Tag Archives: Hurling

Hurling/Camogie – Round Three – Zurich – 25 June 2011

The 2011 convoy of Belgians to Zurich was conducted en voiture, as opposed to last year’s Great Train Journey. This year’s odyssey had two immediate results. Firstly the camogiers (pictured below) won their third tournament of the year and in doing so, retained the European Championship ahead of their home and final tournament in Leuven in July.

Photo courtesy of Clodagh P (c)
Photo courtesy of Clodagh P (c)

The second result was the following article by Shane Ryan, Hurling Officer, on the subject of the Hurlers’ Day Out.

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(Photo courtesy of popeyee.images on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/popeyee/sets/72157626924977775/)

There was an uncanny sense of déjà vu walking off the immaculate field in Zurich on Saturday. Another sluggish start, another gallant defeat, another missed opportunity. This, however, was far from a wasted 16 hour round trip. There were great performances from each and every Belgium player and we go into the Belgium home tournament with a real sense that we can win end the season on a high.

Willie saw Machiavellian dealings at play when Belgium were drawn to play the first game at 9 o’clock. He responded well though and channelled his frustrations into a great performance in the back line all day. Unfortunately, the over-all team performance left a lot to be desired in the first half of the Zurich game. Miss-hit frees, wayward hand passes and wild pulls characterised a first half where we went into the half-time break having failed to register a score. Things improved in the second half. Conchur de Barra bullied the pantomime villain of the hour, holding him scoreless from play. Despite commendable performances from the returning Aonghus O’Muircheartaigh and Adrian Hiel, Belgium conceded too many long range points. Zurich players were content to shoot from far out and, unfortunately for us, they had the radar working. A game that fizzed and bubbled at times was ultimately unsatisfying as Zurich ran out easy winners in the end.

 

“There’s no need for sun cream today, sure it’s too cloudy” said a soon-to-be deep-fried Darragh Cotter to lobster impressionist extraordinaire Conor Aylward. The mercury was rising throughout the morning and our two hour break before playing The Hague garnered mixed feelings. As it turns out, it seems to have given us time to wake up (and play a little Frisbee). Our passionate and slightly hobbled captain, Phil Cushen, reminded us before the game that it was “do or die” and so it proved.

 

This game saw every player standing up to be counted. Darragh Cotter and Kevin Keary dominated. Darragh was majestic in the air while Kevin played his man from the front and won every ball that came his way. The frees started going over and there was a real feeling at half-time that this game was there to be won. Conchur, in midfield, was marking a man who eventually won “the player of the tournament” – I didn’t see this prize but I can’t help but wonder whether it would also fit in Conchur’s pocket, a place its owner is well accustomed to.

 

Fergal Mythen was his usual brilliant self, driving on the rest of us and surging up the field. With five minutes to go we were seven points down. Two lobbed in frees resulting in well taken goals were dissected by an exchange of long range points. We were one point down with one minute to go. The point wouldn’t come however. The “referee” blew the whistle and the game ended in an arguably undeserved victory for The Hague.

 

Unable to make the final, we went out unrestricted by pressure in the final two games and played with reckless abandon in finishing 3rd. We shot from wild angles, played cross-field balls and ruthlessly soloed for goals when points were on. Everything worked. Ciaran Kelly will probably remember these games as the time when we realised he was actually a back. He plucked high balls out of the sky, cleared ball into the forwards and generally put down a marker for the next day. Denis O’Sullivan also showed he has taken all of Martin’s training on board, scoring two goals. Martin himself had a great day. Excellent puck outs and goal-tending were complemented by well taken points when he decided to stretch his legs in the full forward line. Conor Aylward, Darragh Cotter and Conchur de Barra all scored points (and goals) from long range.

 

Overall it was enjoyable. We all want tough games and we are getting them. Last year we won the close ones, this year we have lost them. If it was a matter of luck, I’d say we have been unlucky with poor refereeing and bad decisions. Unfortunately, we can’t blame luck. We just need to work harder in training and drive on to Leuven.

 

Speaking of driving, thanks to Kevin, Phil and all the lads who drove down to Zurich – it’s a testament to your dedication. Let’s get everyone to training now for the next month. It’s summer-time, let’s play hurling.

 

 

 

Belgium GAA: Winners of 2010 European Hurling and Camogie Championship

 

On 16 July 2010, Belgium GAA travelled by plane, train and automobile to the European Hurling and Camogie Finals in Zurich. The hurlers went to complete their clean sweep of tournaments, going into the tournament already confirmed as European Champions. They acquitted themselves with aplomb, winning the final against Zurich.

The fate of camogie was less certain; with formidable opponents from Luxembourg, Paris and Zurich putting them under severe pressure to maintain their spot at the top of the table. Nevertheless, heroic effort from the whole team saw them win both the Zurich tournament and the overall European Championship for the very first time.

It was an epic weekend, punctuated by 8 hour train journeys and finished off with a spectacular rendition of “We are the Champions” back in the Hairy in Brussels.

To read more about the trip, and other Belgium GAA events, read our newsletter.

Belgium Hurlers Win in Den Haag

Monday 3rd May Belgium Hurlers, European Champions in 2009, continued their impressive run of success on May 1st last, clocking up their 7th tournament win in a row and their first of 2010.

Belgium won the final by 1-8 to 1-5, with a goal by captain Phil Cushen the difference between the sides in the end.

The day began badly for Belgium, who were without 12 starters from 2009. In the group game against Den Haag, the concession of 2 sloppy goals saw them lose by 2-3 to 0-5. 3 points by Davy Barrett, with 1 each from play by Phil Cushen and Jarrett Reckseidler amounted to Belgium’s tally.

Next up were Luxembourg in a make or break tie. Belgium huffed and puffed before putting away the Lux challenge with a series of pointed frees from top marksman Davy Barrett. Also on the scoresheet were Phil Cushen and Shane Ryan. Solid defending by Fergal Mythen and Yann de Kesel kept the Luxembourg threat to a minimum.

The final offered a chance to undo the damage inflicted by Den Haag earlier on. This Belgium team is not used to capitulating having dominated Europe for over a year now and Saturday proved no different.

A titantic tussle between Sean Simpson and Phil Cushen at midfield set the tone for proceedings, with the DH man notching up the lion’s share of his teams score, with the Crusher scoring the only goal of the day for Belgium.

Den Haag established an early foothold with the aforementioned Simpson scoring a goal. Half time Belgium were down 1-3 to 0-4 with Davy Barrett scoring 2 points, The Crusher scoring 1 and Limerick’s Conor Magner scoring a great point from the left.

The first half was also marked by a couple of shamozzles, with Belgium’s Dad’s Army leading the way in the trenches!

Belgium upped the tempo in the second half, grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck. Phil Cushen pilfered the ball 35 yards out on the left, broke through 2 tackles before angling a shot to the top right corner of the net, bring Belgium level.

Shane Ryan found his shooting range with an excellent score from out on the right before Davy Barrett added to points to seal the deal.

Belgium came away with silverware once more in a struggle which brought back memories of a great battle between these two rivals in Luxembourg in 2009.

Credit to all who travelled on the day, which featured assured performances from debutants such as Conor Magner and old hands such as Adrian Hiel at the back.

Belgium’s King Poc

As well as playing a central part in helping Belgium’s hurlers sweep to an unstoppable 2009 European Championship victory, Meathman Conor Aylward secured even more silverware for the club in July when he won the European Poc Fada competition. Aylward, pictured here demonstrating his unique Poc Fada stretching technique to Maria “Bomber” Brosnan, beat all comers to take the title, ritually humiliating the club’s many Corkmen who have since threatened to go on strike. Well done Conor.

 

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:

Martin

Willie

Kevin

Conor

Adrian

Eoghan

Declan

Pierce

Aidan

Densor

Jarret

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:

Martin

Willie

Kevin

Conor

Adrian

Eoghan

Declan

Pierce

Densor

Aidan

Jarret

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?

Slán