Posted by Dónal on June 20th, 2014
Posted by Dónal on June 20th, 2014
The men’s team, managed by Bernard McCarthy, Brian Wall and Micheál O’Connell, were keen to win back the Black Stuff Trophy that they lost to Amsterdam in the final of last year’s Luxembourg tournament.
Luxembourg fielded a second team in their home tournament. Footballers who had played for the Grand-Duchy on the senior team were joined by veteran footballers, members of the club’s hurling team, younger players and some new arrivals to Luxembourg. Their first match was against Belgium, one of the two strongest teams in the Championship. Luxembourg performed well against the more experienced team. This was not enough and the match ended with a Belgian victory and a lopsided scoreline. Luxembourg’s Junior team finished their day with closer match against Dusseldorf that saw strong performances from Dónal Shivnan and Morgan Ferriter who were members of Luxembourg’s European Championship winning team in 2007. At the other end of the age spectrum new arrival Seán Moran tirelessly harried the Dusseldorf defence and Luxembourg-reared teenager Tony Drennan transferred his Rugby skills to the round-ball game.
Luxembourg’s Senior team had comfortable group game wins against their neighbours Frankfurt and a combined Eindhoven/Amsterdam team. Belgium’s strong win against Dusseldorf resulted in Luxembourg and Belgium winning their groups.
Belgium faced Eindhoven/Amsterdam in the first semi-final. The Belgians were too strong for the combined Dutch side and won the game with a 6-5 to 0-2 scoreline. Luxembourg won their place in the final with a 2-14 to 0-1 win against Dusseldorf in their Semi-final. All the players took a break to watch the Luxembourg women’s team win the third/fourth place play off against Dusseldorf and Belgium B win the all-Belgian women’s final.
Barry Quaid remembered at match
A large crowd gathered in the stand to watch the final between the two strongest teams in the Benelux region. A piper marched the two sides onto the pitch were the crowd and players sombrely stood in silence to mark the death of former Luxembourg player Barry Quaid who died in a car accident in Ireland on the June 3. Barry had played in last year’s Luxembourg football final and had captained the club’s hurling team during his time in Luxembourg.
The standard of Football in the final was great. The Belgium side were missing a few key players who had played for them in earlier tournaments but having made their way easily through the group games and the semi-final and with many experienced footballers they were very tough opponents for the home side. Luxembourg’s goalkeeper Damien Higgins, at the end of a long day in which he also played on the B team, boosted team morale early in the match when he stopped a Belgian penalty. Brendan O’Sullivan played very well in the backs, stifling Belgian attacks before they could get into a scoring position. A number of Irish students who are spending their Erasmus year in Luxembourg and Metz took to the field for Luxembourg with Ciarán ‘Chick’Cunnane, Pauric McCafferty and Rob O’Shea performing well. Steady point scoring from Brendan O’Callaghan and Bernard McCarthy throughout the match meant Luxembourg ended the game winning with a score of 1-12 to 0-5, an unusually high winning margin for a tournament final.
As the players celebrated on the pitch Phil McKenna of the Black Stuff presented the Black Stuff 7’s Cup to Luxembourg captain Eamonn Dunne who gave a speech speaking about how much this victory in their home tournament meant to the team. Eamonn’s performances throughout the day were recognised when the referee’s named him player of the Tournament. The players and supporters moved on to the Black Stuff pub for food and a night of celebrations with music from Steve Moynihan.
Posted by Dónal on June 17th, 2014
Luxembourg Ladies entered the tournament on the back of a strong showing in the previous round in Amsterdam, where they recorded their first competitive win since 2008. With Belgium A and Belgium B entering the tournament tied at the top of the championship and Luxembourg and Dusseldorf both looking to secure 3rd, there was all to play for.
In the first match of the day against Belgium A, Luxembourg Ladies worked hard with goalie and vice-captain Noelle Lynch under severe pressure and making some excellent close-range saves. Captain Maria Timoney, leading by example, drove the team forward and was aided by the excellent Sinéad Marley who was sweeping the ball in defence and clearing the danger. On one of these clearances, Sinéad suffered a tournament-ending injury to her knee. Belgium A, led from midfield by the excellent Elaine Kennedy and goalkeeper Jelena Radakovic sweeping up the loose ball between her and the backline, were incessant. Luxembourg eventually succumbed but not before midfielder Orla Nash scored the goal of the game picking the ball up on her own goal line and soloing the ball the full length of the pitch and calmly slotting the ball into the back of the net. Final score Belgium A 4-8, Luxembourg 2-3.
Belgium B team the toughest challenge
In the second game of the day, Luxembourg came up against a fastly improving Dusseldorf team. Luxembourg, marshalled at the back by the excellent Rachael Glynn and the returning Lizzy Murphy, had to dig deep to come back from a slow start and a first-half deficit. With some excellent score-taking by Maura Clifford and Adele Leogue and with both Bridget Connolly and Linda Enright picking up the breaking ball around midfield, Luxembourg closed out the game for a 2-8 to 2-3 win.
In the last group game of the day, Luxembourg faced their toughest challenge of the day – against a vastly experienced and dogged Belgium B team. Despite a valiant, spirited performance by the ladies of Luxembourg, the Belgians proved unstoppable, with their midfield, led by eventual player of the tournament, Margaux Mansanarez, ultimately proving the difference between the two teams. This win was enough to secure places in the final for both Belgium A and Belgium B and left 3rd/4th place play-off to Luxembourg and Dusseldorf.
In a highly enjoyable play-off played in good spirit, Luxembourg played their best football of the season, with the excellent Jenny Sheehan creating space and scoring chances for others like Emma Ni Dhónaill and Cecile Albini to run into. The game was capped off by a wonderfully taken goal by Aishling Mulhern. Luxembourg ran out 4-3 to 0-6 winners to cement 3rd place in the 2014 Benelux Championship.
In the ladies final, Belgium B squared up to Belgium A in a highly entertaining affair. Despite sterling work by Kennedy and Jane Brennan on the Belgium A side, Belgium B, with the player of the tournament, the excellent Mansanarez, ran out easy winners on a score-line of 4-9 to 0-7 to clinch the 2014 Luxembourg Ladies Football Championship. This win was also enough to secure the 2014 Benelux Championship for the Belgium B’s.
Having recorded their best season in a number of years, and with confidence high, the Luxembirds will now turn their attention to preparing for the inaugural European 15 a-side tournament this August and the Pan-European Championship in October.
Posted by Dónal on June 17th, 2014
Posted by Dónal on June 9th, 2014