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Belgium GAA Newsletter March 2010

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First edition
  • A Chairde,

    Welcome to a new season with

    Belgium GAA. 2010 promises to

    be another successful year,

    building on the achievements

    both on and off the field of play

    in 2009.

    Firstly, as incoming Chairman I

    would like to thank Olof Gill and

    the outgoing Committee for all

    the hard work put in last year.

    We could not survive as a club

    without all our coaches, captains

    and trainers so I would like to thank Davy Barrett, Willie Cashin, Margaret

    Francois and Martin Crowley for the enormous effort put in last year,

    when we retained the Ladies Pan-European Championship and won the Hurling Pan-European for the

    first time.

    Special thanks to our sponsor De Valera's Irish Pub for the continued support.

    This year we have already had successful fundraisers for Haiti for which 60k was raised, Mike McGurn has paid us a visit and this past weekend saw us organise another great St Patrick's Day

    Festival in conjunction with FC Irlande.

    We will endeavour to keep you updated on all the happenings in Belgium GAA with a regular

    newsletter. As you know well, this club is hands-on with everyone getting involved, so feel free to

    contribute with your own articles or ideas. We already have one willing volunteer so the more the


    We have a busy schedule of tournaments in all codes ahead this year. Check out our Calendar of

    Events for 2010. Next up is Clare Island this weekend (20 March), followed by the Benelux

    Regional Championship in Amsterdam (27 March).

    Your code officers will keep you informed of training sessions, tournaments and other events via the

    weekly email on Monday afternoon.

    We also have some other interesting initiatives this year, including a special gym membership deal

    and an honorary membership scheme for high profile club members in Belgium.

    Finally, it is you, the players, who make this great Continental GAA-odyssey happen. The fact that

    Belgium GAA fielded two teams at many tournaments, including places where our rivals couldn't

    even field one, is a huge credit to the commitment and passion of the members of this club. Long

    may it continue.

    Roll on another memorable year of Continental GAA!

    Is mise,

    Kevin Keary, Chairman, Belgium GAA.

    Message from the Chairman

    March 2010

    In this issue you can

    read about:

    Players Updates & News

    The Mike McGurn

    Training Weekend

    How Belgium GAA

    teamed up with FC

    Irlande to raise 60K for

    Haiti Earthquake Victims

    Tournament Reports and

    the club's playing


    A unique caption


    ...and more!

    Volume 1, Issue 1


    Updating members and non-members alike on the activities of one of the best and most

    ambitious GAA clubs on the European Continent

    Brought to you by Belgium GAA Committee and

    De Valera's Pub, Place Flagey


  • 2


    Gaelic Football Ambition for the year is to become

    European champions again.

    Preparations have gone well so far with

    a Mike McGurn inspired fitness regime.

    The mantra of taking responsibility for

    our own decisions is being drilled into

    us. Turnout has been good in training,

    mood is positive in the camp.

    The team opens the year in the exotic

    island in the middle of the Atlantic

    ocean, Clare Island. No, it is not a team

    building exercise. We are going there to

    win and use that as a platform for the first

    tournament of the year in Amsterdam -

    truly a city where memories are made.

    Also, the Belgium GAA would like to wish

    Phil Roche all the best as he recovers from

    a successful liposuction/tummy tuck/

    cruciate ligament operation.

    Players Updates & News

    March 2010 Volume 1, Issue 1


    Hurling Benefiting from the fitness training from

    with the footballers, the year has seen a

    couple of new debutants with hurling

    training proper up and running.

    The plan for the year is to retain the

    European trophy, win every game in

    every tournament and every

    ball in every game.

    Any hurlers are asked to get

    training soon enough as with

    the shorter year this year there

    won't be anytime to shake the

    rust off.

    Ladies Football 2010 could be the most difficult year yet for

    the Belgium Ladies, as we try to retain our

    title as European Champions 3 years in a

    row, failing to do this would no doubt be a

    bitter pill to swallow as, bar some rare

    (but not forgotten) exceptions, victory is

    pretty much all we've ever known.

    But, even without our fearless leaders of

    2009, we enter the year positive and ready

    for a fight, having already played our first

    Invitational tournament , making it to the

    final, and ready to take on the Clare

    Islanders this weekend - we'll be fighting fit

    come our first tournament in sunny Valencia

    on 17tApril.

    We also aim to send 2 teams to as many

    tournaments as possible again this year, with

    the eventual goal of playing 11 a-side as often

    as possible - what can we say? So many


    On the other hand we go into the year minus

    some of our star players, some whom have

    left our shores and some who have been

    struck down by injury - Mde you will be

    missed, Laura, Steph and Ana - we look

    forward to playing side by side with you before

    the season is out. Allez les Belges.

    Camogie No pressure, but the club is looking to the

    camogie team to catch up with the rest of

    the club this year. Silverware and all that.

    You'll be grand." In December, the meaning

    behind these words from Olof Gill was

    laughable. In March, anticipation and deter-

    mination are taking precedence. Waiting to

    return to Parc 50e, waiting for a coach,

    waiting to actually get out on a pitch with a

    hurl, instead of just reading emails about it.

    Enthusiasm on the part of our potential

    players is encouraging. Last year, we had a

    great surge of players from the football team.

    These players have not been scared away, in

    fact they want to push camogie to the same

    heights as ladies football. New players to the

    club and sport are in contact every week.

    We are losing one of our players before she

    even began. Irene impressed us all with her

    football skills last year, but camogie is her main

    sport. We will miss the skills and training that

    she could have brought to the team.

    The camogie season is short (even taking into

    account possible invitationals). Lets make it


    Any Other Business The club would like to congratulate Stephen "Cluxton" Kearney and Emily O'Reilly on the news that they will

    become parents this coming September.


  • 3


    To Be Mike McGurned? Continuing on our ambition as a club to the best of the best in Europe, the club enlisted the help of

    elite sports coach Mike McGurn. The Enniskillen man is best known for his work with the likes of the

    Irish rugby team as player conditioner, physical trainer for Bernard Dunne and is currently the

    conditioner for Armagh senior football team. A training weekend that became knows as the "Mike

    McGurn" weekend. His philosophy is simple, make training so hard that playing is easy. See Dr. Dave

    Barrett's (player coach with the footballers) account of being "Mike McGurned"

    March 2010 Volume 1, Issue 1


    Mike McGurns visit to Brussels lasted well short of 48hrs but the initial indications are that his

    influence will last a lot longer.

    As we sat in Friday afternoon traffic on the way

    down from Amsterdam, he was cursing not hav-

    ing taken the early morning Dublin Brussels

    flight. I laughed deviously inside as there was no

    place I would have been happier to be than sat

    stationary on the Utrecht ring road picking the

    mans brain.

    When it comes to people who are quite well

    known, we all have our perceptions of what they

    are like from what we hear and read. Naturally I

    had some of Mike. From what Id read it seemed clear he was a top man in his line of work. I

    expected him to be a motivator and an all round

    hard nut. Also, based on the experience he had

    when the IRFU suspended him for speaking his

    mind, i expected him to be direct, straight for-

    ward and a man of principles. Finally, considering

    the fact that he was coming over to Belgium GAA

    for a weekend, I figured he must be a genuine

    guy who is passionate about his area of work.

    Its reassuring to know that sometimes the perceptions are spot on.

    The first event of the weekend was a talk on the

    physical needs for Gaelic Football, held in the

    European Parliament. Holding a meeting there is

    quite an operation and it isnt the norm to have

    non-EU type events. With that in mind, the

    official title of the meeting was The use of nanotechnology in sport with top notch guest speakers like Dr. Kevin Keary and Dr. Dave Bar-

    rett. Jim organised the room and managed the

    logistical issues to a tee. Maria, Kevin and Olof

    looked after the door, dished out the badges and

    ushered the crowd in. They were uncharacteristi-

    cally efficient for Parliament types.

    The talk went very well and people asked some

    very good questions. It covered all the hot topics

    from weights through to nutrition and Mike used

    video clips and himself to demonstrate what he

    was talking about. One aspect of the talk which

    told us a bit more about him was the way he

    engaged the crowd. He had soaked up the little

    bits of info I had given him about the group. For

    example, he knew there were people from the

    soccer club, he knew there was a physio in the

    room etc etc and he engaged them accordingly.

    It struck me all weekend how enthusiastic he was

    to meet everyone and the interest he showed in

    people when he was introduced to them.

    From the talk we went out to BUC rugby club.

    Their facility is excellent and was ideal for the

    weekend. The session however was a disaster in

    some ways. Our handling was shocking, our

    grasping of the drills (me being chief culprit!) was

    slow and we were as quiet as mice. The football

    side was practically non contact. I could nearly

    Dr. Dave Barrett, Mike McGurn & Johnny Phelan in the European Parliament


  • 4


    To Be Mike McGurned?

    March 2010 Volume 1, Issue 1


    feel Mike starting to bubble up inside but he con-

    tained himself. I was nearly embarrassed after-

    wards when I brought him home. I know we

    arent world beaters but we arent that bad either. We were on again on Saturday at 9. While Mike

    was laying out the drills outside, we gathered eve-

    ryone in the dressing room and had a few words

    about Friday nights session and what the expec-tation was to be from ourselves for the morning

    session. It helped a lot and was noticeable from

    the first whistle. The prompt cant always come from me though, guys need to step up from here


    The session was more physical and less skill

    based than Friday and that probably helped also.

    It was all action and there was plenty of contact

    drills which is an area that we badly need to im-

    prove on. By the end we were hanging but the

    feel good factor was beginning to return. The two

    sessions lasted 47mins and 51mins respectively

    and I dont think too many of us were asking for more!! It goes to show, use time properly and you

    can save a lot of time.

    That evening I met him for about an hour in the

    hotel where he was very generous with his time,

    answering my questions and sharing information

    with me. From there we met Kev, Colin, Johnny

    and Conor for a bit of grub in de Valeras and in fairness, Mike continued to answer everything

    that was thrown at him. What ensued afterwards

    was the first official club night of the year and its safe to say that the physical benefit of the two sessions was seriously undermined in what fol-


    The feedback from the weekend has been way

    above my initial expectations. The buzz and the

    energy created from it has been great to see. In

    the past, as footballers, we have tended to spend

    a lot of time reflecting on successes like the Euro

    Cship win or the Dubai experience, rather than putting them to bed and focussing on the next

    goal. Mike McGurn is gone now and it is up to us

    to drive ourselves on to better ourselves. The

    weekend cannot be seen as a highlight of the

    year, it is merely one of the initial steps we must

    take towards our teams winning a European

    Championship in 2010.

    Mike said he doesnt generally do one-offs like this trip to Brussels and his explanation is understand-

    able. You dont put a programme in place over a weekend. It is a process that needs to be followed

    and monitored. I agree with this but also cant underestimate the impact his visit has had on me.

    I lay in bed this morning, sore from training and

    dying from drink but my mind was totally

    invigorated. All that was going through my head

    was how to use what he taught us this weekend.

    The torture triangle will get its debut on Thursday!!

    We said our farewells last night and this morning.

    Its safe to say Mike McGurn left his mark on Belgium GAA.


    It was Jonny's idea to bring Mike to Brussels. I think we all agreed Mike's the Man.

  • 5


    Can You Beat Us? Irish GAA & Soccer Clubs Raised 60K for Haiti in 2 Weeks

    March 2010 Volume 1, Issue 1


    Two Irish sports clubs have thrown down the

    gauntlet of volunteering fundraising by raising a

    whopping 60K for Haiti earthquake victims.

    The money came from a joint initiative organised

    by the Brussels-based Belgium GAA club and

    soccer club FC Irlande.

    Both sports clubs combined their efforts to make

    posters, organise karaoke events, bake cookies

    with the ladies teams of FC Irlande even posing

    for and selling their own calendars.

    Aid organisations, Haven and Medecin San

    Frontiers have described the money as being

    "critical" to the people of Haiti.

    The fact that Cork man and club sponsor,

    Conchur De Barra, agreed to match every euro

    raised by the 100 or so volunteers meant that all

    fundraising efforts were doubled.

    "I was just in Haiti in November and I knew it

    was the last place on earth that could deal with

    such a disaster," said Conchur.

    "When we suggested organising something

    everybody got on board and was willing to pitch

    in. It was amazing to see the entire Irish

    community in Brussels put their shoulder to the

    wheel. We had people from all political parties,

    from all parts of Ireland coming together to help


    "It was amazing and something we can be proud

    of. It was not a uniquely Irish event but we

    spearheaded it and encouraged others to get

    involved. It was just a great achievement," added

    the Rathcormac man.

    The fundraising effort culminated in a massive

    night out in De Valera's Pub in Brussels, where

    owner Conchur, convinced his own staff to work

    for free and for the suppliers to donate their

    booze for the night so all money spent went to

    organisations in Haiti.

    The organisations that benefited were Medecins

    sans Frontiers (Doctors without Borders) and


    Belgium GAA would like to thank all those who

    helped make the fund raising efforts for Haiti

    such a success.

    A special congratulation must also be given to Conchur De Barra who spearheaded the initia-


    See below the press release issued at the time. It is a demonstration of the spirit of both Bel-

    gium GAA and FC Irlande that such a successful

    imitative was possible.


    Conchur in Haiti last year.

  • 6


    Another year, another tournament

    March 2010 Volume 1, Issue 1


    .another cold Saturday morning, shivering outside ING on Schuman roundabout. There was

    a tension in the air, mingled with a tingle of

    excitement and anticipation. Some mused upon

    the 2009 Den Haag invitational (mud and misery)

    and the 2009 Den Haag tournament (sunburn

    and victory). Others pondered the changes since

    the finals in November. In Maastricht, we were on

    the crest of a wave, European Champions for the

    2nd year running. Now, we appeared to be back at

    square one sans Willie, sans Ana, sans Steph, sans Mdesans Laura pitch-wise, but she made up for her absence by stepping into the fold as

    our coach. The rest of us looked forward to coffee

    and the Top Gun soundtrack. Highway to the

    Danger Zone indeed.

    In Den Haag, a sharp breeze blew across the

    pitches, tugged at airborne balls, coaxing them

    into the canals. It flicked at the hair of this brave

    bunch of Belgian belles, as they traipsed towards

    their vantage point on the rugby/soccer grounds,

    overlooking both ladies and mens football

    pitches. Prowling the sideline in a Willie Cashin-

    esque stance was the Whisk, making smooth

    substitutions and yelling incoherently. Keeping

    the captaincy in the family, Caoimhe N

    Shilleabhin led the team for the first time, ably

    supported by Vice-Captain Grinne N Fhlatharta.

    We even had supporters, the family Brennan,

    visiting from Cork for the weekend, shouting,

    umpiring and saving seats for the rugby match in

    the club house afterwards.

    Do we know who we are? asked Caragh in a lady-like manner at the start of our match

    against Holland Ladies, but it was clear from the

    beginning that no such identity crisis was at

    hand. Holland Ladies are strong competitors on

    the European scene, but we won well, showing

    that in spite of changes to the squad (and playing

    11-a-side for the first time), we had developed

    new strengths. It was a good start to the day.

    Clare B defended her goal valiantly, with Grinne

    patrolling the back line, supported by Jane,

    Rosine and Irene in the half back line. Cuba and

    Caragh swarmed around midfield, while the

    forward line consisted (at different stages) of

    Ciara, Jo, Christine, Laura R, Barbara and Maria.

    This match also marked Becky Mattes first outing as a referee, and after a couple of goes, she

    nailed the throw-in, and the day went


    Who the f**k are we? asked Maria in a less-than lady-like manner at the beginning of our

    game against Fingallians Ladies, a Senior team

    from Dublin. These girls were serious. Not for

    them the few drinks on the flight over from

    Ireland. They hit us, and they hit us hard. The

    closest this correspondent got to her player was a

    kick in the knee as she chased after the tall

    forward. Although they beat us well, we became

    stronger in the second half, only conceding one

    point as we recovered our balance.

    The last round match was against Rathagarogue-

    Cushinstown (a.k.a. the Yellow and Green team

    from Wexford). These ladies nudged the other

    end of the spectrum. They had the moves, but

    also had the booze, recovering from their own

    beating at the hands of Fingallians by going to

    the bar for a drink. By the time they got to us,

    they were sobering up nicely and were ready for

    a challenge. We met it though and fought back

    with fervour, bringing us to the final to face

    Fingallians once again.

    There is nothing like being slapped around a pitch

    by a team like Fingallians, not once but twice, to

    give any team a good dose of humility to start off

    the season. I have no idea of the score in the

    end, but suffice to say, this may have been the

    toughest match of the year. We can only learn

    from the experience, which will hold us in good

    stead on Clare Island on 20 March. A day like this

    gives us plenty of options, putting people into

    different positions, testing out new players. Roll

    on the weekend.

    Sylvia McCarthy reports back from the first game experience of the year for the

    Belgium Ladies footballers. The worst is over now - we hope.


    Surprisingly, no-one brought a camera. This is an uncommon occurrence

    for the ladiesappreciate it while you can!

  • 7


    Player Profile - Olof Gill

    March 2010 Volume 1, Issue 1


    Who are you?

    Olof Brendan Peter Gill

    Where are you from?

    Clare Island, Co. Mayo & Gothenburg, Sweden.

    Where do you work?

    EU affairs journalist at EurActiv.com

    Why did you join Belgium GAA?

    Because commuting for games with Clare Island was just getting too difficult. Also because Dave

    Barrett promised me fame, fortune, pizza and free haircare tips.

    What is your favourite European GAA tournament and why?

    I like any tournament hosted by ourselves in Belgium, because we get to show off our fantastic set-up

    and compete against Europe's finest on home turf.

    Who is your Belgium GAA hero and why?

    Mikey Keane, because training is temporary but class is permanent. Also Phil 'The Crusher' Cushen,

    Laura Whiskerd and Stephanie Dunn because they've all played through the pain barrier on numerous

    occasions, fought their way back from serious injury, and their dedication and competitive ferocity is


    Who is your overall GAA hero?

    Willie Joe Padden (Mayo): the greatest fielder, the greatest point-kicker, the greatest moustache and

    the greatest burshtosaurus ever to grace a football field.

    What words of encouragement would you give a new member to join our esteemed club?

    Don't eat too much pizza - it's not conducive to being all you can be.

    If you had choice of celebrity Bainisteoir for Belgium GAA who would it be?

    Anyone famous from Cork because it would obviously lead to a player strike within weeks, and then I

    could stay home and eat pizza.

    Olof is considered to be one of the more exotic members of Belgium GAA with his

    Swedish/Clare Island connections. A 'Hardy Buck' on the field, Olof shows us his lighter side in this profile and shows that behind his tough exterior there is inside him an inner child

    inside who just wants to eat pizza.


  • 8


    St Patrick's Day Festival in Brussels - A Great Day Out in the Parc!

    March 2010 Volume 1, Issue 1


    Belgium GAA and FC Irlande hosted our third

    annual St Patrick's Day Festival in Parc

    Cinquantenaire on Sunday 14 March 14 last.

    The day began with the arrival of the St Patrick's

    Day Parade in the Belgium GAA fortress. Club

    stalwart Conchur de Barra did his parish proud as

    Grand Marshall of the Parade. His great work in

    the Haiti appeal was recognised by the presence

    of the Haitian Ambassador to Belgium (pictured).

    A succession of demonstration games in hurling,

    football and soccer, as well as the egg and spoon

    race and the three-legged race for children


    His Excellency Brian Nason, Irish Ambassador to

    Belgium, threw in the sliotar for the hurling


    Of special note was the excellent and highly

    competitive game played by our young Belgian

    Gaels under the aegis of Liam Breslin - with the

    two teams, kitted out in the colours of Limerick

    and Clare respectively, playing out a keenly

    contested match in front of the large crowd.

    The organisers exceeded themselves once more

    with a real sense of festivity in the air.

    Sandwiches, burgers, cookies and taytos were on

    sale as well as the ubiquitous black stuff.

    Belgium GAA merchandise was also on sale.

    Later that evening the crowds move on to Bar

    1898 on Rond Point Schuman. A lively night of

    traditional Irish music and dance, lubricated with

    even more of the black stuff, ensued and all

    present had a great time, especially the winners

    of the Tombola!

    The organising committee will shortly announce

    the final total raised by the Festival.

    Thanks to all involved in the organisation of this

    successful event which is the main fundraiser for

    both Belgium GAA and FC Irlande.


  • 9


    Caption Competition

    March 2010 Volume 1, Issue 1


    Playing the Gaelic games is a rare privilege and,

    as anyone with a camera will testify, a game

    where your face and body pull some very

    unusual poses.

    Belgium GAA newsletter will be holding a funny

    caption competition. We will publish one photo

    per month and it will be up to you the reader to

    caption it.

    The funniest caption will be their choice of drink

    from the PRO at the next social event. Be

    creative. Anything goes with this subject to the

    usual legal constraints. Intelligent humour is

    encouraged to protect the integrity of the


    Email suggestions to [email protected] with

    Caption Competition in the subject line.

    This month's sees Johnny O and Dave B staring

    into the distance. Say no more.

    Sports Calendar 2010 Gaelic Football


    Ladies Football



    27 March Amsterdam

    10 April Den Haag

    8 May Belgium

    12 June Luxembourg

    31 July Maastricht

    11 September Munich

    9 October Budapest

    6 November Maastricht

    1 May Den Haag

    29 May Luxembourg

    26 June Belgium

    17 July Zurich

    17 April Valencia

    8 May Belgium

    12 June Paris

    31 July Maastricht

    11 September Munich

    9 October Budapest

    6 November Maastricht

    1 May Den Haag

    29 May Luxembourg

    26 June Belgium

    17 July Zurich

  • 10


    March 2010 Volume 1, Issue 1


    Live the Dream with Belgium GAA

    Club actively seeking new members

    Just moved to Belgium or thinking of taking up a new sport? See

    below all the relevant info you and some words of encouragement if

    you can't find the motivation to take up training.

    We also always need volunteers to help with tournaments, coaching,

    refereeing, fundraising and general mischief making to keep everyone

    on their toes.

    At Belgium GAA we like to consider ourselves a 'welcoming' club. Our

    attitude is that whether you are Irish or from outer Mongolia, your

    participation is vital. The more the merrier and anyone who puts in the

    effort is greatly appreciated.

    Joining Belgium GAA will provide you with:

    1. Physical and skill based training with one of the best clubs in

    Europe. All skill levels catered for, open to young and old alike.

    2. A network of expats working across many different sectors.

    3. Plenty of organised social events and drinking opportunities.

    4. Reduced rates on one of Brussels best Gyms

    5. Travel in large groups to exotic destinations across Europe for

    tournaments. Lets just say - the nights have been wild.

    Getting to Training

    Belgium GAA has two training venues, Parc du Cinquantenaire

    (Jubelpark) and the British School in Tervuren.

    Parc du Cinquantenaire: As the evenings get longer we will be

    using the Parc which is conveniently located just off Schumann

    roundabout beside the European Commission.

    Schumann Metro and train stations or the number 12 bus

    (airport express) provide the perfect public transport

    destination and is less than five minutes from there.

    If you are standing at the roundabout, walk towards the Parc

    and arch, unmissable from the centre of the roundabout.

    Once in the park head left at a 10' O Clock direction where you

    will see an athletics track and hopefully large numbers playing

    hurling and football.

    The British School (BSB): BSB is accessible from Tervuren

    tram stop, but we always try to provide lifts to people training

    from Schumann roundabout.

    Once you contact our club officers they will explain the system

    and we should get you out and back in one piece.

    See info at http://www.belgiumgaa.com/grounds.htm.

    Lads trainer Dave used to be in Baywatch

    Gaelic Football

    Colin Byrne

    [email protected]

    GSM: +32 476 073 079


    Sylvia McCarthy

    [email protected]

    GSM:+32 493 712 678

    Ladies Football

    Jane Brennan

    [email protected]

    GSM: +32 484 162 140


    Adrian Hiel

    [email protected]

    GSM: +32 472 517 038



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