About The Gaels
Like most great stories, this one starts in an Irish pub…
The idea to start a GAA club in Maastricht originated in a conversation in John Mullins Irish Pub at the beginning of 2005 between Irish exiles, Shay O’Doherty (Tipperary), Chris Marley and Tony Bass (both from Dublin). They quickly began to recruit potential players amongst both locals and other international residents of the city and membership grew steadily. Just two weeks later, eleven players turned out for the first training session on April 13th. With over twenty players attending training every Thursday evening and Sunday afternoon in the local rugby club, Maastricht played their first European tournament in Luxembourg on May 28th, 2005. A ladies football team was also established.
The First Taste of Success
After going much of the first season without winning a game, the men’s team won their first ever round of the European Men’s Football Shield in Paris in September, a few weeks later Maastricht won their second shield tournament and where crowned the 2006 European Men’s Football Shield Champions in Barcelona with the ladies team winning their first ever game at the same tournament. The Gaels have had a Ladies team since 2006 but they are still waiting for their first trophy.
Due to falling numbers, we only fielded full teams occasionally between 2010 and 2019, but were delighted to be part of a combined men’s team (with Eindhoven) who were beaten in the final of the European Intermediate Football Championships which we hosted in Maastricht in October 2016. The same combined team triumphed in the inaugural Benelux Football Shield in 2017 picking up their trophy in Brussels in July after winning earlier rounds in The Hague, Amsterdam and Eindhoven. The Gaels then combined with players from Moscow to win the European Junior ‘C’ Football Championship in 2017.
2016 – 2017
A recruitment campaign in 2019 led to an influx of students from the local university and a rejuvenation of the club. Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, numbers continued to grow and in 2021 the Gaels started to play camogie and hurling as well as football.
2019 – 2021
Student Sport Association Status
In 2021, the Maastricht Gaels were proud to become a Student Sports Association, part of the UM SPORTS and MUSST. With this recognition, the club benefits from free use of Europe’s only GAA astroturf pitch for training and games, subsidies and other supports to help us grow.
August, 2021 – Now