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Gaels Blow Iberian Championship Wide Open

Gaels Blow Iberian Championship Wide Open

Barcelona Gaels completed a memorable double on Saturday last with both the men and ladies teams securing victory in the second stage of the 2009 Iberian Football Championship. The Catalan victories now sees only nine points separating the top three teams in both the men’s and ladies’ standings which means the title race in both codes is sure to go down the wire.

Last week saw Irish Cultural events pop up all across Spain as part of the annual “El Féile” festival and the men and women of Barcelona Gaels, Madrid Harps, Sant Vincent (Valencia) and Naomh Fermín (Pamplona) certainly ensured the festival came to an exciting close. The tournament being staged at the beachside complex of La Marbella in Barcelona certainly provided the ideal setting for the eighty or so football enthusiasts to showcase their talents.

Gaelic games in Europe are currently thriving and events such as the Iberian championship provide not only Irish people based abroad to play the games but also many locals too. In fact the Irish players were in the minority in some of last weekends participating squads.

Continental GAA is often an overlooked aspect of the organisation but one that should not be forgotten. Playing Gaelic Games in Europe has helped provide increased international exposure for football and hurling outside of the usual places such as London and New York. This was further strengthened by the attendance of local photographers and TV stations at last weekend’s games.

Every club in Ireland has a core of dedicated members who continually strive to develop their clubs and strengthen their connections with their local communities. Here in Iberia is no different. Without the tireless efforts of certain individuals in each club in conjunction with the European County Board these great events would not be possible. Gaelic games are an integral part of Irish identity and it is wonderful to see such an effort being made to allow the games grow and achieve the recognition they deserve.

Testament to this is the obvious pride players take in pulling on the jersey of their club here. In a time when the world seems to have gone mad it is refreshing to see people from different backgrounds, cultures and religions united simply by their love of the game. No further questions are asked or needed.

The football on the day was as refreshing as the cool Mediterranean breeze, with both the men’s and women’s final spots up for decision until the final group games. As with every event like this there always has to be a winner and on the day the Gaels and Gaelettes of Barcelona proved to be worthy ones, enjoying final victories over Valencia and Madrid respectively.

A big thank you must go out to all who made the day the success that it was, the organisers, the players and all who turned out to support.

Up next is May’s trip to Valencia where the third round is sure to serve up more of the same and will ensure the “Voice of the Irish” that Saint Patrick often spoke about continues to be heard loud and clear.
By Stephen Fee

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