Category Archives: Benelux

Belgium Tournament Round-up: All-Belgium Final caps a fine day in the Ladies Football.

by Janelle Mitchell (Ladies Football Officer)

We had an excellent tournament this past weekend here in Brussels.  The weather held up and we even had a bit of sun to set the stage for a great day of football.

First up was Belgium Red (i.e. Tigers) vs. Belgium Grey (i.e. Old School Jerseys).  We were playing 11-a-side for this one and the intensity from both teams made for a thrilling match.  Tied at half, Belgium Red pulled ahead for the win in the late stages of the game.

Next up, Belgium Red was taking on the ever-competitive Holland.  Again, both teams looked even through half with players like Linde, Maeve, Micheala, and Rosie stepping up their games both defensively and offensively.  After an interesting switch of positions by Holland (Rose moved back to cover Ciara), the tigers were able to pull away and put up both goals and points in the second half FTW (for the win!).

After this, Holland took on Belgium Grey.  Bros made her return up front and enjoyed all things forwards hope for: points!  This match was quite back and forth and nearing the final minutes of regulation, was all squared up and tied.  With the home crowd on their side and those old-school jerseys to boot, Belgium Grey was able to come out on top setting the stage for an all-Belgium final!

 

The final: back to 11-a-side with tired legs and minds ready to duke it out for the title.  It was A vs A in goals (Anna vs. Aine), captain Aisling vs. captain Ciara, Tigers vs. Oldies, etc.  And a solid final it was!  Belgium lines up quite well against Belgium – well all know each others strengths and weaknesses.  We know what pisses our opponent off, we know who is deadly around the goals, we know the little things that we may not normally know about our opponents.  And so we were off, with both teams converting points and goals early on.  As the sun was beginning to brighten, so did the ‘fire’ in the bellies of the Tigers and tournament all-star Anay used her ‘spin-a-rama’ move to put the points over.  The Tigers pulled away and were able to hold on to the late push by the Greys FTW.

 

 

Ladies, all around a successful tourny.  It is a pleasure watching and playing next to/against each and every one of you.  I think the level at which we played was a testament to the competitiveness and commitment of this club.  Special shout out to all of you who helped out in making the day run smoothly with all the odds and ends that needed to be done and/or baked.

 

GROUP GAMES

Belgium A (3-9) – Belgium B (1-5)

Belgium A (1-7) – Holland (1-15)

Belgium B (3-9) – Holland (3-8)

FINAL

Belgium A (0-13) – Belgium B (1-5)

Belgium GAA hosts the 2nd round of the Benelux Regional Football and Ladies Football Competition

On 18 May 2013 (09h00-18h00), Belgium GAA will host the second round of the Benelux Regional Football and Ladies Football 2013, with teams visiting from the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Germany.

Join our Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/events/423830477712294/

This tournament will take place in the excellently located surroundings of the Kituro Rugby Club (www.kituro.be). Bus 63 from Gare Centrale (http://www.stib.be/irj/go/km/docs/horaires/63/schema/20120416/63_1.gif) stops at Leopold II, which is very close to the pitches.

It’s going to be a great day, so spread the word to your friends, families, work colleagues and any other close or distant acquaintances who would spend a few hours on the side of a pitch, appreciating the glory of Gaelic football in Europe.

In addition to as many football matches as you could shake a stick at, there will also be a cake stand and the club house which will offer the refreshments throughout the day!

Once the games are over, players and attendees alike will be invited to partake of a pitch-side award ceremony where best Championship and Shield Men’s teams, Ladies team and best Players of the Tournament awards will be presented.

Our evening festivities will take place in De Valera’s Irish Pub (Place Flagey, 1050 Brussels), sponsor of Belgium GAA, for a buffet meal, drink, song and dance.

You are warmly invited to join this event and plan your weekend around it.

Looking forward to seeing you in Belgium!!!

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

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