The Celtics are Going to Cork: Sept. 30th-Oct. 4th 2022

Members of the Cologne Celtics GAA club are off to Cork, Ireland, from Friday, September 30th until Tuesday, October 4th, to consolidate connections between the partner cities of Cologne and Cork.

The trip to Cork will consist of a hurling match at Páirc Uí Chaoimh between the Celtics and a selection from the historical club, St. Finbarrs National Hurling and Football Club – „the Barrs“. It will also allow some of our non-Irish players to experience the deep passion for hurling and Gaelic football at one of the most successful dual clubs in the „Rebel County“.

This trip has been one of the club’s long-term projects that we have been working on with our friends at the Vereins zur Förderung der Städtepartnerschaft Köln-Cork e.V.

We had initially planned to go over in mid-March 2020, but unfortunately, the minor issue of the global Coronavirus pandemic got in the way of the trip. This cancellation was devastating for us, especially after the hours of hard work that were put into it to make it happen. However, we kept the project alive and on the back burner until the global situation changed. Two and a half years later, that time has finally come!

A special thank you has to be given to the chairperson of the Köln-Cork Group, Lydia Schneider-Benjamin, who has been instrumental in ensuring that the project will take place. From our club’s perspective, our former chairperson, Stephen O’Rourke, got the ball rolling on this trip and played a crucial role in putting the original trip together. As that trip was so well planned, arranging the new one hasn’t been too much work.

Oisín, Lydia, Mick and Renate in Cork, January 2020.

In Cork, our contact person has been Councillor Mick Finn, who was Lord Mayor of Cork City in 2018/19. He has done incredible work with the logistics of the trip on the Ireland side, and he has simply been a major asset in making the plans a reality. Huge credit has to go his way.

A GAA Trip hosted by St. Finbarr’s GAA Club

Our players will be in Cork from Friday until Tuesday, and although our match will be on Monday night, there will be plenty of GAA-related activities between arrival and the match. On Saturday, we will visit St. Finbarr’s club for a training session on their pitch, see their clubhouse and learn about the club.

St. Finbarr’s, as mentioned above, is one of Cork’s (and Ireland’s) most successful club teams. They have won 25 Cork Senior Club Championships, 4 Munster Senior Club Hurling Championships and 2 All-Ireland Senior Clubs in hurling. In Gaelic football, they have won 10 Cork Senior Club Championships, 5 Munster Club titles and 3 All-Ireland Club titles. A seriously impressive trophy cabinet

A St. Finbarr’s Legend: the great Jimmy Barry-Murphy

As a club, they have provided Cork hurling teams with exceptional players down the years, including the legend Jimmy Barry-Murphy, Ger Cunningham, Gerald McCarthy and Charlie McCarthy, as well as modern-day players, such as Damien and Conor Cahalane. In Gaelic football, the Barrs have given us Davy Barry, Michael Shields, JBM and Steven Sherlock. St. Finbarr’s GAA Club is true GAA royalty, and we are delighted to partner with them for this project.

Our Schedule

We are due to arrive at Cork Airport from Frankfurt on the evening of September 30th, and from there plan to explore what Cork City has to offer. Please contact us if you are in Cork City that weekend and would like to meet the Cologne Celtics.

On Saturday, we will start the day by visiting a hurley-maker’s workshop, and there we will learn how our hurleys are made. This trip should be a fascinating insight into the art of hurley creation, and we are more than excited about it.

Following the hurley-maker’s workshop, we will visit St. Finbarr’s GAA Club and get to know our partners at the club. The following day, we plan to attend the Cork Premier Senior Football Championship Semi-Final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

Oisín meeting the Lord Mayor in January 2020

Sunday will involve attending the Bon Secours Premier Senior Football Championship Semi-Finals, where we will see Nemo Rangers play Ballincollig and St. Finbarrs against Castelhaven. Prior to going there, we will visit the historic stronghold of hurling in Cork – Blackrock National Hurling Club.

On Monday, we will play our match after a tour of Cork City. Our players will face off against a St. Finbarr’s selection at Páirc Uí Chaoimh from 7pm, and we are highly anticipating a great night of hurling! Following the match, we will return to the St. Finbarr’s clubhouse in Togher for a few well-earned pints.

On Tuesday morning, our players will meet the Lord Mayor of Cork at City Hall in the centre of Cork City. This meeting will be a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the clear connections between Cork and Cologne. Following this meeting, our players will make their way to Dublin to fly from there back to Cologne.

Throughout this trip, we will collaborate closely with Lydia and the rest of the Cologne contingent who will be in Cork at that time.

Cork and Cologne: Partner Cities

Cork is the second-biggest city in Ireland and has been a partner city of Cologne since 1988. Cork is home to many members of the Celts, and it will be brilliant to develop this new connection between the cities.

For this reason, we are delighted to partner up with Städtepartnerschaft Köln-Cork e.V. as they have extensive experience in this area. They have regularly sent large travel groups to Ireland and have had many projects centred around music; we are honoured to build on the sporting links between our two cities.

If you are based in Cologne and would like to know more about the connections between Cork and Cologne, please consider becoming a member of their organisation.

Check out Städtepartnerschaft Köln-Cork e.V. on their website or social media.

Should this project go well, and we develop a solid blueprint for Cork-Cologne hurling matches, we hope this will become a regular event. All going well; this will not be a once-off trip, and we hope to welcome a Cork team to the Domstadt in the near future.

For a blast from the past, here is the original PDF report outlining our plans for the initial Cork trip. This report is from January 2020, a time before we knew about quarantines, lockdowns, antigen tests, PCRs and FFP2 masks; enjoy.

If you are involved with a GAA club in Ireland or elsewhere and would like to develop a similar project with the Cologne Celtics, please get in contact with us directly. Our club is always looking to build connections.

Top photo: Cork, Ireland: MarcOliver_Artworks (Pixabay)

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