Belgium crowned European Hurling Champions

Better late than never (!), here is the official tournament report from the 11 July Hurling tournament in Zurich, where the men of Belgium sealed the European Championship title with a hard-fought victory.

Many congratulations to the hurlers, who under the steady guiding hand of manager Martin Crowley have been unstoppable this season.


Here I Go Again (Whitesnake)

Travelling great distances is a common feature when playing GAA in Europe & personally, I enjoy the ritual of it: Get up early, make the sandwiches, have a big breakfast & the n drive for hours to get some GAA, then head out, have a good time & then drive all the back on the Sunday; I couldn’t think of anything better to do on the weekend.

The 1st Odyssey of this year (of which more will follow with the Football) was to Zurich to play Hurling. We had 4 cars going: Dennis (or Densor as we call him) & Aidan headed off on Friday evening.

They were followed on the Saturday by Jarret, our Captain Kevin Keary & Pierce in 1 car; Willie, Conor, Dec & Martin in the other & finally Adrian, Eoghan & myself in the 3rd car.

So off we left at about 5:30 to a foreign soil, to fight to claim the title of European Hurling Champions & to retain last year’s title, armed with lots of hurleys & more Air Guitar than you’ll find at a Status Quo, Whitesnake & Def Leppard concert!

Highway to Hel-vetia (AC/DC)

After the long drive through the beautiful surroundings of France & then Switzerland, we reached of destination of Zurich at about 1.

First up, Zurich vs. Lux.

A good game of hurling followed with Lux proving dangerous with the long ball into their full forward, Sully.

Final score: Zur 1-6, Lux 5-5

The chance to see our 2 opponents play first suited us well, as we had the chance to see the danger men (& women) in both sides. Using this, we prepared for our 1st encounter…Zurich

Back in Black (AC/DC)

Zurich have improved a lot from last year’s encounter & you can see a big improvement in both the men & ladies’ team…but we needed to beat the team-of-black to continue to the final.

Our team was:












We came quickly into this game, with a strategy of using the ball well, taking our points & trying to avoid running with the ball as much as possible, due to the lack of numbers & the heat.

We played excellent hurling in the 1st half with the score Bel: 2-6 Zur: 1-0

Scorers for Belgie were Eoghan, Jarret, Pierce & Densor.

2nd half: Zurich let the head drop after a quick 2 points & 1 goal from the Belgians. Zurich still kept playing well, however, with a point from play.

However, a retaliation of 2-2 from the Belgians finished the game off.

Final score: Belgium: 5-10, Zurich: 1-1

Standout performances for Belgium were Pierce “The Moonwalker” O Caoimhe (watch him run with the sliotar; graceful), Eoghan Kelly & particularly Willie & Adrian being bothe excellent in the defence.

1 game down; 2 to go

Or so it was meant to be; Lux & us decided to play the final straight after the ladies game.

So sitting in the shade, we devised our strategy for taking on Lux.

Waiting (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers)

For Lux, their danger man was Sully. A great catcher of the ball, he’d run at the defence & straight on goal. For this, we had Conor Alyward man-mark him, with Keary just behind to quickly clear any breaking ball.

Lux also had a dnger woman in #4; a fantastic hurler from Galway.

Willie was given the responsibility of marking her; we counted on his years of experience & also, as he’s getting married, we thought he’d like a chance to get physical with a 20-something college girl before the Big Day!

Final change; we swapped Densor with Aidan, with the aim to bombard the Lux full back line so that Jarret & Aidan could recover the breaking ball. Densor was also to drag his man out into the wings, opening up the half-forward line to allow our midfield more room to assist in attack.

Explaining what was needed from each of us, we focused on the game at hand.

The Final Countdown (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers)

Team was as follows:












Just like against Zurich, we literally exploded (!) into this game, getting scoring 1-1.

Our strategy for Densor was working brilliantly as it caused Pierce’s man to being dragged out also, in the hope of covering both men.

However, it wasn’t all plain sailing. Lux let a long ball in which Martin blocked down as it was heading over the crossbar. Then, from nowhere, #4 rushed in to put the ball in the back of the net. 1-1 to 1-0.

This was a moment of truth for Belgium; keep the head up or face defeat.

You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet (Bachman Turner Overdrive)

The next 2 puck-outs were sent sailing over the bar by the Belgian’s: the perfect reply to Lux’s goal.

Lux replied with1 point but Belgium, surely displaying the largest display of artillery in Europe since the 1940’s, finished the 1st half with a goal after barraging the Lux back line.

Belgium: 2-3, Lux: 1-1

2nd half; Belgium opened quickly with 1 point but then we entered a War of Attrition.

Lux kept to the strategy of the land ball into Sully. At 1 stage, he caught the pucked outed ball & was clear on goal. Keary had to react, pulling him down.

Penalty!…except the ref had stopped play after Jarret had been in an incident just before the puck-out.

The ref reset the game from that puck-out. Belgium had just snatched a lifeline: had that penalty counted, we would have a hard fight on our hands.

Those last few minutes were tough; we had women swearing at us, hurls flying & breaking & at one stage Adrian verbally assaulting a young lady for holding on to his hurl…was tense stuff.

But inspired by the Trojan men which each of the Belgians are, we never dropped the head. We put over 2 more points, before Lux’s #4 got a great point from play to bring the game to a close.

Belgium: 2-6, Lux: 1-2

We Are the Champions! (Queen)

It was a great victory for Belgium, considering we had minimal numbers & had trekked 650km to play. Also, with exception of Pierce, Kevin & Eoghan, our team were all over 30. I find that the most inspiring thing about these lads-I hope to still have even a tiny bit of what drives these men when I get to that stage; something like that says a lot about these lads.

During the day, there were amazing performances all round. No heads dropped; concentration was always kept, even when it was tense in the final.

I will mention 2 men for their performances on the day;

I think everyone can agree that Eoghan Kelly’s performance was epic. I remember at 1 stage he was in the defence, driving a ball out of there, only to catch the returning ball & driving it over for a point. It was a great display from the man.

Before we came down, there was a chance we wouldn’t have the men for the game. To step up to play a game 650 km away; many would have said no way

Densor stepped forward to help us out, even though he hasn’t played hurling in years. He ended up scoring 1-1 in the tournament; a great display from the man.

So next for the Belgians is The Hague in a few weeks.

We are currently European Hurling Champions for this year but with the epic men we have playing, maybe a Grand Slam is on the cards for Belgium Hurling?


Belgium hopes for new heights as the European Football Championships begin

The long-awaited European Gaelic Football Championships begin in Munich this weekend, and over 50 Belgium GAA players will fly to the Bavarian capital tomorrow to go to battle in the first of the four pan-European tournaments.

26 lads and around the same amount of lassies will travel. These impressive travelling numbers are a great indication of the rapid growth of our club, and a credit to all concerned for their dedication and team spirit. Belgium will be the only mens team to enter a team in both the Shield and the Championship sections whilst only Holland can match our Ladies in entering two teams in the Ladies competition.

The very best of luck to our warriors for the first pan-Euro showdown of 2009. An Chraobh Rua abú! Match reports to follow next week…

(for more analysis of the Munich tournament, see the latest inimitable blog from Mens team coach Dave Barrett)

Come out and support the Dubs in Leinster final


Boys & Girls,

This Sunday is the Leinster SHC final, Anto Daly’s young Dubs v The Kats.

Cody’s all-conquering Kats are on the trail of immortality as they attempt this year to capture the Liam McCarthy for the fourth year in succession. If they achieve their goal they will emulate the heroics of a Christy Ring-inspired Cork, who won titles in 1941, ’42, ’43 and ’44 – the rationale behind Barrett being a Dub for the day.

The Revolution will be televised from 16h30 in The Old Oak, Schuman – throw-in at 17h00.

Sporting blue & navy guarantees you Premium Seating, Table Service, etc…

Black & amber guarantees you zilch. No I lie, a surefire guarantee of the following:

Suas na Dubs!

An Chraobh Rua Dublin Supporters Club.

* A special thanks to at Kevin Flynn at for allowing us to use the Che Daly graphic

Belgium Ladies go from strength to strength

The following are tournament reports from the last 2 pan-European competitions contested, and won, by the unstoppable Ladies football team of Belgium GAA. Enjoy!

Belgium Ladies GAA 2009 – The Journey – Part 1 Den Haag

An army of red and black, marching to domination… or a bedraggled mob of coffee cup clutching, bleary eyed scruffs? Yes, Belgium Ladies Football team had arrived.Continue reading “Belgium Ladies go from strength to strength”

Euro Hurling and Camogie tournament Saturday June 13 2009

Belgium GAA is proud to host the next round of the European Hurling and Camogie tournament in Leuven, this Saturday 13 June 2009.

Europe’s finest gaelic sportsmen and women will be taking to the field from 10.30 and will be playing all day.Continue reading “Euro Hurling and Camogie tournament Saturday June 13 2009”

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.


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:

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,


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”