The idea to start a GAA club in Maastricht originated in a conversation in John Mullins Irish Pub at the beginning of 2005 between Irish exiles, Shay O’Doherty (Tipperary), Chris Marley and Tony Bass (both from Dublin). They quickly began to recruit potential players amongst both locals and other international residents of the city and membership grew steadily. Just two weeks later, eleven players turned out for the first training session on April 13th. With over twenty players attending training every Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon in the local rugby club, Maastricht played their first European tournament in Luxembourg on May 28th, 2005. A ladies football team was also established.
After going much of the first season without winning a game, the men’s team won their first ever round of the European Men’s Football Shield in Paris in September, a few weeks later Maastricht won their second shield tournament and where crowned the 2006 European Men’s Football Shield Champions in Barcelona with the ladies team winning their first ever game at the same tournament. The Gaels have had a Ladies team since 2006 but they are still waiting for their first trophy.
Due to falling numbers, we have only fielded a full team occasionally in recent years, but were delighted to be part of a combined men’s team (with Eindhoven) who were beaten in the final of the European Intermediate Football Championships which we hosted in Maastricht in October 2016. The same combined team triumphed in the inaugural Benelux Football Shield in 2017 picking up their trophy in July in Brussels after winning rounds in The Hague, Amsterdam and Eindhoven over the previous months. The Gaels then combined with players from Moscow to win the European Junior ‘C’ Football Championship in 2017.
Maastricht Gaels are based at SportsPark West, which is owned by Gemeente Maastricht (city council) and is managed by Maastricht Sports Service. Under the ‘partnership’ arrangement negotiated with the European GAA in 2010, we have access to seven pitches including a full-size, fully floodlit, astroturf GAA pitch. All pitches are located beside a central building which has 16 changing rooms and other facilities. The clubhouse also has three large bar areas and a covered viewing area overlooking the Gaelic pitch. See: http://www.maastrichtsport.nl/accommodaties-en-voorzieningen/multifunctionele-sportparken/sportpark-west.
Maastricht is the officially designated centre for Gaelic games in Europe since 2011 and has proven to be an excellent venue – hosting seven European Football Championship finals (2008, 2009 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017) as well as the annual European Premier Football Championships (15-a-side); Benelux regional football rounds (8) and various training and coaching events for Gaelic Games Europe. We also host Leinster and All Ireland football and ladies football club championship fixtures annually when the champions of Europe play teams from Ireland and the UK. Maastricht has also hosted the Gaelic Games Europe annual convention.
2006 Men – WINNERS – European Championship Shield (Won rounds in Paris & Barcelona)
Ladies – European Championship - 4th overall
2009 Men – European Championship Shield - Won final round (Maastricht)
2016 Men – RUNNERS-UP - European Intermediate Championship (Maastricht)
2017 Men – WINNERS – Benelux Shield – (Won rounds in The Hague, Amsterdam & Eindhoven)
2017 Men - WINNERS - European Junior 'C' Championship (Maastricht)