Friday, July 31, 2009

Munich Tournament Report: The Ladies

(Editor's Note: the following is the Munich tournament report detailing yet another triumph for Belgium GAA's footballing women, written by the irrepressible Whisk)

Belgium A + Belgium B + injured supporters Ana & Lorraine + Coach W + Avril Brennan = Ladies Winners of Munich tournament 2009!!

Well, where to start – yet another incredibly successful tournament for Belgium GAA Ladies footballers!

We all set off for Munich on Friday at various points throughout the day – most of us by plane. Some of the less fortunate among us, namely young Avril Brennan, who has been taken under the wing of Belgium GAA ladies, had to travel in a car for 11 hours with some of the Belgium boys (names cannot be revealed for legal reasons). Needless to say upon her arrival at 3am she was so disorientated that she woke up myself and Jane saying that she could not go to sleep in her room with Rosine as somebody else was in her bed. Note: there was no one there. Sigh.

We awoke bright eyed (well some of us) on Saturday morning with a long day ahead. After breakfast at the hotel we set off to the pitches. As we do every year, we made friends with some randomers at the U-Bahn station who it appeared were just returning from a night out, and a little ‘off their faces’ on some form of illegal substance. We were nearly successful in convincing them to be our supporters for the day, however, we lost them on-route – probably due to our rendition of ‘Heal the World’ on the underground. That would be enough to scare anyone off.

Right, I should get down to the actual football part. As usual I take it very seriously and got very stressed out (along with Coach W, who actually threw his cap on the ground at one point as a mark of respect for the referee – who, in the words of Brüno was ‘fantastisch’), so I cannot remember the specific scores. In any case, both teams (the A and the B team) had a great tournament.

The A team were up first against Holland – a team who were also able to travel with two teams to the tournament, a great indication of how much ladies football is really developing throughout Europe. It was a great match, and even received comments as being one of the best games of ladies football that has been seen in Europe for a while. The A’s comfortably beat Holland, and moved on to face our own B team in the next group match. The Belgium B team has come such a long way since it first started up this season. It is always easier to become distracted when playing your own team mates, however, the B’s certainly put the A’s to the test and it was a very challenging match. Even though the A team won, I have every confidence that before this year is out we will witness a Belgium A vs Belgium B ladies football final!

Belgium A were up next against Munich in the semi-final. Munich is a team that keeps going from strength to strength and certainly shocked us in the first few minutes. Not only that but due to the schizophrenic weather (blistering heat one minute/monsoon the next – note the weather in München is nicht always fantastisch), the pitch was nice and wet and muddy and the ball was more difficult to move around. Needless to say with some great defending in the back line and co-ordinated movement amongst the midfields and the forwards we were able to recover quickly and win the match. Only a few minor incidences occurred – namely a small temper tantrum displayed by a player of English origin (more commonly known as the Whisk) who in fact threw the ball almost hitting the referee (and surprisingly thereafter was taken off by Coach W).

Belgium B’s next two matches were against Holland A and Holland B. Belgium’s B team were a little less fortunate than the A’s weather wise and did get caught in one of the monsoons, however, this did not stop them from putting up a great fight against Holland A and from beating Holland B to secure a brilliant 5th place out of the 7 teams that competed at the tournament! This proves the determination of all the players and how much improvement has occurred since the beginning of the season.

The final was as usual a bit of a blur. Luckily for Belgium neither Paris or Munich made it into the final, which is very good for us in terms of overall points in the League. Belgium A were up against Holland A, who as I said have come a long way since the first tournament. There is not really that much to say – after encouraging words from Coach W and Mide, Belgium ladies went out and did what we do best: WIN! Special mention should also be given to Clare B for her amazing kick outs and saves in the goal (or goals as Irish people say – I’ve never really understood why it becomes plural??). Everyone played very well so I will not pick out individual players – as that is not what Belgium is about – both teams together play as a team, and throughout the day B team players helped the A team out and that is what makes us such a successful squad! (I think I even saw Willie shed a little tear…). Thank you also to the lads for supporting us from the sideline. Even Davey Barrett commented – ‘Like, the girls are actually pretty good, like.’ Note: When I heard this I nearly fell over.

Thus another successful tournament for both teams and another great win under the belt of the A team who are in a good position to go on to become European Champions 2009! As we headed back to the hotel to get prepared for the night’s festivities (along with Coach W who has set a new trend in the world of fashion – GAA shorts and business man’s shoes), all I could see was happy faces.

Again the night’s antics will not be delved into too deeply for legal reasons, but hats off to Munich for putting on a great evening. The food was delicious and the location was perfect to cope with what seemed like millions of drunken Irish people (no offence, I realise other nationalities were also involved). The night should have ended in the restaurant/bar – yet the more determined (or should I say demented) among us decided that the night needn’t end at 4am – there was more fun to be had. All I remember is trying to get into a dog kennel with Jane and being adamant that the ‘alleged’ night club that was being spoken of would be easy to find. Needless to say upon arrival at the said destination we discovered that there were about 46 nightclubs all in a row. I therefore spent the evening with a group of Belgium GAA individuals (including Colin Byrne who has perfected the art of sleep dancing and Dave Barrett who should never be allowed to go near a camera, EVER) in the WRONG nightclub, only to discover that the next morning the ‘craic’ had gone down in a bar around the corner. You will have to ask those more successful than myself as to what went on in the correct vicinity. Nonetheless as Belgium GAA always do, we managed to create our own fun and returned home in broad daylight. That is all.

As Sunday unfolded and people went about getting their various flights etc, a group of us gathered in the centre of Munich (Phil Roche made us go on an expedition in search of Bratwurst or something – most of us were not so impressed due to the combination of 38°C heat, severe drunkenness/hangovers/sore muscles and a very unfriendly hotel receptionist) to spend the afternoon there before catching the flight back to Brussels. It was nice to have a beer (again) and recap on the previous day before heading off to the airport.

We all returned safely to Brussels… and now have our sights set on Copenhagen! Bring it on!

Special mention should be given to Clare Appleby who actually managed to forget her suitcase in the hotel lobby and only realised upon arrival at Munich airport that she had done so. She also discovered she was still in possession of the hotel room key. Clare A, I love you, please never change. Ever.



RIP: Cuba’s camera. L


Mide, Caoimhe, Clare B, Grainne, Steph, Clare A, Laura, Jane, Sylvia, Bros, Barbara, Caragh, Jess, Rosine, Dominique, Rafi, Maz, Emily

Injured players:

Ana, Lorraine


Avril Brennan

Player of the tournament:

Hats off to Clarissa from Munich. Some of us felt that Grainne should have won the prize even though she is unable to call a dog ;-)

Player of the night:

Sylvia McCarthy for her speech which did not thank the hosts; referees or congratulate the other teams. ‘Wahoo Belgium!’ would suffice as a summary. Also ‘clink clink’, that is all.

I am very sorry if I have left anyone out – this is not at all intentional!! I have problems.

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