To view the report of the fourth round in Valencia click here
To view the report of the third round in Madrid click here
To view the report of the second round in Pamplona click here
To view the report of the first round in Barcelona click here
European Shield Round 4 Maastricht 08.11.08
The biting cold reminded us we were a long way from the sunny Mediterranean shores of Valencia. It did little however, to curb the determination in our hearts. We came with a strong team, if a small squad. In Maastricht we shored up our options with the outstanding trio of Footsie, Carthy and Chunky (named after the 3 ghosts from Casper I think).
The squad for Maastricht:
- Dave Hopper
- Brendan 'Tripper' McCarthy
- Michael 'Michael Collins' Collins
- Adrian 'Rolls Royce' Campbell
- Hector 'Hit Me' Cook (Named Player Of the Tournament )
- Paul 'Reverend' Murphy
- Jerry 'El Nino' Simpson
- Liam 'Gaffer' Groarke
- Colm 'Turner' Donovan
- Andy 'Hooch' White
- Nick 'Leg Knack' Davern
Match 1: Valencia V Amsterdam
After warming up with victory over Paris, Amsterdam had the honour of testing Valencia in the first match. Amsterdam tried to take the game by the scruff of the neck opening with 3 quick points. Valencia struck back with a goal from the Turner and Hooch partnership - an inch perfect Hooch 'cross' punched in from close-quarters by Turner. Another couple of points and Valencia were in the lead. Amsterdam showed their metal with some more long range scoring before the teams went to half time with Valencia a point ahead.
In the second half disaster struck the already light Valencia squad when star midfielder Paul Murphy was struck down with knee-knack, ruling him out of the rest of the tournament. Shortly after Amsterdam lost a player of their own to knee-knack. The changes caused a tight game to open up and Valencia took advantage with a couple of goals from Andy 'Turner' White. They proved vital as Amsterdam tried to score some goals of their own. They found Hector 'Hit Me' Cook and Adrian Campbell at half-backs impossible to best, and were forced to shoot from range. Despite scoring 1 long range goal that slipped in through a melee of players, Valencia held on to win their opening match in what proved to be their toughest group game.
Match 2: Valencia V Paris
Now warmed up and still fresh, Valencia tore into the Paris side. Several goals in quick succession had settled the match before it really got started. After a dominating 1st half from Valencia, Paris got more settled in the game in the 2nd half, but could never really recover from the early goals. Especially with midfield well marshalled by El Nino.
Match 3: Semi-Final - Valencia V Copenhagen
Already crowned shield champions 2007/2008, Copenhagen came into the game as strong favourites. A Herculean display would be needed to knock out the champions. Copenhagen showed why they were champions with their physical strength and tight defence. Unfortunately for them, mere strength was never going to stop the guile of El Nino and Liam 'Gaffer' Groarke, and the outstanding direct attacking play of Carthy. After trading points, the undoubted goal of the tournament was scored in the first half of this match, with Carthy taking on the Copenhagen fullback line, before cheekily lobbing the keeper, a mere 2 feet off his line! With the 3 other forwards linking up well, Valencia, despite the physical presence of the Copenhagen defence, kept putting scores on the board. Carthy rounded off a great 1st half with a 2nd goal putting Valencia in the driving seat.
In the second half it was time for Hector 'Hit Me' Cook, to show why he became the shields Player Of the Tournament, in his first competitive outing. He dominated the Copenhagen half-forward line, and made run after surging run into the opposition half. Unlucky to have a goal disallowed in the first half, he got his first competitive score after a 80 yard run from his own half to nicely tap over the bar. With the back line imperiously dominating affairs, Valencia cruised the final few minutes, though this was mostly out of exhaustion. Roll on Maastricht!
Match 4: Final - Valencia V Maastricht
Maastricht were on home soil, and after defeating a strong Amsterdam side in the semi-final, they looked more than equal to the task that Valencia presented. The home support however, paled in comparison to the vocal and imaginative support from Valencia - undoubtedly the most motivational supporters of the competition!
This was a game that was obviously affected by exhaustion on both side. 3 gruelling matching for each team before this final meant it never showed the flair and skill that both teams had demonstrated en route to the final. This was a final of grit, and determination. It was a question of who wanted it more. And after two thousand miles of travel, from the blue skies and golden beaches to the frosted northern reaches of Maastricht, the answer was Valencia. Barely.
This was a tale of two defences, and it was time for Michael 'Michael Collins' Collins to step up to the mark and show the same defensive leadership of his namesake. With the outstanding Brendan McCarthy at his side, he proved to be the unmovable object that kept the most important clean sheet of the competition. Starting with 'Hopper' Dave in midfield, Valencia looked to release the goal scoring machine Carthy early in the first half. With some bad luck, poor finishing, and outstanding defending, Valencia was unable to even get one score on the board in the first half. Their best opportunity was just before half-time, when Carthy, through on goal, was cynically pulled down for a penalty - the offending player lucky to escape with just a yellow card. The resulting penalty from Hopper Dave was saved by the Maastricht keeper, who quickly closed down the rebound and forcing a wide. Though without a score at half-time, Valencia had crucially held Maastricht to just one point.
After the break was very much more of the same. However the exhaustion was taking its toll. Andy 'Hooch' White was forced to cover midfield as Hopper Dave went into goal, and Footsy went to the forward line. With the continuing tight play, Maastricht was the first to score again, taking a long range point. However, both Maastricht and Valencia missed points from frees, and the game was closing in on the final minutes with Valencia 2 points behind. Finally some luck came for Valencia, as a run from Colm 'Turner' Donovan resulted in a show that was parried out by the keeper, only to end up in the path of Andy 'Hooch' White, making a remarkable supporting run from deep, to finish off the goal and set Valencia on the road to history.
Two huge points from Footsy followed. The first a sideline ball he sent over the bar, the second a huge distance free from the 45 that sent Valencia a goal clear. Maastricht had only the option of going for goal now with the seconds ticking away. Some great play from them sent their half-forward racing through towards goal from about 30 yards. Without a moments hesitation, Brendan 'Tripper' McCarthy made one of the best tactical fouls of the tournament, returning the first half favour from Maastricht. After receiving a yellow card, 'Tripper' was straight back into the action as Maastricht ignored the point and took a short free in search of a goal. Some penalty box confusion brought the heart stopping moment of a shot from Maastricht hitting the crossbar and bouncing away from goal. Some outstanding last ditch defending by the Valencia defenders kept Maastricht at bay until the final whistle, greeted with both relief and jubilation by Valencia. Having held out at the end against an outstanding Maastricht team, Valencia held their own in the bars after the game too.
Maastricht have to be commended on putting up a fantastic final performance. A bit of luck could have sent the tie either way. It also has to be said that Maastricht organised a fantastic competition, thoroughly enjoyed by all. A dress-code which prohibits kilts may be introduced for future celebration dinners, but all in all, a great day for the fledgling GAA club of Valencia.
Press play to watch Dutch TV coverage of the final
Round 4 - Iberian Championship - Valencia 31.05.08
The whole season was coming down to the wire, as was predicted 3 months ago after the first tournament in Barcelona. There were some very good sides in this year’s championship, with little to separate them. Valencia, Madrid and Barcelona went into this last tournament level on points, and so it would all be won and lost here in Valencia. As hosts, we were delighted with this, and all worked hard to organise a great tournament, but as the day began, we had to try and put everything else but the football out of our minds.
First up for us – again! – was Barcelona. A high pressure game, whoever lost this would be up against it to qualify for the final. We started reasonably well, keeping things tight, and got a good goal to send us in 3 points up at half-time. In the second half however the Catalan lads really dug in and their brilliant defence kept us to only one point, while they ate in to our lead to eventually win by a point. A repeat of the score line from our match in Madrid, except this time we were the ones to have lost and were facing an early exit if we couldn’t beat Madrid in our next game. The nerves were showing as Madrid moved into an early lead. Although a few points down, we were happy to get to half-time and regroup. One or 2 tactical substitutions and some inspirational words from our team-mates and we went back out. Our supporters in the stands were making themselves heard too at this stage, and then suddenly we were finding more space. All those hand-passing drills were paying off now, and our forwards were really starting to run at the Madrid backs. We got one goal back through Nick and then Dave coolly took a point from a penalty we were awarded. The momentum was firmly behind us now, and Madrid couldn’t seem to hang on to the ball. Another couple of goals by Paul and Freddie and all of a sudden we were 5 points up, the match was won and our fate was back in our own hands. The mathematics of the group meant that a good win against Pamplona would ensure us a place in the final, regardless of the result of the Madrid – Barcelona game. So all our feelings of appreciation and admiration for the never-give-up spirit of the Pamplona lads were temporarily put to one side as we ran up our biggest score ever, 4-08.
As in the previous round, we were facing Madrid in the final, but this time the whole championship was at stake. The rain had started to come down as the day had gone on, and unfortunately the teams weren’t able to match the quality of football in the match played between them just a few hours earlier. In a low scoring match, Madrid’s greater experience eventually proved the difference as they were able to close out the game by taking maximum advantage of their free kicks and starve us of possession. They won in the end by 0-7 to 0-4. The weather seemed appropriate for our gloomy mood as we congratulated Madrid, the new Iberian Champions. However we quickly picked ourselves up, and began to feel proud of ourselves for how far we had come in 6 short months. Second in our first season is probably more than could have been expected, and the only regret is that we will have to wait 9 long months before we can try and improve on that next season.
With a typically Irish, grey and cloud-filled sky as the backdrop, the first ever GAA ladies game on the Levante coast was about to take place between the Iberian Champions, Barcelona and the newest addition to Iberia, Valencia Ladies.
It was only fitting that the Valencia Ladies should display their finest football to date here in their hometown. The strength of the Valencian backline shone through in the first half, despite heavy pressure from the Barcelona forwards. Full back Margaret Lynch was steadfast in her defending, strongly supported by Pamela Smith and Rachel Dix not to mention some wonderful saves from Trish Mulvihill who was making her debut as goalie for Sant Vicent ladies.
Midfield players Helen Curtyane and Jennifer Healy worked some effective movement of the ball and together with forward June Harrington, managed to clock up a decent half time score, only trailing by two points against the strong Catalan team. We were determined not to be defeated as we took up our positions for the second half, which saw the Gaelettes put away another point, causing an instinctive survival reaction in the Sant Vicent side. In the last minutes of the game, possession was dominated by the girls in the orange and black. June Harrington, with a very impressive performance, didn’t allow the Catalan kick-out pass her by and with help from fellow forward Paula Martinez, repeatedly retained possession, converting it into a well-earned couple of points. So with scores even and less than a minute to go it all came down to a final chance, one of many created by our prolific scorer Helen Curtayne, giving us our big opportunity to take the lead. However her great effort (with much consultation between umpire and referee) was eventually deemed to have fallen narrowly wide. Seconds after these nail-biting moments, when the final whistle blew, both teams rushed over to the ref for him to confirm the final score: Barcelona 1-4, Valencia 0-7. A draw… Still elated with our performance, we jumped for joy at our first ever undefeated match.
With this boost in confidence we marched onto the field to play the much improved Madrid Harps. What looked like a promising start with an opening point from Valencia, followed by another quick score turned out to be a very busy time for the Valencia defence, who defended admirably considering the pressure that the Madrid team kept them under. It was in the second half, however, that we witnessed the experienced Madrid team really gelling together and in the last few minutes pick up the pace with a raft of goals that sealed their victory.
The bitter disappointment at the defeat caused a few tears, but we soon managed to reflect on the many positive aspects of skills displayed by our players in both matches. Our scoring rate has improved immensely, our new young players Rhianna, Rachel and Lisa are showing steady progress giving us hope of a promising future for the team and in general the team as a whole has evolved so much through determination and commitment that we can feel truly proud of ourselves. So watch out next year Harps and Gaelettes, the vicious Valencian vixens are hungry for Victory!
Round 3 - Iberian Championship - Madrid 26.04.08
As winners of the previous round of the championship in Pamplona, we travelled to Madrid confident and motivated for another round. Our confidence was further boosted by the knowledge that we would have plenty of back up on the sideline as this was our largest travelling squad to date.
Our first test was against a Barcelona Gaels team, who were eager for revenge after losing to us in the Pamplona final. This was a closely fought affair throughout with neither side pulling away by more than a point or two. As the final whistle approached, and Sant Vicent a point to the good, our backline held tough against an onslaught of Barcelona attacks in the dying moments. Good result.
Next up were the valiant Naomh Fermin of Pamplona. This is a team who are due a shock result anytime soon. Thankfully for us, it wasn’t to be the case in this match as we won well, while handing some new players their debuts, not only in this years championship, but also Gaelic football.
That result, along with Madrid Harps beating Barcelona Gaels in their group match confirmed that it would be a Madrid - Valencia final. Although both teams had qualified for the final, we decided to play our last group game against each other and use it as an opportunity to give some players more match experience. We also thought we might gain the psychological advantage over our opponents by beating them, and so we did.
With the “mock” final having gone our way, both sides fielded different teams for the real thing. Indeed we did have the psychological advantage over Madrid as two early goals and a handful of points cruised us into an early lead. In hindsight, perhaps this was not the best thing to happen to us as complacency crept in and we lost concentration for too many kickouts as Madrid won by a point in a thrilling finish.
Despite losing a close final, we all enjoyed the day with many of us agreeing the winners were the toughest opposition we have come up against in our short history. Congratulations to Madrid on winning and hosting an excellent tournament. An exciting final round in Valencia now awaits, with Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid all currently joint top in the Iberian Championship.
In the weeks leading up to the big competition in Madrid we had high hopes that we would be sending a strong team from Valencia, however due to uncontrollable circumstances the numbers dwindled as the competition approached and we arrived in Madrid with a squad of just five. We were saved on the day by three girls who learned the game and the rules on the sidelines before the matches started! A big thank you to Lisa Rodan, Naomi Kenning and Katherine Newton for helping us out, they did an excellent job for a debut on the pitch and into the game! Another big thank you to Siret Surva from Pamplona who once again became an honorary member of our Valencia team!
When we arrived at the competition the nerves began to flow as we watched from the sidelines the high standards of play that we would soon be up against. First up we took on Munich after having watched them trounce Barcelona. Like with all our competitions, our first game proved a warm up for the team and it took us a few minutes to get it together. However by the time we had gelled, the Munich team proved too strong for us in the game and their match experience took us down. Along with this defeat one of our star players Pamela Smith picked up an injury. Another man down! Excellent play from our forwards Paula Martinez and Siret Surva and from June Harrington who held the back line together.
We soldiered on into the next game with our old rivals Barcelona and took up our fighting positions on the pitch. After our warm up game we had high hopes and we gave them a good game. The Valencia team scored a number of points with great play from Deirdre O'Driscoll in midfield and although we didn't actually win the game we came away from it with a better sense of achievement than our first game. All the girls played well and our passing and scoring were improving throughout.
With that match we were taken out of the running for the final so we went on to play a fifth and sixth place play off with Paris. Again in the blistering heat the Paris girls had the edge and with the advantage of their full team they put away more goals than we care to mention! All the Valencia team played outstandingly and a goal from Deirdre O'Driscoll along with a number of points from June Harrington and Paula Martinez kept ours spirits high. Our spirits were also kept alive throughout the day by our mentor and injured star player Trish Mulvihill along with the great support we received from the lads team! We left Madrid slightly wounded but with more confidence and more match experience! Bring on the Valencia leg of the competition!
Round 2 - Iberian Championship - Pamplona 29.03.08
After the encouraging first round in Barcelona, Sant Vicent set off for Pamplona confident of putting in another strong showing and our aim for this second round of the Iberian Championship was at least a place in the final. Even a few late injuries were not enough to dampen our spirits.
All this was knocked sideways when in our first game, we were steamrollered by a much more energetic and determined Barcelona. The fact that we were held to a single point while they scored 2-04 was particularly hard to accept. Between this result and the following game where Madrid beat Pamplona, we knew that we would have to win our two remaining games by big margins to be sure of a place in the final.
Trying to put the Barcelona result out of our heads, we went out against Pamplona and from the throw in got stuck in. This match went a long way towards getting our heads back up as we spent the majority of the match in Pamplonas half and won the game well.
And so it came down to the last group game against Madrid. The winner takes a place in the final against a Barcelona team who were racking up huge scores in all their games. Madrid (who also were suffering from a few absentees), just couldn´t get into this game. After the defeat in Barcelona in the first round, we were never going to let this game slip. It was becoming obvious as well that our forwards were getting more comfortable on the ball, and the hardening ground was beginning to suit us far more than the heavy mud of early morning.
After the girls game finished we were hurried on to the pitch by the referee as the pitch was only rented for the next 30 minutes! In this our first final, the team, from back to front, played as if their lives depended on it. The 1st half was a tight affair, with Barcelona going in at half time just a single point ahead 0-03 to 0-02. The 2nd half was very different however with Valencia playing some beautiful, fluid football, and, eventually pulling away to win 1-04 to 0-03.
Special mention must go to Andy White who, with his 1-02 in the final went on to win the tournament MVP.
Also, we send our deepest thanks to Pamplona GAA for a great weekend and Ger (Pamplona) and Steve (Barcelona) for helping out in goal. We hope to repay the favour in May.
After a challenging introduction to the Iberian Cup in Barcelona at the beginning of March, the Valencia ladies set out with gusto to tackle the next leg of the tournament held in Pamplona on March 29th. Due to the timing of the event, we were left with a smaller team than we had been hoping for and an unfortunate last-minute injury left us without our star striker. Fortunately, Pamplona’s Siret Surva stepped into the breach and did a sterling job in goals in both matches.
In the first match, the Barcelona ladies proved themselves to be physically stronger on the pitch and despite valient efforts from June Harrington and Deirdre O’Driscoll, we were unable to come back from a goal conceded early in the game leaving the score 1-08 to 0-03 when the referee blew his final whistle.
We stayed on the pitch however and went straight into the second game in which we were delighted to meet and play against the Madrid ladies’ team for the first time. Madrid got off to a flying start and played a very fast passing game, which proved too much for the already weary Valencia team. There were, however, very strong performances from Rachel Dix, who has now proven herself capable of playing almost anywhere on the pitch and also from Jennifer Healy whose fisted point kept the Valencia team motivated until the end. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to dent the deficit against Madrid and the game ended 1-06 to 0-03. Congratulations to the Madrid ladies who went on to beat Barcelona in a nailbiting final and win the overall tournament
Despite being unsuccessful in Pamplona, our spirits are still high and we will be training hard over the coming weeks in preparation for the European tournament in Madrid. The passion of this team is apparent in the progress we have made in only a few short months and the men’s fantastic win in Pamplona is proof of the value of hard work and determination. Overall we are having a fantastic journey in this our first year and our thanks and congratulations go to Pamplona GAA for an excellent weekend.
Round 1 - Iberian Championship - Barcelona 01.03.08
Great setting, great weather, so-so result. This would be the best way to sum up the day for Valencia GAA. While we are delighted at the fact that we finished in a three way tie for first place at the end of the group stage, losing out on making the final by points difference was a bit of a disappointment.
Starting the day with a decent 6 point win against Pamplona gave us the motivation and confidence to go out against Barcelona and really give it a go. Whereas in the Pamplona game we played a flowing passing game with plenty accuracy in front of goal, the Barcelona game was a nervier affair with both teams hitting a lot of wides and neither team really dominating the game. In the end thanks to the two goals from Freddy Nadal and some dogged defending, we held on for the one point win.
The third game against Madrid was a bit of a letdown, a win would have virtually guaranteed us a place in the final and while we played well and it seemed we were at least a match for Madrid the game was lost by giving away too much frees in dangerous positions and (I don’t think Madrid will mind me saying this) maybe a bit of luck with the goals.
What was to be our last game of the day was a tough, stop-start affair against a Valls team who showed huge improvement with each game they played. The three point winning margin wasn’t enough to help us with regards to our points difference and so we take the 15 points for third place and head to Pamplona with a lot of confidence.
We would like to pass on our thanks and congratulations to Barcelona Gaels and Gaelletes for a great, well organized and fun day (and night!). You have set a pretty high standard for the rest of us to follow.
The growth in the number of ladies playing Gaelic football in Valencia enabled us to travel to Barcelona as a squad of 12 enthusiastic players – a spectacular turnout for a club that had only been together for a few months. As we made our way to the portside location for our first competitive game, we didn’t know what to expect but were looking forward to our introduction to the Iberian Cup.
As the nerves kicked in at the beginning of the game, there was great anticipation and rivalry between Valencia ladies and Barcelona Gaelettes. Playing with a size 4 ball was a new concept for us as we were used to training with the men’s size 5 balls. Despite many shooting chances, Valencia ladies didn’t have the luck of placing each ball over or under the bar.
Approaching half-time, the Gaelettes proved strong so our tactics had to be changed. We tackled the second half with many player changes and determination to put up a fight. Even though we had some great scores and put the Gaelettes defence under continuous pressure, Monica Duran’s team kept Valencia ladies at arm’s length with a scoreline of 2-12 to 0-10.
A friendly game was then played by the two teams made up of players from both sides. This proved a great exercise and was an excellent way to dissolve the tension that had been built up during the game.
Although we didn’t succeed in our attempt to beat Barcelona in this round of the Iberian Cup, we remain high spirited, motivated and proud of what we have achieved since the team began back in October. We are looking forward to our next clash with the Gaelettes in Pamplona at the end of March.
Congratulations to Helen Curtayne – our star player – who received Ladies Most Valuable Player. Well done Helen!