On Friday the 6th March, Holloway Gaels took to the skies to travel to Italy for a pre-season tournament in Rome. The tournament was hosted by S.S Lazio Calcio Gaelico with teams from Rovigo Gaelic Football club and Venetian Lionesses LGFC also taking part. Along with Eire Og GFC, a total of 34 men and women from both clubs travelled and a fantastic weekend was had by all, where they were overwhelmed by the hospitality and organization shown by the Italian teams.
On Saturday morning, a representative from Lazio met with the teams and escorted them to the playing grounds at Rome Rugby Club at Tre Fontane, where a game from the ladies home teams Lazio and Venetian Lionesses was already underway. This was a tightly contested battle between two teams quite new to the GAA scene but the ladies from Venice clinched the game with a 1 point win.
Under the watchful eye of team managers for the weekend, Ciara Holland and Sinead Gordon, Holloway Gaels then stepped out to play an amalgamation of both the Lazio and Venetian teams. Under blue skies, the Italian team played a good sporting game and fought right to the final whistle but a more experienced Holloway side proved stronger on the day and came out easy winners. Playing for Holloway Gaels was Bridget Browne, Brenda Murtagh, Nessa McHugh, Karen Treacy, Cliona Twohig, Sylvia O’Sullivan, Caroline McKay, Patricia McCarthy, Hannah Fahey, Caroline Hanley, Natalie Quinn, Aileen Brady, Kathleen Dunn. Substitutes used: Aisling Clifford and Áine Maguire.
The men’s teams then took to the field. This was a more competitive game, with some great passages of play and wonderful scores and while the Lazio men came very close, again a more experienced London side won out eventual winners. Representing Eire Og was Patrick Reynolds, Johnny Costello, John Bradley, Niall Murray, Nigel Drew, Eoin Conway, Peter Sweeny, Connie Mc Carthy, Liam Dunne, Julien Smyth, Sean Bradley, Dee Phone and Niall Gileece.
Following the tournament, all teams headed for the Roman teams sponsor, Scholars Lounge pub for the cup presentation. The Irish Ambassador to Italy Bobby McDonagh welcomed the teams who travelled from London and said how delighted he was to see such a thriving GAA scene in Italy and seeing new friendships and alliances being formed between teams in two European cities. Holloway Gaels club chairperson Aileen Brady then said a few words, thanking all involved and praising the ladies team for their commitment and dedication to the game. Nigel Drew, Eire Og chairperson also thanked the Italian side and had a special mention for the Italian referee on the day who did an outstanding job. Club president Sergio Corsini then presented the winning team captains Cliona Twohig and Liam Dunne with the cups and spoke about a return trip for Rome Lazio to London in 2016, which was welcomed by the Holloway and Eire Og clubs.
A massive thank you must go to Rome Lazio GAA, in particular Kevin Teeroovengadum and Sergio Corsini for inviting the teams to the tournament and all the members of the clubs for helping sort accommodation, food and transport for the teams, which all made for a most memorable weekend away. A special thank you must also be extended to Aileen Brady, Hannah Fahey and Patrick Reynolds for organizing the weekend.