Barcelona (2005)

October 2005

Our first venture into Europe was memorable.  Read about the exploits of our mostly junior squad – “Basking in Barcelona” – from the club notes.

If Carlsberg ever decide to do junior hurling tours to exotic foreign locations we will let them have the blueprint.  I can speak for all who travelled when I say the trip surpassed all expectations.  We had some fun as we hurled in the sun!!
It wasn’t widely known but our advance man Ted (NO,NO, not that many medalled one whose name we shall never again speak) was in the city for the week prior to our arrival, ex cathedra, to pave the way for our coming.  Our Ted, a man of sophistication and culture, who knows his Gaudi from his Gaudy, had prepared the Catalan nation for the arrival of the junior hurling touring party from “Tallow, Ireland” (as the sign on our coach at Girona airport said).
Things almost got off without a hitch as we rendezvoused at 5.30a.m. at Shannon on Friday but somewhere along the way Mick and Anne traded the beaches of Barcelona for the moors of Mayo.  We’ll say no more.  We shared the plane out and back with the Garryowen rugby team who were going out on a training weekend.  Our paths would cross again over the course of the weekend.  Former Limerick hurler Gary Kirby was also on board heading out to play golf.
We landed at Girona, 20 minutes ahead of schedule, where a private coach awaited us.  Slipping down the scenic coast, heading into Barca.  It doesn’t get much better than this boys.  All together lads: “There’s only one Ted in Tallow, one Ted in Tallow……..”
We were met on arrival by Barcelona Gaels chairman, Belfast born Stephen Campell who couldn’t do enough for us throughout our stay.  By lunch time we were settled in the Hotel Lloret, centrally located on las Ramblas not 50 yards from the main square Pl. Catalunya.  We dispersed for the afternoon with many taking the city tour buses which brought you just about anywhere you would want to see around this handsome metropolis.  Some of this Gaudi stuff looked like it came from the set of the Flintstones.  Later on we would meet up with the Gaels secretary Stephan Garland who was our main point of contact during preparations for the trip.
We had a busy schedule Sat with the hurling getting underway shortly after 12 noon under the baking Barcelona sun.  We split our panel to field two teams, with Cuz captaining the “Blues” and Florry leading the “Greens”.  The “Blues” played our hosts, who had 5 native Catalans on their panel, in the first game.  The local lads don’t get many opportunities to play games and clearly enjoyed the workout.  They were very impressed with the skills of a few of our youngest lads James Hampton, Ken Kearney and Michael Curley.  Mikey only got better as the day went on.  There was a bit of a needle in the second game when the Blues played the Greens.  The Legend was picked in goals but when he spotted Timmy in the opposition goal decided to plant himself on the edge of the square in his usual “goal hanging” position.  The final game pitted the “Greens” against the Barca Gaels.  An entertaining and free scoring encounter it proved again with the Barca management getting fairly agitated with their own lads.

Team Tallow.

Barcelona Gaels.
We rounded off the days play with a game of football.  Former county star Siobháin Murphy lined out for us and was easily the best of our lot.  Eddie Cunningham refereed all games unerringly.  We’re great friends again.

After the games Loretta Kearney made a presentation of a Waterford Crystal clock to the Gaels secretary Stephen Garland (Check out the bodies in the background!!).  

Vice chairman Denny Cunningham presented their chairman Stephen Cambell with hurleys and sliotars from the Tallow club.

It was but a short stroll from the playing field to the adjoining beach for a dip in the Mediterranean.  Back to the hotel then to freshen up before heading to the Camp Nou.  It is an impressive stadium indeed but the game was disappointing.  Nobody got lost and we regrouped once more after the game to make our way to Kitty O’Sheas for a meal with our hosts.

Will Mac, Mossy and Bubs at Camp Nou.

"They're both mine". Finn displays his massive jugs!
Sunday was a free day.  Some of our more mature members sought out the pleasures of the beach yet again.  Along with William and Siobhan Murphy I visited one of Barcelona’s most famous landmarks La Sagrada Familia.  Gaudi’s unfinished cathedral is truly an astounding work of art, breathtaking in scope.  If you have the good fortune to visit this city, don’t miss it.

Dinny, Finn and Bubs ready to hit the water.

Our sincere thanks to Barcelona Gaels for a memorable weekend.  The Gaels host a number of tournaments and events throughout the year and welcome contact from clubs in Ireland.  If any club is seriously interested in making the trip I can put them in contact.  Email  Our thanks to all who travelled especially Colin Cunningham and Loretta Kearney who put so much work into organising the tour.