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First Winner of Belgium GAA Lotto

Just a few short months after the introduction of the Belgium GAA lotto, we are proud to announce that the jackpot has been won for the very first time.

Amounting to €1,300 in the month of May, it was won by fiery Canadian club member Adrian Hiel (pictured wearing his trademark ‘game face’). Said Hiel at hurling training on Tuesday night, “This is a very exciting moment for me. I hope I can be an inspiration to everyone else who plays the GAA lotto.” An unidentified player was heard to mutter somewhat bitterly, “That Adrian is living the dream right now. The least he could do would be to offer a round of drinks to the fundraising committee”.

The lotto draw took place amidst a delicious barbecue in the Michael Collins on Sunday evening (31/05/09), and the club would like to thank everyone who came along for their support and participation, from the man with the lucky hands, Mikie Keane, who drew the winning numbers from the hat, to the swan-like captain of the Belgium Ladies football team, Mide Ni Shuilleabhain, who presented her team with their medals, won at the Luxembourg tournament on Saturday. A special mention must be made of Stephanie Dunn, who was presented with her well-deserved Player of the Tournament trophy. The hard-working staff of the Michael Collins must also be acknowledged for keeping everyone fed and watered, in spite of their enthusiasm for herding the masses in from the terrace before our beloved Chairman, Olof Gill, had the opportunity to serenade his people. His rendition of Roy Orbison’s hit song, I Drove All Night, is a current favourite, and when his dulcet Clare Island voice unites with the husky Midleton tones of Ms. Clare Brennan, the united heart of Belgium GAA skips a beat.

Needless to say, while a lotto winner every month is not guaranteed, the success of Sunday’s barbecue can and will be repeated at the end of June. More details on this are forthcoming, as the fundraising committee liaises with the social secretary of the club, Clare Appleby. But there is plenty to be done in the meantime. We urge you to sign up to the lotto online, if you haven’t already done so. The beauty of having a link on the Belgium GAA website is that family and friends in Ireland, Belgium and further afield can become directly involved in the club. So please click HERE, pass it on, and keep your fingers crossed.

For further information on the Belgium GAA club, visit our website or Facebook page.

Another disappointing day for Belgium – Benelux, Round 2

The men of Belgium fielded 2 teams for the second Benelux tournament of the European season, and hopes were high that a resurgent Belgium A would improve on the disappointing performance in Amsterdam, where an under-strength side finished bottom of the pile.

Six teams were divided into two groups:

Group 1: Amsterdam, Belgium B, The Hague A.
Group 2: Belgium A, Luxembourg, The Hague B.

Belgium A 0-7, Luxembourg 0-7

The Belgium first team was, arguably, lucky to draw this battle after a poor game in which the defending European champions performed terribly. Belgium A’s game was characterised by over-carrying, poor passing and inadequate finishing. While some key players underpeformed, others did just about enough to salvage a point and ensure the team remained in the running for a semi-final spot. Special mention to debutant Eoghan Kelly who kicked some great scores, especially the pressure kick right at the end to guarantee the draw.

Belgium A 10-11, The Hague B 1-1

This one-sided match was over as a contest within the first 3 minutes. The rampant Belgium forwards had a field day, picking off points and goals at will. A margin of victory of at least 13 points was needed to top the group above Luxembourg, and Belgium finished the job in ruthless fashion. While the margin of defeat is a fair reflection of the difference between the two sides, it is to The Hague’s credit that they could muster enough numbers to field a second team.

Having topped the group, Belgium A now faced Amsterdam in the semi-finals.

Belgium A 0-6 , Amsterdam 1-4

One that got away. Amsterdam, who, having been 6 point behind and regrouped to beat Belgium A in the 3/4 place play-off in their home tournament in April, are arguably the rising force in the Benelux region.

This was a tightly-fought, intensely physical game that went right down to the wire. However, as in the April encounter between the 2 sides, Belgium allowed a soft goal to prove their undoing. Despite a valiant fight-back, including a gallop towards goal that was ended with a stray knee which may have broken Eoin Sheanon’s nose (again), Belgium were beaten when a last-gasp effort that would have pushed the tie into extra-time sailed just wide of the uprights.

Amsterdam went on to the final where they were beaten by home team The Hague A. Their second consecutive victory over An Chraobh Rua this season left the men of Belgium with their tails between their legs and plenty of food for thought.

3/4 place play-off:

Belgium A 2-8 , Luxembourg 1-4

In this game, Belgium finally began to play like something resembling their former selves. An angry, aggressive back-line led from the front by Phil “The Crusher” Cushen gave the forwards a solid platform to go in search of scores. Eoghan Kelly, playing in his first tournament, again hit some lovely scores while Micheál O’Floinn excelled. Lux fought valiantly but were undone when Belgium’s talisman Emmet Devine rifled an unstoppable shot into the top corner to end the contest early in the second half.

Analysis:

Having dismissed their Amsterdam disaster to early season jitters and a lack of manpower, the men of Belgium had a rude awakening in The Hague. With virtually their entire starting team in position, the A’s failed to achieve anything close to their barnstorming form of late 2008. The Chraobh Rua boys will need to ask themselves hard questions if they are to rediscover the aggression, physicality, fluidity and good old-fashioned hunger that saw them crowned Euro Champions in 2008.

Report reveals Killer Bees let loose in Europe

Saturday saw the kickoff proper of the Belgium GAA B-team’s foray into the Benelux tournament.

The panel, which was a mix of youth and age, was:

Aonghus
Martin – Johnny
Conor – Alan
Dave – Dominic
Ruairi – Ollie
Bobby – MikeyBaínisteoir: Conan

Conan and Dave had us well prepared for the day. We had an early setback when we were robbed for the 1st game of our wily corner back Martin Crowley due to transportation issues on the Red Cow roundabout just outside Den Haag.

This meant a re-jig to the lineup and a recall into the corner back slot for the Baniestoir/Maor uisce and all round GAA man Conan Mac Oscair.

Our first match was versus Amsterdam, a solid team and with a few good additions from 2008. It was part of the learning curve as we found over the course of the match that changes in positions were needed, meaning a switch from backs to forwards for Alan and Bobby going in the opposite direction and also some fine tuning in our approach.

In the 2nd half Martin, having negotiated the traffic issues slotted in and solidified the full back line with Johnny, resulting in less scores conceded. In the end Amsterdam ran out winners with our sole score coming from the reliable boot of Mikey Keane.

Our 2nd match was against the pre-tournament favourites, Den Haag A. Having learned from the match against the Dam, we settled on a better lineout and despite coming out on the losing end we had Den Haag rattled at points in the match and they were made fight for every score. The back line put up intense pressure and this caused Den Haag to send a lot of efforts wide of the target.

Dominic and Conor also put in a lot of heavy hits in the midfield, Aonghus and the defence were solid and by the end of the match we’d taken enough of positives to allow us to go into the 3rd match with increasing confidence.

The break between the initial 2 matches and 5th/6th playoff enabled us to regroup and review what went well and where we needed to improve. In the first 2 matches we were undoubtedly up against better/more experienced footballing sides and this showed in the distribution of our ball from time to time. They did the simple short passing, whereas under pressure we resorted to a long clearance more in hope than intent. In the half forward line we also needed to improve on winning the kickouts and give Aonghus more options.

Den Haag pulled a stroke in playing one of their A-team in the playoff and despite a diplomatic delegation trying to overturn this, the powers that be decided to allow it. This resulted in a non-diplomatic / this-is-how-we-deal-with-this-in-Finglas team talk from Martin and words from others, all of which had the effect of bringing the team together more.

We tore out of the blocks in this match with the plan to work together as a team and support each other in moving the ball forward. We clocked up some early scores giving us further confidence and with Conor, like a typical Meath man putting in tackles which Graham Geraghty would be proud of we started to win a lot of midfield ball. Dominic was also bursting forward and taking time out along the way to let the Den Haag lads know he was in town for the day. Johnny was like a conductor in defence and with Martin, Ollie and Bobby taking man, ball and all else with them we nullified all the Den Haag threats thrown at us.

With the increased confidence we started to execute our short passing game well and this resulted in a nicely worked move out of defence resulting in a layoff from Conan ‘the Gooch’ MacOscair (who had come on for Dave who’d taken an injury) laying off a pass to Ruairi to finish to the net via a Den Haag deflection. We mixed this with direct balls into the FF line and Alan and Mikey were winning all balls going into them. One of these long balls resulted in Dominic punching 🙂 our second goal. Between this we tacked on a few nice points and ran out 2-8 to 0-1 winners……and 5th place

All in all it was a good learning experience and while we had 2 defeats, we can take enough from the improvements throughout the day to go forward to Luxembourg and beyond with increased confidence.

Amsterdam Tournament – Benelux Round 1

 

The Belgian GAA team had an inauspicious start to the 2009 season on the first Saturday of April as they returned empty handed following the 2 hour trip to Amsterdam. Observers of the days events may have thought the Belgian lads had sampled some of the city’s famous wares the night before but, alas, no such excuse can be given for the three defeats suffered by the defending pan-European champions. However, it was the first time for many of the team to play together and hopes will be high that performances will improve from here on in.

The first match for Belgium was the old foes, Luxembourg. Belgium started with a new-look team with debuts for the likes of Johnny Phelan, Martin Crowley and Oliver O’Callaghan. However, optimism was high as the team was backboned by a number of last years’ star players including Stephen ‘Cluxton’ Kearney, Olof ‘Brolin’ Gill, Eoin Sheanan and Micheal O’Floinn. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was the appearance of Sheanon in the backs – presumably in the hope that he would be more likely to pass rather than try to run the ball over the line all by himself from the half-back line.

The change in personnel affected Belgium though, as they were very slow out of the blocks and were picked apart after only a few minutes by a slick Luxembourg move which ended with Cluxton picking the ball from the net. Showing great spirit however, the lads rallied well towards the end of the first half to trail by only a point at half time following some fast interplay between Messieurs Sheanon, O’Floinn and Gill. A large number of changes at half-time, however seemed to affect the balance of team as Luxembourg kicked on while Belgium were unable to put their normal fast game. While trying to push forward, Belgium were caught on the break on a number of occasions – the most notable break bringing a second goal which effectively ended the game.

Next up was Den Hague – where it was obvious the men in yellow were eager to make amends for their two defeats to their rivals in the final tournament of 2008 in Maastricht. And so it proved as Den Hague played some excellent football, taking full advantage of the inexperience in the Belgium ranks to score four unanswered points for a comfortable half time lead. The second half saw more of the same with Belgium competing in the middle third – with Micheal O’Floinn again prominent, but unable to build any momentum and often being found out in possession. The defence was under severe pressure and only for another storming performance from Captain Phil Cushen, the damage could have been far greater. Den Hague, on the other hand, were moving the ball very well and took their chances when they came to ensure a final result of 8 points to no score.

The final game was against Amsterdam and also counted as the 3rd/4th place play-off. This was a keenly contested affair between two well-matched sides with plenty to play for – Amsterdam aiming to claim a significant scalp in their home tournament and Belgium aiming to avoid a whitewash. Amsterdam had the best of the first half however with Belgium again failing to click into their normal fast game and the lads found themselves down by a point at half time. Stirring words from the injured Davy Barrett at half time did the trick though as Belgium roared out of the blocks in the second half with 6 great points. Micheal O’Floinn and Sheanon were again prominent while Mikey Keane also popped up for his customary vital point. At this point though Belgium took their eye off the ball and let Amsterdam in for a soft goal suddenly balls started to go astray and runners failed to pick out supporting players. Then disaster struck as Amsterdam snuck in for a second goal and suddenly the game was wide open. At this stage though, the ‘Dam had their gander up and struck for a couple more points towards the end as a tired Belgium pushed forward. Despite our best efforts to get back into the game it wasn’t to be, as the hosts held out for a good victory over the boys from Belgium.

And so Belgium had only the wooden spoon to show for their efforts on the day. However, as was pointed out after the game, there was no disgrace in this defeat as Belgium fielded a team with as many as six players making their debut over the course of the day. Much was learned over the course of the three games and certainly players like Johnny, Martin, Mattie, Oliver, Ruairi and Dominic learned much that ever could be learned on the training field of Parc Cinqentanaire. Last year’s players too learned that there a number of newer lads pushing hard for their places and that performances will have to improve if places are to be kept.

Next up is the second round of the Benelux Championship in Den Haag on May 2nd. The aim there will be to have a number of players back as well as some newer lads such as Eoghan Kelly and Ciaran Hudson, in making an extremely competitive panel. We hope also that this will give us the numbers we need to enter 2 teams to carry the Belgian flag. Unfortunately we will not be joined by Galway’s own Ryan McMenamin – aka Kevin Keary, who is stationed back in Cork canvassing for a job.

Finally, congratulations to Micheal O’Floinn who picked up the ‘Player of the Tournament’ award (his second in only three tournaments!!) in recognition of his outstanding display on the day. A special word also to Conchur deBarra who, having left the field injured against Amsterdam, found out afterwards that he will be in plaster for two months after breaking bones in his ankle. He can be comforted by the thought that Eoin Sheanon has kindly offered to go round for a cup of tea and a chat about Dublin football. The lucky fella!

Craobh Rua abu!

Belgium GAA 2009

Imreoirí uaisle An Chraobh Rua, Dear Belgium GAA friends,

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On behalf of our club’s new committee, I have the great pleasure of (re)welcoming you aboard and looking forward to another brilliant year of gaelic games across Europe.

We have come a long way in a short time. This time last year, then Chairman Conchur De Barra, looking forward to 2008, said that “Belgium G.A.A. will break new ground this year with a new, more accessible, home pitch and more teams. Your enthusiasm and commitment for all Gaelic Games will be paramount to our success on and off the pitch.” Continue reading Belgium GAA 2009

Inaugural Belgium GAA Invitational Tournament a great success

A unique celebration of Gaelic football took place in Brussels last weekend as teams from Clare Island and Coventry travelled to the “Capital of Europe” for the inaugural Belgium GAA Invitational Tournament.

A Mayo connection binds all 3 teams together: Roger Casements of Coventry and Belgium GAA, the 2008 European Football Champions, have players of Clare Island origin among their ranks.

The visiting teams both had to negotiate bodies of water on their journey to Brussels. Casements travelled by Eurostar train under the British Channel, while the Clare Islanders, as always, took the ferry to Roonagh Pier before driving to the airport.

The Weather Gods smiled on the travellers as they took to the field on Belgium’s home ground, the Stade Militaire in the world-famous Cinquantenaire Park, and a clear and sunny March day made for ideal footballing conditions.

A day of fast-paced, physical action came to an end with the Belgium men and Roger Casements ladies celebrating decisive victories over their Clare Island opponents.

Belgium captain Phil Cushen, a Kilkenny man with yet another Mayo connection – his grandfather hailed from Mulranny – accepted Clare Island’s Richard Hayes Memorial Trophy and vowed to bring his troops to the island in 2010.

A great weekend was enjoyed by all the visitors and Belgium GAA committee members expressed their great pride and satisfaction in the success of the inaugural event.

Bomber loses out to Hill-Dog in Belgium GAA Shocker

Breaking News: In a shock development that has rocked the world of European Gaelic Games, Belgium GAA’s star full-forward Maria “The Bomber” Brosnan today (March 6th) lost her place to Hillary “Hill-Dog” Clinton, who arrived in Brussels on a cloud of scandal and opprobrium.

Sources close to the Belgium Ladies’ revealed that Clinton has been drafted on a free transfer, in order to bring a new dimension of attacking aggression to the European Champions, as they seek to build on their 2008 success. “Hill-Dog takes no prisoners,” the source revealed, “it’s woman, ball and all with that wan”.

It is believed Clinton’s time spent in Northern Ireland with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, imbued her with an appreciation of the brutal but effective Northern style of Gaelic Football.

Brosnan, meanwhile, is renowned for her silky “total football” skills, honed in the valleys of Kerry, and perfected, infamously, during her 3 year relationship with Colm “The Gooch” Cooper.

Meanwhile, Belgium Ladies’ bigwigs Míde Ní Shúilleabháin and Barbara Wynne maintained a stony silence, while Brosnan was unavailable for comment at time of writing.

In a related development, resident Belgium GAA evil genius David “Dilly-Dally-Davey” Barrett today announced his engagement to Hillary, telling the press that “normally I hate forriners, but for Hill-Dog, I made an exception”.