The Andalusian GAA season began in earnest on Saturday last in Marbella rugby club, home of the illustrious Costa Gaels club. This year the tournament has been enriched by the return of the capital of the Costa, the missing link, Celta Málaga.
Costa Gaels, unofficial favourites going into the games, were suitably supported by their rent a mob of wandering alcoholics and frequenters of the three pubs on the Costa associated with the club. Loud cheering was heard to accompany their every move, be it score, save or turnover with the decibel level reaching new highs for this competition.
Proceedings got underway with the clash of Éire Óg Sevilla and Gibraltar with the latter crashing home five goals to win by a generous margin.
Next up was the men from Málaga who numbered just 6 until the ladies capitan, Marlie, as fortune would have it, had a perchance encounter with a drunken Englishman in a club the night before. Trainer of the Málaga team and eternal optimist, James, advised that this man should be the Málaga goalkeeper despite having seen the sport for the first time that morning over a banging hangover and a coffee.
To his eternal credit, Dean the now sober Englishman in question, accepted the challenge and ended the day as Málaga’s best player having saved countless point blank shots with whichever body part was most convenient including his face.
Short for numbers and in a generally precarious position Málaga went hat in hand looking for a sub or two to balance things out somewhat. Dave the Publican strode forward to don the Málaga jersey and face his own club.
Marbella might have nightmares recalling his influence however as he elegantly progressed up the field on two occasions to smash two unstoppable top corner finishes, stunning terminator-like defenders Fergal and Justin.
The Gaels however, with big men, aggression and the inspirational acts of full forward Tiernan began to slam over points in the first half which proved the difference in the end. It was that and the influence from the sideline of the eminent Johnny whose instilled hunger and motivational skills are an asset to the team.
Marbella got the better of Sevilla in their second game through the old adage of “goals win matches”. They buried four in total while at the other end Sevilla did manage eight points from play but had a series of goal bound efforts saved.
Gibraltar took on Málaga in the fourth match and things were tight until half-time with Málaga players Cian and Christopher pushing forward menacingly. Gibraltar managed to turn the game through effort and sensible point taking. Moment of the game perhaps, was when the inimitable Seán chased a high ball and took enormous hits from two Gibraltar players, before dispatching with a deft touch from dynamo James’ delivery. Gibraltar, the more experienced team, deserved the win and went forward to the final albeit to muttered misgivings from the home support.
The penultimate game saw Sevilla and Celta Málaga lock horns in a game for the purist. The battle edged one way then the other with some excellent goals being replied with more goals keeping the now drunken observers engaged.
Málaga edged in front in the second half when John smashed in a top corner finish, only for Málaga to completely lose their way in the next few plays and concede a total of three goals. Several close run things followed including last gasp saves by Sevilla’s keeper and one off the post from Ignacio’s boot but the damage had been done.
The stage was set for the final then with Marbella and Gibraltar tearing into each other from first to last. The game played on the edge as is both team’s style, resulted in an even battle until a few heroic scores by the Costa Gaels men opened up a narrow gap, eventually winning by 3 points. Credit to the bench, cool decision-making and the influence of Tiernan, top scorer on the day.
Tournament No 2, Gibraltar Rugby Club, November 26th. All welcome to attend players, family, friends and sports enthusiasts.
Notable performances and moments
The instantly recognisable and oft referred to legendary Costa Gael’s goalkeeper, Kieran, achieved another possible first for Andalusian GAA when after collecting a misplaced pass in front of his goals made his way down the field unobstructed, the opposing defence cleverly led in diverging directions allowing him a point scoring opportunity. Rightfooted, he shot for glory only for the ball to exceed his expectations and career into the net over the embarrassed Sevilla goalkeeper.
Those of you familiar with a certain Waterfordman’s endless reminders of a hat trick of green flags raised for his efforts in a game long since forgotten which many are not old enough to even remember, will now be preparing themselves mentally for Kieran the goalkeeper’s inevitable foray into similar ear-aching territory.
Solid performances by several other men should be acknowledged. Micheal the Publican held firm around the middle and got in on the scores. Eddie, a last minute addition to the Málaga team helped keep shape in the back and middle.
The return of Celta Málaga’s senior men’s team to the big stage was a long time coming and brought wonderful new colour and excitement to the competition. Special praise must be given to the committee who managed to bring a large squad of ladies players to the event as well as the first men’s team in five years.
The Málaga ladies took to the field first against a fancied Marbella side in what was the pick of the ladies’ matches. The game was played at a very high intensity throughout and went down to the wire with Málaga holding out for a deserved one point win. Stars on the day for the winners were Emily and Anna among others. For the Gaels Aisling and Ashes featured strongly.
Both team’s days ended with defeat to Sevilla however, as the mostly Spanish ladies showed the others how it was done, coming out winners by a decent margin in both their games. Some tenacious play through the middle and good management from the line was the launchpad for success.
The ladies will be eager to renew hostilities on November 26th in Gibraltar when both Costa Gaels and Celta Málaga will fancy their chances at overturning these results.
“Eccentric debauchery & social observations”
John P Brady writes literary fiction, articles on social themes and sport. He ran a blog about life in Italy, where he lived for 6 years. His first book, a collection, entitled Back to the Gaff has been published by Roadside Fiction. It concerns the wild happenings in Dublin by night.
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Back to the Gaff
Scandalous Narratives of Contemporary Ireland
Back to the Gaff is a collection by author John P Brady, which describes the excessive and outrageous nature of Irish night life.
Meet an array of eccentric individuals who populate the bars of Dublin, living lives of decadence and abandon. Their frolics inevitably lead to a trip ‘back to the gaff,’ which in Dublin-speak means gravitating towards someone’s place of residence where the depravity continues.