All to play for in the European GAA Football Championship
October 31, 2008
By Larry Cooney.
The eigth season of organised GAA championships on mainland Europe is heading for an exciting climax in the men's football competition. With just one round to go - in Maastricht, southern Holland on Saturday - November 8th, there is still everything to play for among the leading contenders - Craobh Rua - Brussells and Paris Gaels. Craobh Rua, who have already clinched their first ladies football title, will therefore also be bidding for a double this weekend.
The hurling and camogie titles have already been wrapped with Luxembourg clinching the double in Zurich on September 22nd. They won the camogie title in Brussells in the previous month.
The other outstanding issue to be resolved this Saturday will be the destination of this year's Shield title. Having missed the last round in Rennes on October 11th, Copenhagen look poised to triumph in Maastricht but Amsterdam are still in contention provided the Danish club have a bad Maastricht tournament.
The highlights of the last round in Rennes on October 11th included victories for Liffre (an entirely native Breton team) in the Shield and Craobh Rua - Brussells in the Championship while Paris Gaels were victorious in the ladies football Championship. Seventeen clubs from the main GAA centres of Europe participated in the tournament in Brittany less than a month ago and a similar registration of teams is anticipated to make the trip to southern Holland this Saturday.
Unlike the men's game which became regionalised two years ago due to an expansion of over 20 plus clubs, ladies football and hurling is still played on a Pan-European wide competition format. This European GAA expansion of clubs meant that in 2005 the men's football championship had to be divided into four qualifying regions, namely:
(1) France and Channel Islands,
(3) Benelux and
(4) East and Central Europe.
The regional rounds serve as a seeding phase to determine whether teams will play in either the Championship or Shield at the second stage of the competition. The second stage consists of four Pan- European rounds and all men's football teams from all regions play for the Championship or the Shield.
Ladies Football, Hurling and Camogie
Ladies football hurling and camogie have so far not been regionalised and all rounds still remain Pan-European. The hurling and championship was played over four rounds and camogie over three rounds only while ladies football was decided over seven rounds. In hurling and camogie the title is determined by the best three rounds while in ladies football it is the best five rounds that determines the destination of the title.
Results Update Summary
The four qualifying regions saw some exciting competitions with three to four rounds taking place in each region with the Regional winner more often than not being decided on the last day of competition.
Approaching the fourth and final round of the Pan-European competition, it looks like being a straight fight between leaders Craobh Rua - Brussells and Paris Gaels. However Luxembourg and Budapest Rangers are also in contention should the current top two teams slip up.
Craobh Rua - Brussells and Paris Gaels played out a thrilling decider in the last round in Rennes with the Belgian team just about deserving their narrow one-point victory. With Paris just six points behind without having recorded a first place finish in any of the previous rounds, it was an important victory for an impressive Craobh Rua team.
The Brussells club also had a very competitive and exciting encounter with the Luxembourg team who were also hoping for a better placed finish in Rennes on October 11th. After a shaky start with a fourth place finish in the opening round in Munich, Craobh Rua - Brussells are in the driving seat and should they finish runners up to Paris Gaels in Maastricht on Saturday, they will still be celebrating their first football title.
Copenhagen and Amsterdam look set to battle it out for the Shield title and succeed last year's winners - Wild Geese - Rennes, the first ever native French side to win the title.
Holders Paris Gaels surrendered their title to an impressive Craobh Rua - Brussells team who claimed their first title. A fancied Paris outfit paid the price for some poor results in the early rounds and before their last victory in Rennes in the last round had only record one first place at home in Round 4.
Meanwhile Brussells claimed three first places finishes in Madrid, Luxembourg and Munich and with a runner-up place in Paris and Rennes, they have already clinched the title. The Hague and former kingpins Luxembourg were out of contention by Round 5.
Luxembourg are the new champions after recording three first place finishes in the opening three rounds. Craobh Rua-Brussells were surprising close rivals to the new champions and even claimed a victory in Round 4 in Zurich. It was a season of disappointment for the holders - The Hague who failed to record a single first place.
In its augural year the camogie competition was a two-horse race between Luxembourg and Craobh Rua - Brussells. Luxembourg claimed victory in all three rounds including the final round in Brussells last August.
Euro GAA Tables
(1) Winning captains from last round in Rennes on October 11th. From left the winning
captains: Emmett Dalton (Craobh Rua-Brussells - Kildare), Eileen Jennings (Paris
Gaels - Mayo) and Olivier Kowarski (Lieffe GAA Club)
(2) Croabh Rua - Brussells - favourites for football title
(3) Craobh Rua - Brussells - Ladies football champions
(4) Lieffe - Breton club that won the Shield in the last round in Rennes
(5) The Wild Geese - Rennes - Hosts of a very successful tournament in the last round.
(6) Poster for Rennes Tournament.
European GAA Roll of Honour
Football Hurling Ladies Football Camogie
2001 Paris Gaels - - -
2002 The Hague The Hague Luxembourg -
2003 Paris Gaels The Hague Luxembourg -
2004 Munich Zurich Luxembourg -
2005 Paris Gaels Munich Paris Gaels -
2006 The Hague Zurich Luxembourg -
2007 Paris Gaels The Hague Paris Gaels -
2008 ? Luxembourg CR Brussells Luxembourg
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