2016 was record-breaking year for Gaelic Games in Europe. There were plenty of firsts and some lasts and loads of highs and lows scattered in between. Join us as we take a month-by-month trip down memory lane as we review the year that was 2016.
Planning for the Future
Along with the support of Leinster Council a Strategic Planning weekend was held at the Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe where committee and club members from all across Europe met to come up with the strategy for Gaelic Games in Europe. Ideas were discussed, groups formed & plans made to take Gaelic Games in Europe to the next level throughout the next 3-5 years. Some of the plans born at this meeting saw fruition before the end of the year but we will get to that later.
Madrid Harps hosted a referee’s course in January where a number of European referees completed their 3-year refreshers course under the watchful eyes of Tony Bass & Tom McGrath.
Copa Asociación Galega
January saw saw Fillas de Breogán defeat Irmandinhas Estrada 1-20 (23) to 0-17 (17) & Irmandinhos A Estrada defeat Estrela Vermelha F.G. 1-17 (20) to 1-08 (11) to claim the Ladies & Mens Copa Asociación Galega respectively. You can watch highlights of the respective finals here & here.
Top 14 Warm-Up
Azur Gaels & GF Provence, two clubs from the south of France ensured that January was closed out in the biggest way imaginable when they played an exhibition game at the 35,000 seater Allianz Riviera Stadium in Nice before the kick-off of the Top 14 clash between Toulon & Stade Francais. The teams played a thrilling match fitting of the venue with GF Provence coming out on top with a 1-point win. A full report on the game can be found here.
Down to the Wire
February saw the finale of the Brittany Ladies Championship and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Rennes needed to beat the leaders Lorient by a 9 point margin to win the title and it looked like the Lorient Ladies were going to hang on. The 2 time champions of France had other ideas however and managed to slot a title winning point in the final minute to win the Brittany Ladies Championship by a score of 1-8 (11) to 4-8 (20). Click here for a video report on the match (In French).
Annual Congress makes its Mark
Several members of the European committee attended the GAA Annual Congress in Carlow where the big story was the adoption of the controversial Mark rule which will come into affect at the start of the 2017 season.
With only the Galician and Breton season already in full swing the early months are filled with challenge matches. February saw Bordeaux beat Toulouse in the south of France in their annual friendly fixture. We also saw an international club friendly between Gaélicos do Gran Sol from Spain & The Padova Paddies from Italy.
Old & New Coming Together
One of Europe’s youngest clubs Azur Gaels officially twinned with Co. Kerry club Listowel Emmets who can boast a few more years experience having been founded in 1885 rather than 2015. We hope to see a lot more European clubs twinned with Irish clubs in the near future as our twinning initiative comes to fruition.
Liga Galega de Fútbol Gaélico Feminino
Fillas de Breogán won the 2015/2016 Liga Galega de Fútbol Gaélico Feminino beating Estrela Vermelha to claim the crown.
St. Patrick’s Day Derbies
The period around St. Patrick’s Day was full of activity with several friendly matches and tournaments being held around the special day. S.S. Lazio Calcio Gaelico & The Padova Paddies played their annual friendly match. There was an inter-departmental friendly match held between the Brittany clubs of Lorient, Vannes, Saint Brieuc, Trégor & Plédran. Belgium GAA & The Earls of Leuven held a St. Patrick’s Day Festival with plenty of Gaelic Games exhibitions and Munich Colmcilles hosted an Invitational Tournament.
A New Federation
St. Patrick’s Day also saw the official launch of a brand new Gaelic Games federation, namely the Deutscher Bund Gälischer Sportarten. The federation was officially launched by members of the various German clubs & the Irish ambassador for Germany in Munich during the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.
French Federal Championship Kicks Off
The first tournament of the 2016 French Federal Championships for Mens & Ladies football was held in Paris at the end of March. The defending Ladies champs Rennes picked up right were they left off and came out on top once again whilst there was a bit of a shock in the Mens with Clermont Gaels beating the host Paris to claim their first ever Federal tournament win and simultaneously ending Paris’ 42 match unbeaten record in the competition.
Andalusian League Play-Off
The Andalusian League, a sub-region in Spain which consists of Gibraltar, Sevilla & Marbella had been underway since the latter half of 2015 but came all the way down to the wire in the 5th & final tournament to decide which team would make it to the Iberian Finals in June. Even after the final round of games there was nothing to separate Sevilla and Gibraltar as they finished on equal points & had to duke it out once again in a play-off match. After a hard fought play-off game the men from Sevilla emerged victorious and would join the top teams from Galicia and the Central/East sub-region in the Iberian Finals later in the year.
Benelux & South/East Europe Regions get Under Way
Both the Benelux & South/East Regional Championships got up and running in April with 1st Round tournaments hosted by Den Haag & Rovigo respectively. In the Benelux tournament it was European Ladies kingpins Belgium who came out on top whilst it was an all Amsterdam affair on the Mens side with both their A & B sides contesting the final. In northern Italy it was the men from Augsberg in Germany who won the Mens tournament whilst the ladies from Munich made it a German double on the day winning the Ladies competition.
Taking it Handy in Italy
April also saw the Northern Italian area of Rovigo play host to some Handball action as the Handball teams from Vienna & Rovigo took part in exhibition games.
Liga Galega de Fútbol Gaélico Masculino
Down in Galicia in Spain Estrela Vermelha won their 3rd consecutive Liga Galega de Fútbol Gaélico Masculino title, beating Pontevedra to claim the crown.
French Round Deux
The French Federal Championship continued with 1 Ladies and 2 separate Mens tournaments. Rennes picked up right where they left off in the 1st round, winning the tournament hosted by Bordeaux. The Rennes Ladies didn’t get complacent as hosts either when they hosted and won the 3rd Round of the Ladies Championship later in the month. Paris won the first of the two Mens tournaments beating hosts Bordeaux to get back to winning ways. The second tournament was hosted by Lyon and was won by defending Federal champions Toulouse who beat Clermont in the final.
Hurling & Camogie Season gets Up & Swinging
Luxembourg played host to the 1st Round of what would turn out to be the biggest & best Hurling & Camogie Championships Europe has ever seen. On the Camogie side of things the Holland ladies overcame the Belgium ladies to win the 1st Round. The Belgian ladies were avenged by their Hurling team who beat out Amsterdam in the final.
The Future is looking Bright
The future of Brittany GAA looks in good hands after 10 youth players from Liffré & the Pierre de Dreux secondary school beat Currow 2-3 to 0-1 in front of over 82,000 fans at Croke Park during the Allianz League Final.
Central/East Championship Final Round
The Central/East sub-region Championship in Spain had containing the Mens & Ladies teams from Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Gaelicos do Gran Sol and Sitges had been running since February. The final round of the Championship was held in Barcelona and with the top 2 teams in both the Mens & Ladies qualifying for the Iberian Finals in June. After the final round in Barcelona both the Mens & Ladies sides from Madrid were named Central/East Champions for 2016 and would be joined by both the Ladies & Mens teams from Valenica in representing the sub-region at the Iberian Finals in Madrid in June.
10 Championships…..and Counting!
Liffré won their 10th Brittany Championship in 12 years after beating rivals Rennes Gaa 4-16 to 3-7 on the final day of the Championship. Nantes would join both these teams in the Senior All-France Finals later in the year.
World Games Warm-Ups
With the World Games in Dublin coming up in August, the Native teams started getting challenge games in to prepare. The French National Mens team took on the Brittany team & the Galician Mens side faced an “Andalucia Irish” selection.
Duking it out in Darmstadt
The 2nd Round of the Hurling & Camogie Championships were held in a sunny Darmstadt in Germany. Over 130 players making up 11 different teams competed on the day. The Belgian ladies won the Camogie tournament, beating the Holland ladies team in the final in a reversal of the previous round. The Belgian hurlers made it a double for the the teams in red as they made it two tournament wins in a row.
In Galicia we saw the finals of the Mens & Ladies Copa Galega take place. In the Ladies competition Irmandinhas A Estrada beat Fillas de Breogán in the final & in the Mens competition Estrela Vermelha beat Fillas de Breogán to claim their 3rd consecutive title.
Benelux & South/East Championships Continue
The Benelux & South/East Regional Championships continued with 2nd Round tournaments hosted by Eindhoven & Warsaw respectively. In the Benelux tournament it was a case of déjà vu as the Belgian Ladies and Amsterdam (Albeit their B team) coming away with wins after victories over the Holland Ladies & the Amsterdam A side. In the South/East tournament it was a double for the Polish hosts as the Warsaw Mens & Ladies sides won their respective finals.
French Federal Finale
The final round of the French Federal Championship was hosted by Toulouse and it was the hosts who came out on top on the day beating out Paris to not only win the tournament, but wrap up the Federal title in the process. Paris & Clermont would join Toulouse and Liffré, Rennes & Nantes the top 3 sides from the Brittany Championship to contest the Senior French Finals later in the year.
2nd Stadium Gig of the Year
The Mens & Ladies Galician National sides had the opportunity to warm up ahead of the World Games in unique surroundings as they played exhibition matches during half time of the football match between Galicia & Venezuela in front of 20,000 spectators.
Brittany Cup Final
The Brittany Cup Final took place in May between Rennes & Nantes with Rennes making up for losing out on the Brittany Championship title to Liffré by bringing home the cup. A video report on the final can be found here. (In French)
Nordic Championship Kicks Off
With the weather starting to improve it was time for the Nordic Championship to get under way with the 1st round being held in Oslo. The Mens tournament was won by the lads from Helsinki whilst the Ladies tournament was won by the team from Stockholm.
Benelux & South/East Mens Final Tournaments.
The final tournaments of both the Benelux & South/East Mens Championship were held at the beginning of June with the tournaments being hosted by Amsterdam & Berlin respectively. The Benelux tournament was won by the host team Amsterdam which also guaranteed them the Benelux title. In Berlin it was the men from Augsburg in Germany that won the tournament on the day.
Iberian Championship Finals
The finals of the Iberian Championship including the top Mens & Ladies teams from the Galician, Central/East & Andalusian Regions were held in Madrid. In the Ladies final it would be the girls from Galician club Fillas de Breogán who were crowned Iberian Ladies Champions for 2016. In the Mens tournament it was hosts Madrid who won, making it three consecutive Iberian titles for the club.
Benelux & South East Regional Ladies Football Season Comes to a Close
The Benelux & South/East Regional Ladies Football teams joined forces for the final tournament of the season which was hosted by Berlin. There were players from 12 different clubs represented on the day but it was the girls from the Holland Ladies team that emerged victorious. The results of the final tournament of the season meant that the Belgian Ladies once again won the Benelux Championship whilst the Munich Ladies picked up the South/East title.
The “All-France” Finals which sees Ladies & Mens Football teams from both the Brittany and Federal Championships come together to battle for supremacy were held in Clermont this year. In the Ladies Finals there were few surprises as the girls from Rennes once again came out on top making it a clean sweep of titles for the year. In the Mens Senior Finals Toulouse achieved the rare feat of winning back-to-back “All-France” titles. The Paris B team were victorious in the Intermediate Final and hosts Clermont’s B side ran out Junior winners.
The Nordic Season Continues
The 2nd round of the Nordic Championship was held in Copenhagen in June. The Ladies tournament was won by the hosts Copenhagen whilst in the Mens tournament it was the lads from Malmo who picked up the win in the Final.
Hurling & Camogie 3rd Round
The 3rd rounds of the Hurling & Camogie Championships were hosted by Belgium at the end of June. In the Camogie tournament Belgium beat the German selection side to make it two tournament wins in a row. In the Hurling tournament it would be the men from Luxembourg coming out on top, beating the Belgian A side in the final.
French Flair at the Féile
The U-14 Liffré team from Brittany, France did everyone involved with European GAA proud when they competed in the 2016 Féile in Ireland.
European 15-a-Side Championships
The European 15-a-Side Championship Finals were held in Maastricht in July with the Ladies from Belgium/Munich and the Men from Amsterdam earning the right to represent Europe in the All-Ireland Club Championships later in the year.
World Games Prep Continues
Players from the 4 corners of Europe gathered during July to prepare to represent Europe in the 2016 GAA World Games in Dublin.
Pan-Euros 1st Round
The 1st round the Pan-European Finals was hosted by Munich at the very end of July. 16 teams from all across Europe competed in the 1st round tournament. The Mens tournament was won by Luxembourg who beat Augsburg in the final. The Belgian Ladies followed up their 15-a-side Championship win with another in the 11-a-side version, beating hosts Munich in the final.
GAA World Games Final Prep
In the days leading up to the GAA World Games in August the European representative sides were putting in some last minute preparations before the big kick-off. The European Camogie team warmed up for the tournament with a challenge match against the Kill Camogie Club from Co. Kildare which ended in an exciting 2-13 to 3-10 draw. All of the European representative sides were graciously welcomed by the Naomh Olaf’s GAA club to train and try out their new kits before the tournament began.
2016 GAA World Games
The 2016 GAA World Games were held in UCD & Croke Park in August and Europe were present in a big way with 14 teams. Players from all over Europe made up 5 European representative sides in addition to teams from France, Brittany, Jersey, Germany & Galicia. Ladies & Mens Football as well as Hurling & Camogie were all represented. The World Games were a big success for the European teams with 3 teams bringing home winner’s medals. 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.
The World’s Most Famous T-Shirt
The German Hurling team may not have had a huge amount of success on the field at the World Games but they were certainly the most talked about side thanks to the T-shirt you can see above. When posted on Facebook we couldn’t have imagined the reaction it would get but it went viral, reaching over 100,000 people on our page alone and spanning a couple of articles.
Nordic Season Concludes
The 3rd and final round of the Nordic Championship was hosted by Helsinki at the end of August. In the Mens competition the hosts Helsinki beat out Malmo in the final of the tournament but the 2nd place finish was enough for the lads from Malmo to clinch their 1st Nordic title in 7 years. In the Ladies tournament the girls from Stockholm came out on top and with it guaranteed back-to-back Nordic Championships.
Short movie of European Gaelic Football Championships Finals, held in Maastricht – 24 Sept. 2016.Leinster G.A.A. Official GAA Ladies Gaelic Football Belgium GAA Berlin GAA Jersey Irish GAA Club Luxembourg Gaa Amsterdam GAC Paris Gaels GAA Vienna Gaels GAA Irmandinhos A Estrada EGHB Liffré GAA – Football Gaélique Den Haag GAA Eindhoven Shamrocks GFC Munich Colmcilles GAA Lille GAA Clermont Gaelic Football Club The Paddies – Padova Gaelic Football Slovak Shamrocks GAA The Earls of Leuven G.A.A club Luxembourg Gaa Holland Ladies GAA
Posted by Gaelic Games Europe on Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Hurling & Camogie Round 4
The penultimate round of the Hurling & Camogie Championships were hosted by Den Haag at the beginning of September. The Camogie tournament was won by the Holland Ladies who broke the Belgians 2-win streak whilst the Hurling tournament was won by Belgium.
The Finals of the Pan-European Championships were jointly hosted by Eindhoven, Maastricht and Belgium with the finals themselves taking place in Maastricht. 25 teams and over 300 players from all over Europe would take part in both Mens & Ladies Football matches in glorious sunshine. In the Ladies Finals the French Barbarians team defeated the Vienna Gaels/Belgium B side in the Shield Final whilst in the Cup Final, Belgium came out on top against the girls from Munich. In the Mens Junior Final Clermont from Fracne overcame the Slovak Shamrocks/Leuven team. The Intermediate B title went to Irmandinhos from Galicia who beat Munich whilst the Intermediate A crown was claimed by Liffré from Brittany, beating the Eindhoven/Maastricht/Den Haag side. The Senior B Final was won by Paris who beat Berlin and in the showcase Senior A Final Luxembourg made it 2 for 2 in the Pan-European rounds by beating Jersey and becoming European champions for 2016.
See a report by Jerome Quinn Media from the European Hurling and Camogie Finals played in Germany for the first time. Camogie Association President Catherine Neary and Ard Stiúrthóir Joan O’Flynn attended the event in Dresden which reflected an upsurge in the game in Germany. Irish and non-Irish players also feature in the report, along with Clare man and local organiser Diarmuid Kelly.
Posted by Camogie on Thursday, October 20, 2016
All-Ireland Junior Club Championships
Thanks to their European 15-a-side Championship win earlier in the year, Amsterdam had earned a visit from Kilcullen in the 1st round of the Leinster Junior Championship. The Kilcullen side made the overseas trip to Maastricht to take on the men from Amsterdam. The European men but up a brave fight but the team from Ireland proved too strong on the day and advanced to the next round. The Belgium/Munich Ladies team’s win earlier in the season gave them the opportunity to take on the British Champions Glasgow in Scotland. The Ladies played out a thrilling match but just fell short on a scoreline of 4-12 to 4-6.
Hurling & Camogie Finals
The Hurling & Camogie Championship Finals were held in Dresden in Germany in October to bring the 11-a-side season to a close in Europe. The Finals were attended by teams from all over Europe as well as special guests GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghaíl & Camogie Association President Catherine Neary. In the Finals themselves it was an all Belgian affair as the Belgian Mens & Ladies both winning their finals to be crowned European Hurling & Camogie Champions for 2016.
Inaugural German Gaelic Football Cup
The first ever German Gaelic Football Cup was also held in October with 3 sides competing for the new title. In the end the honors went to Berlin who beat Dusseldorf & Frankfurt to become the first ever German Cup Champions.
Our Annual Convention was once again hosted in Leuven in Belgium in what would be a historic one for Gaelic Games in Europe. Our brand new name and logo was unveiled after months of work by the Marketing Strategic Plan group as the European County Board officially became Gaelic Games Europe. We also unveiled the new Gaelic Games Europe website that you are now hopefully reading this on. Former GAA President Liam O’Neill was named Honorary President of Gaelic Games Europe and was in attendance to accept the honour. Of course there were many motions debated, accepted and rejected and lots of excitement created to make 2017 an even bigger year for European GAA than 2016.
European Gaelic Handball Championship
Nizza Monferrato played host to the 2016 Gaelic Handball Championship in November. The Championship was contested by 4 teams this year; the hosts Nizza Monferrato, Rovigo, Vienna & special guests the University of Limerick. The hosts Nizza Monferrato would come out on top in both the Challenger Cup & Mixed Cup.
The End of a Momentous Year
2016 was a truly special year for Gaelic Games in Europe. It all started with the Strategic Meeting in January, there were 1 or 2 or 102 tournaments between then & the end of the year and a whole lot of fun was had along the way. The work is already piling up for 2017 so let’s make it even better than the year before!
Author: Alan Jennings is the PRO for Gaelic Games Europe