Clooney Gaels, Ahoghill started off the 2005 season with a unique and historical victory this weekend at a pre-season hurling competition in Barcelona, Spain that was open to all hurling teams in Ireland, England and the European Contentent.
The rural club, based in South West Antrim departed on Thursday 3rd January to compete in the inaugural Barcelona Gaels Hurling Competition with a party of 18, financing this expedition themselves with some support from the club and O’Neill’s sportswear.
The competition was played on the Complex Esportiu de La Mar Bella - a rugby field beside the Mediterranean Sea in the Olympic village area of the city. Four teams took part in this eleven-a-side competition - Civil Service (Dublin), St Enda’s (Belfast), Barcelona Gaels and Clooney Gaels. St Enda’s were the favourites having travelled with a large party of twenty-nine.
Clooney Gaels immerse themselves in Barcelona street culture!
The competition, played on Saturday 5th February, started with St Enda’s facing the host team Barcelona Gaels. The host team where unable to hold St Enda’s who won the game with relative ease. The Barcelona team yet in its infancy included a number of ex-pats and Catalonians who been playing Hurling for only a short time. A number of St. Enda’s players also lined out with in the Barcelona team.
The 'Gaels bring the beautiful game to the streets of Barca!
Clooney Gaels in their first game took on a fancied Dublin Civil Service team whose members comprised of Gaels from all over Ireland now working and living in Dublin. As expected this proved to be a close and highly contested game. The Clooney men were always only a few points in front and their defence fought hard to contain the Dublin forwards, ensuring a two-point victory on a score line of 3-06 to 3-04. Paul Magee took two early points with Gerard Graham scoring a goal in each half. Gerard Kelly took a long-range point just before half time. The two minors Bernard Graham and Donal Graham took a point each early in the second half. With ten minutes left on the clock Francis Neeson came off the bench and scored two goals to knock the wind out of the Dubs. The Clooney Goalkeeper Declan Scullion displayed his full commitment when he threw himself in front of a low goal bound drive in the last minutes of the game to ensure the game ended in Clooney Gaels’ favour.
Beach hurling...the next big thing!
Clooney in their second game took on St Enda’s in the highly anticipated Antrim clash. St Enda’s got of to a quick start and scored 1-01 without any reply from the men in red and black. The Clooney team then effectively took control of game by powering home 3-4 in the remainder of the first half to destroy any St Enda’s resistance. The game ended on a final score of Clooney Gaels 7-06 St Enda’s 2-03. Paul Magee scored 2 goals in each half, Gerard Graham scoring 2-03 with Gerard Kelly, Bernard Graham and Brian Kelly hitting a point each.
With Civil service Dublin beating Barcelona Gaels, Clooney had to beat the home team to win the competition. Clooney fielded a number of their substitutes in this game but still had to work hard to win the game. The Clooney Goalkeeper moved into full forward and scored an excellent catch and strike goal and young Frankie Neeson bagged a goal to make the half time score Clooney Gaels 2-00 Barcelona 1-02. Barcelona Gaels failed to score in the second half while Clooney notched up four more points from Brian Kelly, Donal, Gerard and Bernard Graham.
St Enda’s took second place in the competition by beating the Dublin team in a closely contested game.
The Clooney Gaels team were best served by their defence and midfield, which worked tirelessly during the three games. Ryan Doherty (Captain) didn’t put a foot wrong all day in defence, with Declan Graham, Dominic Neeson and John Kelly strong in the middle of the park. Stephen O’Connell and Donal Graham interlinked well in the half forward line, Gareth Neeson, Brendan Kelly (Manager) and Sean Dougan played their part in the game against the hosts.
The Clooney men also had time to get involved in a team sprit promotional advert which is to be screened on the local Catalonia television network.
Clooney Gaels Team sheet
- Declan Scullion
- Ryan Doherty (Captain)
- Declan Graham
- Brian Kelly
- Dominic Neeson
- John Kelly
- Gerard Graham
- Donal Graham
- Paul Magee
- Gerard Kelly
- Bernard Graham
- Stephen O’Connell
- Francis Neeson
- Brendan Kelly (Player Manager)
- Shaun Dougan
- Gareth Neeson
- Aiden Graham
- Seamus Magee
The victorious Clooney Team get their day in the sunshine!