Germans play hurling, Spaniards play Gaelic football in TG4’s “Cluiche As Baile”

The unique experience of GAA clubs on the European continent is explored in a new programme which airs on TG4 tonight (Thursday ), ‘Cluiche As Baile’, or ‘The Away Game’ in English. While people in Ireland may not realise, there are dozens of GAA clubs in cities all across Europe - some without any Irish people at all.

Brothers Jack and Cian Desmond from west Cork directed and produced the 50-minute documentary. They travelled to Hamburg, Cologne, Madrid and Galicia, getting to know some of the people behind the clubs - Irish expats, Germans, Spanish, French, Kazakh and even farther afield. The programme follows the players’ journey as they learn a new sport, forge a strong community, and ultimately battle for the pan-European trophy.

Narrated by Galway’s Síle Seoige, the documentary covers hurling/camogie in Germany, and football in Spain.

Rachel Mangan from Crossmolina has lived in Hamburg for the past few years. Joining the local GAA team there has been a great way to settle in and meet new people. She paid credit to the hard work of the club’s committee saying, “They honestly spend so much time creating this community for us here.”

In the documentary, the Hamburg hurling and camogie teams make their way to Cologne to compete for the German Cup. The Sebi Riessbeck Cup is played in memory of one of Hamburg GAA’s founding members.

Also vying for the German Cup was a team from the city of Darmstadt, made up entirely of German hurlers. Their club was founded after a German exchange student fell in love with the sport in Ireland.

In Madrid, a strong community of Irish ex-pat and other international players form the Madrid Harps, who focus on football.

Daithí Langan, from Bohola, lives and works in Madrid as an English teacher. He is captain of the men’s senior team in Madrid, and loves the sense of community. The active lifestyle in sunny Madrid is one of the main attractions for Daithí.

“There are always people playing sport, walking, running, playing music. There’s always a great atmosphere.”

The region of Galicia in north-west Spain is famous for the Camino pilgrimage. It also has a Celtic culture, and an entire Gaelic football league was created by Galician people. The city of A Coruna was this year’s host of the Pan-European Gaelic Football championships. Hundreds of players came from all over Europe, so the pressure was on. To add to the stakes, the finals was broadcast live on local Galician TV.

“It was a privilege to travel around Europe and meet so many people passionate about Irish sport and culture,” says co-director Jack Desmond. “It was amazing to see how important hurling, camogie and football has become to people who may never have even been to Ireland before!”

The programme will premiere on TG4 tonight Thursday June 1, at 9:30pm, and will be available to view on the TG4 Player website thereafter.


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