Semple Stadium, Pairc Ui Chaoimh, Fitzgerald Stadium, Croke Park even, have all been graced by the great GAA players down the years, but how many have played Gaelic Football at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in Seville, Spain?
Here’s one, Clonmel native Tommy Barry of the Moyle Rovers GAA Club had the honour on Monday night week last when lining for Eire Og Sevilla at half-time in the La Liga game between host club Sevilla FC and Granada.
It was a proud moment for the 26 year-old from Knockaun Court, Silverprings, who has played at all levels with Moyle Rovers and was on the team that won the county senior championship in 2007. Tommy also won minor and under 21 county championships and played county minor football with Tipperary in 2004. He is well known at rugby too having with Rockwell College, Cork Constitution, Clonmel and some Munster Schools teams over the years.
The exhibition game was part of a marketing campaign by the Sevilla FC to entice foreign nationals to become club members. Throughout the football season each home game for the Andalucian side is dedicated to a different national country. And last week’s game was the turn of the Irish who now boast up to 14 GAA clubs in a country more famous for bullfights and flamencos than Gaelic football and hurling.
Tommy, now working in the Spanish capital of Madrid, previously worked in Seville for over three years. He became involved with the GAA club when he arrived in 2010 and stays in touch even though now hundreds of kilometres north in the Spanish capital.
For the Monday night game Tommy got the fast train down to Seville after work and returned on the night bus after the game, a six and a half journey to cover over 1,000 kms. He was back in time for work on Tuesday morning. They’d be proud of such dedication these days back at Monroe.
The fun-filled seven-a-side exhibition game took up a six-minute slot at the interval in the game which Sevilla defeated Granada by 3-0. The Irish side was made up of ex-pats from Tipperary, Mayo, Laois, Dublin and Meath.
Tickets for the game were just €5 for Irish passport holders and the Irish tricolour, a la Croke Park, flew proudly over the La Liga stadium. Goalscorers were announced ‘as Gaeilge’ and traditional band Rare Folk entertained fans before the game. Needless to add, a great night was enjoyed by all present.
The game was broadcast live on Marca TV and the Éire Óg team played in new jerseys sponsored by the O’Neill’s Irish pub and OPEN School of Languages Seville.
On the night Sevilla FC had Spain Euro 2012 winners Jesús Navas and Álvaro Negredo in action. And Eire Og Sevilla had Clonmel’s Tommy Barry.