Northern Ireland news

Brussels hosts GAA games as part of St Patrick's Day festival

John Monaghan
15 March, 2016 10:00

IT isn't quite Croke Park, but the rather more exotically named Parc Du Cinquantenaire in Brussels played host to one of the first St Patrick's Day festivals at the weekend.

A large crowd gathered to celebrate the patron saint and watch all the action as Belgium GAA took on The Earls of Leuven in an eagerly awaited football clash.

There were also hurling and camogie games, and the GAA action was followed by a football match involving FC Irlande.

Volunteers from both clubs, Belgium GAA and FC Irlande, had been involved in the organisation of the festival, which was marking its ninth year.

Established in 2003, Belgium GAA now boasts more than 100 members, with players from a range of countries including Belgium, Estonia, Spain, Serbia and Colombia.

Colin Byrne, Belgium GAA forward and club chairman, said: "The St Patrick's Day Festival is a great opportunity to showcase to a captive audience what great sports gaelic football, hurling and camogie are."

He added: "Hopefully it also means we can pick up a few new members as we are always recruiting - and all nationalities and standards are welcome!"

Ballycastle man Paddy Donnelly, a Belgium GAA hurler, said: "We recently found out that there was a hurling match played in Brussels as far back as 1979.

"We managed to track down a couple of players from that match who were still living in Brussels, and we’re delighted that they were able to join in our St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and throw in the ball at the start of the hurling match."

Seán Kelly MEP, former GAA President and Honorary President of Belgium GAA, added: "As Belgium GAA's Honorary President I commend all those who are giving their time voluntarily and generously to promote our games and help very worthy charitable causes throughout the world."

All proceeds raised at the event went towards fundraising for the two sports clubs.

15 March, 2016 10:00 Northern Ireland news