Germany (2007)

Following our successful expedition to Barcelona in October 2005 we turned our attention to central Europe. On 16th March 2007 the clubs senior hurling squad together with officials, numbering 34 in total, departed Farranfore airport in Kerry bound for Frankfurt Haan Airport. Our ultimate destination was Mannheim, second city (Stuttgart is capital) of the state of Baden-Wurttemberg in south western Germany. Finn, always the educator, informed us, as we supped a few in Farranfore before our departure that the John Deere tractor was made in Mannheim.

Our man in Mannheim was former club player Michael T Cunningham. “T” had organised everything at his end and was eagerly awaiting our arrival and no doubt looking forward to a family reunion with father Denny and brother Colin.

Michael T Cunningham and his son Cathal.

Situated at the confluence of the rivers Rhine and Neckar the industrial city of Mannheim was heavily bombed by British and U.S. forces during World War 11 which resulted in the near annihilation of the city centre. The first deliberate “terror bombing” of German civilians took place on December 16th 1940 in Mannheim. Allied forces occupied the city on March 29 1945, after the fall of the Reich, and the Americans have maintained military bases there to this day.

Michael T greeted us on arrival in Frankfurt and we quickly boarded a coach for the 90 minute trip on the autobahn to Mannheim. It was a pleasant journey along the gently undulating landscape of the fertile and picturesque Rhine valley. 
Our base for the week-end, Hotel Wenger, was centrally located and strategically placed just a few minutes walk from Murphy’s and Riley’s. We frequented both later that night to partake of the local pils brew and knock back the odd jagermeister. Basher gave an exhibition of stool racing and Clancy surfed the crowd as the local rock band blasted it out. The week-end was off to a good start.

Group photograph at team training in Mannheim.

Bubbles and Trevor roused the squad for early morning training. The talk at breakfast was of high jinks around the hotel corridors in the early hours. Marky (he starred in Barcelona as well) it seems became acquainted with the night porter, who lacked an Irish sense of humour.

Pat put the lads through their paces in one if the city’s parks. It was a good work out and he didn’t spare them. Michael T and his son Cathal were sent to replenish the water supply as the socks went low. Mannheimers passing by were intrigued as they stopped to watch the hurling drills. 
Meanwhile, some of the rest of the travelling party made the short train journey (12 miles) to Heidelberg. The old town (Alstadt), dominated by the ruins of Heidelberg castle, is worth a visit.. After World War 11(during which it remained relatively undamaged), Heidelberg became Headquarters of the American forces in Europe. Several US military installations remain. 

Hurling in Deutschland!

The whole squad regrouped at Murphy’s for lunch and to watch Ireland v Italy in the 6 nations.( By the way Heidelberg along with Hanover is one of the main centres of German rugby.)
After the game, most of the party travelled to Didesheim, to sample some local produce and a bit of wine tasting on the farm of Weingut (for real!) Kimich. 

Weingut informed us that Helmut Kohl had brought many of the world leaders to visit his farm. He was obviously trying to impress the distinguished foreign delegation from Tallow by telling us this. By the time we finished the wine tasting we were well and truly distinguished. Novices starting out, we were all connoisseurs as we struggled on board the coach back to base.
Richie (from Kildare) had a good rock band booked that night at Murphy’s and the party was on. We wet the Shamrock in style, together with hundreds of US soldiers who were having a farewell party before beginning a tour of duty in Iraq. 

A great night was had by all and we were under pressure to make the bus at 7 30 the following morning.
It was another memorable club trip and everything went off without a hitch. Our thanks to main organiser at this end Colin Cunningham and Michael T who looked after us in Germany.

This was the last international trip by the club and maybe its time we were on the move again.