Belgium ladies and men’s teams are split today – with the two ladies football teams taking on the first pan Euro of their season and a men’s 15-a-side playing on Maastricht. As we have yet to manage bilocation, Jelena will be reporting from the Netherlands and I’ll be covering the action up north….
Best of luck to all teams!
From the Lovely Laney
All roads lead to Stockholm, as 17 strong, fit and determined Belgian women descend the Swedish Capital for the second round of the Pan European Ladies Football Championship.
After a very successful day out in the Munich round, where the Belgian Ladies took home both the Shield and Championship trophies, captain Aisling Fenton is expecting a strong display from both sets of panels.
‘We have prepared very well for this tournament and we are really looking forward to a competitive day of football. We are expecting very stiff competition from the local teams, as well as Holland and Munich.’
Vice-captain Anay Rios, who has dubbed the tournament ‘the Dancing Queen Tour’ is hoping the Belgian girls will continue to play the free flowing football that saw them win the first round in very impressive fashion.
‘I’m hoping the girls will continue to work as a team, move the ball quickly and take score like they did in Munich.’
‘We will just take each game at a time and hope we play to our potential. The nature of European football is that there are surprises at every tournament, we can take nothing for granted and we need to be 100% focussed going into every game’.
The trip to Stockholm marks the fifth tournament of the year. Belgium ladies have successfully sent two teams to each of these tournaments, no mean feat given the costs involved.
Best of luck to all the girls, hopefully they will we celebrating on the streets of Stockholm on Saturday night!
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” If Charles Dickens was a member of Belgium GAA, he might have rewritten A Tale of Two Cities, basing it in Frankfurt and Barcelona on the weekend of 11 June 2011, and making that first paragraph dramatically more positive. But he wasn’t, and he didn’t, so you will have to bear with this description.
12 lovely Belgium ladies headed to Bar-th-elona. As this writer was one of the unfortunates who had to miss out on what turned out to be a fantastic weekend, here is a summary from triumphant captain, Gráinne Ní Fhlatharta:
Congratulations to all the chicas who travelled to Bar-th-elona this weekend. It was an absolutely ‘stellar’ weekend.
Belgium Ladies had a convincing win over the home side, Barcelona Gaelettes, in our first group game and went on to top the group by beating Valencia in the second game. This set us up for a semi-final clash with Irunia, a strong side who had a mix of players from Pamplona, Holland and Estonia. Belgium ladies however had been improving with every game and another strong performance ensured a place in the final against a very strong Munich team who had run riot in Group B. Belgium went out with all guns blazing in the final and came away with a 5-16 to 3-01 victory over Munich Colmcilles. Our workrate was hugely impressive, and our very own Sinéad ‘they call her Fitz’ Fitzsimons, who covered every blade of grass on the field all day long, was deservedly awarded Player of the Tournament. Our heartiest congratulaions to you Sinéad, it was long overdue!!
A special mention to Gráinne Delaney who was unfortunate to pick up an injury during the week and couldn’t travel, we missed you at the weekend and no doubt you would’ve enjoyed the many many patatas bravas/pain con tomata/sangrias we had, we wish you a speedy recovery and hope to see you back in action very soon. Also a special thank you to Marian O’Malley who travelled from Germany.
A huge thank you also to Aonghus who flew straight from the States to be with us Saturday morning. Not only did he orchestrate everything from the sideline, he also led the way through the carnage that was Saturday night and was still going strong on Sunday…..we salute you!!!
Meanwhile, approximately 1,300 kilometres away in Frankfurt, the menfolk of Belgium GAA were also causing havoc (and would not cease doing so until they left the Joyce in Brussels around 7am on Monday morning).
Again, I was not in attendance, so will leave it to the supremely talented Mr. David Barrett Esq. (read more at http://footballingjourneymen.blogspot.com/) to give a rundown of an exciting tournament in the Benelux regional championship…
33 of us, at the last count, travelled to Frankfurt by train, car and bus last weekend. Some arrived Friday night whilst others hit the road at 05h30 on Saturday morning. In that group we had Conan and Eoin, trainers/mentors/managers or whatever title you feel befits their role. Crusher and Paul Hagan were injured but came to play the less glamorous roles of money collectors and water carriers.
The groupings pitted both Belgium teams against each other and we were also joined in the group by Amsterdam. Den Hague, Lux, Frankfurt and Amsterdam B were in the other group.
Our B’s started at a canter against Amsterdam A and were in a good position at half-time. However they had lost their workhorse Conor Mul to two yellow cards. Harsh is an understatement. In the outrageous world of crazy European GAA rules, that means a two game suspension. More to follow on this later in the week.
Amsterdam were a strong side and they powered on in the second half, aided handsomely by their fortune of having a spare man. The lads had to pick themselves up fast as they faced into a local derby against the A’s. Again it was a close first half but again the B’s seemed to fade in the second. The lads had put in similar first half displays up in Amsterdam, especially against Lux, but faded in the second half. It’s hard to put your finger on why. Maybe it’s just a case of getting a couple of wins under the belt and kicking on with the confidence that brings. In any case, the team is in much better shape than it was this time last year and if that problem can be solved, the Shield can become a realistic ambition.
The A’s then faced Amsterdam to decide the group winners. For the first time they had travelled with two full teams and having watched how strong their B’s were, I knew we were in for a battle. We led 0-4 0-3 at half-time and weren’t to concede again. Mike Lucey goaled and another four points were spread across the forwards. It wasn’t all smooth sailing though. The backs looked shaky at times and needed Timmy’s class in goal with two point blank saves.
On we went to face our old sparring partners Den Hague in the semi. It was a tricky fixture. They weren’t looking too impressive on the day but they are also the masters at grinding out victories when they are on their knees. I can’t remember ever facing them in a semi before. Every game I can remember was a final (or a group game). In a final, you can completely empty yourself, physically and ‘emotionally’. In a semi though, you have to keep something in the tank, hoping you get to the final.
It was another ding dong battle. They relied primarily on frees early on whilst we blew chance after chance down the other end. It was either level or we led by a point at half time. A tense finish was in store. We couldn’t shake them but our defence, led by Ross and a far from fully fit Colm, was holding firm. We pointed with two or three minutes left and managed to hold out for a 0-7 0-6 win. Tight.
James O Dowd is a relatively quiet man and more often than not gives off an impression that he doesn’t care. He was quite animated after the game though and if there was any complacency creeping in before the final, he put it to rest.
Amsterdam A won a very controversial semi against Lux. Lux were adamant they had won the game with a couple of points to spare but the referee’s notebook didn’t agree. If there was an error, it’s the cruelest way to depart.
Our opponents had called up some of their B players for the final which strengthened them considerably as they were quality players, omitted originally for lack of training apparently. We wouldn’t shake them off so easily this time and again; we went in level at the interval. Eoin made two big switches at half time. The first was to bring Timmy to wing-forward from goal. With his first possession he soloed through their defence only to be denied by a great save. Still, it sent them a message that he needed watching and it gave us a boost as we knew we had fresh legs to pick up some of the slack.
The second move came when Paddy returned to the fray. We have a load of backs who were going well and he found himself on the outside looking in for a share of the day. Still, when his chance came he proved why Eoin and Conan had him in the squad. He won the first ball that came into his corner when we were just a point up. The ball was transferred up the pitch and ended with a white flag being raised. We never looked back and added a third and fourth point to our lead to seal the win.
It gave us a second Benelux victory. Now, the lads (Eoin and Conan) have been clear from the off that we wouldn’t get worked up about Benelux this year and instead use it to test out as many guys as possible. However, we also realise the importance a win has on the group. This was sparticularily sweet as some great lads will pack their packs in the coming weeks. Duffer, Alec, Johnny, Andrew, Mike, Ricky and Killian will all move on. They’ve all played big roles in the development of the team and it’s spirit and we’ll miss them. Saturday may well have been their final act and if it was then it was a fitting goodbye.
Note; A more ‘social type commentary’ of the weekends activities will follow later in the week.
Saturday 9 April 2011 saw Belgium GAA face scorching temperatures and strong oppostion in Luxembourg. The first round of the mens Benelux championship and the ladies pan-European championship took place in Berbourg. It was a long day, punctuated by sunburn and ambulances.The mens teams were divided evenly for the day, with the A team coming 5th overall and the B team overcoming Amsterdam to gain 3rd place in the standings.
The ladies teams were playing on the deadly astroturf surface nearby, and their competition saw the A team retain the Luxembourg cup for a third year after their final against Paris. The B team won the 5th/6th place playoff against the home team.
Well done to all the teams involved, get well soon to those recovering from injuries on the day (Anay, Ciara, Eoin and Sinead), and to remind everyone that the summer is on the way and suncream is the most important accessory for any self-respecting GAA player.
A team reportage from Colin Byrne:
It was a mixed day for Belgium ‘A’ in Luxembourg with a new-look team taking the field under the watchful gaze of Conor Aylward and Conan MacOscair. First up was Amsterdam and things looked good for the Belgians when they ran up a 4 point lead at half time following a well taken penalty from Michael Hough and some excellent runs from half back Paddy Cassidy into the forwards. Paul Quinn, Johnny O and Ger McMahon were also showing prominently at this stage.
However, the work rate fell off considerably in the second half as Belgium lost ground around midfield and failed to win much breaking ball, thus allowing Amsterdam come right back into it. In the end Belgium had to rely on a dubious free from the aforementioned Michael Hough to secure a draw (1-4 to 0-7), even if substitute Ruairi Duffy did have the chance to sneak victory right at the death. Goalie Brendan Lynch also deserves special mention for the string of saves he pulled off to deny Amsterdam.
The second game against the hosts was always going to be a tough one, given the determination of Luxembourg to reclaim their home tournament losing it to Belgium in 2010, and so it proved. The hosts had a very strong midfield while Belgium were having difficulties in that area, not helped by an injury to Darragh Cotter which restricted his movement. Phil ‘Crusher’ Cushen performed miracles in the half back line but was unable to stop the Lux runners from coming through to set up 3 goals in total – 2 in the second half which negated a mini revival from Belgium. Again it could have been a lot worse were it not for goalie Brendan Lynch. As it was the game finished 1-04 to 3-10 and, thanks to the result between Amsterdam and Luxembourg, Belgium A were disappointed to be competing the 5/6th place play-off against Lux ‘B’ rather than the semi final.
This was a game which lacked the usual tournament intensity – though Conor Aylward and Ruairi Duffy did try to liven up with 2 of the better displays of the day – even if they were playing for the opposition! This was a game in which Belgium ‘A’ were well on top and, although it was won by 5 points, most of the players would agree it should have been a bit more. Chances were not taken, runs were not made and wrong options were taken. However, a win is a win and even if it didn’t mask the problem areas shown in the other two games, it was a good way to finish the day.
B Team reportage from Dave Barrett:
Canadian Experiment Bears Fruit
The Aussies have the Irish experiment in the form of Setanta, Kenneally, Walsh and Co. In Belgium we have our very own Canadian experiment in the form of Will. If Saturday was about seeing a guy’s potential, the big man did himself no harm.
He was the star of the show against Lux B in the first game with the tasty feints and no look passes. People talk about transferable skills in sport and he has certainly brought a few from across the pond. His goal towards the end of a 3-10 to 0-4 victory over Lux B capped a fine debut.
With The Hague having already beaten them, it meant we had both qualified for the semis from the three team group. In our head to head, we were still well in touch at half time thanks largely to a resolute defence with Kev and Ross excelling in the full back line.
Outside them, Shane was marshalling one of The Hagues’s more prominent attackers to reasonably good effect. The other member of the quartet, 48 year old Fergal Mythen, was anonymous for large parts of the day. From a defenders point of view that can be taken as a compliment because if his house wasn’t in order we’d have been a lot more aware of him!
Ricky, Eoin and Timmy took most of the scoring responsibility but a lot of those chances were carved from the industry of Conor Mul and Mike. However, the gap in class became more evident in the second half and whilst the defence maintained good discipline, the runners coming through were picking off scores from distance. The Hague progressed and we headed for a semi with Lux A.
The Lux lads looked the most balanced side on show and have a few new lads who have brought a lot of quality to their side. Our legs were going a bit and it was very much the same story as the previous game. Again our defence was firm, conceding very few shots on goal but Lux were able to pick off points from distance.
The score of the game came when Johnny P summoned Gordon Ramsey from the bench and whilst his angle may not have met the culinary tastes of most managers, he served up a magnificent dish from out near the sideline.
Things ended badly as Eoin went in to contest a ball and dislocated his shoulder. This will leave him sidelined for a considerable amount of time and it’s a big blow for him as well as the hurling and football teams.
On to the 3rd and 4th place playoff and there was no hiding our determination to finish the day on a high. A placed ball from Ricky got us going and despite the visible tiredness, the lads worked like dogs, displaying great attitude and commitment. We led at half-time and fortunately the penalty that sealed the game arrived before Timmy departed to cuckoo land. He rippled the net and soon after came off worse in a clash with Mike and had to leave the field with concussion.
We departed satisfied but realistic about our performance. Most lads had played to their ability and could be happy with their showing but The Hague and Lux have set the standard which we must now aspire to. Kev, Ross and Will led the way for our player of the tournament. Kev is knocked out by virtue of the fact that such performance is expected of him whereas Ross and Will were more unknown quantities going into the day. My vote goes to Ross due to 1) my bias for defenders and 2) his consistency over the four games.
Congratulations to Munster on their performances throughout the tournament and their deserved victory in the first Belgian Interclub tournament.
The tournament will finish next Tuesday (20 July 2010) with winners Munster and 4th place Dublin playing against 2nd place The West and 3rd place Leinster. The game will kick off at 19:30 in Parc 50 and will be 30 minutes a side with rolling subs. It will be 13/15 a side depending on numbers and everyone is invited back to the Old Oak for the first night of Collie Byrne’s stag party and the presentation of the cup to Timmy O’Donovan’s Munster. There will be finger food and a belly full of beer, ahead of the Belgian national holiday on 21 July.
Cork, Tipperary, Limerick, Waterford, Laois, Offaly, Cavan, England, Kenya, Romania, half the FC Irlande football team, anyone who has ever stepped into the hairy for a pint and the referee: 2-10
On the way up from Strasbourg yesterday afternoon the man on the radio told me that there was a heat wave in France and that all old people should stay indoors.
No wonder then that the Dublin team was without Fergal Mythen, Martin Crowley, Conan Mac Oscair and Denis O’Sullivan. What with a combined age of 603, better the lads stayed at home with their slippers and fixadent, than suffer heat stroke out in the Parc 50. It did leave Dublin extremely short and with only ten men in the stifling heat the Dubs struggled to impose the running game that had been so effective against The West last week. Continue reading 8 July 2010 – Munster’s travelling circus moves on as the West awakes→
Background: the illustrious captain of Belgium GAA’s Mens Football A team, Eoin Sheanon, took it upon himself to rally the troops during the unexpected mid-season off-season of European football, by organising the very first Belgian Interclub League. With a wealth of players to choose from, the players were divided (very evenly*) into 4 teams: Munster and Europe; Dublin and France; Connaught, Ulster and Non-Aligned Territories; and Leinster and the Americas. Here is his account of the first fixture, on Wednesday 30 June.
The Dublin versus the West game was a real humdinger and a tale of two halves. The West dominated the first half with Giller marshalling midfield and Francis in flying form scoring three points from play. In the second half Alec and Diarmuid, with the outside of his boot, completely controlled the centre of the park. Hudson had a fantastic second half keeping Francis scoreless but despite O’Dowd keeping the scoreboard ticking over, the West needed a hero. Cometh the hour, Cometh the man, and the self described Antrim Maradona, Oliver O’Callaghan was on hand to get in between the Davide, our imported Dub who hadn’t put a foot wrong and Fergal who had been solid all evening to fist home an unlikely winner and rescue a well-deserved point for Liam-Kelly-less West. Special mention to Paul Hagan who won a heap of possession around the half forward line and Alan Rowan who really got going in the second half but Man of the Match has to go to Oliver O’Callaghan with the never-say-die attitude that earned his team the draw.
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