[Photos by the talented Abel Rodríguez]
A tight match between the league’s top two effectively decided the outcome of the second tournament of the season. Both teams had gone into the Gibraltar clashes at almost full strength and enjoyed an intense struggle with the gap having narrowed since their Marbella encounter last October.
In a tournament marred by controversy, Sevilla will consider themselves lucky to get the points although no doubt they deserve reward for their tenacity on the field and huge efforts in training.
Some might be voicing their concerns drunkenly at a family Christmas dinner near you soon but the Ladies League certainly has a renewed bite which was not seen in other seasons.
A total of ten ladies matches took place, each having a duration of 15 minutes. In the first match a massacre of almost unprintable scale took place in which Sevilla decapitated Costa Gaels. Next up the ladies of Málaga ran out easy winners against Sevilla Seamróga. Following this the decapitations became mutilations when Sevilla dismembered the Gibraltar Celtiberos squad.
Not to be outdone Málaga also put an improved Costa Gaels to the sword, the match over at half time when Liam, veteran and all round unpredictable Corkman, took off some of the stars of the team. The Costa ladies did mount a comeback of sorts netting three times which ex-hattrick Oisín felt compelled to overexaggerate but the horse had long bolted for Gaeltacht regions of Waterford.
Malaga, on a roll after two very convincing wins, met the Sevilla Éire óg team in what would be the battle of the day. There was “previous” between the clubs after a dispute over the inclusion of a player known to both clubs in their last meeting in Marbella. Many irate passive aggressive looks were exchanged for a moment back then but ultimately they decided to offer up a fantastic game of football to decide things. When the final whistle went there was the minimum between the sides, with Sevilla on top.
Allegations of a betting scandal, links to QAnon and even a plot to overthrow the Califate of Gibraltar have surfaced. It is said that all of this emerged from a certain notorious bar in the early hours so can probably be completely disregarded. What actually happened was less exciting and concerned some suspect officiating which was addressed by the Andalusian CCC.
Many well founded concerns in the tournament in general over refereeing were reported by players, managers and supporters alike. This has since been addressed at an Andalusian level and organisers are confident they have found solutions and that standards will improve.
The word on the street is that the ladies league is progressing at an unstoppable pace and that all involved can take credit for their contributions in cementing the popularity of this exciting tournament.
For Málaga, captain fantástica, Marlie, spent some of her day in goal, with commanding kick outs which relieved the pressure on her defence. She later appeared in the midfield where some strong possessions led to her getting through on goal for a top corner finish. Unstoppable was the verdict from the sidelines.
Tricia also renewed her campaign of terror on the defences of Andalucía. The Cork native picked up lots of loose ball around the middle, turning the play and sending the ladies of Costa Gaels and Sevilla rushing backwards to fill up space. Usually they arrived too late however as she often elected for points instead of her regular bottom corner finishes that those who have trained with her will remember only too well.
The blonde bombshell and general creator of chaos that is Anna Livia, got her name on the score sheet with relentless frequency. Time after time she got a run on the backs, either taking a deft step inwards to bamboozle her opponents or continuing on the outside to goal at will. Whether she be best known for her impressive GAA heritage (“Heffo’s Army,” early 70’s multi All-Ireland winning Dublin team) or her Ronaldo-esque flighty explorations of the clubs of Iberia, either way she laid her will on the tournament.
Other stars on the day for the Málaga ladies: the endlessly reliable Emily, coming though the backs, dodging, defying and dominating, Hungarian-Romanian recent GAA aficionada Edina, with a first half hat trick in her debut tournament, Moldovan-born GAA convert, Alina with her impressive marking skills, Americana Mary Margaret with her strength and presence.
Player of the tournament for the Costa ladies, Olive, will no doubt be satisfied with her personal performance and that of her team. Manager Oisín was “very proud” of the effort put in as they picked up 2 victories, clearly a statement of intent. Maggie, Aisling and war-wounded Hayleigh also deserve special mention for their efforts.
The ladies of Lisbon arrived in small numbers and had decided on a marriage of convenience with their counterparts from Gibraltar. Rather than use a traditional naming structure they christened themselves by the double-barrel Gibraltar Celtiberos.
Of the Lisbon ladies, the stand-out performance was from Claire, who scored fantastic points and got in on the goals when the chances presented. Tania, tenacious, Sarah working tirelessly throughout while Claire played with an abundance of energy. The ladies of Gibraltar were generous in their praise for the addition of these dedicated ladies who had left at 4am to begin their long journey.
The Gibraltar ladies themselves have gone from not even having a training session before the Marbella tournament in October to showing up with seven ladies this time. Of those, Danielle came in for high praise in her first ever game, playing between the sticks she repelled efforts displaying an aptitude beyond her experience.
Sevilla made Andalucian Ladies GAA League history by fielding not one but two teams on the day, Éire Óg Sevilla and Sevilla Seamróga. a first and development squad respectfully. I asked chairperson and manager Siobhán for her take:
“How proud I was to be able to bring down and manage two squads – unheard of in Andalucian LGFA history. Don’t think there has ever been 19 ladies signed up and brought to an away tournament…a monumental achievement. Countless positives to the LGFA development this year across the board.”
As for the football, standout performances came from Carmen (midfield), Raquel (forward), Mckenna (midfield) and Katie, MVP for Sevilla (defence). Many of these players have been playing GAA for a brief period and have excelled in their quick adoption of the skills.
“They have picked it up super quick and are a credit to themselves for getting so stuck in,” a very proud Siobhán added.
Both Sevilla and Lisbon highlighted the great community spirit which was present exemplified by how they were able to amalgamate Gibraltar with the 4 Lisbon ladies that travelled. Overall though, the big takeaway from the day is the development of Ladies GAA in Andalusia and its massive growth since last year which are the results of really hard work clubs are putting in this year.
John P Brady writes short and long fiction, articles and formally 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.
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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.