Around the World in 80 Clubs – Hamburg GAA, Germany (#50)
Surely one of the few GAA clubs in the world with a professional skateboarder in their ranks.
No, Tony Hawk hasn’t suddenly swapped his board for a hurley and sliotar, but Hamburg GAA can count Joe Hill, the first Irish skater to gain professional status internationally, amongst their 43 members.
Clip via Lufthansa
43 members is a decent group to have come together in Hamburg GAA’s brief existence to date; the club formed in the summer of 2015 after informal practise turned into regular and organised training sessions involving local and international players.
Earlier this month, the club successfully hosted the second round of the 2017 European Hurling and Camogie championships and in 2016, they staged their inaugural hurling and camogie invitational tournaments, the Chris Hennessy Cup and Sebastian Riessbeck Cup.
The former cup was named in memory of the late Chris Hennessey, the founder and former Chairperson of Berlin GAA, while the latter was named in memory of club member Sebastian Riessbeck, a “fearless warrior” who sadly passed away in July of last year.
The club also retired the number 17 jersey in Sebastian’s honour.
A very progressive club who continue to promote Irish games and culture in the city, Hamburg GAA are clearly going places in a hurry and we caught up with PRO Fergal Barry to find out a little bit more about what goes on behind the dressing room doors.
Focus on Hamburg GAA
Club Name: Hamburg GAA
Year established: 2015
Number of members: 43
Biggest rivals: Belgium GAA. They’re everyone’s biggest rivals; they have won the European Championships four years on the trot!
Biggest representation from a club/county in Ireland: Wexford or Dublin with two of each at the moment. Two is enough.
Most famous ever member(s): Joe Hill – Pro Skateboarder. Avril Lavigne would love him but so do we. He’s lightning fast and hates scoring points, only goals will do.
Most memorable moment in the club’s history: In September 2016 we hosted our first hurling & camogie tournaments, the Chris Hennessy Cup and Sebastian Riessbeck Cup, when we welcomed the other clubs from Germany to Hamburg.
Our hurlers took home the Chris Hennessy Cup and, most importantly, we were proud to have the camogie competition named after our departed friend and exemplary member, Sebastian Riessbeck.
Most eye-catching scoreline in the club’s history: Jaysus. How much did we lose the final by in The Hague? (No further information is forthcoming – Ed). Still delighted to have reached the final though, the first German team to do so!
Player who makes the longest commute to training: Will Croft, our New Zealand representative, decided to make the move to Hamburg after the commute proved too costly to the club.
Most dedicated club person: Stephen O’ Rourke, the club chairman and founder, leads from the front, driving the club to grow and develop, spotting opportunities and opening doors wherever he goes. Hamburg GAA runs through his veins.
Loudest in the dressing room: One of Artane’s finest sons, Padraic McCannon, is rarely found stuck for words… or with a shirt on!
Number of romances that started in the club (feel free to name names): We encourage all scores to be made on the field of play, but rumour has it that has not always been the case.
We have a few lads that couldn’t score for love nor money.
Duck to water Award – Best new player who had never played GAA before: Lukas, a native of Bavaria, first laid his hands on a hurley less than 12 months ago. With his background in Olympic handball, he has it all: the hand of Gleeson, the strike of Shefflin and the foot work of Flatley.
Best story involving a club member that’s fit for print: Although there have been many interesting incidents during our short history to date, one story that stands out is our chairman's attempt at taking recruitment to the next level.
When a newly-arrived Italian student posted in a Hamburg expat forum looking for advice after he was caught speeding and fined by the police, Stephen did what any normal-thinking person would do – he wrote a reply where he (very briefly, we might add) sympathised with him over the speeding fine, told him he can't really help with it at all, but invited him along to hurling training anyway!
This unusual attempt at recruitment was picked up by the European Gaelic Games Board and featured on their social media accounts, in turn generating exposure for the club and showing that thinking outside the box isn't always a bad thing!
We're still waiting for him to turn up to training, mind... maybe he has car trouble.
While you're here...
Watch Wooly, Lar Corbett, Ronan O'Gara, Dion Fanning, Conor Sketches and Carlow's Endline Challenge on SportsJOE Live Episode 19.
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