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Round 3 - Iberian Championship - Valencia 09.05.09


The battle for the Iberian Championship moved to El Saler rugby club grounds on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. With both mens and ladies teams still hoping to win the title at the end of the season and also the honours of the day, this meant an interesting day’s football lay in wait. So two well hydrated squads were assembled to defend the Sant Vicent colours.

In the men’s first game Madrid Haps were the opponents. The team were well aware this game was a must-win. In the first half, Valencia asserted control over a Madrid team probably short a few regulars who hadn’t travelled. However the lads didn’t show enough composure to turn position into scores, albeit going in a half time with a narrow lead. The second half proved similar to the first in that Valencia continued to dominate but in addition were able to score with much greater ease. Two goals made the difference and a nine point win was deserved for the spirits and togetherness of the Valencia team, clearly willing to work hard for each other.

In the second group game a duel with Pamplona was fixed. The lads knew a win wasn’t inevitable and that the hard work shown in the first game would have to be repeated in order to see off a determined team who had gathered together their largest and best panel in any previous encounter. And so it proved with the Valencia boys having to battle hard to gain control of this fixture. It wasn’t until the second half that the home team got the upper hand and were able to score more fluently. In the end another win meant a place in the final against Barcelona later in the day, as Barcelona had already defeated Madrid in an earlier game.

In the final group game Valencia faced Barcelona. As in the Pamplona game, all squad players were able to play their part and stake a claim for a place in the team for the final. The result wasn’t the main concern as several players played well. Some of them playing in their first competitive tournament.

The final against Barcelona was what a large crowd had gathered to witness, most of them showing a bias for the ‘boys in orange’. After slow starts in previous games a pleasant surprise was in store as Valencia took a healthy first period lead through goals from Paul and Liam to give us a favourable half time advantage. In the second half, Barcelona had to up their game as a very disciplined and committed Valencia had not allowed them to play well up to that point. Unfortunately, Barcelona were able to gain control of the match and as a result of some excellent point scoring, (many from long range) they clawed their way back into the game and by the end of the half had drawn level and in the process had forced the game into ‘la prórroga’.

In extra-time, tit for tat scores were exchanged by two tiring teams until late in the second period of extra-time, when a couple of unanswered points were scored by the Catalans, one of which was worthy of winning any game. A fortunate, though well executed goal put icing on the cake for Barcelona.

The squad should feel very happy with the level of performance giving during the game. Many aspects of play had been improved upon since the first tournament in Madrid, when as a club we were far from being realistic contenders. Many new and established players have given their all, and hopefully they’ll continue to do so in the last competition in Pamplona. The objective should be to win in Pamplona. Taking into a count the overall improvement in Iberia this year, it would be seen as no mean achievement. Over the course of the day the defence was particularly good with stong performances from Diarmuid and Michael. In midfield Hopper is finally getting himself in good shape and Gerry was our MVP. In the forward line Colm and Javi should feel happy with their contributions. Special mention to Santi, the best goalkeeper in the Tournament.

Adrian Campbell


El día amaneció nublado. Así acabamos las chicas del Valencia GAA después de nuestro seguntro partido (contra Barcelona). El tiempo nos acabó acompañando, pero la suerte no.

Llegamos todas con optimismo, alegría y ansias de victoria.Por fín jugábamos en Valencia! Tras el subidón de la primera victoria de los chicos en su primer partido, preparadas para comérnoslo todo, comenzábamos con Madrid, nueve contra nueve ya que éramos suficientes en los tres equipos. Ninguna ventaja por estar en Valencia, aspecto a considerar cuando jugamos en Madrid y en Barcelona.

El campo estaba mojado, lo cual iba a dificultar nuestros movimientos, los nervios a flor de piel... Empezamos fuerte, fue una primera parte reñida, y a pesar de obtener menos puntuación, todavía quedaba mucho por hacer en la segunda parte. Y ahí lo refleja el resultado (Madrid 2-05/ Valencia 1-05). Perdimos por un gol. Frustración, sí, bastante, pero también esperanza. Podíamos llegar a la final, no estaba todo perdido.

Tras un reñido partido Barcelona-Madrid, sabíamos que no iba a ser fácil, pero manteníamos los ánimos. Llegó el momento de enfrentarnos a las catalanas, y, tras la lucha, tras dejarlo todo, tras las paradas espectaculares de nuestra superportera, las carreras de las centrocampistas y las atacantes, la resistencia de las defensas... las fuerzas fueron decayendo hasta un desastroso final.

Tristeza, lágrimas, pero sobretodo ganas por ir mejorando, aprendiendo y esperando una próxima victoria en Pamplona.

Susana Soriano Jorge

Round 2 - Iberian Championship - Barcelona 21.03.09


The second event of the Iberian GAA season was a trip to the Barcelona tournament. Having only had three training sessions since coming third in the Madrid tournament and missing a few players, we had our work cut out for us here.

Our first game was (as appears to be tradition now) against Barcelona who are showing lots of improvement since last year. We started poorly against them and lost concentration for large parts of the game. A steady finish meant, however that we only lost by two points in the end. Our following match was against Pamplona, who had already drawn against Madrid, in a game where they may have pulled off a surprise win. This wasn’t to be as close a game though as Valencia finally scored more than five points in a match in this years championship, along with a hat-trick of goals to win well.

That result meant that whoever won the Valencia vs. Madrid match would be up against the hosts in the final. This proved to be our most intensely fought match of the day which saw Valencia winning by a steady five points, perhaps not reflecting how close the game actually was. Bring on Barca again.

And so we got to have another crack against this Barcelona team. We had set ourselves the target of reaching the final at least and that’s exactly what we did. It was not, however going to be as close an affair as the previous encounter between the two sides as Barcelona ran out worthy winners. It appears that wine pastilles aren’t as effective in enhancing GAA performance as jelly babies based on this result.

Credit must go to the lads for getting to the final as not getting that far would be a massive setback for our aspirations in this years championship. Our best players on the day were Brendan McCarthy, Michael Collins and Colm Donovan. A lot more work must now be done on the training field in the coming weeks to ensure that we don’t sell ourselves short in our home tournament. As 1969 Superbowl Most Valuable Player Joe Namath once said: “to win, you have to lose and then get pissed off”. Hopefully that’s where we’re at now.

Shortly after the tournament there was a rugby game of some sort to be watched. Celebrations for this result continued well into the night and congratulations must also be expressed to Andy White who made an impressive television debut that evening!

Liam Groarke


The girls' team arrived in Barcelona optimistic of equalling or bettering their finals appearance in Madrid a month earlier, and with an experienced backbone of  players in June, Deirdre and Mags.  This time, however, there were only 7 team members, meaning no substitutes for tired legs later on in the tournament.

The pitch was very sandy and uneven, and conditions were made worse by a gusting wind from the south blowing strongly down the pitch; performances in the half against this wind were to determine the outcomes. The first match between Barcelona and Madrid was a draw, leaving the door open for the Valencia team to win only one of their games to progress to the final.

In our first game, versus Madrid, the girls played with the wind in the first half, and got off to an excellent start with a quick point from June Harrington.  Madrid are a well-organised team, with Nuria and Marina in midfield dominating the game.  This soon came to tell when they took the lead, despite playing against the wind, with some well-structured play and points.  The Valencia team kept pace with them, trailing only by 2 points after the first half.  However, with the wind in their faces in the second half, Madrid's lead increased further and the final score was 3-03 to 0-03.

The game against Barcelona was a different story.  Having beaten their physical tactics well in Madrid today the girls were unable to contain Barcelona's strong game, augmented by an abundance of replacements.  The lack of substitutes for Valencia began to tell early on and the team became tired and demoralised after some excellent strikes and goals from the Barcelona team.  A heavy defeat resulted, and with heavy legs and hearts the team watched the final.

The final was contested between Madrid and Barcelona, and once again the home team's advantage in terms of substitutes told, Barcelona winning easily over a tired Madrid team.

The team are looking forward to their home fixture where substitutes should be aplenty and they can play a 9-man game.

Emma Pettitt

Round 1 - Iberian Championship - Madrid 21.02.09


After nearly 8 months wait for the recommencement of The Iberian Championship the day of action had arrived. After the success in the final round of the European Shield in November 2008, Sant Vicent arrived in the Spanish capital with the hope of continuing from where they had left off.  A good squad had made the journey for what was to prove a ‘brown blanket event’ for the boys from Turia’s capital.

In the first game wits were pitted against the might of the Catalans from Barcelona. A hard fought, closely contested game was expected. The participation of a key defender was in doubt until rescued from a complicated situation in the dressing room much to the relief and amusement of team mates. It was expected the same game plan which was well rehearsed at that point would serve the team well again.

In the first half a couple of goals were scored which gave the lads a two point half time lead. However, the advantage didn’t mean the team was playing to its potential as the game plan wasn’t being properly executed.  In the second period Barcelona were able to dominate around the midfield area, which gave their forwards plenty of opportunities to do the valencian defence damage. In the end it proved impossible to stop Barcelona from taking the lead and then going on to rack up a number of unanswered scores. The sum of the valencian team was a mere point in the second half.

In the second match against Madrid a massive challenge lay in wait. The Harps were of course Iberian champions in 2008.
Having not played at their best in the first game the team was well motivated to prove a point. Every ball was keenly contested like it were the final of the tournament. The ball was moved from defence to attack in a way that best suits the attributes of the team, the result of this was that Sant Vicent was still well in contention at the break. After a breather, Madrid were pushed hard but in the end their experience, strength in depth, and some exhibition long range scores meant they ran out clear winners, even though the score board didn’t do justice to the lads’ efforts. It was hoped lessons had been learned for the next game and the season as a whole.

In the third and final game Pamplona provided the opposition. This team from Navarra had improved in quality if not number. It was great to see non-Irish players who a year ago had struggled to grasp the skills of Gaelic football now showing they could play with a greater sense of fluency, on and off the ball. However, the boys from Levante being fully aware of the importance of the game were able to take a good half time lead with the help of their own sizeable Spanish contingent, who had been gaining more valuable experience as the day grew on. Long may their participation continue. After the break the team were able to hold on to their lead without adding too many more scores.

In conclusion, it had been a difficult day for the club. On the other hand surely what counts is how quickly it takes to bounce back in the face of disappointment and what is done to improve. Success is never guaranteed especially when faced with good opposition.

The key to a good season will surely be working hard on the training field and believing in a system that has already given some good days in the past. Well done to Madrid for collecting the first scalp of the year.

Congratulations to the ladies’ team who collected their first competitive win in Iberian competitions and pushed Madrid to their limits in the final against arguably physically stronger opposition. Should this be a lesson for the men’s team?
Best news of the day concerned June who won a deserved MVP (Most Valuable Player Award) after scoring a huge number of goals and points. In addition to a great all round display both in attack and defence. She was closely followed by Laura, the best goalkeeper in the tournament.

Adrian Campbell & Arturo Domercq


The vicious Valencian vixens who were hungry for victory, managed to achieve their first competitive win in style. With many new strong additions to the Valencia Ladies team, the majority of us flew to Madrid to be welcomed by the biting cold. Due to our new and athletic (!) coach, Dave Hopper, we felt quietly confident and raring to go.

After a long and anxious wait on the sidelines, we eventually got to play our first match against Barcelona Gaelettes, just after lunch. To psyche ourselves up we had a new and powerful scream… the let the other team know we meant business! On the pitch, we really played our own game, using all the tactics and drills we have been learning at the weekly training sessions with Dave and June. We used space and speed to overcome the Barcelona Gaelettes, scoring point after point. Due to the fantastic refereeing, Barcelona had to stick to the rules, which enabled Valencia to have play on their side and gave June plenty of opportunities to score from frees – much to the teams delight!

Even with a busted lip, Emma Pettitt, who is one of our strong defenders along with Cleo, managed to score a point in the last second. With Speedy Gonzalez (Vikki), pacing up and down the pitch, no doubt getting on the nerves of many Barcelona ladies and great enxcellent fighting spirit from Trish, Paula and Susana, we managed to keep the Barcelona defenders on their toes with many attacking opportunities. The debut appearance of our keeper Laura was invaluable as she made many saves and showed nothing but bravery.

Finally, the ref blew the whistle at the end of a victorious match with a score of 2-06 to 0- 03, leaving Valencia ladies jumping with joy (and hunger!). OUR FIRST COMPETITIVE WIN!!!!! Putting us in the final against Madrid.

Our spirits were high going into the final against Madrid. We felt once the ball was thrown in, we had as many chances as Madrid to win. The game began with scores from both sides but as the game progressed, Madrid with plenty of fresh-legged players widened the margin. With some lucky, well-deserved and cheeky goals from Madrid, their pace, stamina and expertise in playing as a team got the better of us. The seven Valencian girls who travelled to Madrid were worn out by the second half and fell behind quickly – a score line we would not like to repeat!

Although we lost the final against a strong Madrid team, we were proud of our performance to win our first competitive game. We can only learn and get better from here on in. Watch out Barca and Madrid in our next tournament!

Vikki Dewhurst