With the third edition of the GAA World Games being confirmed to take place in Dublin from July 29th until August 1st 2019, several European teams have been ramping up their preparations for the big occasion. The previous edition in 2016 was a huge success for Europe with 14 teams taking part in total from all across the continent. The European & Galician Ladies Football teams won the Native Plate & Shield competitions respectively whilst the Galician Mens Football team won the Native Plate. Special mention must also go to the French Mens Football team that reached the Native Cup Final in Croke Park after going the whole tournament unbeaten. Unfortunately, the French lads fell at the last hurdle, losing out to New York in the Final.
Speaking of the French Mens Football team, they were one of the two sides that lined out against each other last Saturday in a Challenge match, the others being the 2016 European Champions & hosts for the day, Luxembourg. The teams faced off in an 11-a-side match which is typical for matches on the continent but they played three 30 minute periods which certainly isn’t typical. The 90-minute play time did ensure that we got an extremely high scoring game however. When we saying high-scoring, we weren’t lying either because at the end of an extremely entertaining, high intensity contest the French team showed that they have perhaps gotten even better than 2016, beating the Luxembourg club side 8-37 (61) – 3-13 (22). A great contest and a great statement from the French team to show that they are perhaps ready to go one further and become world champions next year.
The French Mens team weren’t alone in making the trip north as the French Ladies Football team also had a Challenge match on the Sunday when they were hosted by the ever dominant Belgium Ladies. Experimentation was the theme of this weekend and on that note the Ladies played two games, one 9-a-side & one 11-a-side. The 9-a-side tie was up first & the extra space allowed for a exciting, high-scoring match. In the end, the hosts drew first blood on the day, winning 4-7 (19) – 2-2 (8). After a well earned break, the teams faced off once again in an 11-a-side match. With less space on offer, it was a much tighter affair and the French Ladies seemed to be able to patch up their leaky defense from the first match as they hit the Belgium Ladies back, winning 1-4 (7) – 0-3 (3).
All in all, it was a great weekend of international action and all 4 teams will have benefited immensely from the experience. A great warm up ahead of both the World Games in 2019 & the second edition of The Euro Cup later this year in Brittany.