On Saturday, May 7th 2022, Twenty-two of Cologne Celtics and Rheinland’s finest hurlers and camógs competed in a Benelux regional hurling tournament in The Hague, Netherlands. There, our players put up some impressive performances against teams from the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxemburg. Tournament report by Club Secretary, Malte Lampart.
Our men’s team competed in the Shield tournament under the name „County Rheinland“, as our team was supplemented by four hurlers from Düsseldorf GFC. Our men’s team contingent consisted of Frank, Malte, Fabian, Jan, Santi, Ciarán, Anthony, Florian, Johannes, Jack, Tommy, Eoin and Damien.
What was promising for our club was that several players who had played in our German Hurling Cup victory were missing but we still had a strong squad to choose from. This was another indicator that the Rheinland is becoming an important player in European GAA.
Our first match of the tournament was against Belgium B. Going into this match, we had no idea what level to expect as Belgium GAA is one of the strongest and largest clubs in Europe. Belgium regularly compete at the top-end of European GAA and has won nine European hurling titles since 2009. Judging by this record, they can certainly field two powerful teams.
However, we started quickly and our full-forward Tommy scored two goals before half-time. This provided us with a platform to make a mark on the game. In the end, County Rheinland came out with the victory as it finished 3-06 to 0-02. This result was Cologne’s first victory over Belgian opposition.
Our second game placed us against a mixed team from mostly Luxembourg and Maastricht. This team consisted of some very good hurlers but as a mixed team, it lacked certain team synergy and familiarity. Our players put in a huge performance and came out with another victory, this time we won 4-07 to 1-04.
With two victories, we were into the Shield Final, and this time we faced much stronger opposition in the form of Eindhoven GAA. Eindhoven dominated the first half but missed a lot of chances and only managed to end the half with a two-point lead.
After half-time and a chance to catch our breaths, we came back and played much better in the second half. With the wind at our backs, we mounted a valiant comeback. Although we were outplayed in the first minutes of the second half, we stayed in touch. The Eindhoven lads were scoring more often but they couldn’t put us away and somehow we managed to get back into the game. In a frantic 5 minute spell, we scored three goals, with two from Ciarán and one by our new addition Anto.
At the final whistle, nobody really seemed to know who won but unfortunately, we did not achieve victory. Instead, we lost by the smallest of margins with a final score of 04-05 to 03-09. However, our players did us proud and this was another indicator that there is a lot to build on for our club.
The Championship was won by the A team of the titans of Belgium GAA 1-18 to 2-10 against Amsterdam. The skill level shown in the championship matches definitely gave us an aspiration to work towards regarding fitness, skills and tactical aspects. We plan on taking these lessons back with us to Germany and to come back to the region stronger in the future.
For this tournament, we were able to send a full complement of camogie players. Our camogie section has developed hugely in the last twelve months, and this was the third tournament in a row that we could send a full team of Cologne players. Our ladies‘ team consisted of Lea, Laura, Clara, Kea, Aoibhín, Katharina, Caitlin and Fiona
However, compared to our experience in the German Cup in March, this was a step up in quality. Our ladies had three tough matches against two teams from Belgium GAA and a combined team from the Netherlands. Just like in hurling competition, Belgium GAA is a European Camogie powerhouse and they have been European Camogie champions in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 & 2019.
Although our ladies gave it their all, ultimately they fell short and lost all their games. However, they put it up to their opposition and were close in two of the three games. The first match was a tough experience as we lost against Belgium B by 7-08 to 1-03. Due to the fixture list and times, our ladies did not have anyone on the sideline who was able to make tactical changes or spot issues. It takes some time to get used to these steps while also engaged in the heat of battle.
Our second match brought us up against a mixed team consisting of players from different Dutch teams. In the end, we were defeated by 3-06 to 2-03 but as we were level at half-time, it showed that progress was being made. In the last match, against Belgium, our ladies gave everything and demonstrated a great fight against formidable opposition, however, they lost out by one point. The final score was 3:05 to 2:07 – so 14 points to 13.
Overall, what was a promising indicator of our progress as a club was that we were the only club apart from Belgium that fielded a full camogie team. Considering we didn’t have a camogie team this time last year – that was in itself a big achievement. Apart from that, our ladies learned a significant amount and will take that with us for future tournaments and games.
The Social Side
Of course, one of the great joys of big tournaments is the social side attached to them. Just like for the Munich trip, most of our players journeyed by train on Friday evening and made a three-day weekend of it. Some of our players followed them by car on the day of the tournament.
Following the tournament and a long day of action in the sun, our players enjoyed some well-earned cold refreshments. We had some delicious food and a great party at O’Casey’s Irish pub in the centre of Den Haag. Although our players had a great time in the Dutch administrative and royal capital, they were devastated to hear that they just missed the visit of Prince Harry by two weeks!
The following day, many of our early risers managed to make their way to the beach to enjoy most of their Sunday. Some players were unable to make the early journey. Overall, it made a good weekend of hurling and team bonding before we made our way back to the Rheinland.
Some lessons learned during the weekend by our club treasurer, Laura:
- Iceberg salad should be criminalised – as it is always a disappointment,
- Alpacas are cute,
- Malte can identify many things from the window of a train, including fields,
- If a ticket machine doesn’t work it is a valid excuse for not buying a ticket,
- Eindhoven Centraal is a good spot to get some pre-tournament sprints going,
- Walnuts can be a surprising addition to a lasagna.
Thanks Malte and Laura for the tournament report. At the Cologne Celtics GAA Club, we are actively involved in matches and tournaments around Germany and further afield – including in the Benelux region. If you would like to check out our club and try out hurling and Gaelic football in the Rheinland, please get in contact with us directly. We are always looking for new players for our team and new people to join our community.