Tired players, injuries and sore heads were contributing factors to the train journey back being quieter. A lot of energy was used up in the last three days and it was now time to discuss important issues concerning team tactics, tournament planning, what went right and wrong on the pitch and, most importantly, which Spice Girl is Gareth’s favourite…
Overall, this was a successful trip as we came away with two victories from three matches, and our ladies had two camogie matches as well. This tournament consisted of three hard-fought matches with Munich Colmcilles, Vienna GAA and Darmstadt GAA, with some great hurling, beautiful weather, and brilliant team moments. Club trips are special for what happens on-the-pitch but also off it. This report can only say so much about the experience as „what goes on tour, stays on tour“ – unless it fits smoothly into a paragraph and helps me write this tournament report!
The pandemic situation meant that this was our first hurling tournament since October 2019. We had planned for matches in October 2020, but rising coronavirus numbers stopped those from happening. After our return to training, a rise in vaccination-availability and the corona-situation and rules allowing us to stay training, our thoughts went to organising matches. In late July, we received word from Munich that they were planning a tournament and invited us along. We didn’t think twice before accepting the invitation.
We rounded up our available players, contacted the lads in Düsseldorf to get involved and then had to make changes and adjustments along the way due to players no longer being available and a national train strike across Germany. In the end, we brought down 13 hurlers and 3 camogie players. After sorting out spare hurleys, sliotars, helmets and an e-scooter for Cathal, we all managed to get on the (re-arranged) train safely. Even Otso managed not to get lost! We were on the way to Munich!
The tournament consisted of all the teams playing each other in a league format, and in the end, Munich came out as well-deserved victors with the Celts in second place. Our first match put us up against Munich, and although we started brightly with a goal from Stephen and a lead at half-time (1.02 to 1.01), Munich took complete control in the second half. Dropping a man back to deal with our puckouts, they cleaned up around their half-backline and drove on to victory by a margin of 3.07 to 1.02.
Our second match brought us up against Darmstadt, and again we had a bright start with a goal and a point from Oisín and a couple of near misses, it was in the second half when we really drove on. Tommy came into our full-forward line for this match and really showed his quality with a hat-trick and a dominant performance as the focal point. Finbar also added a goal, and our midfield and back line provided a solid platform to deliver a victory. We came out of that match with a victory by a score of 5.04 to 0.08.
Our third and final match brought us up against Vienna. This match brought challenges as both Oisín and Finbar ended up with hamstring injuries with Oisín coming off and Otso changing in goal with Finbar. The tiredness was kicking in at this stage for players who had played a lot of hurling by this stage. This match showed the value of a squad and how everyone who comes to tournaments contribute enormously to the team. Frank, Jack, Tommy and Cathal put over some needed points, Fred put in a monster performance throughout in his very first hurling tournament, Otso was solid as a rock in goal and showed his skills when needed outfield, Malte scored what has now become a trademark “tennis flick” goal, Johannes was able to show his skills and bravery around the pitch and Gareth, Charles and Stephen showed the value of hard-work, perseverance and team-work throughout.
In the end, our hearts were in our mouths, and we gave everything to get a vital one-point win! Cologne 1.07, Vienna 0.09.
A strong Munich team won the tournament in the end with victories in all three matches they played. We came in a respectable second place.
Growing our ladies‘ section – ladies‘ football and camogie – has been one of our key focus points as a club for this year. Our ladies‘ officer, Lea, has done Trojan work in building this up with dedicated WhatsApp chat groups, recruitment drives, close links with our friends at Düsseldorf GAA and following up with every interested player. Our participation in the 20×20 campaign demonstrates how, as a club, we want to continue developing this section.
For this trip, our camógs Laura, Lea and Charlotte made the long trip down to Munich, where they were able to link up with Vienna to play against a combination of Munich and Darmstadt. Our ladies formed a solid full-back line until Charlotte moved out towards the midfield as the games went on. Our players contributed hugely to two hard-fought battles. In the end Munich/Darmstadt came out victorious by 0-4 to 1-0 in the first game, and 1-4 to 0-3 in the second.
After a huge turnout at a recent ladies‘ only camogie session hosted with Düsseldorf GAA, and more and more ladies getting involved with the club, we are definitely moving in the right direction. We’re looking forward to more camogie matches in the future.
As important as it is to win a few matches, the social side of tournaments is definitely one of the main reasons to go! After a quick beer in the local bar/restaurant at the pitch, we went to a proper Munich Biergarten for well-deserved drinks, food, chat, and a mountain of spare ribs. “Lad chat” ensued concerning the usual topics of fast cars, GAA, football chants and, of course, what the Spice Girls are up to these days – we hope that they are happy and in a good place in their lives…
From the Biergarten, it was back to the hostel to get ready for sightseeing and Munich culture. We were definitely not going to go to the Irish Pub, and instead we’d try something unique to Munich… After several failed attempts to get into other bars, we inevitably ended up in “Killian’s Irish Pub” (we were always going to end up there to be fair…).
The journey to finally get to the pub that would host a team of hurlers was an epic quest up there with the likes of Frodo and the Ring, Beowulf and Grendel, Odysseus and his Odyssey and getting back to Bonn from Cologne when the trainline has construction work… Thankfully, our team consists of nice lads and ladies whose company is at times tolerable – in turn, this made for a pleasant evening of festivities.
As for the morning after, a strategic decision paid off by ensuring that our hostel was only 5 minutes from München Hauptbahnhof!
Throughout the tournament we learned a lot about team selection issues, strategies, tactics and more, however, with other matches and tournaments on the horizon, we are not going to share those online for obvious reasons. Instead, we will share some other lessons that we learned over the course of the weekend and the tournament:
- Tommy learned what a “Rick Flair Woo” is,
- Düsseldorf lads can be convinced to play hurling for Cologne as long as we say, “Up the Rhineland” instead of “Kölle Abú”,
- Stephen is really not great at naming the counties of Ireland,
- Our ladies‘ section has a WhatsApp group called „Celtics Fish Ladies“…,
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Kim Kardashian, Ivanka Trump, both Gilmore Girls and (a young) Margaret Thatcher are just some of the celebrity guilty crushes our players have,
- Losing our Finnish goalkeeping star, Otso, on the streets of Munich causes severe anxiety in some of our team-members,
- As well as losing „Gareth’s Otso“, we also lost a phone, several sliotars, a toenail, some football boots, a hurley but, most importantly, we did not lose our sense of humour,
- We solved major world problems such as Afghanistan, climate change and, most concerning of all, how to beat this current Limerick hurling team… unfortunately we’re now no longer in the pub, it’s all gone a bit blurry and we’ve kind of forgotten what was said…
- In Munich Biergartens, “ein kleines Bier” is “ein großes Bier” elsewhere and if you just ask for a beer, you’re going to get what a mate of mine back in Ireland calls “a litre pint”,
- Spice Girls are for life, and you can be mad for a United Ireland (26+6=1 etc.) while supporting England in football and worshipping at the alter of David Beckham,
- If your vaccine pass is on your phone, make sure that phone is charged before going to a pub!
With our own hurling and camogie tournament coming up soon and Gaelic football action in between, we have a lot to look forward to in the next few weeks. Thank you Munich Colmcilles GAA for inviting us down and to Vienna Gaels GAA and Darmstadt GAA for a great weekend of hurling and craic.
Up the Rhineland!