Belgium Ladies traveled to Maastricht on Saturday last for the first Pan euro tournament of the year.
We had a strong panel of 14 traveling who were very happy with the reasonable time of departure from Schuman compared to recent trips!
It was a glorious sunny Saturday and we were looking forward to the day ahead.
Our first match was against Paris Gaels, a tough start to the day. We got off to a good solid start and played with intent. We were switched on from the beginning which was great to see compared to tournaments in the past. We scored some wonderful points and were patient with our general attacking play. Mids supported both backs and forwards superbly with the backs even getting on the score board often! We didn’t switch off once even towards the end with the backs and goalkeeper minding the line very well. We won 0-17 - 0-2 with plenty to take from the performance, especially the high amount of points and the determination to stop Paris scoring.
Next match - Holland ladies. In fairness both Paris and Holland were missing players, but it was up to us to push on and take advantage of this. We were wary of Holland’s forwards and midfielders, not knowing where certain players would line out but knowing we had to quality and strategy to tackle that wherever they did.
We lined out 7 a side so we expected an intense match. We started well with the backs taking some nice points. Holland were not winning their kickouts ( our kick outs were strong credit to goalie!) and we punished them. At half time we were not as far ahead as she should have been but in the second half we drove on winning 4-15 - 1-4. Holland threatened to be dangerous on the attack so we were kept on our toes right to the finish. As we traveled with a big panel we had the big advantage of players coming on and off, therefore keeping the legs fresh. Next up after a rather tasty lunch break was Luxembourg. A team in development with another Waterville woman! ;-) We decided to change it up a little bit position wise. We still went into the game with the right attitude as it was our last match before the final. We won 5-10 - 0-2.
So again we faced Paris Gaels in the final who for sure were fired up to have another go at us. We knew that we were in a good position given out strong performances throughout the day. We were doing the simple things right and taking some good scores. However, Paris started the brighter with us a little slow off the mark. Nerves perhaps. We were a bit hesitant. However Grainne Ni Fhlatharta burst up to take a well-timed goal which settled us massively. We drove on from there despite Paris taking some nice points. We didn’t slow down and they didn’t either. It was a heated affair at times but that’s to be expected against Paris. We kept the heads. Gradually the scores came with some more nicely taken late goals and we ran out 4-11 - 0-6 winners in the end.
It was a good solid victory and great to get the first pan euro under the belt. Sadly, it was the final tournament for three ladies who were excellent on the day (even for 6 long years :) Maria, Brighid and Sorcha. We will miss ye greatly on the pitch and certainly off it! A big congrats to Maria who won player of the tournament for a great day in goal and up in the forwards!! Many thanks also to John Brennan (accompanied by Mary) and Pete for helping us so well on the sideline. Thanks to Sylvia who agreed to play with another team, Lux, which helped with numbers and to all the girls in general for having the right attitude on a day where we ended up playing mainly 7 a side with a large team. Every girl played good football and gave a super example of playing the game in the right spirit.
So now off to Paris on September 14th for what will surely be a tougher day out. Let’s keep it going and build from a good team performance in Maastricht!!
Aisling and Ciara