Meet our international handball player – Seán Fuchs. He is half-Irish, half-German and 110% County Monaghan. Now based in Heidelberg, Seán has been a great addition to the Cologne Celtics – especially on the Gaelic football side (but not a bad hurler at the same time).
In this interview he tells us about playing for the Ireland National Team in Olympic handball, how he got in touch with the Cologne Celtics, transferable skills between the other sports he has played with Gaelic football, the sights of County Monaghan and more. Always welcome to join our training sessions and matches, it has been great having Seán in our group.
- Hey Seán, tell us a bit about yourself? What is your connection to Cologne?
My name is Seán Fuchs, and I am 20 years old. I am half-Irish and half-German, my mother is from Monaghan, Ireland and my father is from Cologne, Germany. I was born in Cologne, and I spent a lot of my childhood in Cologne but in the holidays, I spent a lot of time in Monaghan visiting cousins and friends.
- How did you get in touch with the Cologne Celtics GAA Club?
I got in touch with the Cologne Celtics GAA club on their Facebook page because I was looking for a Gaelic football team in Germany since I was like 10. I downloaded Facebook and immediately found the Cologne Celtics. I messaged them and from the first training sessions it was a lot of craic and I really enjoyed it!
- What is your preferred sport – Gaelic football or hurling?
I prefer Gaelic football more than hurling. My grandfather played for Scotstown GAA, a team in Monaghan, and a lot of my friends play for Emyvale GAA. I watch their matches when I am over in Ireland, and I support them as well. I also support Scotstown as well. I also like hurling because it is super-fast. Now that I’m away from Cologne, I miss both of them as they are very physical but enjoyable sports.
- How would you describe your experience training and playing the Cologne Celtics?
It was plenty of craic with the Cologne Celtics players. There was hurling on Saturday morning and Gaelic football on Thursday evening which has changed a bit since. A bunch of sound lads playing the sports and they were always nice and welcoming. The Gaelic football tournament in Maastricht was my only real tournament (due to coronavirus), and we had in-club matches with players from Düsseldorf joining us. They were intense games but almighty good fun.
It was an honour to play with the Celts. If you guys are in the south or if I have time and I’m around Cologne I will be joining you out on the field! I would certainly recommend joining up and playing with the Celts.
- You have been back and forth to Ireland many times – especially to county Monaghan – did you play any Gaelic football there?
Yes, I’ve been in the Farney region a lot. When my grandfather was still alive, I was there in the Autumn time, Easter time and even Christmas time sometimes. There were always camps on in the Summer, called “Cúl Camps”. They were great craic and I got to know a lot of people through playing GAA – especially Gaelic football. They were brilliant fun, and the organisation was very good.
- Do you play any other sports?
Yes, I also play Olympic handball. I played American Football for half a year or a year, but school got in the way. I also like watching other sports, especially those with loose connections to Gaelic football like soccer and rugby.
- What was it like playing for the Irish national team in Handball?
It is an honour to play for the Irish national handball team. I don’t know what the situation will be like post-Corona, but I assume we will get to know that soon. Hopefully, the numbers will stay low and continue going down – hopefully quicker! I’ve been to two tournaments – I’ve played in Austria and Kosovo. I went to the first u18 national tournament that the team took part in Austria, and the tournament in Kosovo was for the u20s. It was great craic. The lads are very funny and sound.
- Do you hope to keep playing handball for Ireland?
Yes, I would love to keep playing for the Ireland National Team. I don’t know what the situation will be like after-Corona. I heard some of the players are no longer playing handball due to injuries, but I am still fully committed regarding playing for Ireland. As I said, it is a real and deep honour to play for Ireland.
- What skills could you bring from handball and other sports to Gaelic sports?
For soccer players it is the shooting and passing that can be brought along to Gaelic football. American footballers are great athletes and used to running hard on grass. Handballers and basketballers would know how to use their hands, have good ball control. Handballers can also bring in the physical element and aggressiveness as they know how to use their body. Gaelic football also suits rugby and Aussie Rules players.
For hurling I would say the sport is very suitable for ice hockey, hockey, and lacrosse players. Baseball and tennis players should also try it out. The ball size is similar, and the hand-eye coordination can be transferred across sports.
- How would you convince your friends to try out Gaelic football?
I would first show them a video or watch a game with them and tell them about the sport. Alternatively, for training, I would tell them that there is beer after training! Most of them will come along to just try out a new sport. Especially, after Corona it is nice to do sport. We have all had a year break from activities and now we want to play sport. Sportspeople know, handballers know, that it is brilliant to just sit down after training to sit together and have a beer… the Cologne Celtics do it as well. It is nice team-building, I think.
- Where are you living these days?
I have been living in Heidelberg since 1st of April. I am studying to become a primary school teacher with focus on German and sport and I’m in my first semester. The online semesters have been very tough. I think everyone who has been working and studying knows how difficult it is.
- How are your studies going?
My studies are going very well. It is very busy due to all the subjects that I have. Yes, it is hard but in two weeks I will be finished, and I am looking forward to that. I will be finished with my last exam on July 31st and on the same day the “Farney Army” are playing in the Ulster Final against Tyrone. I am really looking forward to that!
- Have you met any Gaelic players in Heidelberg?
I met a girl here who plays for Darmstadt GAA. We went to training once with the Darmstadt lads and that was great craic as well.
- Who is your favourite Monaghan player?
That is a tricky question… hmmm… It is hard to say who it is. I like the Scotstown players I’ve known since I was young like Rory Beggin, Kieran and Darren Hughes. I also like Conor McManus, he is one of the best forwards in Ireland, no doubt. Also the younger generation, Jack McCarron had a wonderful game against Armagh in the semis and a solid performance against Fermanagh as well.
Talking about the younger generation, we can’t go forward without commenting on the tragic loss of the young football star Brendan Óg Duffy. My thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family, and his teammates. It is just tragic to see a future star pass away. It is sad to see… Genuinely, my thoughts and prayers are with the minor team and all those connected to the young man.
- Where can you recommend to visit in Monaghan?
I haven’t been to Monaghan in a while, but I can recommend the town itself. There is plenty of craic to be had with pubs and restaurants. There are a lot of monuments there as well. If you travel out into the countryside, you can find great views of Monaghan, Armagh, and Fermanagh. That is very nice. You can also buy great turf there. At home in Cologne, we have a fireplace and chimney where we use turf from Monaghan.
Clones is also great, not just for St. Tiernach’s Park, the town is great. There are many nicely built churches around Monaghan as well. You will also find nice lakes and swimming pools for those who fancy a nice swim.
- Have you ever attended a match at Clones (St. Tiernach’s Park)?
I have been to Clones a few times. When my grandfather was still alive, I went to the Ulster Final between Donegal and Down (2012 – Donegal 2.18 Down 0.13). I think that was the first Ulster Final I watched. Donegal hammered Down, I couldn’t tell you the score but it was a nice feeling to watch. A few years later, after my granddad died sadly, I watched the Ulster Final between Monaghan and Donegal (2015) where Monaghan won in the dying minutes because a Donegal player put the ball wide. I will never forget that victory! (Monaghan 0.11 Donegal 0.10)
Thanks a million for the interview Seán! We’re looking forward to seeing you out on the pitch again – and going for a long overdue beer with you.