footballers, including Grainne Ni Fhlatharta, a former inter county Kerry footballer, Anay Rios a former semi-professional Spanish soccer player and Carragh Rowan, who is the only person in the club, past or present, male or female, who can kick a 45.

They’ve trampled on everyone from Budapest to Paris and it seems most of the other teams in Europe are plain sick of them. Just as it was for Tony Soprano, it’s tough at the top.

The men don’t have this weighty burden of being the perennial favourites but have certainly had their fair share of success.
They won their first European County Football Championship in 2008, under Barrett’s leadership. Having been beaten out the gate in the first tournament in Munich – not Belgium’s favourite ground – they made up for it with sterling performances in Budapest, Rennes and Maastricht.

Winning the county title in their first year was an incredible achievement and perhaps the enormity of that success was overlooked because thereafter would follow three barren years whilst The Hague, led by Limerick man Denis Reidy, and the Channel island, Guernsey, shared County successes between them.

Champions Again

That was to change in Maastricht in November, 2012, at the penultimate stage of the three European Championship Rounds. Two points down in the final against Guernsey, with a minute left on the clock, Corkman Timmy O’Donovan galloped down the field and buried the ball in the net. Belgium GAA held on and reclaimed the title they had first won four years previous.belgium gaa hague winners

 

 

 

 

Belgium have won two hurling county championships, in 2009 and 2010. They had an exceptional team that were unbeaten for the entirety of those two years. But things have become a little leaner since with clubs such as Zurich St Gallen putting up sterner opposition after some of Belgium’s hurlers moved on in 2011.

The Irish community that the GAA club in Brussels creates is a home away from home. Oliver O’Callaghan told this author that “It’s great just to be a part of it because when I came to Belgium first, I didn’t know anyone at all. Within a week I had met the hurlers and footballers. Now I know half the Irish in Brussels”.

Another one of Oliver’s fellow players, Brendan “Bob” Lynch spoke of thrill and craic of the weekends away, “I have travelled all over Europe, to Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Budapest, Paris and beyond. But my most memorable trip was to Munich in ’09. The trip is famed because I drove a 12 seater bus down to Munich from Brussels the night before the tournament. After an 8 hour trip through the night and a couple of hours sleep in a hostel, we awoke in Munich the next morning and headed off to the pitch in plenty of time. Someone, who will remain anonymous, put the wrong pitch into the Sat Nav and we ended up in the middle of nowhere. Two hours late for the tournament our then manager Dave Barrett, went bezerk.”

“Even now if the subject is brought up it causes a divide between those who were on the bus and those who weren’t” said current Belgium manager, flame haired former Ballyboden St Enda’s man Ross Church. “Although it has ensured that no Belgian player has arrived late for a tournament since!” he continued.

Stalwarts

Still playing and with a combined age of over 150, Martin Crowley, Derek Dignam and Fergal Mythen are among the club’s older brigade showing Ryan Giggs like longevity. But the club is built on a blend of experience and youth with many coming straight out of college to internships across Brussels. It is this blend that makes the club something special.

Transience plays havoc, however. Of the 2008 team, that won the Championship, only four stalwarts remain, Phil Cushen, Kevin Keary, Olof Gill and Colin Byrne. The rest have headed to pastures new and every year sees a big turnover of players. Because of this it’s important that those who arrive buy in quickly and they usually do.

The Belgium men won their first football tournament of the Year in the Benelux Championship last weekend. They overcame their neighbours Amsterdam in the final on a scoreline of 2-7 to 0-7. The Benelux region is generally regarded as the most competitive in Europe with football powerhouses, The Hague, generally always there or thereabouts. Luxembourg are a very strong club with many of their players involved in the banking sector and Amsterdam have a constant stream of Irish passing through to bolster their ranks. Eindhoven and Dusseldorf are relatively new clubs but appear to be going from strength to strength.

Gaelic football and hurling in Brussels is no different to any parish up and down Ireland, except your greatest rivals are 200 miles up the road. A thriving Irish community is now based around the GAA club and if you walk past the VUB University, in Etterbeek, on any Monday or Thursday night don’t be surprised to see a flame haired man from Ballyboden and a Cafe owner from Ballymun standing in the middle of a pitch roaring at their charges as they prepare for battle at the weekend.

To find out more about Belgium GAA, check out their terrific website, follow them on twitter @BelgiumGAA or find them on Facebook

For all the latest daily news follow LiveGaelic on twitter @GAALive or join us on Facebook

 

 

Belgium GAA 2013 – show me your Meitheal

Dia Dhaoibh go léir,

 

I’d like to welcome old and new members to the club for the 2013 season, Belgium GAA’s TEN year anniversary. I’d like to say a massive thanks to the outgoing committee for their hard work in 2012 and in previous years. This year’s committee stands on the shoulders of giants!

 

Last year was an incredibly successful year for the club both on and off the pitch. I’m sure if it wasn’t for the financial support and fundraising, our trophy cabinet would not be as full. We received fantastic support from our sponsor’s (DeValera’s and the Old Oak) and all club members helped fundraise to make sure that our Treasurer had an operating surplus at the end of the year. Considering our expenditure for 2012 was €17,464 with pitch rental alone at the VUB costing €9420, that was no mean feat. To sustain this level of investment we need a huge effort again in fundraising and a generous sponsor.

 

I’m delighted to announce that for 2013, De Valera’s, the Old Oak and 6 Nations will be our sponsors. We’ve signed an exclusive sponsorship agreement with them this week which holds expectations from both sides – the club will be paid a fixed amount for fifteen (or possibly more) official events that we hold in either venue, including the end of year dinner, quizzes, post tournament nights out and watching some of the main GAA games on TV. This Sunday our sponsors play a massive role in the organisation of St.Patrick’s Day, securing sponsorship from drink companies and utilising contacts to get the club great deals on the facilities we use on the day. With the sponsorship, the club saves a significant amount on VAT which is important for this year if we order jerseys/gear/equipment. In total the club will benefit €4,000-€4,500 through sponsorship. In return for this, we have agreed to support and promote our sponsors in all communications and at pitchside for Belgium tournaments. Again like last year we’ve agreed not to promote any other bar in Belgium GAA emails, facebook etc.

 

One of our aims for this year is to involve as many of the wider Irish/Belgian/international community in club events. This year we will receive a grant of €5,000 from the Department of Foreign Affairs for a project which the heroic Shane Ryan created entitled ‘Brussels Community Gaelic Football Parish league’. We will run a parish league throughout the year that involves the wider Belgium/Irish/international community, especially the kids club. More info will follow from the code officers. I’d also like to create some open events where people who have never played Gaelic Games and who are possibly scared of official training, could come and pick up a hurl/football and learn about our sport and our club. I’d especially like to target those who are slightly older and who haven’t played in years due to family commitments.

 

Finally I’m making a personal plea to all members to strengthen the Belgium GAA Meitheal by volunteering and helping the club in 2013. Each member should recognise the costs of running the club and the effort people put in to make sure this club is such a success. Some members pour their heart into the club – by researching new drills for training, organising gear, picking up rubbish after tournaments and cleaning toilets after the Fr.Ted ceili, or moving goal posts with mice in the back of a van etc. We need your help at all times. If you feel like you could contribute to the club by writing a post match analysis, or buying bananas in Colruyt or anything else you can think of please contact us. Tell your friends, invite them to our events and most importantly get people playing our wonderful Gaelic Games.

 

Go n-éirí libh go léir,

Maria