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March 2010

Volume 1, Issue 1

BELGIUM GAA NEWSLETTER Brought to you by Belgium GAA Committee and De Valera's Pub, Place Flagey

Updating members and non-members alike on the activities of one of the best and most ambitious GAA clubs on the European Continent In this issue you can read about:

Message from the Chairman

 Players Updates & News

A Chairde,

 The Mike McGurn Training Weekend

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.

 How Belgium GAA teamed up with FC Irlande to raise 60K for Haiti Earthquake Victims  Tournament Reports and the club's playing activities  A unique caption competition...

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 more! 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 merrier! 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.

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Players Updates & News 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.

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.

The team opens the year in the exotic island in the middle of the Atlantic

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 ball in every game.

and

every

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

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 determination 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

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 women.....! 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 - Míde 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.

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). Let‟s make it great!

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.

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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"

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

Mike McGurn‟s visit to Brussels lasted well short non-EU type events. With that in mind, the of 48hrs but the initial indications are that his official title of the meeting was „The use of influence will last a lot longer. nanotechnology in sport‟ with top notch guest As we sat in Friday afternoon traffic on the way speakers like Dr. Kevin Keary and Dr. Dave Barrett. Jim organised the room and managed the down from Amsterdam, he was cursing not havlogistical issues to a tee. Maria, Kevin and Olof ing taken the early morning Dublin Brussels looked after the door, dished out the badges and flight. I laughed deviously inside as there was no place I would have been happier to be than sat ushered the crowd in. They were uncharacteristically efficient for Parliament types. stationary on the Utrecht ring road picking the man‟s brain. The talk went very well and people asked some very good questions. It covered all the hot topics When it comes to people who are quite well from weights through to nutrition and Mike used known, we all have our perceptions of what they are like from what we hear and read. Naturally I video clips and himself to demonstrate what he was talking about. One aspect of the talk which had some of Mike. From what I‟d read it seemed told us a bit more about him was the way he clear he was a top man in his line of work. I expected him to be a motivator and an all round engaged the crowd. He had soaked up the little bits of info I had given him about the group. For hard nut. Also, based on the experience he had example, he knew there were people from the when the IRFU suspended him for speaking his soccer club, he knew there was a physio in the mind, i expected him to be direct, straight forward and a man of principles. Finally, considering room etc etc and he engaged them accordingly. It struck me all weekend how enthusiastic he was the fact that he was coming over to Belgium GAA to meet everyone and the interest he showed in for a weekend, I figured he must be a genuine people when he was introduced to them. guy who is passionate about his area of work. From the talk we went out to BUC rugby club. It‟s reassuring to know that sometimes the Their facility is excellent and was ideal for the perceptions are spot on. weekend. The session however was a disaster in The first event of the weekend was a talk on the some ways. Our handling was shocking, our physical needs for Gaelic Football, held in the grasping of the drills (me being chief culprit!) was European Parliament. Holding a meeting there is slow and we were as quiet as mice. The football quite an operation and it isn‟t the norm to have side was practically non contact. I could nearly 33

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To Be Mike McGurned? feel Mike starting to bubble up inside but he contained himself. I was nearly embarrassed afterwards when I brought him home. I know we aren‟t world beaters but we aren‟t that bad either. We were on again on Saturday at 9. While Mike was laying out the drills outside, we gathered everyone in the dressing room and had a few words about Friday night‟s session and what the expectation was to be from ourselves for the morning session. It helped a lot and was noticeable from the first whistle. The prompt can‟t always come from me though, guys need to step up from here on. 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 improve 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 don‟t 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 Valera‟s 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 it‟s safe to say that the physical benefit of the two sessions was seriously undermined in what followed.

the past, as footballers, we have tended to spend a lot of time reflecting on successes like the Euro C‟ship 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 The feedback from the weekend has been way take towards our teams winning a European above my initial expectations. The buzz and the Championship in 2010. energy created from it has been great to see. In Mike said he doesn‟t generally do one-offs like this trip to Brussels and his explanation is understandable. You don‟t 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 can‟t 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. It‟s 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.

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Can You Beat Us? Irish GAA & Soccer Clubs Raised 60K for Haiti in 2 Weeks 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 initiative. See below the press release issued at the time. It is a demonstration of the spirit of both Belgium GAA and FC Irlande that such a successful imitative was possible.

Conchur in Haiti last year. Two Irish sports clubs have thrown down the gauntlet of volunteering fundraising by raising a whopping â‚Ź60K for Haiti earthquake victims. everybody got on board and was willing to pitch The money came from a joint initiative organised in. It was amazing to see the entire Irish by the Brussels-based Belgium GAA club and community in Brussels put their shoulder to the wheel. We had people from all political parties, soccer club FC Irlande. from all parts of Ireland coming together to help Both sports clubs combined their efforts to make out," posters, organise karaoke events, bake cookies with the ladies teams of FC Irlande even posing "It was amazing and something we can be proud of. It was not a uniquely Irish event but we for and selling their own calendars. spearheaded it and encouraged others to get Aid organisations, Haven and Medecin San involved. It was just a great achievement," added Frontiers have described the money as being the Rathcormac man. "critical" to the people of Haiti. The fundraising effort culminated in a massive The fact that Cork man and club sponsor, night out in De Valera's Pub in Brussels, where Conchur De Barra, agreed to match every euro owner Conchur, convinced his own staff to work raised by the 100 or so volunteers meant that all for free and for the suppliers to donate their fundraising efforts were doubled. booze for the night so all money spent went to "I was just in Haiti in November and I knew it organisations in Haiti. was the last place on earth that could deal with The organisations that benefited were Medecins such a disaster," said Conchur. sans Frontiers (Doctors without Borders) and

"When

55

we

suggested

organising

something Haven.

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Sylvia McCarthy reports back from the first game experience of the year for the Belgium Ladies footballers. The worst is over now - we hope.

Another year, another tournament… ….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 Míde…sans 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 Cashinesque stance was the Whisk, making smooth substitutions and yelling incoherently. Keeping the captaincy in the family, Caoimhe Ní Shúilleabháin led the team for the first time, ably supported by Vice-Captain Gráinne Ní 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.

swimmingly. “Who the f**k are we?” asked Maria in a lessthan 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 RathagarogueCushinstown (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 “Do we know who we are?” asked Caragh in a different positions, testing out new players. Roll lady-like manner at the start of our match on the weekend. 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 Gráinne 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 Surprisingly, no-one brought a camera. This is an uncommon occurrence nailed the throw-in, and the day went for the ladies—appreciate it while you can! 66

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Player Profile - Olof Gill 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.

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 absolute. 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. 77

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

Belgium GAA and FC Irlande hosted our third and Clare respectively, playing out a keenly annual St Patrick's Day Festival in Parc contested match in front of the large crowd. Cinquantenaire on Sunday 14 March 14 last. The organisers exceeded themselves once more The day began with the arrival of the St Patrick's with a real sense of festivity in the air. Day Parade in the Belgium GAA fortress. Club Sandwiches, burgers, cookies and taytos were on stalwart Conchur de Barra did his parish proud as sale as well as the ubiquitous black stuff. Grand Marshall of the Parade. His great work in Belgium GAA merchandise was also on sale. the Haiti appeal was recognised by the presence Later that evening the crowds move on to Bar of the Haitian Ambassador to Belgium (pictured). 1898 on Rond Point Schuman. A lively night of 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 ensued.

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!

His Excellency Brian Nason, Irish Ambassador to The organising committee will shortly announce Belgium, threw in the sliotar for the hurling the final total raised by the Festival. game. Thanks to all involved in the organisation of this Of special note was the excellent and highly successful event which is the main fundraiser for competitive game played by our young Belgian both Belgium GAA and FC Irlande. Gaels under the aegis of Liam Breslin - with the two teams, kitted out in the colours of Limerick

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Caption Competition 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 newsletter. Email suggestions to jamesmcgr@gmail.com with „Caption Competitionâ€&#x; 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

17 April

Valencia

10 April

Den Haag

8 May

Belgium

8 May

Belgium

12 June

Paris

12 June

Luxembourg

31 July

Maastricht

31 July

Maastricht

11 September

Munich

11 September

Munich

9 October

Budapest

9 October

Budapest

6 November

Maastricht

6 November

Maastricht

Hurling

Camogie

1 May

Den Haag

1 May

Den Haag

29 May

Luxembourg

29 May

Luxembourg

26 June

Belgium

26 June

Belgium

17 July

Zurich

17 July

Zurich

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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.

Lads trainer Dave used to be in Baywatch

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.

Contacts Gaelic Football Colin Byrne colinbyrne77@gmail.com GSM: +32 476 073 079 10 10

Hurling Adrian Hiel a_hiel@hotmail.com GSM: +32 472 517 038

Ladies Football Jane Brennan brennanjane@gmail.com GSM: +32 484 162 140

Camogie Sylvia McCarthy mccarthy.sylvia@gmail.com GSM:+32 493 712 678

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Belgium GAA Newsletter - March 2010