Limerick GAA is putting the finishing touches on preparations for hundreds of visiting footballers as they get ready to host the Pan European Football Finals on November 4 and 5.
The event organised by the European County Board will see 26 Mens & Ladies Gaelic Football teams from all parts of Europe travel to Limerick for the culmination of their season and is an integral part of Limerick’s European City of Sport Celebrations.
Over 350 players will take part with travelling friends & family meaning upwards of 500 people are expected to spend two nights in Limerick as part of the event.
Some of the cities being represented include Zurich, The Hague, Toulouse, Brussels, Amsterdam, Gothenburg, Munich, Copenhagen, Paris & Valencia and in addition to featuring many European nationals, the teams also include players originally from Iran, Columbia, China & the United States.
The European Board of the GAA was founded in 2000 with just 4 teams. There are now over 50 teams registered and playing Gaelic Games throughout mainland Europe.
Looking forward to the event Tony Bass, Secretary, European GAA Board, said: "We are absolutely delighted to be bringing our finals to Limerick as part of the European City of Sport celebrations. This is our eleventh finals and the first time we have brought the event home to Ireland. It offers a great opportunity for the ex-pat community to come home to Ireland and play in front of friends and family. Even more exciting, is the fact that the majority of our teams include non Irish nationals who have fallen in love with Gaelic Games and now have a chance to visit Ireland for the first time to play competitive games. I’d like to thank the Limerick County Board for playing host to the event and making this year’s Pan European Finals our biggest and most special to date."
Kevin O’Connor, Shannon Development, who secured the European City of Sport status for Limerick, added: "Much hard work has been done locally by Limerick GAA in promoting and developing Gaelic Games in communities in the city and the county in recent years. This is clear from developments like the Limerick Gaelic Grounds – the third largest GAA stadium in Ireland, the Mick Neville GAA Centre of Excellence in Rathkeale and the many new and improved club facilities recently completed. This is a unique event for our city and it is with great pride that we as European City of Sport look forward to welcoming our visitors for the European GAA Finals. Limerick GAA can be proud to host this event for the several hundred players, visitors and friends who will come together for the occasion from cities all over mainland Europe and we wish them all success and an a memorable weekend”.
Chairman, Limerick County Board, Liam Lenihan, spoke of his delight that Limerick is the first county to host the Pan European Games, saying "It is a great honour that the European County Board chose Limerick as the venue to bring this, the highlight of their playing calendar, home from mainland Europe for the first time. As European City of Sport, the very best of Limerick has been showcased to the sporting world all year long and these finals are the perfect contribution from the GAA to the celebrations, in that they will bring hundreds of visitors to the city, boosting hotels, shops, restaurants and pub business for the weekend. In addition to welcoming home so many Irish people now living in Europe, we are especially excited about welcome native French, Belgian, Spanish, Swedish, German & other European players who now play Gaelic Games due to the great work that the European Board have done in promoting our Association across Europe. We are also delighted to be playing the games at the state of the art new University of Limerick all weather sports pitches and also in the magnificent Gaelic Grounds itself".
The Finals will feature 8 Ladies teams, and 18 Men’s teams split into Championship and Shield Divisions. The games take place on Saturday November 5th at the University of Limerick from 9am with the finals taking place later that day from 4.30pm in the Gaelic Grounds.
Entry is free for anyone wishing to attend and show their support. A banquet for almost 450 people will take place in the Strand Hotel that evening.
Clem Smiths Bar & Peter Clohessy’s Bar have kindly come on board as the official pub’s for the event and will be providing entertainment for visiting players and families on Friday & Saturday evening.
Upwards of 100 of those taking part will be attending the new Limerick Greyhound Track on Friday evening in what will be a first for many of native Europeans who will never have seen Greyhound Racing before.
The Pan European Finals are kindly supported by Shannon Development, Irish Rail, Limerick City Council, Limerick County Council, Limerick Communications Office, O’Neill’s, Limerick Post, Limerick Leader, Irish Daily Mail, Limerick’s Live 95FM, Clem Smith’s Bar & Peter Clohessy’s Bar & The Sin Bin Nightclub.
Limerick hotels including the Strand Hotel, Clarion Hotel, Greenhills Hotel, Absolute Hotel and The Pier Hotel have also come on board to offer special rates to all the visiting teams ensuring a bumper weekend for Limerick tourism.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Men's Championship: The Hague are going for a first ever 3-in-a-row in Europe are level with Guernsey Gaels in men's championship, plenty of exciting action is also guaranteed with Iberian Champs, Valencia; Scandinavian winners, Stockholm Gaels and two traditionally strong Benelux teams, Belgium and Luxembourg all threatening to upset the front-runners plans.
Men’s Shield already won by Amsterdam "A" but Copenhagen and Frankfurt battling for runners-up
Teams: Amsterdam A+B (NL); Belgium B (BE); Guernsey B; Copenhagen (DK); Frankfurt (DE); Gothenburg (SE); Lyon (FR); Luxembourg “B”; Niort / Clermont (FR); Toulouse (FR); Zurich/St.Gallen (SWITZ)
Ladies Championship has been won by Belgium but Holland Ladies, Munich and Paris Gaels are fighting for runners-up spot.
Teams: Barcelona (SP); Belgium “A”; Belgium “B”; Holland Ladies; Munich (DE); Niort/Copenhagen/Gothenburg (FR/DK/SE); Paris (FR); Stockholm
This is third of three rounds with teams being allocated 25pts for 1st place in each round; 20 for 2nd; 16 for 3rd; etc.