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!
Ladies of Belgium GAA turned out in force for the Belgium GAA regional football tournament, with 26 players on the day ready to don the red (tigers) and grey (grey haired) jerseys of Belgium. The teams, even, faced off against themselves, and players from Luxembourg, Marie Therase and her charges and only one of the formidable Holland Ladies, the emblematic Donna, who played what was a lovely day of football.
The Greys were captained from the sidelines by an injured Anay, and the Reds by La Fent.
I can’t put the day into words better than the captains, so I won’t try.
Here’s what Aisling had to say, with a little addition from Jane.
Tournament Report – Belgium Red
So once again the Belgium Ladies had too large panels for our home regional tournament this Saturday in Kituro. Belgium Red (Tigers 🙂 and Belgium Grey. A super reflection of the commitment shown by all in training.
Some even felt that research was needed into determining the average age and height of both panels :0 Once the goals were set up off we went to warm up and get ourselves going for the day.
Team Grey captained by Anay Rios and the Reds by Aisling Fenton. Spain versus Kerry. Anay unfortunately couldn’t play as she was literally taped together due to injury but she was a force for her team nonetheless.
We each played 3 matches with the all Belgium matches being of a great intensity and competitiveness. I’m happy to say that both teams played the full day in the right spirit. I’m very proud of the Red team and the positive atmosphere shown all day, even when we were up against it, this is where it really counts.
Big thanks to Pascale for making her debut in goal, she timed her kick outs well and was very brave given the experienced forwards attacking her goal.
Our backs with Jane, Sylvia, Nicky were excellent and grew as the day went on. Jane with her usual calmness on the ball, fielding superbly and linking well with her midfield. Sylvia, the cute fox 🙂 tackling very well and winning the breaking ball and Nicky on her tournament debut positioning herself well and in particular making one savage block in the final!! Our midfield duo of Elaine and Margaux were outstanding, both attack minded players but adapting well to the Greys two super midfielders 😉 a great battle in both Belgium matches. Elaine drove us on attack after attack taking some lovely scores and making some incredible tackles, never giving up. Margaux, winning super kick outs, safest pair of hands all day and taking great scores too. Some good solo runs aswell 😉
An excellent day out by our midfielders covering huge ground it has to be said. Our forwards had a tough battle with the Greys backs but showed super determination and took lovely points. Maeve and Jenny played brilliantly, Maeve with a injured ankle bravely battled on and I lost count of how many high balls Jenny caught at half forward, especially in the final. An all Canadian battle with Sarah Taylor was a joy to watch! Justine making her debut performed very well and made some cool, calm hand passes to her mids and full forward line. Babs, who took one of the points of the day from a very tough angle, Maggie who showed for many balls coming in and took some lovely points and the excellent Ciara, who had had a super battle with Laeti, drove on our outstanding comeback in the final, where at the start of the second half we were really on top. But one of the Greys midfield maestos Ms Ni Shuilleabhain took a wonderful long range goal which turned the final in their favour. And the rest is history 😉 Well done to the Grey team, an outstanding performance all day and an exhibition in determination and skill, lead by Grainne in the backs and my own tormenter Caz in the forwards 😉 But, I could not be prouder of the Reds, we kept going and played some lovely football, we had a great spirit and atmosphere and I thank you all for being such a pleasure on the day. All in all, every girl enjoyed themselves and that is the most important thing. Lets build on this now and keep going with high numbers at training. It really is fundamental to days like yesterday as the regionals are our preparation for the Pan Euros.
Special mention to Elaine who was her usual wonderful support as vice captain. Very well played Elaine all day. Thank you to the girls who volunteered to help out Luxembourg and to Pete for helping out on the sidelines. We did ourselves proud and I’m already super excited about the next regional in Amsterdam 🙂
NOTE: The above was written by Aisling but I want to mention what an amazing day she had herself – culminating in being voted Player of the Tournament by her own team, with Margeaux a close second!
As usual Aisling played a stormer, literally putting her head/life on the line on more than one occasion, and leading by an example the rest of us can only aspire to! She left her 20s in style – can’t wait to see what her 30s bring!
From the Grey Captain, Anay
Tournament Report – Belgium Grey
Just wanted to congratulate you for Saturday’s performance at our home tournament. You all gave a lesson of Gaelic football, and passion for sports. For winning the Cup we had to beat an amazing team made of our own players and that’s not easy at all. You all found the right balance of playing with a good and fair spirit and tough competition. The atmosphere on the team really was nice, and very positive! Even when things got very tense at the start of the second half of the final , everyone encouraged each other and some real inspirational play by a couple of players really lifted us all to put 110% in.
First of all I want to thank our dear vice Grainne for all her support during the day and congratulate her for the POT award, really deserved. She was our main rock in defence and showed all that a good attack starts from a good defence. Another player who showed us that was Leti, our inspiration of the day, who fought for every single ball coming in her way, in particular when she had in front one of our Belgium GAA stars. It was also great to see Astrid performance during the day, every time becoming stronger and supporting the rest of the defence. And the same goes for Sarah, her defending was crucial in some moments of the final, where every single winning ball counted a lot. And of course, the key for a great defence is an outstanding goalie and we had that with Irene, she was super solid under the post, only two goals were conceded in the whole tournament and clean sheet at the final!!.And not only that, but her goal kicks were the basis of most of our attacks!!!
And as the attack starts from a good defence, the defence started from a committed forward line. Our forwards showed not only great coordination to allow beautiful scores but also made a great work in making hard for the defence to start the movement of the opposite teams. Myself as I forward was particularly happy to see that every single forward scored, including the new players Auklien, with a very fast movement, and Maja with her unique German soccer ‘style’. I’m sure both of them were inspired by the most experienced forwards, Caragh, who had a tough battler with our dear captain to be able to score, Mary with really beautiful movements and scores, and Anna Bates with some crucial points and goals.
And my last word for the players that ran as many miles as in Dunderdomnde, our incredible mids, Caoimhe and Niamh, who certainly had the toughest battles in the games and who started, complemented or finished every single defence and attack. It was really great to see and an inspiration for all about fitness, toughness and dedication.
As I mentioned I was gutted I couldn’t play with such an amazing team, and I’m sorry if sometimes I shouted a bit too much from the sideline, but I only ask because I know you can always perform better. So just only worry if I don’t tell you anything ;). It was an excitement tournament to watch and I’m sure you feel as proud of yourself and our team as I am. Many thanks!!!And the most important thing: You did enjoyed playing football!!And the party afterwards:)
N.B. In our traditional POT awards many people, for great performances, were mentioned, and the ones more voted were Leti, Caoimhe, and Grainne. Well done!!
The next round of the regional tournaments will be held in Amsterdam on the 10th of May 2014. Really looking forward to playing against more teams as we’ve been unlucky with clashes so far this year.
Note from the editor: Last year, I received this article about the football tournament in Guernsey for submission to a newsletter that never came about. It’s about time that the article was published in a public forum and what better time than the day before the first tournament of the year and the day before the writer plays his last tournament for Belgium GAA. Read on for some valuable insights from Shane Griffin. We wish him the best of luck in his future endeavours.
Time was when travelling for a game of football meant piling into the brother’s car, stopping for a Lucozade and tumbling out again long before the limbs had stiffened. These days, it’s an overnight stop in St. Malo, ferry at dawn and a seven-hour drive from Brussels, just in case the weekly duels with Cotter, Laffan and Church left any question marks over commitment.
The trip to Guernsey was my first opportunity to play Championship for Belgium, and I was looking forward to the competitive step up. We were playing our second tournament under Davey’s ‘half-press’ system, and in the four weeks since Leuven we’d become a lot more comfortable with the tactics. As we watched the first round of games however, and mingled with a few opposition players on the sideline, it became obvious that the other teams had picked up on our system too. As we prepared for our first game, against Luxembourg, a bold decision was taken to abandon the new tactics and measure how our opposition would react.
Lux had the look of a team who expected to win, and didn’t seem thrown by our out-and-out attack from the throw-in. Rather, it was us who struggled to impose ourselves on the game, and we soon began to slip behind. At half time the decision was taken to revert back to our original plan, but time began to go against us and we went down to Lux by three points.
Bowed but not broken, we knew our next game against Jersey was as much about avoiding the wooden spoon as it was about finishing top of the group. Pressure was on. It’s the mark of a man when he can hit a few wides and still try something audacious with seconds on the clock- Timmy punted the ball over from well-near half way, we took a one-point win, and our tournament was back on track.
Next up were the Hague. I don’t need to waste time here embellishing on our rivalry with the Hague. Well, we knew that it would be the ultimate test of our system. They had a few big lads in the middle, Danny up front, and a couple of other solid performers to keep us occupied.
It didn’t start well- the scores just weren’t coming. The one thing you need with a defensive system is an effective counter-attack. The vast majority of our squad were playing in their first or second pan-Euro, and for all that men stepped up that day, there simply weren’t enough forwards to come over on the boat. The Hague picked off their scores, we were weak in attack, and we went down in the end by a fairly decent margin.
Our fourth game, and final match of the group, was against the tournament hosts and favourites. We were sent on to a back pitch to play them, and I started from the bench. Shane Ryan, who had manfully stepped into goals for the day, was given a run outfield and he played with all the joy and abandon of a man who’d been confined to six yards for four games. He snatched a goal, the points were coming, and it was game on.
When Davey Barrett scored a penalty just before half-time to put us ahead, an impressive scalp began to occupy our minds. Both teams went hell for leather in the second half. I was given a run with ten minutes to go and unfortunately could do little to stop Guernsey scoring a decisive goal. It was one of those occasion where, given my limited options, the best course of action would probably have been to give away a tactical free. We had the opportunity to win it with another penalty, but it wasn’t to be. Group over- just one last ‘bronze final’ against Lux left to play.
3/4th place play-offs are often scoffed at, but not this one. We’d both probably travelled to Guernsey with legitimate hopes of contesting the final, and there had been a bit of handbags in the first game- late tackles, cheap digs, that sort of thing. From the get-go, the tension was pronounced and the stakes were bizarrely high for such an occasion. One of their players gave me some lip, I hit him a shoulder in return. He shot me a (tame) headbutt when we came together at half-time and from a simmering first fifteen it all bubbled up.
Davey was obviously looking for a bit of an excuse not just to settle a few scores but also, I think, to focus us on coming away from the tournament with something more than 1 win in 5 games. As we turned for the second half, it was game on. Sparks flew, scores came and went, but after 15 minutes in the trenches we came away with a precious win and when the final whistle was blown the two teams left the field as best of friends again.
Something should be said for how Guernsey put the tournament together. The pitch was pristine, the dinner was gorgeous and they even collected us in cars from the ferry- a really classy touch. They fully deserved their victory in the final too. From Guernsey, it was on to Limerick. European glory? Possibly. More importantly though, another date with Lux, and the Hague, and Guernsey, and that’s as good a reason for flights home as any.
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