Amsterdam close in on European title

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Updated: November 5, 2011

Amsterdam Close In On European Football Title

Earlier this week we brought you a preview of this year’s Pan European Gaelic Football championships to be held in Limerick on Nov 4th/5th. Today we look at one club’s quest for glory this weekend – Amsterdam GAC

Our story begins in a crowded Irish bar in Amsterdam on St. Patrick’s Day 2003, an Australian and Irishman shook hands and formed what would become the centre of the Irish community in The Netherlands; Amsterdam Gaelic Athletic Club. Eight years later, the club has become one of Europe’s leading GAA clubs and is closing in on a European GAA title.

European Title
Amsterdam GAC are set to win the overall European Shield when the European Gaelic Football County Finals are held in UL and Gaelic Grounds on Saturday November 5th. It’s the first time in Europe GAA’s eleven year history that the finals come to Ireland, and Limerick will host the final tournament to celebrate their role as European Capital of Sport.

Amsterdam is currently enjoying its most successful period in club history, after securing three consecutive European tournament trophies and is the only club undefeated in Pan-European tournaments this season. The club has grown to include two men’s teams, a ladies team, and has a large number of both playing and social members. Amsterdam players, Simon Palmer and Pete Jansen, have claimed back to back European Men’s Player of the Tournament Awards in the most recent Pan-European tournaments in Guernsey and Belgium, whilst new recruit for the ladies team, Rose Holland, took home the most recent European Ladies Player of the Tournament Award in Belgium.

Play & Work in The Netherlands
Amsterdam GAC has players from nearly every county in Ireland and has seen numbers surge over the past year as a new generation of Irish emigrants search for new opportunities abroad. Club members’ work across The Netherlands in a variety of jobs, and the club is in a perfect position to help any individual who is considering a move, to arrange accommodation, work, and most importantly advise on how to make the move to a new country.

Monaghan man and club trainer, Brendan Finnegan has overseen the transformation of the club into one of Europe’s strongest senior football clubs, and is delighted with its progress: “With a big increase in both mens and ladies players from every province from home, it’s an exciting time for the club and we’re determined to use this as a springboard for greater success over the coming years. We’re always on the lookout for new players for both mens and ladies teams, and I’d encourage anybody in The Netherlands to contact us even if they’re only based here for a few months, as we’ve seen with our student players here on placement. It’s an opportunity to get fit, travel across Europe, and suddenly be adopted into a whole new community of friends! We pride ourselves on being an extremely welcoming club and anybody who’s interested in playing should get in touch and we can help out with organizing accommodation, and work, for those who require it”.

European Tournaments
The opportunity to travel across Europe for monthly tournaments is another attractive perk of the European GAA scene according to Amsterdam Mens captain, Derek Lowry: “When I moved from Ireland to Amsterdam, the opportunity to immediately gain a new network of friends was ideal, as well as to get back to playing gaelic football. At the time I didn’t realise how my year would revolve around which European city I would travel to every month. We’ve played in nearly every region and enjoyed some great weekends in Barcelona, Budapest, Copenhagen, Luxembourg, and Munich amongst others. The players generally take the opportunity to take a few extra days off after the tournaments and I’ve spent plenty of long weekends exploring European cities with both my own teammates and players from the other teams you meet during the weekend. The tournaments are a great way to travel, while also experiencing a piece of home every month!”

Centre of Irish Community in The Netherlands
The only way a club can survive in any city is through excellent support and Amsterdam GAC is lucky to have this with both Irish and non-Irish communities in The Netherlands. The club has recently signed a new three year extension to their sponsorship agreement with the’ Hole in the Wall’ bar in Amsterdam and their support over the past five or six years has afforded the club the ability to secure excellent pitch facilities. Earlier this year, Amsterdam GAC moved to two new full sized pitches with a state of the art clubhouse due for completion early next year. “We’re extremely fortunate to enjoy great partnerships with’ Hole in the Wall’, and all our other loyal supporters. The new pitches and clubhouse will allow us to host larger European tournaments and ideally we want our club to grow from currently being the centre of the Irish community in The Netherlands to being the centre of gaelic games in Europe”, according to David Corcoran, Chairman of Amsterdam GAC.

International Club
The club has players from over ten countries including America, Australia, Britain, Canada, France, and New Zealand. The Kerry born chairman believes the international aspect of the club is one of the most appealing reasons for both Irish and non-Irish to join: “When you move to an international city such as Amsterdam, it’s important to embrace new cultures as quickly as possible. There are so many nationalities living here, and we strive to attract as many of them as possible to the sport. Watching non-Irish players embrace the game over the past eight years is a major source of pride for this club – last year our mens player of the year was an English player, whilst the captain of the ladies team is American”.

Social Nights
While Amsterdam GAC remains a sporting outlet, the club is not shy at embracing its social side. Deirdre White, PRO of the club and vice-captain of the ladies team, believes it´s a key component of the club: “We´re always searching for new ideas to our various club events. Quiz nights have always been a regular feature for the club and during the summer, we try to use the great Dutch weather to have as many club bbq´s as possible! It´s a great way to introduce new players to the club while also including their friends and families in the Gaelic community here even if they´re not playing”.

Contact
If you are interested in joining Amsterdam GAC or if you would like to follow their progress during this exciting era for the club you can check out the club website at http://www.amsterdamgac.nl or the club blog at http://amsterdamgaa.blogspot.com or contact Chairman, David Corcoran at corcoran.david@gmail.com

Great to see and hear of a thriving Gaelic Games environment in The Netherlands where there are currently four clubs – the others being Den Haag, Groningen and Maastricht . The European Board of the GAA was founded in 2000 with just four teams. There are now over 50 teams registered and playing Gaelic Games throughout mainland Europe.

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