Category Archives: 2014

Belgium bound for Bayern(Munich) & we need to talk about Kevin

It is cold, it is wet, it is miserable and yes, it is early July. This is unfair. It is bucketing down and wet and cold and *gasp* Belgium have been knocked out of the World Cup. Its just not fair or ok. With nights without 3 matches ahead of us, its going to be a strange summer to adjust to again – and having seen a montage of weeping Brazilian children, women and men set to an achingly beautiful Garth Brookes song, well, its just an emotional overload – akin, I’m told, to being a Mayo football supporter.

Munich City Centre
Munich City Centre

From Etterbeeks finest son, Marouane Felliani, brought up mere meters away from our training ground in the VUB, to the somewhat eery similarities with the Irish named Kevin De Bruyne, who IN NO WAY LOOKS LIKE ANYONE WHO PLAYS FOR BELGIUM GAA…we’ve had a rollercoaster World Cup ride.

Kevin De Bruyne, or Kevin Brown
Kevin De Bruyne, or Kevin Brown

Nope, no one at all (no names, but think of a handy footballer/super-striker impact player of mysterious origins in the club and see what I mean). Much more handsome of course. But still. Uncanny.

We no longer need to talk about Kevin, but we now need to talk about Bayern, being in Deutschland, and being involved in a sports competition that is *more exciting* and *more tightly fought* than last nights Germany v. Brazil wipeout. Yes, the fortnightly Belgium Ladies Interleague competition. No. I jest. I joke. The InterLeague continues, but the turning of the tides and the passing of the months means that we’ve arrived at PAN EUROPEAN COMPETITION TIME (for the ladies, and an equally exciting, but somewhat different combined regional tournament / pan-Euro grading event to decide which level they will play at October’s Pan-European event in Maastricht for the men). This means more teams, more competitions, more matches and much much much more fun! PARTYZEIT KIDS!

Do you want to go home yet? The answer, at all times, should be the following. “Nein man, ich will noch nicht gehen, ich will noch ein bischen tanzen”. Here’s a nifty tune to help you to say no to going home, specially for you.

Munich you say, tell me more!

Ok. Munich (/ˈmjuːnɪx/; German: München, pronounced [ˈmʏnçən] ( ),[2] Bavarian: Minga) is the capital and largest city of the German state of Bavaria. It is located on the River Isar north of the Bavarian Alps. Munich is the third largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg. About 1.47 million [3] people live within the city limits.

So, for the first time in three years, we’re setting off to play in the home of Munich Collumcilles, a club founded in 2001 by a group of Irish ex-pats in the Englischer Garten, they’re both a hurling (at underage) and a football club (ladies and mens). The Colmcilles have their own (gorgeous) training grounds within SV Gartenstadt Trudering, and it is there that 9 mens football teams from County Europe and 7 ladies football teams will face off, in again, inclement weather (we’re currently promised a thunderstorm, oh joy, oh raptures). Last time we played in Munich we all got sun stroke, so perhaps a little rain mightn’t be a bad thing.

Given the distances involved, its perhaps not surprising that the predominant areas represented in this 1st PAN EURO COMPETITION are Benelux, Central and Eastern Europe, with no represntation from Iberia or the Northern European Clubs. Which is a pity, but I’m sure we’ll see more of them in September when we head up to Stockholm. But that’s me getting away with myself.

Who are the teams you say? What are they like you wonder? Well, hold on to your seats as we go through the few teams that will be competing this weekend.

Mens 

Augsburg – Belgium – Munich AMunich BGeneva Padova Paris Vienna Zurich (on websites along, Padova ‘Paddies’ takes the crown)

Ladies

Belgium A – Belgium B – Paris – Munich A – Munich B – Vienna Gaels – Zurich Inneoin.

Though Rennes head the Ladies Championnats de France & îles Anglo-normandes 2014 Paris is travelling to Munich, Belgium are the only team from the Benelux region to join and the Eastern and Central European region are represented with heaps of teams.

All roads lead to Mayo

Munich mens and ladies A teams have topped the Eastern and Central region – so no matter what the weather brings, we’ll certainly have great football ahead of us. And Sunday – a mere matter of a million more matches, and this site, pending recommendations from our Munich hosts, gives us a few options for where to watch the World Cup final, definately surrounded by  few excited Germans!

 

 

 

Destination: Junkers Bunker (aka Lux)

together at lastFriday, 27th of June, 2014.

A surreal day. Brussels is locked down as European Heads of State come together in the aftermath of the European Parliamentary Elections 2014/*Bun Fight 2014 – to carve up who gets what part of European Priorities/cake for the next five years, and guess who is on the head of the list of conversation topics? One Mr. Jean Claude Junker, by now the most famous Luxembourgian to ever grace the planet. The personal attacks and the newsprint inches about his suitability for the role of Head of the Commission aside, we’re heading to his neck of the woods to play in the 2nd last round of the European GAA Hurling and Camogie Championship. I’m sure he’d love to join us, but he’s currently being slagged by the European Press and is otherwise occupied…

 

Grey bureaucrat, moi?
Grey bureaucrat, moi?

Luxembourg is lovely, even if the taxi drivers there aren’t up to much. But that’s just an aside.

Belgium’s hurlers are heading down with one team, and the camogs are sending two squads (divided this time, for some baffling reason, by hair colour). The battle of the Blondes v. the Brunettes and Luxembourg and a mixed team from Zurich and Holland will be the fun for the ladies, while established hurling teams will be flocking to prove their worth at different venues throughout the day.

A camogie workshop will also be provided – hosted with the group games at the International School of Luxembourg grounds in Merl. See http://www.islux.lu/page.cfm?p=687 and http://www.luxgaa.lu/?page_id=85#merl for GPS co-ordinates and full addresses.

The tournament will then move on to Stade Michel Wagner in Weimerskirch (http://www.luxgaa.lu/?page_id=85#weimerskirch) where the Hurling matches as well as the final games of the Camogie tournament will take place at ISL – International School of Luxembourg. We’ ll be back up in Brussels to celebrate (we hope) in the Old Oak – please do join us there!

 

Ladies football intra-club league set to start tomorrow – Brussels hospitals primed and ready for influx

Ladies football summer intra-league
Ladies football summer intra-league

The team that plays together stays together. But the team that divides up by nationality/province/provenance –  well – is certainly setting itself up for some intense battles. Les capitanas have decided to split the ladies players into Munster v. Leinster v. Rest of World. Basically, ROG v BOD v the UN.

These three teams will fight pitched battles in the VUB for the summer session. Continue reading Ladies football intra-club league set to start tomorrow – Brussels hospitals primed and ready for influx

Save the date -2nd August – Camogie and Hurling Finals

Hurling&Camogie 2014 Info Packet

We’re delighted to host the finals of the Camogie and Hurling competition this year. It will be held on the 2nd of August in Brussels, in the Royal Kituro Rugby Club in Ave des Jardins in Schaerbeek, Brussels 1030.

The complete information pack, for your delight and delectation, is available on the clickable link above.

Dear Potential Tournament Attendee,
The Belgium Gaelic Athletic Association proudly invites you to the 2014 Hurling & Camogie European Finals, which will be held on Saturday, August 2nd, in the European Capital—Brussels.
We hope that this information package provides the necessary information for you to plan your attendance at this year’s Finals. If there is any additional information required, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Sincerely,
Shane Ryan
Belgium GAA Chairperson

1706-hurling

Zurich, a tale of difficult logistics

Zurich in the eloquent words of Sylvia McCarthy:

“If the sky, that we look upon

Should tumble and fall

All the mountains should crumble to the sea”

Trips to Zurich are never straightforward. Even this year, with direct flights from Brussels, there were glitches. Our brave Cherman, although fortified by the contents of her hip flask, faced the challenges of broken bus windows, unfriendly security guards, slow Quick service, crying babies and stormy weather over Basel. Never again, she proclaimed, and she did not go back on her word. The most valuable cargo came by car: all the hurleys and helmets, as well as the twins and their parents. Others fared better, imbibing beer and chocolate en route, while the worst fate faced by Aisling was my lack of nightwear. Never again, she proclaimed.

Unfortunately Belgium was the only camogie team that traveled to Zurich. This meant that on Saturday morning, a) we didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn and b) when we finally got to the pitch, we had a skills/coaching workshop with a trainer from Armagh, before our matches took place. The natural competitiveness of the Belgians had Irene worried that we would burn ourselves out before the sun was even high in the sky, so she rotated around the group, keeping our fluid levels up and telling us to calm down on the jab lifts.

According to the ECB rules, a tournament, even between two teams, has to consist of at least an hour’s play. In this case, the captains agreed amicably to play two half-hour matches, in addition to accepting that we would take two brand-new camogues, Daniela from Lugano and Julia from Dresden, for their first camogie matches (hopefully the experience will encourage them to gather more players and to travel to more tournaments!). We started off playing 12-a-side (until Daniela took out a Zürcher). This old-school formation was new to most of us, consisting of a goalkeeper, three full backs, 1 centre half back, three midfielders, 1 centre half forward and three full forwards. In European terms, we created history with 24 players on the pitch and were able to put into practice all the skills our cherished captain had drilled into us since January. Burning on the goal-line, Maja kept a sharp eye on the ball and on her backs, Eimear, Aisling, Sylvia and Caoimhe. Eimear defended any ball foolish enough to cross her path, while Caoimhe and Aisling made savage attacks into the forward line. There were some fantastic overlaps with Margaux in midfield, clearing up every ball with speed and earning herself a deserved Player of the Tournament trophy. Coop, also in midfield, undid all the rest and relaxation of her holiday by turning into a beast. In the forward line, Jelena and Caoimhe D launched attack after attack on the Zurich goal, using defensive skills to score goals. While everyone else ran their legs off, Irene, our talented captain, chose her wise moments to pop score after score over the bar. By the second match, the sun was high in the sky and baking down on our helmets, so the full time whistle was welcome relief.

Beer drinking, chocolate eating winners
Beer drinking, chocolate eating winners

It was a pleasure to play Zurich, they are friendly and enthusiastic and appreciated us traveling to play them. The game was by no means a walk in the park, everyone played their socks off and this was reflected in the immense scoreline of 10-11 to 2 points. There is no room for complacency though, Luxembourg is only around the next corner and we need to be on top form for (hopefully) teams from Holland, Luxembourg and Paris.

The day ended with a walk back along by the train tracks, blustered by the high-speed trains gusting past. Waiting on the platform in the evening sun, slurping beer and ice-cream, I knew that I would stand by these women in battle and they would stand by me. Roll on Luxembourg and woo hoo Belgium!

Our humble reporter failed to mention her own powerful performance that earned her a mention among POTT contenders.

 

World Cup 2014 – allez les diables rouges/up de rode duivels/don’t know how you say this in German…

Belgian Red Devils
Belgian Red Devils

From one red wearing Belgian sports team to another, cannot wait for the Belgium v. Algeria match in the world cup  tomorrow. Group H kicks off with ‘our’ match at 18h00 – and despite the Mayor of Ixelles banning any outside showing of the matches, and the Communal Counsel of Brussels and Yvan Mayeur (PS) have decided not to allow shops to sell alcohol in the central area of town (though BYOB is completely welcome and ok apparently) the best bets to watch the matches in terms of atmosphere and location (*barring the wonderful sponsors of Belgium GAA, DeVs) is up at Heisel – at the Stade Roi Baudoin. Here, the matches will be shown for free on big screens – and it should be really great.

Group H - World Cup - Belgium
Group H – World Cup – Belgium

Here’s one of our resident Belgians, Linde, up at the stadium earlier this month – look how happy she looks 🙂

Linde loves the Red Devils
Linde loves the Red Devils

 

To get to the stadium, the STIB are  your best bet. Doors open 3 hours before the match kicks off, so will be open from 15h00 tomorrow.

Koning Boudewijnstadion
Marathonlaan 135
120 Brussels

Failing that, there are a few large screens dotted around town. These are all mapped out here.

Annnnnnnnnnd to make sure you’re more than ready to join in the shouting tomorrow, here is the utter enigma that is La Brabanconne (*Belgian National Anthem, trilingual wonder)

 

With pay-per-view GAA, are some emigrants more equal than others? – thoughts from Sean Kelly

Initially published on the Examiner website, the new deal with Sky Sports and the GAA is considered by Sean Kelly

 

The first mow of grass and the ball is thrown in ahead of another long summer. This year’s championship will be successful for some and a let-down for others, but one thing on many people’s minds is the new TV deal.

Will it lead to a new era for the GAA? Is it a step too far? What about our diaspora and the broader promotion of Gaelic games internationally? Also, with the debt on Croke Park finally paid off and the new tv revenues, is it time to look at bringing more of the big games to provincial venues?

I had reservations about the Sky deal from the moment I heard about it. The arguments for and against have been well vented at this stage. However, I’ve detected a lot of dissatisfaction with it. It is very unfair to elderly people who have played, attended and watched games all their lives and are not now able to attend games, as well as well as young families who can’t afford Sky subscriptions. Where there are rumblings of discontent now, imagine the reaction if a glamour quarter-final such as Kerry v Dublin was only available on Sky.

The principle of the deal should have been discussed at Congress and in future any similar radical change in the nature of broadcasting should be subject to approval from Congress. I fully understand Croke Park’s point when they state that commercially sensitive negotiations, by their nature, cannot be debated in public. But the principle of a pay wall is a big policy shift and a radical, unprecedented move which should have been subject to approval by the GAA’s highest decision-making body, ie, Congress.

As honorary president of Belgium GAA, details of the new online streaming service were eagerly awaited on the continent, as I’m sure they were among the diaspora the world over. The GAAGo service will offer 45 games live online, with a season pass costing €110 or €10 per game.

This is a slap in the face for our wild geese in Europe. I am not sure if gaels at home are aware of the costs and effort involved in playing our games abroad. Pitch hire in big cities, erecting and taking down goalposts, long journeys of up to 12 hours to play in monthly tournaments, where flight, accommodation and tournament costs are all met out of the pocket by the players themselves. There is no deeply-rooted community structure to provide fundraising so the costs of playing our games runs to the thousands of euro per annum. These people are our missionaries spreading the creed of Gaelic Games on the continent. The least they should get in return is free access to our games online.

As one long-serving dual player in Europe explained to me: “Wherever we go, we are asked by locals, whether Galicians or Bretons etc, where can they watch the big games live. It would be a massive game-changer to offer live streaming free to air online, not just for us, but also to give non-Irish Europeans, who are the future of the games on the Continent, the right to see the games free to air,” he explained.

Whereas the cost associated with the pilgrimage to the nearest Irish pub to watch the match will now be avoided, nevertheless the pay-per-view element is disappointing and a letdown to our emigrant community. Gaelic Games are now being shown free to air and live on Australian Channel 7, leading to a perception that some emigrants are more equal than others. What’s the alternative? RTÉ and the GAA should offer live streaming of matches RTÉ have the rights to free of charge abroad, as is currently the case on RTÉ Player in Ireland.

The benefits would be twofold. Firstly, it would be a gesture of solidarity and inclusiveness to our diaspora. They would be able to watch their games from the comfort of their homes from far flung places like Qatar to Cape Town to Ulan Bator where there is not always an Irish pub to show the games.

Secondly, it would be a powerful promotional tool for new audiences in places like Brittany and Galicia where our games are spreading like wildfire.

Whereas that question is partially answered by GAAGo now, it would be even better if they were able to access them free. The GAA would be taking a leaf out of the book of the English Premier League. It’s firmly behind a pay wall at home, but available free to air in places like China where marketing people recognise the power of offering the core product for free to drive revenues in shirt sales.

With the way the online advertising sector is developing, revenue streams could be easily generated to grow an increasing viewership and popularity of our games abroad.

Whereas the jury is still out on GAAGo, this will be debated on GAA pitches across Europe, North America and Asia in the coming months as our diaspora and the increasing number of people with no connection to Ireland gather to play Gaelic Games.

At home, with the unprecedented number of large concerts being hosted in Croke Park this summer, it is my hope the GAA will bring more of the big games to the provincial venues. This could be a policy decision in future, with matches such as All-Ireland SFC quarter-finals being given a ‘host venue’ early in the year so supporters could plan ahead.

Venues such as the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick or Fitzgerald Stadium in Killarney have proven their attraction for big games in the past and could offer great atmosphere and excitement if they were slated early in the year to host a big game. It would also bring much-needed economic activity away from Dublin which is on the bright side of a two-speed economic recovery.

While we are talking about Dublin, maybe it is time to bring the Dubs out of their fortress on tour around the country a bit more. Attendances at their matches have slipped over the past number of years. I’m sure Wexford or Laois would fancy their chances of an ambush in Wexford or Portlaoise!

We are definitely entering a new era with the Sky deal and the developments online. The jury is still out, but the spectre of pay for play will rear its head again should Sky seek to increase coverage and investment in our games.

We need to be very careful of this development, as a new generation of players will grow up accustomed to seeing the same razzmatazz and presentation of our games they have become used to with the Premier League. As gaels, we have to hope the deal is a positive development, but it is reasonable to have fears that pay-per-view may open up a Pandora’s box.

– Sean Kelly was president of the GAA from 2003-2006, has been reelected as an MEP for Ireland South