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.

A story of home from home from home …

I’m going to tell you a story about my family. Its a fairly typical one. I think that all Irish families have family members across the world (American cousins with impossibly straight teeth, who come to Ireland annually and want to spend time in the “homestead” – what is that when its at home?), but few get the chance to spend time with absolute legends. Like my granddad’s sister Nan. She is as Wexford as Wexford can be, and yet is utterly Birmingham. Its her adopted city, a place that offered a livelihood and a job and a future for her. As a similar annual migrants back ‘home’, we were always lucky enough to coincide with Nan Haycock’s visit. She swims in the sea every single day (its not warm kids), got a second ear piercing for her 95th birthday – announcing with great joy and delight that she had to keep us all guessing, and refuses to join the local *ahem* elderly persons Sunshine Club because, well, she’s just not old. Write her off at your peril she warned. And so, she continues, this utter force of nature, who has spent her who life between Wexford and the Midlands. But she didn’t come ‘home’ this summer. Such is.

Wolfe Tones Ladies from Liverpool will take on Belgium Ladies (and shoeless Pete) tomorrow at 2pm in Pairc na hEireann in Birmingham. This is a momentous, epic and historic moment. Honestly. We’re playing championship football, 15-a-side, traversing 3 countries to head to the heart of Britain’s GAA core, to take on a team we’ve never played before, and we’ll finally see what we’re made of. Its a first of of a first of, and they’re rare and special.

Capitana Fent, Anay the Awesome and shoeless Pete have been drilling away and working towards this. We’ve all of the hours thundering up and down the pitches in VUB to add up. We’ve the  of the kilometres travelled to tournaments the length and breadth of the Benelux, the eggs cracked and cakes baked to fundraise to pay for the pitches we train on week in week out. We’ve the hours of analytics and dissection and plotting and planning to fall back on. The emails, the logistics, the teamer, the endless doodles, we’ve our lives and loves and all of the other things that make people people. But more importantly and most tellingly, we’ve got this wonderful game. A game we love to play and play well. A love that binds. A love that bonds.

When settled, confident, we have passages of such beautiful play that it makes me want to and be able to wax lyrical about the way the ball flies, how players move faster than they have any right to, how people jump and field and catch and block balls they have no earthly right (according to the laws of physics) to be able to do so, kicking impossible angles and yet making the seemingly impossible possible. Its almost absurd. And yet it happens.

And its what holds players still on the goal line, waiting to see what’s in store next, ready to face down any challengers, and knowing that their body will be the difference, pain or no pain, in a game of millimetres and infinitesimally quick reactions. 

And what makes this happen? What makes this work? I believe it’s because  we love this game, and we also love each other. We choose to spend this time together, creating a home, a team, a history, and a spirit together. There are no better women. There are no better women to stand beside, proud and strong and nervous/excited – that absurdly delicious feeling of shi**ing it a bit before a match – well, its all there. My adopted family, these women I’d do anything for, they’ll be there beside me tomorrow.

And for our opposition – they’re just people too. They could be the Nan’s for their families. They could be 2nd, 3rd generation. They could be, gasp, county players! We don’t know their stories. And yet, despite all the unknowns, the knowns, and the known unknowns: we know them. We are them. They’re us. They’re people who love nothing more than chasing each other and a ball around a pitch. What could be more simple? And with that, my love song for Belgium GAA should stop. But know that come tomorrow afternoon, the paradox of being far from home, but with a family that we’ve knit together close to hand, and family members who might never make it home home right beside us, makes for a fairly emotional me. It’s going to be a great day. I can’t wait.

Birmingham beckons Belgium GAA

History in the making, as Belgium Ladies Footballers debut in the All-Ireland Championship

 

Belgium Ladies Footballers will take on Wolfe Tones of Liverpool in the preliminary round of the All-Ireland Junior championship on Saturday in Parc na hEireann, Birmingham. It will be the first time a team from Europe will compete in the All-Ireland Ladies Football Championship.

 

After a dominant display in the European Premier 15s final against Holland Ladies last Saturday, the Belgium Ladies will be hoping to continue this good form, with a win over the All Britain Champions.

 

Captain Aisling Fenton, a Kerry native, is hoping that her side can continue their winning ways and prove that European Ladies Football can compete with the best in the UK and Ireland.

 

‘Our preparations for the Championship have been going very well, and we are adapting our playing style to suit the larger numbers and bigger pitch. We are more used to playing nine or seven aside in Europe, but every single girl is thrilled to be playing in a 15 aside championship. It’s a new challenge and we are hoping for a big performance.’

 

The prize for the winner is a date with the Munster champions in a home All Ireland quarter final, a prospect that Fenton relishes.

 

‘Of course it would be an honour as captain to welcome an Irish team over to Maastricht to play an All-Ireland quarter final, but we are not focusing on that, all our focus is on next Saturday’s game’

 

It is a testament to the work done by European GAA and Belgium GAA that the Ladies Gaelic Football Association had the confidence in European players to enter them into an All-Ireland Championship. Let’s hope that this situation continues into the future.

A date with @sportsdes :)

The ladies playing in Maastricht have a treat in store…not only are we playing 15a side football (whoooot) *BUT* sex-god, international man star, and RTE sports pundit to the stars, Des Cahill will be at the sports park west in Maastricht today. Expect breathless updates and stalker like photos from a distance. *love” Des!

Maidens march to Maastricht

Going to play football in Maastricht, but only have to play one match, for one hour, with thirty players on a really big pitch! What is this madness?

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It’s the start of the Junior Ladies Football Championship for Belgium GAA a lady, that’s what it is.  

Tomorrow at 2pm in Maastricht Belgium GAA ladies footballers take on Holland Ladies in the ALL Ireland Junior Championship, with the winners going on to face the UK champions in Birmingham.

Exciting times lie ahead as BGAA Ladies wander into unknown territory.

 

#HappyGAA meets @BelgiumGAA, in the shape of one P. Varley

Dearest ladies and men of Belgium GAA, tis the season to be on Irish National media. Beware. There’ll be even more snap happy folk this afternoon as we take on the All Stars. The photo competition will go on all day, tweet your snaps to @BelgiumGAA with the hash tag #BelgiumGAA_AllStars2014; with some snappy caption too. Between TV3’s @Brosie8/Maria Brosnan, Elaine’s family wedding in the Irish Times, and now this, we’re just a terribly photogenic, telegenic, media coverage friendly sort of bunch of people. But the point of this post?

One P Varley losing his mind in the crowd as Galway equalised in one of this summers stunners. 

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More of this inimitable celebration dance can be seen on RTE’s #HappyGAA show of last night – from 1min 40 seconds in.

Wedding Bubbles? #AllIrelandFinal meets #MOTD

There are many ways in which you could arrange your wedding – but planning for September weddings when both the bride and grooms families could be described as ‘stone mad’ for hurling, well, it just adds another layer of complications. And what if the wedding was on today, in Clonmel, between Erraine’s lovely sister and her fiancée? Options could include changing schedule, arranging for a choir to learn the words to the most magical song “Tipp, Tipp, Tipp“, getting your sister to come back from Brussels (giving a certain advantages to the All Stars), and carry on with things.

Today’s Irish Times features the happy couple and their plans for today’s festivities.

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And the most important fizzy thing? That won’t be the champagne, but local boy and Tipp player Bubbles, who has been forecast by Anne Marie to score the winning point (for real this time, da*n you Hawkeye). We’d like to wish all the best to the Kennedy and Aylward families; and really hope that the post-match wedding celebrations aren’t marred by the final result, come what may. Love (and hurling) conquers all.

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