Category Archives: Camogie

Belgium GAA hosts 1st European Cúl Camp

The first guest post by Martin and Paul (plus photos by Jane):
On 2nd June 2012, Belgium GAA held its first ever Cúl camp. The camp was held over two days at the excellent venue that is the VUB.

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For a first-time camp with any club, numbers are always going to be an issue, however that was not the case in Belgium with over fifty kids participating over the two days.
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The camp was brilliantly organised by all involved, and the work put in by the organisers, parents, and club players was phenomenal. With any outdoor event weather is always the enemy but the Saturday got off to a great start with the high numbers attending and a dry morning, the kids were divided up into three age groups, and got straight to work with their different coaches.

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Before we knew it time flew by, the sun emerged, and the kids had dispensed every last drop of energy they had. The day finished out with a penalty shoot out, but not before all the kids showed off their best hurling skills.
The Sunday in contrast to the sweltering heat from the day before, was a washout. The VUB looked more like a swimming pool than a rugby pitch, and people were questioning would it go ahead at all.culcamp4

Due to water damage, there are no photos from Sunday

The will to play football won out and 30 brave soldiers dawned their boots, gloves, armbands, and swim suits for what could only be described as an aquatic game of football.
The camp was a huge success and everybody involved should be hugely proud of how it turned out. The next generation of Belgium GAA stars are in safe hands.
At this opportunity we would like to thank every person involved throughout the two days and the weeks beforehand for their planning and organising. Who knows, maybe next year a week long camp could be possible.

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What would we have done without her?

Go forth and inflitrate

Go forth and infiltrate

A startlingly warm and sunny Saturday morning in March saw a number of Belgium ladies heading to the Parisian suburbs, to meet with their European cohorts: a well-dressed Luxembourg squad, a lone Zurich ranger and the Paris camogie players, able hosts of the first European camogie workshop. This two-day workshop, 18 months in the making, was the result of organisation between the European County Board and the Camogie Association, and well worth the wait. Three trainers came over from Ireland for the occasion: Caroline Murray (Galway), Siobhán Ryan (Tipperary) and Noel Wilson (Wexford). They saw what they had to deal with, and adapted quickly to the situation.
The standards of camogie in Europe vary from those who played in Ireland from an early age to those who just recently picked up a hurley for the first time. Originally planned as a coaching workshop, they reformulated it to suit new and rusty players and coaches of new and rusty players. No more will we dither over the whys and wherefores of camogie: we can now answer questions about the right size hurley and how it should be held (basic questions , but ones that are pretty relevant and usually difficult to answer). We know the best way to plan a training session and how to conduct a good camogie-based warm-up. We have new, fun and challenging drills in mind. And we have books and brochures to back up all this knowledge. Go on, try us!
We learned aspects about our own games that will make such a difference during the coming season. For example, this writer now knows that she is a left-handed hurler who plays off her right side, but that she can use both sides to her advantage in a match. We know about not pigeon-holing any player into one position for all time, by playing games where all players rotate positions and diversify their abilities. This will make such a difference when tournaments come around. We have all experienced days when one or two players get injured and the rest of the team is confounded by how to fill their positions. Adaptability has to be the name of the game – we don’t have an endless stream of players, so we need to cultivate the ones that we do have.
The issue of recruitment was a subject for discussion throughout the weekend. We discussed how to promote the game: with St. Patrick’s Day or other national day demonstrations, through the media, or by “infiltration” of other sports clubs. The enthusiasm for camogie was clear among all participants, so it can’t be so difficult to extend this passion to other like-minded people back in our own countries. This exchange of ideas between club representatives was not only enlightening, but also a great way to get to know other players. In Europe, we have to leave rivalries on the pitch if we want to ensure the development of Gaelic sports, so interclub communication and understanding is essential.
One of the greatest pleasures of the weekend was appreciating the talent of the trainers, even just during a puck around during the lunch break. A good player is one thing, but a good player who can teach others has a skill that should be shared and appreciated wherever they go.

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Thanks again to the trainers, the hosts and the organisers of the camogie weekend. Roll on the 2012 season and see you all in Den Haag in April!

Belgium Take a Bite Out of the Big Apple

(Photo courtesy of Laura Whiskerd)(Reportage by Irene Kirwan, also published on hoganstand.ie: http://www.hoganstand.com/camogie/ArticleForm.aspx?ID=156608)

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On 1st October, 8 teams gathered in Orangeburg, up-state New York for the Young Ireland’s 40th annual 7-a-side camogie tournament. Two teams each from Toronto, Baltimore, and Boston, joined New York and Belgium at the recently developed pitches at the Rockland GAA grounds for a great day of competitive camogie.

Managed for the day by John Kirwan, Ballyboden St. Endas, Dublin, Belgium managed to put their jetlag aside to reach the final against a very impressive Boston A team backboned by the talents of Shelly Walsh, Caroline Hanley, and Sharon O’Brien.

The final was a fantastic game of skilful camogie. Boston got out of the blocks first and raced into a 3 point lead with a strong wind behind them. Despite Lisa Brick dominating in the Boston defence, Belgium struck back with two points, one following an inspirational run from the backline by Elaine Kennedy who exploited the space created for her by Laura Schneebacher. Great defending by Belgium captain Laura Whiskerd alongside Christine O’Gorman dropping back from midfield allowed Boston only two further points before half time.

At the start of the second half Boston stretched their lead with a further point but Belgium were exerting a lot of pressure and were rewarded with an early goal from Irene Kirwan. Boston, with Fiona Gohery and Niamh O’Neill playing well, replied almost straight away with a goal of their own but from the resulting puck out Niamh Kennedy struck over a point to steady the Belgian nerves. Kennedy and Kirwan then proceeded to work the ball well together to engineer 3 further goals between them, with Casey Troy adding a point.

The Boston forwards never gave up but met with great resistance from Katy Hambrook and Maeve McDaid who pulled off the save of the tournament as the clock ticked down. So the intrepid (and broke) Belgium players, who this year have travelled to play camogie in The Hague, Budapest, Zurich, Leuven and New York, added the Helen and John Kerry O’Donnell Cup to the European Championship title won earlier this summer. Congratulations to all involved.

Final score 4.5 to 1.7

Scorers: Belgium – M McDade, E Kennedy, C Troy (0.1 each), I Kirwan 3.1, N Kennedy 1.1.

The Belgium team (and where they are originally from):

Captain – Laura Whiskerd (Wales)

Niamh Kennedy (formerly St. Lachtains, Freshford, Co. Kilkenny)

Elaine Kennedy (Fethard, Tipperary)

Christine O’Gorman (Shannon, Co. Clare)

Laura Schneebacher (New Jersey, USA)

Irene Kirwan (formerly Ballyboden St. Endas, Dublin)

Casey Troy (formerly DC Gaels, Washington)

Katy Hambrook (Toronto, Canada)

Maeve McDade (formerly Ballinascreen, Co. Derry)
Tired bodies and minds then hauled themselves to Gaelic Park on Sunday 2nd October to play an exhibition game before the men’s county football final.
Posted by Belgium GAA at 11:50 AM Labels: belgium gaa, camogie, new york

Hurling/Camogie – Round Three – Zurich – 25 June 2011

The 2011 convoy of Belgians to Zurich was conducted en voiture, as opposed to last year’s Great Train Journey. This year’s odyssey had two immediate results. Firstly the camogiers (pictured below) won their third tournament of the year and in doing so, retained the European Championship ahead of their home and final tournament in Leuven in July.

Photo courtesy of Clodagh P (c)
Photo courtesy of Clodagh P (c)

The second result was the following article by Shane Ryan, Hurling Officer, on the subject of the Hurlers’ Day Out.

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(Photo courtesy of popeyee.images on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/popeyee/sets/72157626924977775/)

There was an uncanny sense of déjà vu walking off the immaculate field in Zurich on Saturday. Another sluggish start, another gallant defeat, another missed opportunity. This, however, was far from a wasted 16 hour round trip. There were great performances from each and every Belgium player and we go into the Belgium home tournament with a real sense that we can win end the season on a high.

Willie saw Machiavellian dealings at play when Belgium were drawn to play the first game at 9 o’clock. He responded well though and channelled his frustrations into a great performance in the back line all day. Unfortunately, the over-all team performance left a lot to be desired in the first half of the Zurich game. Miss-hit frees, wayward hand passes and wild pulls characterised a first half where we went into the half-time break having failed to register a score. Things improved in the second half. Conchur de Barra bullied the pantomime villain of the hour, holding him scoreless from play. Despite commendable performances from the returning Aonghus O’Muircheartaigh and Adrian Hiel, Belgium conceded too many long range points. Zurich players were content to shoot from far out and, unfortunately for us, they had the radar working. A game that fizzed and bubbled at times was ultimately unsatisfying as Zurich ran out easy winners in the end.

 

“There’s no need for sun cream today, sure it’s too cloudy” said a soon-to-be deep-fried Darragh Cotter to lobster impressionist extraordinaire Conor Aylward. The mercury was rising throughout the morning and our two hour break before playing The Hague garnered mixed feelings. As it turns out, it seems to have given us time to wake up (and play a little Frisbee). Our passionate and slightly hobbled captain, Phil Cushen, reminded us before the game that it was “do or die” and so it proved.

 

This game saw every player standing up to be counted. Darragh Cotter and Kevin Keary dominated. Darragh was majestic in the air while Kevin played his man from the front and won every ball that came his way. The frees started going over and there was a real feeling at half-time that this game was there to be won. Conchur, in midfield, was marking a man who eventually won “the player of the tournament” – I didn’t see this prize but I can’t help but wonder whether it would also fit in Conchur’s pocket, a place its owner is well accustomed to.

 

Fergal Mythen was his usual brilliant self, driving on the rest of us and surging up the field. With five minutes to go we were seven points down. Two lobbed in frees resulting in well taken goals were dissected by an exchange of long range points. We were one point down with one minute to go. The point wouldn’t come however. The “referee” blew the whistle and the game ended in an arguably undeserved victory for The Hague.

 

Unable to make the final, we went out unrestricted by pressure in the final two games and played with reckless abandon in finishing 3rd. We shot from wild angles, played cross-field balls and ruthlessly soloed for goals when points were on. Everything worked. Ciaran Kelly will probably remember these games as the time when we realised he was actually a back. He plucked high balls out of the sky, cleared ball into the forwards and generally put down a marker for the next day. Denis O’Sullivan also showed he has taken all of Martin’s training on board, scoring two goals. Martin himself had a great day. Excellent puck outs and goal-tending were complemented by well taken points when he decided to stretch his legs in the full forward line. Conor Aylward, Darragh Cotter and Conchur de Barra all scored points (and goals) from long range.

 

Overall it was enjoyable. We all want tough games and we are getting them. Last year we won the close ones, this year we have lost them. If it was a matter of luck, I’d say we have been unlucky with poor refereeing and bad decisions. Unfortunately, we can’t blame luck. We just need to work harder in training and drive on to Leuven.

 

Speaking of driving, thanks to Kevin, Phil and all the lads who drove down to Zurich – it’s a testament to your dedication. Let’s get everyone to training now for the next month. It’s summer-time, let’s play hurling.

 

 

 

European Hurling and Camogie Finals – Belgium – 23 July 2011

European Hurling and Camogie Finals – Belgium – 23 July 2011

(photo courtesy of Anna Bates)

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.

(photo courtesy of Anna Bates)

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.

The House Always Wins…

The House Always Wins

13 July 2011 – The gentlemen footballers of Belgium GAA were in the mood for fundraising/fleecing of late. With this in mind, they organised that most GAA of occasions, a Race Night. School night be damned, the whole club and more turned up in De Valeras to throw their money to the wind.

VIP tables were available to the highest bidders, and were bought by Coca-Cola, FC Irlande, the Perm-Rep, club members, to name but a few, and were rewarded with a personal betting service, free food and bottles of champagne. The rest of the plebs were left to find a good vantage point at the bar, while those with seats were perched on their edges for most of the evening.

Sponsorship on the night was very generous, coming from the European Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science, Maire Geoghegan Quinn, MEPs Sean Kelly, Liam Aylward and Pat the Cope Gallagher, as well as De Valera’s itself, Six Nations, O’ Reillys, Delish, Kinsale Equestrian Centre, Aspria. The Grand Finale prize came from KTL Power and Telecoms. For more information on the night, the programme (in colour!!) is available here: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B-2NuPg-Cx1JZGM0NjI2MzktZGM1OS00MzY1LTg2NzItMTI4NTNjMDk5MjM2&hl=en_US.

The extra-special event on the night was the Belgium GAA Champion Chase, which was won by Conor Mulvihill (horse) and Catherina Horan (jockey). The video of this spectacular event is embedded below:

Many thanks to De Valeras for hosting the event and congratulations to the team of lads, led by the mighty Colin Byrne, who made sure that everything ran smoothly and successfully on the night. The most recent estimation of proceedings was at €2,500, but then Colin went off to Spain for 10 days so that figure may have been depleted.

Belgium GAA: Winners of 2010 European Hurling and Camogie Championship

 

On 16 July 2010, Belgium GAA travelled by plane, train and automobile to the European Hurling and Camogie Finals in Zurich. The hurlers went to complete their clean sweep of tournaments, going into the tournament already confirmed as European Champions. They acquitted themselves with aplomb, winning the final against Zurich.

The fate of camogie was less certain; with formidable opponents from Luxembourg, Paris and Zurich putting them under severe pressure to maintain their spot at the top of the table. Nevertheless, heroic effort from the whole team saw them win both the Zurich tournament and the overall European Championship for the very first time.

It was an epic weekend, punctuated by 8 hour train journeys and finished off with a spectacular rendition of “We are the Champions” back in the Hairy in Brussels.

To read more about the trip, and other Belgium GAA events, read our newsletter.

St Patrick’s Day Festival in Parc Cinquantenaire This Sunday March 14th!

Belgium GAA and FC Irlande are once again jointly organising the fantastic and fun St Patrick’s Day Festival in Parc Cinquantenaire in the heart of Brussels from 11:30 til late this Sunday 14th March.

Festivities will include BBQ and Bar, fun games for all the family, Gaelic Football, Hurling and Soccer, as well as music and general merrymaking…hail, rain or shine!

In the evening the festivities will continue with gusto in Bar 1898 on Rond Point Schuman with traditional Irish music, dancing and even more merrymaking!

It promises to be another famous event marking one of the highpoints of the year for the large and vibrant Irish community and friends in Brussels.

All are welcome and don’t forget to invite your friends and family.

Further info: http://www.paddysday.be