Nickkie, Voxing and sponsoring, and being an all-round legend.

I’m robbing and reposting with presumed permission from the wonderful Nicole Pacheco – hero, legend, all-star. Ms. Pacheco secured sponsorship for us to go to Birmingham this year (THANK YOU!) and has been a phenomenal force to be reckoned with this year, on and off the pitch. Here are her words about what playing GAA has meant to her.

VoxParallels: A Year in the Life of a GAA and Voxbone Newbie


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IMG-20141011-WA0009The parallels one discovers in life are unmistakable.

I am an adventurer.
I am an explorer.
I believe in pushing the boundaries of the unknown.

Set me at a crossroads and every time, I will take the road less travelled.

Last year, at the dawn of my fourth decade I embarked on two adventures: joining Voxbone and joining the Belgium Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) to play two of their sports internationally: Gaelic Football and Camogie. Both of these decisions meant diving into the unknown.

As someone with zero experience in telecom, starting a job in this industry was daunting. The biggest draw came in the form of Voxbone’s company culture- a feeling of friendship and community in a highly diverse staff with a company-wide focus to plow through the year to meet lofty targets.

This vibe was echoed in my involvement with the GAA- a strong sense of unity and family, mingled with a burning desire to dominate the competition to become the Champions of Europe.

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When Voxbone agreed to sponsor our team this year, it not only inspired us, but also felt very fitting to me. The parallels in my life felt as though they had intertwined. It left me inspired not only with how Voxbone works to cultivate a great vibe within the company, but also strives to foster this in the lives of their employees outside of the company structure.

For someone who initially only joined for the admin experience, I am more than ever motivated to explore the industry I work in in order to gain more knowledge. Evidence of this may be found on my desk, where several copies of Telecom for Dummies lie. With one year down, I am ready to tackle the one to come. Voxbone has been an adventure so far and if the past year is anything to go by, there is another wild ride to come.

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“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

-Robert Frost

Heartbreak, sadness. But heads held high, 2015 awaits.

The trip to Maastricht for the Ladies Football extra curricular bout with the Munster champions Murroe Boher will go down in history as a great day. A tough, sadmaking, heartbreaking sort of day, but one from which we can’t but build and ‘drive on’ from (in the parlance of Aisling, Capitana the Great). We faced off against a team that were half-centaur, half-girl. Half-coltish girl, who had all perfected the art of telepathy and mid-jump turns, and who had yet, in the majority of players, to face that cruelest of tests, the Leaving Cert. We had them on seniority, fertility, disposable income (though thats perhaps debatible) and the many things that life has in store after the age of 16, but they beat us. They played the semis this Sunday past and held the team they played against scoreless. It’s an interesting fact that they’ll be promoted to Senior next year, as a quirk of being a Limerick team – having won their division this year, they will play senior next year. And, to be fair. . . they should be playing at that level. Our lovely Wicklow based ref (though this is not the time for a rendition of the Wicklow Song) did congratulate all present for the level of football played. But still. Hearts burnt, bruised and burning for next year. We’ll see.

Here are some photos from the day itself. Taken by the lovely mamas and photographers on the sideline from Belgium GAA (I think we should give Maude some sort of stipend) and the Murroe Boher team – who would put Munich to shame with their coordination. We made it to Eurosport too – but the final score of 5-16 to 2-6 tells it all. A valliant attempt and a great success for our 3rd full game as a 15-a-side team – and to get to where we were is no great shame at all. Its just the dream. That terrible awful dream of getting futher along in the competition. Not that we have a heap of nay-sayers or begrudgers, but, I suppose in the words of Kanye, that its the beautiful twisted fantasy of continuing on – and the horrific what ifs. I couldn’t write this post till now cause I was just too heartbroken to do so. But with the efforts and enthusiasm of the girls and shoeless wonders involved, who knows what 2015 will hold.

Elaine has a little nap
Elaine has a little nap

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So the wrappings up of the season have well and truely got underway. We have the annual camogiehurling Christmas quiz, and the end of year dinner (to be held in the Old Oak on Saturday 6th of December, pester Sylvia with your registrations – but places are limited so do so soon). We’ve the European GAA AGM, to be held in Irish College in Leuven, and this year the position of Secretary is up for grabs, as Tony Bass retires after a decade at the helm of European GAA. There are few who would venture to take on what Tony has taken on, and in his farewell speach he sets out his reasons for stepping back from the role after a lifetime at the helm of European GAA – read it, it’s worth the effort. . . So, if you’d like to get involved – please do – it’s your club – it’s what you make of it. Do consider getting involved next year. If you find these posts too long (not looking at you Conor Mull) – how bout taking on the PRO role next year? It’s an interseting one I promise.

So for now, til the 6th of December and the annual danceoff of wonderfullness.

The end of the 2014 season comes to a thrilling conclusion in Maastricht

Monday always seems a surreal sort of day post tournament. Aches. Pains. Bruises. Strangely shaped strangenesses in places that you didn’t know could hurt the way that they do now. But all that aside, what a weekend we had! What a weekend it was. It’s 9 degrees now and the 23 degree scorcher that we enjoyed in Maastricht seems like a million miles away, but it’s not really that far away, and yes, it really did happen.

Belgium GAA have finished the 2014 on an incredible high. Mens and women’s football, and hurling and camogie: we’ve topped all of these competitions. It’s insane. There were photographers and camera men abounding around the place on Saturday, so here’s a collation of some of the coverage from the day. Breandán Kearney was there with his intrepid camera friends, so there’s sure to be something wonderful to watch in the ‘One Life, Two Clubs‘ documentary that he’s been making over the course of the 2014 season.

The GAA were there in force, with the following video reportage from the day by Jerome Quinn – featuring the lovely heads from all over the European GAA clubs, but some familiar faces too – Diarmuid O’Loingsigh, previously from Naomh Abán captained the Belgian men’s championship team, Club Secretary Jelena Radakovic, POT Margaux Mansarnez, Ladies Capitan Fantastic Aisling Fenton and several dancing and running body parts of everyone else who attended the day seems to have been captured in the background. Wait and see if you can spot yourselves in this one.

There’ll be reports from all the captains and code officers in the week, but for the moment, it’s worth just thinking back on the absurdly successful year that we’ve had as a club: and drive on for the next two weeks for the Ladies Footballers as they still pursue more football challenges in the shape of the Munster Club Champions in Maastricht on the 1st of November at 4pm. All support most definitely welcome.

Belgium GAA are European Champions 2014

Loooooooook at this!;),

One Life. Two Clubs.

On Saturday, the mens and ladies Gaelic football teams from Belgium GAA were crowned the European Champions for 2014.

The ladies continued their long history of success in this competition. Their quality and dominance is unparalleled and incredible. It was also great preparation for the ladies as they look forward to their massive All-Ireland quarter-final match vs the Munster Champions in two weeks.

Belgium GAA

The men were playing their third European final in a row. Having suffered a narrow defeat to Guernsey last year, they overcame a large exodus of key players and members from the club to claim another well-deserved title for Belgium GAA.

Special thanks must go to Jelle Demonie who assisted with filming on the day and also to Sophie Callewaert who lent us some filming equipment.

Belgium GAA

To all four teams playing on Saturday, to all club members who travelled to support, to the All-Stars who prepared the…

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Red sky at night, shephards delight, red sky in the morning, its really really early

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Tomorrow morning, a group of 29 Belgium GAA men travel to Maastricht to compete in the European football finals. Fielding two teams, one in the senior championship and the another in intermediate, and following months of hard training and playing numerous tournaments, it all comes down to this one day of football.

The men have already won the Benelux region and now have their sights set on a much bigger prize. Good luck!

(P Varley sends his love to all)

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Last training session in ordinary time complete – Maastricht to see what we’re made of

What a year. 2014 has been an immense season. We’re a few days away from the close of an incredible year. .and we’ve this weekend to look forward to! The photos say more than I can. 4 Belgian teams will participate in the action across the day, topped off with a reception in the lovely city of Maastricht.

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Maastricht it is. One last push. The only men’s pan-Euro this year: the third and final pan Euro round for the ladies. Heaps to fight for. A great day of football awaits us all. . . we’ll update you as the day goes on.

Belgium Ladies V. Liverpool Wolfe Tones – Match Report from Birmingham

From Cathal Harkin – from the pitch side in Birmingham, comes this fairly excellent report of the day.

All-Ireland Junior Championship Quarter-Final
Wolfe Tones (Liverpool, Britain) 1-02 v 1-12 Belgium (Europe)


What do you get if you cross a Colombian, a French, a Canadian, a Spaniard, some Belgian and a few Irish girls with an Australian coach? A damn good gaelic footballing team. This is exactly what this Belgium team were. Make no mistake about it, they were full value for their comprehensive victory over the Liverpool Wolfe Tones and in the process of winning this All-Ireland Junior Championship Quarter-Final; they created history by being the first European champions to be incorporated into the All-Ireland series. History will continue when they play the Munster champions in two weeks time at the Maastricht.


This game was a home tie for the British Junior champions and it took place in perfect Autumn conditions in Pairc na hEireann, Birmingham. What was only a two hour journey for the Wolfe Tones, was a 2-day journey for the Belgian team, as coach Peter Jenson stated. “We made the journey yesterday (Friday) from Belgium and we went through the tunnel and stayed overnight in Luton, or as the Colombian girl called it Loo-ton.” Travelling was just not one of the problems that the Belgian team faced as the pronunciation of Luton would suggest. “Some of the girls don’t have the greatest English but we would always try and shout at them anyway!” Encouragement was not a problem for the team because from the sideline both substitutes and coach alike, made plenty of noise in spite of their non-existent support.


The Wolfe Tones started the game well and bossed possession in the opening stages but could not take any scoring chances. Belgium in fact opened the scoring through the boot of Caragah O’Connor after a poor kickout from Kitty Murray, but finally after 10 minutes the Wolfe Tones opened their account and in somewhat traditional fashion: a goal from Carmel Hackett. Hackett, opened the Tone’s scoring in the semi-final with a goal and was on target again. A great run and lay-off from Denis McDonagh to her, resulted in the Augher native finishing to the net with their left boot. Another good run from McDonagh resulted in Nikki Laverty pointing from a difficult angle to put them three points to the good. This point in the 11th minute was to be their last until the 58th minute, a gap of 47 minutes. You do not win All-Ireland quarter-finals playing this way. Subsequently the European champions began to play football and tore their opponents apart. Margaux Mansanarez who would excel at wing-back all day teamed up with Ana Rois who would in turn find the marauding Elaine Kennedy to shoot and score. Kennedy would go on and play a huge role for Belgium with her aggressive and direct running. Two more points quickly followed with a free from Ciara Farrell and a great score from long range courtesy of Sinead Fitzsimmons. Then travesty struck for the Wolfe Tones when Kennedy after another searing run, blasted the ball to the back of the net to leave the score 1-04 v 1-01. From here Belgium would not look back and from the 23rd minute onwards there only looked like one winner. Time and time again Fitzsimmons and Mansanarez cut holes through the centre of the Wolfe Tones defence and were unlucky not to add more scores on numerous occasions. Another free from Farrell finished the scoring for the opening half to leave it 1-05 v 1-01 in favour of Belgium.


The Liverpool Wolfe Tones were missing some of their influential players for this game, however this does not excuse them for their poor performance in the opening half. It seemed that they made the long journey for the game instead of the Belgians because they were sluggish throughout and somewhat disinterested. If the game was within striking distance for the Tones at the start of the second half, then the opening 5 minutes would squash such notions. Kennedy again was to the fore, as she rifled over a fierce shot after a strong run. Fitzsimmons, had a great chance of goal but blasted over. Then the flurry of scores was completed from a Farrell free. The scoreline quickly ticked over and it read Belgium 1-09 v 1-01 Wolfe Tones. The Wolfe Tones struggled for penetration in front of goal and any ball they decided to hit in long was mopped up by towering full back Grainne Ni Fhlatharta who was a colossus all day. Time and time again she repelled the Liverpudlian’s attacks and set up moves for her team. It was then the fast-moving Belgians made hay. For many of the Belgian players this was only their second-ever game in the 15 a-side format but you couldn’t tell. What was clearly evident however, was the skill-set they used during their 7 and 9 a-side games in Europe, was brought to the table and the Wolfe Tones couldn’t live with it. When the Tones did manage to get through, goalkeeper Irene Kirwin was equal to deny McDonagh on two occasions. Scores from Caoimhe Ni Shuilleabhain and Rois, both from tight angels piled on the misery for the British champions. A late score for the Wolfe Tones from Leitrim lady, Janette Maguire finished the scoring in what was a very disappointing day for the girls in green, white and yellow. A lot of the Tone’s girls failed to turn up bar Niamh Cahill, Grainne O’Gara and the industrious and hard-working Maguire, however even if the team performed better it may not have swayed the result. Belgium were simply fitter, powerful and the better footballers and deserved their victory.


The shy and retiring team captain Aisling Fenton was gracious in victory. “I want to thank the Wolfe Tones today, they put in a super effort. We knew we would have to play out of our skin and we are really delighted to have won this and especially in 15 a-side. We are looking forward to the visit of the Munster champions to our home ground in the Maastricht in early November.” Aisling would again state the togetherness of the club which has up to 130 club members “We have girls from all various nationalities who play and they are as Irish as us. This is who we are.”


This result is a milestone in the history of the GAA, history was created in Birmingham on Saturday; watch out in the next round for more from this exciting Belgium team.

Wolfe Tones: Kitty Murray; Ruth Kelly, Nicola Donaghey, Niamh Cahill; Shannon Finnegan, Grainne O’Gara, Clodagh McPeake; Janette Maguire (0-01), Caroline Donaghey; Nikki Laverty(0-01), Aoife Jacob, Laura Farrell; Denise McDonagh, Carmel Hackett (1-00), Patricia Moyna (c).
Subs used: Karina Grehan, Eimear O’Kane, Leah O’Halloran, Susanne McKerr


Belgium GAA: Irene Kirwin; Nickie Pacheco, Grainne Ni Fhlatharta, Jane Brennan; Michaela Duffy, Aisling Fenton (c), Margaux Mansanarez; Elaine Kennedy (1-02), Caoimhe Ni Shuilleabhain (0-01); Orlaith Downey, Ciara Farrell (0-05, 4f), Sinead Fitzsimmons (0-02); Anay Rios (0-01), Carragh O’Connor (0-01), Barbera Wynne;
Subs used: Ellen Hade; Anna Bates.

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