The first round of the Benelux 11-a-side championship brought us to Den Haag. Plans hit a bump early on with some withdrawals due to injury but we were joined by some of our old friends from Dusseldorf to take on the might of Europe. We were pooled in a group with Amsterdam A, Luxembourg, and the newest team in European G.A.A., The Earls of Leuven.
The improvement in our quality of football was clear from the off and we put up a great fight against the Amsterdam A team, losing in the end by 10 points, but this did not reflect how effective our game plan was and the hard work put in by everyone. Final Score: Eindhoven 3-5 Amsterdam 5-9
The second game put us up against the newest team in Europe, The Earls of Leuven. They showed real fight in the first half and had us rocked coming in all square at half time. At the end we showed our experience and quality to come out victorious. Final Score: Eindhoven 3-10 Leuven 2-5
Our final Group game put us in a winner takes all battle with Luxembourg. Again a spirited first half performance had us all square at half time, but our tired legs got worse and Luxembourg’s confidence only grew. We lost our way and were well beaten in the end. Final Score: Eindhoven 1-4 Luxembourg 1-14
There was a pause in the football for to mark the centenary of 1916 with a very emotional reading of the proclamation of Irish independence in Irish, English and Dutch. A version of Grace (a song about an Irish revolutionary leaders marriage to a young woman moments before he was executed for his involvement in the 1916 rising), and a rousing chorus of Amhránn na bhFiann were sung. We were joined by Mr. John Neary, the Irish Ambassador to the Netherlands who also took some time for a photo with some Shams Legends!
Before our final game with Belgium B in the 5/6th place playoff we were already down to the bare minimum of players thanks to injuries. We lost our way early on and Belgium really took advantage with direct running and emphatic finishing we were well beaten. But a 6th place finish was an overall great performance.
Eindhoven was also well represented again on the Holland ladies team who played some great football and were unlucky to lose to Belgium ladies in the final.
The next round of the Benelux will be a landmark event for Eindhoven as we are proud to be hosting the first official Gaelic football tournament in Eindhoven on May 14th. We look forward to seeing you all there.