The Éire Óg club in Seville will play host to the first round of the 2011 Iberian GAA Championship on Saturday next.
Teams from Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Marbella, A Coruña and Pamplona will take part in the first ever Gaelic football tournament held in the city. Up to 200 footballers will compete in men’s and women’s tournaments, which will be held on one day at the sports facility beside Seville’s Olympic Stadium.
2011 is the seventh year of the Iberian Championships, and sees a record number of teams taking part. The tournament is overseen by the European County Board and Croke Park, with all games refereed by fully qualified GAA officials flown over for the weekend.
Teams are eleven-a-side and the games last 20 minutes. They are played on a full-size pitch and will include a group stage, semi-finals and final. The Éire Óg team from Seville were formed in 2009 and debuted in last year’s championship. The team features a number of Irish ex-pats living, working or studying in Seville, a growing number of Spanish players and a sprinkling of English, Scots, Swedes and Americans.
Hosting the first round of this year’s Iberian Championships will be a very proud day for all the ‘verdirojo’ players and fans, according to club treasurer and former Waterford minor Kevin Lenane:
“We are expecting to put on a great show and feel we have a good chance of success this year. We welcome the other players and teams from all over Spain and also hope as many fans from Seville as possible – especially those who might not know much about the GAA – will come along to cheer us on”.
Eire Óg chairman, Dubliner Conor Guckian, says that the GAA in Spain is more than a sporting organisation:
“Éire Óg Seville has a real community feel and brings together people from Irish, Spanish and other nationalities. We welcome men and woman of any age or background who want to play Gaelic football or get involved in any way. It is great to see Spanish people or other nationalities learning the game”.