After two years disrupted by the Coronavirus pandemic, the Cologne Celtics were ready for a big year in 2022. With matches, tournaments, training sessions, a trip to Ireland and off-the-field activities „go leor“, it was one of our most productive years as a club.
Last year, we provided a year review, „2021: Our Year“ by focusing on some of the main areas of the club, but this year with so much going on, we went down a different path. To summarise everything we accomplished was a challenge, and to achieve that, we prepared a month-by-month account of the year 2022. Bain sult as!
After finishing training in early December with a small Christmas party, our players and club were ready to return to the pitch from January onward. Training numbers in January remained impressive throughout the month. After two Covid-disrupted years, it was clear from the beginning that our members were keen to get started again. Under the guidance of our coaches – Frank, Malte, Niall, Jan, and Cathal – our lads and ladies trained hard and with greater intensity from the beginning.
Enthusiasm was also shown for midweek fitness sessions – mainly from our ladies. Wednesday sessions were led by Frank, who devised suitable fitness activities to ensure that our team members were ready for the year to come.
Further developing our training ambitions for 2022, we had our first joint-up session with our friends at Düsseldorf GAA. Their development in the last two years has been nothing short of phenomenal, and enormous respect must go to Paul, Sinéad and the rest at Düsseldorf for that. We had a combined session, where our team and coaches learned a great deal regarding intensity in drills. This was the beginning of a successful collaboration that carried on throughout the year.
Off the pitch, we also experienced developments with Florian Kobus & Kea Holze joining our committee as joint Equipment & Facilities Officers. They were keen to take the roles, and from the start, they displayed an impressive attitude with the organisation of our equipment. Since leaving the UniSport in Cologne in 2020 due to pitch development work, the equipment organisation has been challenging for coaches and the committee. However, with two officers looking after this vital side of the club, we now have a massive overview of our stocks. Go raibh mile maith agaibh, Kea agus Flo!
On our club website, we published two articles. The first article of 2022 was an interview with Irish footballer Noe Baba. This chat turned out to be one of the most consistently read articles on the website throughout the year. Our second article was a compilation of pieces from Erasmus students who have had their year abroad during the Pandemic.
February started promisingly as the Cologne Celtics officially joined the Köln Stadtsportbund. This development was achieved, particularly through the hard work of our Ladies‘ Officer, Lea Janssen.
As members of the StadtSportbund, the Celtics had an increased chance of getting better training facilities. It provided the club with more exposure to the sport-playing community in Cologne and meant that we had better access to support.
Training continued throughout the month, even as storms rampaged through Germany. One of the month’s highlights was most certainly our first Ladies‘ Training session of 2022. Growing our ladies‘ section has been a key aim of our club for the last number of years, and getting regular Ladies‘ Training sessions going is one of the main steps in achieving this goal. The ladies‘ performance in our home tournament from October 2021 demonstrated the potential camogie power that our club can become!
Finbar led the session with help from Johannes and Malte. Seven ladies trained hard in horrible February conditions in preparation for a big year ahead.
Our month closed with the world-famous Cologne Karneval and our „Karneval training“. Unlike in 2020, when we dressed in costumes for training, this time we invited our friend „The Pie Man“ (Richard from „Pie-Haus Colonia“) to supply us with post-training pies. We could not let up our preparation work with the German Hurling Cup just around the corner! We had a hard session overseen by Frank, with plenty of running and movement, which made us all more grateful for the delicious pies post-training!
Additionally, we were joined by our very first club member from Uruguay – Santiago. He joined at the right time, as Karneval provided an excellent opportunity for our players to socialise, meet up, and have the craic during Cologne’s „fifth season“.
On our website, we had one of our most popular posts of the year as we had the chance to interview Eoin O’Farrell – the hurler who rowed the Atlantic Ocean.
March was a big month for the Celts! With the German Hurling Cup in Düsseldorf, attending the Monheimer Frühlingsfest, preparing for the German Football Cup in Augsburg, Ladies‘ Training and a joint session with our friends at Düsseldorf GAA, it was a pretty busy time for us.
Our first big event in March was our joint session with Düsseldorf. Training sessions and matches at Chorweiler are special, as they tend to attract a big crowd. We were not let down, as we had 24+ players at this session. With a big turnout, we played an hour of Gaelic football and two hours of hurling, which prepared our players for the German Cup. Malte led us through the football, while Frank was the leading man for the hurling. All our players got a lot out of a great morning of play!
The following morning we had our second dedicated ladies‘ session, overseen by Finbar, with Oisín helping out. After so much running the previous day, our players had the chance to focus on ball work, practice frees and puck outs, and discuss vital aspects of play. It was another successful session with the feeling of spring arriving in beautiful March weather.
These training sessions were not wasted, as we were in Düsseldorf for the (rescheduled) 2021 German Cup Championship the following week. Fair play to our good friends at Düsseldorf for stepping up to host the event – and it turned out to be a historical event for our club. With a hard grind from January, we had our focus switched to this German Cup for a long time.
Hard work pays off, as both our hurling and camogie teams finished the day as German champions. Our ladies performed incredibly, with standout performances from Aoibhín, Lucie and the player of the tournament, Caitlín, but every player played their role. As team goalkeeper, Laura put herself in front of all shots that came her way; Kath, Lea and Fiona demonstrated dogged determination in defence. We were ably supported by Setanta Berlin ladies – Róisín and Christine. The Cologne ladies dominated the tournament and showed the talent level available in the Rhineland. The Sebastian Rießbeck Cup was coming to Cologne!
For our men, we faced tough matches against Prague, „the Gaels“ – a mixed group of players (including some of our own) – and the final against Hamburg. Short a few of our starters, such as Frank and Fred, our team demonstrated huge commitment, incredible shooting and no lack of skill in facing off opponents. Our defence was solid and left very little past them, our midfield was tireless and able to score from distance, and our forward line contributed goals and points galore. Overall, we outworked and outfought our opponents – scoring 13 goals in three matches.
The final against Hamburg was a hard-fought and, at times, bad-tempered match. We had a nightmare of a beginning, with Hamburg coming through for a goal in the first thirty seconds. However, our lads showed character by scoring their points, and Malte contributed a characteristic poacher’s goal to put us ahead. Hamburg stayed in touch with pointed frees, and at half-time, we were level. Goals in the second half from Tommy and Finbar swung it our way, and in the end, we won by 3.08 to 1.06. A historic day for the club.
The German Cup success was the beginning of a busy week for the Celts, with gatherings on Saint Patrick’s Day and on Saturday afterwards as we held our club night out in our club sponsor, „Jameson’s Distillery Pub„. This night out allowed our members to celebrate the triumph together and plan future events at Jameson’s.
Rounding off a busy March, we had our final training session of the month on the 26th, and the following day we headed to Monheim for the Monheimer Frühlingsfest. We had been formally invited by the city of Monheim to attend, and once there, we had the fantastic opportunity to talk to the locals about Gaelic sports and the club itself.
Tom, Malte, Santi, Ute and Oisín went out there to represent the club, and we were able to chat with the locals, demonstrate hurling and Gaelic football to the young and the young-at-heart, and thoroughly enjoyed a beautiful day outdoors. We were surprised at the start of the day as the Irish Ambassador, Dr Nicholas O’Brien, came over to chat with us, including about a potential future project!
From there, we met many people intrigued by our hurleys and those who recognised them from their trips to Ireland. The Monheimer Frühlingsfest was an excellent example of how we could advertise and promote the club to those unfamiliar with Gaelic Sports.
Here are our website blog posts from March:
After several months of „hurling-dominated,“ it was time to focus on Gaelic football. April also brought us back to the Jahnwiese for Gaelic football training – signifying the start of our summer season.
The first significant event of April was supposed to be the German Gaelic Football Cup – Santiago and Tobias went to Augsburg to represent the Celts playing with Düsseldorf. However, snowfall led to the event being cancelled. On the same day, the rest of the Celts trained in Brühl, as our usual pitch in Nippes was unavailable. However, we also experienced snow, not as extreme as in Augsburg! Nine hardy players turned up in less-than-ideal conditions for a good day of hurling.
Gaelic football continued to take prominence as we started back on the Jahnwiese for our midweek summer sessions. Our first Jahnwiese session of the year prepared our players for the Benelux Gaelic football tournament in Maastricht. Our lads joined up with our friends from Düsseldorf for this one. Santiago, Tobias, Malte, Shane, Ciarán, Johannes and Niall represented the club and were joined by familiar Düsseldorf faces, such as Paul, Jack and Tommy, to put out a strong team.
The tournament started well with a victory against the hosts. However, two defeats followed in the group stage to Luxembourg B and Belgium A. The lads put up a strong showing against Belgium, but a couple of late goals for Belgium sealed their victory at 4:04 to 0:06. These results meant the Rheinlanders entered into the Plate semi-final against Luxembourg B, which ended in a defeat.
April was also a crucial month for us as the persistence of Malte, Lea and Johannes paid off – we found a proper pitch for our weekend sessions! The Celts were delighted to get access to the facilities of SUS Nippes 1912. A small expeditionary force met the club’s chairperson to discuss the matter, and we were ecstatic that they were so open to us using their club as a base for our equipment and as a place to train. The lack of a suitable training pitch has disadvantaged our development. At the end of April (after the Easter holidays), we had our first official session at Nippes.
That first session was a success as we had a big turnout of players. Players were delighted with the new facilities – changing rooms, showers and two pitches. Although there was a mix-up regarding the big pitch, we could get a lot of work completed on the smaller pitch with long warm-ups for both Gaelic football and hurling. Following that, we moved to an 8v8 match on the big Astroturf pitch, and we impressed some of the locals with our new exotic sport!
This was the beginning of our summer training, and overall, it made a difference to our attendance at training and gave our players more opportunities to improve their skills. It was also the perfect way for our players to prepare for the summer tournaments, including Den Haag, which took place during the first May weekend.
Here are our website blog posts from April:
May started with an extensive training session on the Jahnwiese in final preparations for our trip to the Benelux tournament in Den Haag. Our team set off from Cologne on Friday evening and spent the weekend in the Netherlands, with trips to the beach included in our stay. What was promising for this trip was that we could send a team comprising several players who had not taken part in our German Cup victory.
Our contingent was made up of the following players: Frank, Malte, Fabian, Jan, Santi, Ciarán, Anto, Florian, Johannes, Lea, Clara, Laura, Aoibhín, Kea, Fiona and Caitlin but ably backed up by our friends from Düsseldorf: Tommy, Eoin, Jack and Damo.
They represented the club with distinction as the men’s team won 2 out of their 3 games beating Belgium B and a mixed team of Luxembourg/Maastricht. However, we came up just short in the last match against Eindhoven with a one-point defeat – 3:09 to 4:05. Unfortunately, our camogie team lost their three matches. However, in the last game, they put it up to perennial European Camogie champions – Belgium – and in the end, lost by one point – 3:05 to 2:07. Considering this was our ladies‘ third time entering a camogie tournament, they did a fantastic job of representing the club.
Our players were motivated to train after our impressive showing at the Den Haag tournament. The improving May weather also helped bring big numbers to training. Our second training session at SUS Nippes was conducted in impressive heat, but our players dealt with that challenge and put in hard work throughout. Following the session, several players went to a nearby Biergarten, where we were joined by some familiar faces in the form of Franziska and Arun.
When Arun Dhananjay left us to return to India in early 2021, we thought we had seen the last of our Indian hurling sensation – so we were delighted to hear he was back in the Rheinland and ready to join us again! We were also relieved to hear that Franziska had recovered from an injury and was ready to go again with Gaelic football training!
With improving weather and the „summer feeling“ hitting our club, this wasn’t our only social get-together in May. With our new facilities in Nippes, our players could train hard, get stuck in during training matches and then shower/change and head out to socialise around Cologne. After two „Corona-years“ of reduced socialising opportunities, we made sure to use that opportunity.
For our website, we chatted with the CEO and founder of the Sanctuary Runners group in Ireland, Graham Clifford, and our Uruguayan superstar – Santiago.
In June, our primary focuses on the pitch was the Darmstadt Tournament. With improved weather and clear goals, our training numbers remained quite good considering that there were several holidays and long weekends at this time.
On the social side, our Irish Language and Cultural Officer kickstarted the regular „Irish Music Sessions Nights“ at the Black Sheep Pub. A group of Celts attended the event on June 6th and, from there, continued to support Gareth’s endeavours throughout the year. After two years of reduced social contact and an inability to properly plan social events, Gareth’s music events provided a reliable means of socialising regularly away from the training field.
The Darmstadt Hurling and Camogie Tournaments took place on June 11th, and the Celts sent a full contingent of players supported by Damo and Paul from Düsseldorf. Our hurlers faced off against Vienna, Darmstadt, Setanta Berlin, and Hamburg. In hot summer temperatures, we won the tournament. Our ladies proved too strong against Darmstadt and won the camogie tournament.
This tournament was the last for our impressive Erasmus contingent, Ciarán, Aoibhín, Fiona and Caitlin, who proved themselves instrumental in our successes this year. Our club benefited enormously from their presence.
Like at the Den Haag Tournament, our hurling team consisted of players who had not featured at other tournaments (German Cup, Cologne Tournament or Munich Tournament), demonstrating the depth of talent now available to our club. Our victorious teams featured: Finbar, Ciarán, Anto, Aindrias, Otso, Fred, Oisín, Vangelis, Hendrik, Santiago, Florian, Paul and Damo (hurling), and Lea, Kea, Caitlin, Aoibhín, Fiona, Sarah – with support from Alina (Hamburg) and Amy (Zürich).
To celebrate our tremendous success, we had a brilliant night out at Jamesons Distillery Pub the following Saturday. We started in our Celtics Corner before moving out to karaoke, and we enjoyed the night. The highlights of the evening involved renditions of Wheetus‘ „Teenage Dirtbag“ and U2’s „Stuck In A Moment You Can’t Get Out Of“ by some of our more musically talented members!
Training continued throughout the month. There were occasions during the month when we needed to change our training times due to the serious heat experienced. It was great to see Joseph and Arun back training with the Celts, both making their return in June.
In other news, our treasurer, Laura, was featured on one of Germany’s most popular children’s programmes, „Die Sendung mit der Maus„. She voiced the Gaeilge words during the programme, and her article detailing the experience proved to be one of the most popular posts on our website.
July turned out to be a quiet month for the club. With the summer holidays coming to Germany and no tournaments on the horizon in summer, our numbers at training sessions were significantly reduced. Covid also reared its head again in early/mid-July, as our team was severely hit, further reducing training numbers.
However, not everyone had a summer off, as our Uruguayan superstar, Santiago Modernell, featured for Germany at the Euro Gaelic Football Cup in Pontevedra, Galicia. The tournament took place on the weekend of Friday 15th, and Saturday, July 16th. He played a crucial role for Germany, scoring in most matches, including in the Shield Final against Catalonia. We hope to send more players to such tournaments in the future.
We did feature on a podcast from National Geographic Explore, which was about investigating Ireland and included a segment about hurling. Our chairperson, Oisín, spoke to them and acted as the „expert“. He clarified some of the sport’s rules and facts for them, and they promoted the Celts in return.
On the social side of club events, several members met up in our sponsor pub – Jameson’s Distillery Pub – to watch the All-Ireland Football Final. This year, the old masters, Kerry, got back to the top of the Gaelic Football world, winning their 38th All-Ireland Senior Football Championship. They beat Galway in the final by 0:20 to 0:16. Shane Walsh starred for Galway with nine points (including four from play), but it was not enough for the Tribesmen.
In the hurling, Limerick beat Kilkenny in a game for the ages. Limerick came out victorious by two points in a game that finished 1-31 to 2-26. It turned out to be the final match for legendary Kilkenny manager Brian Cody, whose team fought hard throughout the game. As a club, we had planned to go to Jameson’s again to watch the match, but it was when we were worst hit by Covid, and no one was available for it!
During July and August, our coach Jan Stolle played a vital role in keeping the show on the road. With many of our coaches unavailable, Jan stepped up in a big way to motivate players to come to training.
Towards mid-August, our club members re-emerged from their summer holidays. With the Leuven Tournament in early September and the German Cup 2022 coming to Cologne at the end of September, our players needed to get back to playing and preparing for the big events. We were delighted as we received an influx of messages in the last weeks of the month and were joined by several new members, including Ger, Niamh and Hugh. Planning also got off the ground for September’s German Hurling and Camogie Cups.
On the website, we also took a bit of a summer break and were not as active compared with other months. However, we did get the opportunity to speak to the Irish international footballer (and World Cup Qualification hero) Amber Barrett, which was one of the year’s highlights for the website.
September started with a bang for the club; as a group went off to represent the club at the Leuven tournament. Although they didn’t bring home any silverware, they proudly represented the Cologne jersey. Jan and Malte lead the troops consisting of Joseph, Arun, Santiago, Johannes, Vangelis and Anto. Sarah represented the camogie side of the club. This tournament was definitely our most international representation, with six nationalities amongst our contingent and only two Irish-born players!
Tournaments in the Netherlands and Belgium are always a different challenge to those in Germany, and aiming for trophies on the European level is the next stage of our club’s development. We received some photographs from the tournament from Jjt Gaelforce from the event:
On the same day, we held a mini-session, primarily with the newcomers in mind, as Ger, Niamh, and Hugh came out to Brühl to meet some more club members. It was not the most intense session, but a good chance to build comradery and connections.
Following the Leuven Tournament and with the German Cup 2022 coming up, our players got down to serious training. We had some issues with fixing the pitch location for our Wednesday sessions due to problems at the Jahnwiese, but that did not stop the numbers from coming out to play! With Cathal taking a leading role in the trainers‘ group, we had some intense sessions to prepare our players for what was to come.
With the German Cup fast approaching, our committee and organisation team went into overdrive. Invites were sent out, schedules were drawn up, teams were picked, and all the small jobs were given to the volunteers. The WhatsApp groups were flying, and I think most of us were ready to throw our phones into the fires of Mount Doom (or the River Rhine) by the time the tournament came around, but it would be worth it.
Kat and Laura were central behind a promotion campaign for the tournament, which led to the busiest month we’ve ever had on our club website. These actions – a mix of online and flyer marketing – contributed to an influx of messages from people interested in joining us. Erasmus students, Irish people in Cologne, and players completely new to the sport. The future looks very bright for hurling/camogie and Gaelic games on the Rhine.
The week before the tournament, we had two busy training sessions. One led by Cathal and Frank for all members, and one on Sunday just for the ladies. Six brave ladies came out to SUS Nippes for a training session in horrible weather conditions, including two relatively new players: Bella and Anna. Despite the cold and wet day, we had a great time and also had the chance to discuss how the team would be set up on the day.
The week of the German Cup, we were delighted to welcome some guests to Cologne, two brothers: Cian and Jack Desmond. They were filming a documentary about European GAA for the Irish-language TV station TG4, and the German Cup was earmarked to feature prominently in it! A big thank you to Jack from Düsseldorf for sending them in our direction. They attended our training session on Wednesday before visiting our friends in Düsseldorf on Thursday and interviewing our treasurer, Laura, and our chairperson, Oisín, on Friday.
The German Cup day came, and we were hyped. The volunteers were there early to set up the pitch, and the TV crew was out interviewing players in Irish, English, German, and whatever language Frank was speaking with them. The teams arrived from Hamburg and Darmstadt, and the schedules that had been drawn up a couple of times were now in use. Cologne Green, Cologne Red and our camogie team went out and represented us with pride.
Describing the German Cup here would take over an already long article. It was a fantastic day of hurling and camogie, and we were disappointed to lose the trophies we had worked so hard to win back in March. However, despite those disappointments, it was a great day for the club’s development. With David McDonnell as our guest from the Irish Embassy (thank you for attending, David), the Desmond brothers filming, and many fans on the scene, a great buzz was created.
Furthermore, it was incredible to see all the volunteers; in the shop, setting up, cleaning up, and all the other jobs involved. It was a team effort, on- and off- the field. A brilliant day for the club, even if the trophies didn’t stay on the Rhine. Sarah Prendergast did win the MVP for the camogie tournament, and she played incredibly well – dominating from the defence – so we did win one trophy on the day.
Following the tournament, we made our way to Jameson’s for the aftershow. It was a brilliant opportunity to go there as a club and team. With so many relatively new people joining this year, it was an excellent chance for us to get to know each other better and to really just have fun. For many of our players, it turned into a pretty late night, and the hangover stories from Sunday made for some reading!
However, there was no letup as many of our club members needed to prepare for Cork, whereas others prepared to play some Gaelic football with Düsseldorf against a team from Dublin.
In a hectic month, we published several articles on the website. Primarily they were concerned with the two big events of the Autumn: the German Cups and the club trip to Cork.
October started with a bang as our players headed to Cork for our first club trip to Ireland. This trip was a long-term project of the Celts, as the original trip was planned for March 2020, but the Coronavirus Pandemic saw it pushed to a later date. Laura, Lea, Kath, Oisín, Malte, Gareth, Finbar, Fabian and Wolfgang headed to Cork to represent our club, with Cillian O’Gara and Darmstadt’s stalwart, Chris Bethe also playing decisive roles for the Celts during the trip.
The trip was an enormous success and could not have been possible without the support of the Cork-Köln Twinning Association and, in particular, Lydia Schneider-Benjamin on the Cologne side and Cork City Council, Cllr. Mick Finn and Kieran Edwards from the Cork side of the trip.
During our few days in Cork, our players were given the chance to understand how important hurling and the GAA are to those living in Cork City. We visited a hurley-maker, Denis Ahern, and attended the Cork Senior Football Club Championship Semi-Finals in Páirc Uí Chaoimh, visited St. Finbarrs National Hurling and Football Club and Blackrock National Hurling Club and, of course, played and won „against“ St. Finbarrs at Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
The full story is told in our „Cork Trip October 2022: Club Report“ article. We also featured in an article on GAA.ie about our trip, which was big news for our club, and it shows how far we have come in the last few years.
However, the Cork trip was not the only event that happened at the start of October, as several of our footballers, including Santiago, Joseph, Fred, and Colin, joined up with Düsseldorf to play against a team from Dublin. They won the match, showing that there is football talent to work within our club, and hopefully, next year, we can develop this area a bit further.
The week after the Cork trip, we had four players make their debúts for Germany in 15-a-side hurling as Germany took on Luxembourg. Fabian, Jan, Anto and Pa lined up for Germany in Maastricht alongside familiar faces such as Chris (Darmstadt), Tommy and Damo (Düsseldorf). Unfortunately, they came crashing out at the tournament’s semi-final stage. The club is proud of the lads for taking up the mantle and playing on the international stage. Not many GAA players can say they have played international matches!
On Tuesday, October 11th, Friend of the Celts, and proud Donegal woman, Amber Barrett scored the goal that sent the Ireland team to the World Cup for the first time ever. Everyone at the club was delighted to see that goal go in, especially as it came days after the Creeslough explosion tragedy in Donegal. Seeing Ireland go through is just a massive boost for women’s sports in the country, and we’re delighted that our friend got the goal after a fantastic team performance.
A week later, the Celts received an email from the television station ZDF about them sending a reporter to training. Katharina took up the mantle of acting as coordinator for this event and remained in contact with them throughout. We arranged a date for it at the end of November, November 26th.
Training continued during October, and we were delighted to welcome several new players to the Celts team and community. Although we had a few departures from our training group, with Cathal finding a new job in Hamburg, Malte moving away, and Oisín dropping out for personal reasons, we welcomed Ger and Finbar in as coaches. However, we still had great numbers at training and prepared ourselves for the Düsseldorf football tournament in mid-November.
With the days getting shorter, we made an effort to find a pitch with floodlights for the winter but to no success. With that in mind, we started going running again. Since the Covid lockdowns began and even before, running has been something we seem to do a lot of as a club. From our participation in the Uni-Lauf in 2019, our #NoLazyHurl challenge with Darmstadt in 2020 and our involvement with #RunningHome to our decision to put a team together for Movember 2022, we love to go running!
Ger was crucial to setting up a running group in the Celts and helped to get us motivated to train and run together. Our first club run of 2022 was on October 26th, and they continued throughout the winter.
It was also another busy month on our website. In fact, September and October 2022 proved to be two of our most active months ever in terms of visitors and page views, with over 1600 views from over 800 visitors in October alone.
Here are the articles that were published that month:
November turned out to be another busy month for the Celtics. It started with a bang as our beloved team member „non-WhatsApp Johannes“ became simply Johannes as he decided to join the popular instant messaging network. This action made communicating with him much more straightforward but raised further questions regarding communication networks within the club and, more importantly, how we would now differentiate between „Football Johannes“ and „Hurling Johannes“… big questions…
November started with two big training sessions back-to-back, with regular training on Saturday in Nippes and a Ladies-only session on Sunday in Brühl. Our Saturday session was led by Jan and Ger, and we had great numbers present.
The Celts experienced a boom this year in terms of new players coming to join us, and this was also evident at our ladies‘ session the following day, with Renate coming along for her first-ever camogie and Ladies‘ football experience. She was one of 10 ladies who made their way on a Sunday morning in Brühl. Finbar and Santi led the session, and the head coach described it as: „(A) very enjoyable session! Lots of skill, focus and enthusiasm“.
While our training was taking place, our chairperson was at the Irish Embassy in Berlin, representing the club at the Biennial Meeting of German-Irish Societies and Organisations in Germany. Our hard work at recruitment, retention and promotion was recognised there, as we were invited to speak about our successes alongside other GAA clubs, namely Berlin GAA and Setanta Berlin.
The meeting consisted of Irish-German groups from the worlds of business (The Irish Business Network and the German-Irish Lawyers and Business Association), sport, the Irish language (Conradh na Gaeilge Berlin & Hamburg, Ciorcal Comhrá Stuttgart) and more traditional Irish-German groups, such as the Deutsch-Irische Gesellschaft Düsseldorf, Deutsch-Irischen Freundeskreis Warendorf and the Deutsch-Irische Gesellschaft Würzburg e.V.
It was a productive meeting where the different groups could share their experiences during the time of Covid. We hope we will be invited back to the next one, as we certainly learned a lot from the experience.
The following week, several of our players (Arun, Fred, Justus, Kath and Laura) took part in a refereeing course in Leuven. Paul from Düsseldorf also took part. Having fully-qualified referees in our club will be an enormous boost, and well done to all the players involved. We saw how difficult it was to bring in referees for our German Cup tournament, and now that we have some in our own club, it should make organising future tournaments a bit more straightforward. Hopefully, as we grow, we can encourage other players and members to participate in future refereeing courses.
November turned out to be dry and relatively warm for the time of year; this allowed our training and running club to continue gathering strength. Jan and Ger led some excellent coaching sessions on Saturday mornings in Nippes.
One of the biggest events of November was the Gaelic football tournament in Düsseldorf. Although we didn’t send a full contingent of players to make a team, the tournament allowed some of our footballers to test themselves against strong opponents. Santiago, Joseph, Malte, Arun, Colin, and Hurling Johannes went to Düsseldorf to play for Nijmegen and Düsseldorf. Laura went down to support our players on the day and to enjoy the atmosphere. The three teams in the tournament were Nijmegen, Düsseldorf and Frankfurt, with Frankfurt winning in the end.
The last big „on-the-pitch“ event for the year was „ZDF training“, with the TV station coming to Chorweiler to film our training session and get an insight into hurling/camogie. With some determined organisation, we had an incredible turnout from our players, with around 30 Celts playing throughout the day. It was brilliant to see the mix of brand-new players playing for the first time combined with our veterans, including some we hadn’t seen in a few weeks.
The ZDF journalist, Achim Winter, joined in, and he got heavily involved with the training session. Katharina was instrumental as our club coordinator, and Jan did masterfully as Achim’s coach for the day. This day was a massive success for the club.
Our Movember continued during this time in the background as Stephen led our team of nine club members. Overall, we smashed our targets by raising close to 1200€, and most of our players more than covered the 60km jogging distance, with Johannes adding in cycling kilometres as well. Ger’s kilometres contributed hugely as he prepared himself for the Valencia marathon. Finbar also started marathon training leading to a significant return. Stephen and Oisín also reached the 100km mark, with Oisín forced away from running due to illness for the last ten days of the month.
Following two very successful months with our club website in terms of views, we had a slowdown in November but continued producing a few articles. One involved interviewing the chairperson of European GAA (the GGE), John Murphy.
After a busy November, December was a quieter time for the club. Our penultimate training session for the year, club AGM and our Christmas Party took place on the first Saturday of December. The AGM is a crucial meeting for the running of the club, as we had the chance to reflect on the year 2022 and look forward to 2023.
Our AGM was held online, as it has been since 2020, and it saw the introduction of our new committee for 2023 and let us discuss crucial issues for the coming year.
Arguably the most significant part of the AGM was bringing in the new club committee, and sure enough, that was completed. For 2023, our committee consists of the following:
- Laura: Chairperson,
- Lea: Secretary,
- Johannes: Treasurer,
- Fred: Registrar,
- Oisín: PRO,
- Katharina: Ladies Officer,
- Frank: Hurling Officer,
- Cillian: Gaelic Football Officer,
- Ger: Youth Officer,
- Kea & Flo: Equipment Officers,
- Gareth: Social | Social Media Officer,
- Hugh: Irish Language Officer,
- Fabian: Healthy Club Officer.
Afterwards, many of our players went to Barney Vallely’s to celebrate at our club’s Christmas party.
Winter training continued for two weeks into December before we finished up for our Christmas break. Our final session was led by Jan and Ger in freezing conditions, but players were rewarded afterwards with some warm Glühwein courtesy of Ger. Having started in January with our build-up to the German Cup in March, we finished in mid-December with our on-the-field activities.
Of course, Christmas is also a time for get-togethers and socialising. As well as our official Christmas party, several club members came together during the cold winter evenings at pubs to watch matches, bake Plätzchen and enjoy the Weihnachtsmärkte. As much as we value on-field excellence and trophies, the great advantage of joining a GAA club in Germany is the opportunity to be part of a community. Such feelings of inclusivity and belonging play a vital role during wintry evenings.
December turned out to be a quiet end to a busy year but a chance for us to slow down and regain our motivation and desire. 2023 promises to be another massive year for the Cologne Celtics, and we cannot wait to go again in January!
Our website output continued into December, with a review of our ZDF-Training day with Achim Winter and an interview with Amanyire Moses from Uganda GAA.
2022 was undoubtedly an action-packed year – full of matches, training, tournaments, travel and off-the-field activities. The Cologne Celtics GAA Club is an active community, and we’re always looking to find new members and engage with new projects.
Please contact us if you would like to try out Gaelic sports in a friendly and welcoming environment or meet a group of friends based around the Rhineland.
Similarly, if you are not interested in playing with us but would like to get involved as a social member, we would love to hear from you.
2022 was busy, but our team will soon be ready to go and start again for 2023!