The 2017 Season is underway!

So I’ve been a bit late getting this up for 2017. Apologies for that – long story involving our website and some domain snipers from China… but that’s besides the point! The main thing is, we’re back in business and so is Belgium GAA – back in action for the 2017 season and rearing to go!

As always we’ll be challenging on all fronts and aiming to become European Champions across 4 codes – we’ve held all titles at the same time before, but we have yet to win them all in the calendar year – a bit like Tiger Woods with the majors 🙂 – so maybe 2017 is the year!

So what’s new? Well, to be honest, quite a lot! Here’s what you need to know!

Men’s Gaelic Football

The footballers will be looking to pick up their first European Championship since that famous day in Maastricht in 2012 when a win over Guernsey brought the trophy back to Brussels – how time flies! The team is under new management this year with Olof Gill handing over the reigns to Declan Treanor as manager. We take this opportunity to thank Olof for his efforts over the last couple of years; now he can concentrate on continuing to do the business on the field! Declan has been around the club on and off since 2012 and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the group. A former Dublin panel member, Declan is an extremely high calibre coach and it is fantastic for the team that he’s taking over. Joining Declan on the management team will be former team member Ciaran Hudson, along with Damien Columb (statistics) and Paul Quinn (Football Officer).

The first outing of the year was in the Den Haag tournament on the 8th of April. The side looked strong throughout the day, reaching a final against Luxembourg where they were unfortunately beaten thanks to a late goal on a scoreline of Luxembourg 1-8 1-6 Belgium. The Shield side were also in action, but had a disappointing day in a particularly strong Shield competition. Still plenty to build on, and both sides have picked themselves up already and used the defeats to spur them on in training.

Ladies Football

What does a team do after they win their 9th Championship in a row? Try to make it 10-in-a-row of course! That’s the challenge facing our ladies footballers this year, and what a milestone that would be! Our club’s most successful team have done it all since the team was formed in 2008, winning every European Championship that has been available to them, and even going on to win games over British Champions. This year they have a chance to really make history – how many teams can you think of that have won 10-in-a-row? I can’t think of any. We’re all rooting for you, girls – bring the cup home again!

It won’t be easy of course, and the competition is set to be stronger than ever this year. The effort being put into training thus far shows that the girls are really tuned in to that reality. Changes aplenty on the management side for the girls, with Marla Candon coming in to take over the coaching alongside Margaux Mansanarez who has been named as team captain for the 2017 season.

The ladies footballers also had their first competitive outing of the year on the 8th of April in Den Haag. They met Holland in the final and controlled the game throughout, winning by a scoreline of Belgium 1-11 0-6 Holland. A great start to the year, and Marla and Margaux will be looking to ensure the team build on that early momentum in the upcoming tournaments.

Hurling

We’ve been going through something of a golden spell of hurling in the club over the past few years, and the win in Dresden in October 2016 secured a famous four-in-a-row for the lads. This is a significant achievement, particularly given how competitive the European Championship tends to be, and so it is great to see Belgium performing consistently well year-on-year.

The new season brings change to the management setup. Manager Dave Barrett stays on for the coming year, but 2016 Championship winning captain Caoimhin Ó Coighligh has stepped down from the role and is replaced by Brendan O’Donoghue. Brendan is the 2016 hurler of the year and having shown much leadership last season, he is a perfect fit for the role. The new management team also inititially included former UCD Freshers manager Eoin Ryan, however Eoin will unfortunately be leaving the setup in the coming months when he heads back to Dublin for work. On the coaching side, its also great to see Adrian Hiel, stalwart Belgium GAA goalkeeper, come back into the setup to help out with the training – you can never have too much experience around a side, and Adrian has plenty of it.

The team is in training ahead of the start of the season and had their first outing of the year on Sunday the 23rd of April with friendlies against Den Haag and Amsterdam. They will now be preparing to compete for an historic 5th Championship in a row.

Camogie

Similarly to the hurlers, our Camogie team has been going through a particularly successful period and also completed an impressive 4-in-a-row in Dresden last October. With good numbers at training already, the girls will be looking to build on that success and have another great season in 2017.

On the management side, Grainne Corry and Meadbh Bolger will be at the helm this season and looking to drive the team onward towards an historic 5-in-a-row. Gráinne and Meadbh are both talented and experienced camogie players and both impressed greatly in 2016. They’ll be looking to lead by example once again, improve the skills of the players and get the team working as impressively in 2017 as it has done in recent years.

The girls had their first outing on Sunday the 23rd of April with a narrow friendly loss to Holland. Additionally, members of the Belgium Camogie team travelled to London on the 29th of April to represent Europe at the Tara Camogie 7s tournament. Impressive performances throughout the day from the players from Belgium, Hamburg, Eindhoven and Amsterdam gave Europe the win. The Belgium players will take encouragement from the part they played London and indeed from their performances against Holland in the friendly, but will also now be well aware of the talented players the other European clubs have at their disposal; it’s set up nicely to be a great Camogie Championship 2017!

What’s Next?

Next up is the Eindhoven round of the Football Championships on the 6th of May. Our Men’s and Ladies teams will be heading to Eindhoven with every intention of bringing home the silverware given the ladies won their first tournament in Den Haag and the men came within a whisker of winning theirs. Both will have strong panels travelling and it is set up to be a fantastic day of football.

On the hurling and camogie side, the 20th May will be the first tournament of the year in Luxembourg. The hurlers will see this as the perfect place to pick up where they left off last year, and indeed it was in Luxembourg where they convincingly beat a strong Amsterdam side in the final and got their successful season underway. The girls will also be looking to start the season off with a win, and will have a very strong side travelling with some new talented players having joined the panel during the pre-season.

The very best of luck to all our teams in the upcoming tournaments, and be sure to check in on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages to find out how they get on.

Also, always remember that newcomers are welcome at all times; this club is only as strong as its membership and we are constantly looking to grow. Would you like to come down and give it a try? You’ll be more than welcome – get in touch!

#AnBheilgAbú

Belgium GAA Are Recruiting For 2016

The 2016 season is almost upon us, and this year’s a big one. Our hurlers  and camogs are aiming for their 4th European Championship title in a row and our ladies footballers  are aiming for  their 9th!

Are you Irish and working/studying over here   in Belgium this year?  Keep your ties with the GAA and join our family.  We’re looking for new members for our  Hurling, Camogie, Gaelic Football and Ladies Football teams.  All skill levels are welcome.

All nationalities are welcome too. We have players from Belgium, Estonia, Spain, Serbia, Colombia and even Cork!  Why not pick up one of our legendary Irish sports in 2016? We get  to play in tournaments all over Europe and the craic is mighty! If you don’t know what ‘craic’ is then come down to training to find out.

Training sessions

Training is at the VUB, Boulevard de la Plaine 2, 1050 Ixelles.

Ladies and Men’s Football every Monday and Thursday night beginning the 15th of February.  Hurling and Camogie training  every Monday and Thursday night beginning the 3rd of March.

Hurling
Mondays and Thursdays
19:30 – 20:45

Camogie
Mondays
19:30 – 20:45 (warm-up at 19:15)
Thursdays
20.45 – 22.00 (warm-up at 20.30)

Men’s Football
Mondays and Thursdays
20:30 – 22:00

Ladies’ Football
Mondays
20.45 – 22.00 (warm-up at 20.30)
Thursdays
19:30 – 20:45 (warm-up at 19:15)

Belgium GAA are recruiting for 2016

If you want to join up, email:  pro.belgium.europe@gaa.ie

Or get in touch with us via Facebook or Twitter.

Amsterdam competition round up

Championship team return to winning ways

They say winning is a habit. It’s a habit this team and this club have become especially familiar with over the past number of years. Not finishing the day at least in the final of a tournament has come to represent a failure. With our 3rd place finish after a poor day in Luxembourg fresh in the minds, the Championship team descended on Amsterdam intent on making amends. The fire and brimstone was kept relatively in check. Everybody recognised (after Luxembourg and in the trainings in between), that clear heads, with eyes up and open, was going to yield the biggest dividend.

We faced off against Amsterdam in the first match of day, albeit 20 minutes late and after some cuddles and kisses between Johnny O’ and Collie Byrne. The warm up wasn’t was it should be and we went pretty much straight from the dressing room to our positions, but we weren’t unnerved. While Amsterdam kicked the first couple of points there was no sense of panic. Heads up, eyes open, ball to the man in the better position, cut out the turnovers and keep possession until we were into a scoring position in the green zone. Basics done well, support running, no panic, reuse, recycle, gaps open up, green zone, bang, point. By half time, there was a clear appreciation of the benefits of this approach. Disregarding our poor prep that morning, it was in that first 15 minutes that every member of the panel bought in to this approach. It was this first 15 minutes that set the tone for the rest of the day. We were defensively solid, cutting out the gaps through the centre which other teams had used effectively against us in Luxembourg. At full time, it was 11 points to 5. Never have we been more satisfied not to rattle the net.

There followed a lengthy break to our next game (about 2 hours). This break was spent watching the Shield lads power their way to a famous victory over Luxembourg in their group (and with it, a place in the semi-final) as well as with the usual lads chat regarding the breeding habits of orc type creatures. Despite the break and some alarming mental images, the lads never lost focus.

Our remaining two group games against Frankfurt and Eindhoven saw plenty of goals (for us thankfully).Strong running from Ciaran and Naoise caused havoc in opposition defenses, while Keary and Crusher in the full back line were maintaining a vice like grip on proceedings. Conor Mul got his usual stanchion goal which he celebrated with Mario Balotelli type nonchalance while the two Johnny’s were ever calm and composed in possession.

As a result of topping our group, the two Belgium GAA teams lined up against each other for a place in the final. After a joint warm up, Olof (banisteoir, maor foirne and doctor) looking like a Clare Island café owner/madman/tour guide took the Shield aside for some final instruction. The Championship team, meanwhile, were reiterating the need to keep the heads up, to recycle, to move the ball and to work it to a shooting position. The game itself had some tasty personal battles. Naoise vs John Louis Sexton esquire made for compelling viewing, if not least for the belting. With each team having 11 players (and no subs) the somewhat better fitness of the Championship team came through in the end. With Scott and Conor Mescall running hard throughout though, it was never easy.

With that, a place in final. The very least, this team and this club has come to expect. Facing off once again against Amsterdam, we knew this would be a much different encounter than that of six or seven hours ago.Before the game we stuck to the same principles. Heads up, control possession, no turnovers, work the ball into space, recycle where necessary, wait for gap, bang, over the bar. Calm, composed teamwork. There really is no substitute for it at this level. The first half was once again defined by strong running by Ciaran and Naoise and by solidity in defence. The team is quickly coming to realise that if you have possession then you’re not under pressure. A couple of goals (including an 11th or 12th of the day by Naoise) gave us a nice 8 point buffer at half time. However, playing against a very strong wind in the second half, we knew the need for composure was greatest at this point. And so it proved to be. Amsterdam kicked some lovely scores but by and large they were outside what you would consider to be the shooting zone. If you are restricting the opposition to kicking from here then great. If they put the ball over the bar from here, fair play to them. However, to win games, you really need to be threatening inside and taking the majority of shots from the shooting “green zone”. This is what made the difference on the day.

Another goal was added in the second half after strong patient build up play and by the final whistle, we were about nine points to the good. One of the most pleasing aspects of the final performance was that it epitomised the approach we set out from the very beginning of the day. While there are tougher days ahead and opposition teams will have more players available to them, this victory can be the springboard for the rest of the year.

Afterwards, Crusher became the first Kilkenny man to win a player of the tournament since Pearse O’Caoimh kicked points for fun in October 2013, wearing a stiletto on one foot and a Adidas predator (with only 2 studs) on the other. Crush had a great day out and was well deserving of the award. Having said that, I feel that anyone of the lads could have won that award such was the teamlike performance throughout the day. This willingness to make the unselfish run, to give that unglamourous pass, to prioritise a block down as much as kicking a point is what shone through in Amsterdam. If we can keep this attitude and keeps our heads in games then we will give ourselves every chance of success and of maintaining that winning feeling.

A big thanks to Olof for his work on the line throughout the day as well as to Cluxton and Naoise for playing as floaters and giving it everything.

Belgium GAA abu, we’re back baby!

And here’s how it went from the point of view of the Shield team:

The shield team went into the Amsterdam tournament full of confidence after a defiant back against the wall performance in Luxembourg last month. Under the watchful eye of Olaf Gill the team had clearly grown since it had last played, exhibiting an understanding of a team that had clearly played together before.

The day started off positive, every ones heads were clearly in the moment, with each man prepared to run him-self into the ground for his team mates – which is exactly what they did. Though we were soon knocked out of our stride – Dusseldorf failed to field a team, meaning the lads had warmed up only to be told there was no game. The reaction of everyone in the team is testament to winning mentality not only of the Shield team but of the whole of Belgium GAA, instead of criticising or complaining the lads kept warm and tuned in by running drills – which clearly helped in the games.

Officially our day started against Luxemburg, who had made it the final in their home tournament. Of course we felt the odds were against us but we went out there and did what we had to – play a simple passing game to retain possession. The new found confidence of Big Phil in the middle of the park played a huge role in defeating the odds and recording a confident victory. Ger O’Donoghue led the attacking line with confidence scoring a surprising goal – that in no way was helped by the wind, to place the furnishings on what, in truth, was a comfortable win.

After the win over Luxembourg we had booked our place in the semi-final – a huge step up from the drubbing we received in Luxembourg. We faced Den Haag knowing a win would mean we avoided our own championship team and a possible all Belgium Final. Unfortunately this was not meant to be, Den Haag were able to have a longer rest after their match due to Dusseldorf’s absence and the freshness was clear to see. Especially in the middle of the park as no one could keep track of their midfielders bursting through the middle. Despite having our backs against the wall we were not deterred – this team had been christened in circumstances like this just over a month before. Chances were created with defiant attacks from Decy Hillary and beaming runs from Conchur de Barra from half back.

With defeat to Den Haag meaning we faced Belgium’s Championship team – despite the odds against us the shield team went out and fought for every ball and every yard, which has become a hallmark of the team. The Championship teams fitness and strength soon eventually shone through with them recording an overly flattering win placing them into the final against Amsterdam. But in typical fashion the shield team did not lie down, creating chances only for Louis Sexton Esquires beautiful solo goal to be disallowed because of Niall Goodwins Oscar award winning acting.

Securing third place in Amsterdam showed to every one watching how much the shield team has come along. The tenacity along with the improved understanding is testament to the commitment showed by everyone. I am sure many will agree that if the same intensity is shown through the rest of the season we will continue improve and will be real title contenders in the Pan Euro Shield competition in October.

BELGIUM GAA ABÚ (DHABI)

The  season is under way and, if training’s anything to go by, it’s going to be a good one. Colin Byrne, who recently took up office as Chairperson of Belgium GAA, gets us going with his foreword to the season.  He looks back on how far Belgium GAA has come as a club, the acheivements of last season and forward to the big one, the first ever World GAA Games.

Continue reading BELGIUM GAA ABÚ (DHABI)

We're the biggest GAA club in Europe, with over 100 members playing in all 4 codes: Hurling, Camogie, Men’s and Ladies’ Gaelic football. New members are always welcome, so why not give it a try! Email us on pro.belgium.europe@gaa.ie