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.