May 8th 2010 saw Seville Eire Og play in their second round of the Iberian GAA Championship, bringing a strong panel of 15 players and four fans up the road from Andalucia the night before ready to do justice to the newly acquired green and red jerseys. The games took place in the academic surroundings of the Cantarranas Rugby pitch in Ciudad Universitaria on Madrid’s northside. The weather was perfect and the bit of give in the turf augured well for a good day’s games.
Six teams were present to battle it out for the men’s prize. Alongside Seville Eire Og were Barcelona Gaels, San Vincent of Valencia, Naomh Fermin Pamplona and two men’s teams from Madrid Harps. The ladies tournament also taking place featured four teams, with Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia joined by newcomers San Agustín de Guadalix. Also putting in an appearance was the Irish ambassador to Spain, Justin Harman, who threw in the ball for the day’s first game.
In their first match Seville roared out of the blocks and into an early lead against Pamplona. Everything seemed to click for the Seville team, who were almost out of sight by half time and went on to win by 3-8 to 0-2. Eight different Seville players got their names on the scoresheet and a marker had been laid down that Seville were intent on making a serious impact on the tournament.
This exuberance ran up against a wall of experience in the next group game against a wily Barcelona side. Seville started well and an early goal saw them into a healthy lead. Despite having plenty of possession, the Seville forwards lacked a certain amount of composure in front of the posts. Barcelona kept their heads well and kept the scoreboard ticking over, leading to a deserved victory by 2-3 to 1-2.
The win in the first game meant that Seville were through to the semis though, to face Valencia. In a tight game, Valencia’s patented hand-passing style saw them into a narrow early lead, but with both teams then trading points back and forth it was tight right up to the final whistle. Valencia got the goals at vital times though, and ran out 2-5 to 0-7 victors.
The Seville-less final turned out to be a cracker as the Barcelona and Valencia teams went score for score throughout and were only separated by some excellent scores from the Barcelona forwards deep into extra time to see them home 1-10 to 1-7. There was some impressive stuff served up by both teams, but the watching Seville players felt they would have given the final a good crack given the chance. Also worth commending were the performances throughout the day of refs Guillaume Kerrien and Eoin Campbell, who both tried to keep the play moving but cracked down well whenever stuff got too rough.
A tired but more or less content Seville panel headed back to the hostel in Madrid’s city centre for a quick shower before getting back on the metro to start the night’s celebrations. Over some decent grub and flowing refreshments the days ups and downs got discussed. This was followed by some more winding down in a few spots around town, before everyone ended up back at the hostel in the early hours (narrowly avoiding the brassers on the way). So a good tournament, but not a great one, for Eire Og Seville. Better luck next year.