Cumann Warszawa’s youthful and talented squads saw them come out on top in both men’s and ladies’ competitions last Saturday (8 April) in Rudolf-Tonn Stadion, Schwechat.
Vienna Gaels hosted the first Gaelic football tournament of the 2017 season in the Central/Eastern Europe region, with over 200 players representing 17 teams taking part.
Having trained side by side all season, Vienna’s men were pitted against each other in the opening match of the day, which saw the ‘Gaels’ run out 1-8 to 0-1 winners over the less experienced ‘Vipers’. This match also saw Jimmy ‘The Knife’ Cunningham claim the first mark of the season, since the new rule was introduced this year.
The rest of their Group A matches continued in much the same way, with the Gaels winning all four matches to finish top of the pile, matches which saw John Baxter and Simon Deignan return to action after spells on the sideline, while the Vipers’ draw with Lazio saw them finish fourth.
The ladies got their day off to the perfect start as they built a strong lead against Warsaw ‘B’, but a single Warsaw player turned the match on its head in the second half and snatched the match by a single point.
Vienna’s Gaelettes bounced back brilliantly to win against Berlin and Prague to book a place in the semi-finals.
Home glory out of reach
Ironically, the unfortunate loss to Warsaw ‘B’ left Vienna with a semi-final against the day’s only unbeaten side, Warsaw A.
The side has made clear strides since the end of last season, but nothing could be done to stop the students, who went on to win the title with a 3-6 to 1-6 victory over Munich Colmcilles.
It was a fourth place finish for our ladies at the end of the day, after coming out on the wrong side of a one-point game against Berlin.
Berlin stood in the way of the men and a spot in the final against Warsaw. Last year’s rivalry with the German club opened in scrappy style and the Gaels were down by two points at the break. Calmer heads prevailed in the second period, however, and Vienna outscored Berlin nine points to one, cruising to a final score of 1-12 to 2-3.
Warsaw were a different beast and Vienna knew it coming into the final. The home side jumped out to an early lead with a goal and point without reply and things were looking good early on.
The Polish-based students increased the pressure and two goals late in the half turned the game completely. Warsaw continued in the same vein in the second half and deservedly took the title with a 4-6 to 1-5 victory.
While the 1st place trophies went back to Poland on Sunday, two individual awards stayed with the Gaels. After an eight-month exchange in the Netherlands, Aisling Pircher marked her comeback with a 3rd place MVP trophy in the ladies’ tournament, while Chris O’Reilly picked up 2nd place in the men’s event.
Next stop – Zürich
Three rounds remain in the regional championship and the next event is just weeks away. On 6 May, the Gaels will make the trip west towards Zürich, Switzerland, inspired by the weekend’s matches and knowing that improvements must be made to come out on top in a fiercely competitive region.