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Vienna ready to host first GAA handball tournament

USZ Hietzing will host the third edition of the GAA handball European team championship on Saturday 18 November, the first time the event takes place in Vienna.

In fact, it’s the first time any GAA handball tournament takes place in Vienna, after the Gaels build two walls specifically for the sport earlier this year, thanks to funding from the Global Games Development Fund.

27 players, representing 10 teams from Austria, Slovakia and Italy will take part in the tournament, the largest field in the event’s short history.

Hosts of the previous two editions and defending champions Nizza Monferrato will be considered favourites to claim both men’s and women’s titles, but the emergence of new talent and formal training over the past few months mean Vienna are excited to challenge the Italians.

Six men’s teams and four women’s teams will take part in the competition, which is scheduled to take place at 10:00-15:30 hrs. Each match will consist of two singles and a doubles game, each of which is up to 15 points, and the points from all three games are aggregated to make up the final score, which is sure to make every game and point count.

As an added bonus for all participants, GAA handball tutor Darragh Ruane will be travelling from Ireland to host two workshops on the day, one at 09-10:00 hrs on the rules and basic handball play for anyone interested in taking up the sport and another after the final matches (15:30-17:00 hrs) on training and coaching, before everyone heads to club sponsors Charlie P’s for the presentation and after-party.

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Gaels reach first senior final in Maastricht

There was no season-ending trophy for Vienna’s Gaelic footballers, but the men’s team showed they belong with the big boys in Europe by reaching the ‘Senior B’ final at the ‘Croke Park Hotel’ Pan-European Championship in Maastricht, Netherlands.

It was a slow start for the men against Rennes and although Vienna stayed in touch throughout, some unnecessary goals proved to be the difference as Rennes ran out 3-6 to 2-2 winners.

With a place in the ‘A’ semi-finals now out of reach, the Gaels were left to fight for a spot in the ‘B’ grade against A Coruna. Vienna were in control throughout, but had to wait until the second half to pull clear with a goal from Stephen Walsh alongside a barrage of points from Niall Colleran and John Baxter. A 1-8 to 2-1 win set up a semi-final date with last year’s finalists Jersey.

Tough day for new-look ladies

The ladies team underwent a bit of a generational change for this event, with a number of young and brand new players playing their first competitive tournament for Vienna.

An agonisingly close defeat to Frankfurt, 0-6 to 1-2, was the closest the Gaels came to a victory, losing their other group game to eventual shield winners Lazio/Prague/Moscow and play-off matches against Belgium and Luxembourg.

It was not the day the ladies would have hoped for, but there were plenty of positives for the new-look team to take as they look forward to the 2018 season.

Injuries take their toll

An injury to Simon Deignan in the warm up was not ideal preparation for the men’s semi-final against Jersey, but they put it to one side and swept past the islanders in perhaps their finest performance of the season, winning 1-12 to 2-4.

The final minutes of the semi-final saw Niall Colleran, one of the most influential players of the day, go down with an ankle injury and he was ruled out for the final against Madrid.

Despite a battling performance, Vienna couldn’t deal with the superior Spanish side in the final and Madrid deservedly won the ‘Senior B’ title 1-13 to 0-5.

Vienna the new home of GAA handball in Europe

For the third year in a row, the club’s European adventure will extend to November, for the GAA handball team championship. However, after two years of travelling to Italy, Vienna will play host to the competition this year.

Thanks to the support provided by the GAA and the Department of Foreign Affairs, the GAA handball section of the club built two one-wall handball courts at USZ Hietzing during the summer and has been used on a regular basis for training ever since.

The event will take place on 18 November and all European clubs are invited to take part in, regardless of experience.

Information on the sport and taking part can be found here: Vienna Gaels – European One-Wall Handball Championships_Info.

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All eyes on Maastricht as footballers aim to continue European success

Vienna Gaels will be sending full men’s and women’s teams to the Netherlands this weekend (21 October) for the Pan-European Gaelic football championship.

The business end of the 2017 season began on a bright note with the club’s hurlers winning their first competitive match and eventually their first trophy at the Cultech European hurling and camogie championship in Dresden last month, bouncing back from two group phase defeats to win the plate competition.

Since then, full focus has been on the big ball and putting together two strong sides for a tough task in Maastricht.

Improving on 2016

Senior football awaits the men after dominating the Central/East regional championship this summer. The Gaels have been drawn alongside Rennes (France) and A Coruna (Spain) in Group C of the 12-team competition.

After winning the intermediate title in 2013 and 2016, last year’s outing was hugely disappointing for the ambitious team, but a large increase in training recently means that a lack of fitness is no excuse this time around.

Nine teams will compete in the women’s shield competition this year, which will feature 2016 runners-up Vienna.

A number of the squad’s established players are unable to travel this weekend, but there are some exciting additions to the team which will face Frankfurt and a Rome/Prague/Moscow amalgamation in Group C.

Vienna the new home of GAA handball in Europe

For the third year in a row, the club’s European adventure will extend to November, for the GAA handball team championship. However, after two years of travelling to Italy, Vienna will play host to the competition this year.

Thanks to the support provided by the GAA and the Department of Foreign Affairs, the GAA handball section of the club built two one-wall handball courts at USZ Hietzing during the summer and has been used on a regular basis for training ever since.

The event will take place on 18 November and all European clubs are invited to take part in, regardless of experience.

Information on the sport and taking part can be found here: Vienna Gaels – European One-Wall Handball Championships_Info.

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A year of firsts

2016 was a memorable year for the Vienna Gaels and while it may not have brought a repeat of the previous year’s success, there were many achievements to be proud of.

The past season saw the club travel to an incredible number of tournaments, across all GAA sports, creating history in the process.

Early season fun

After blowing off the cobwebs with the now-traditional indoor Winter League, played in Vienna and Bratislava, April saw the Gaels head south to Rubano in Italy for the opening round of the regional Gaelic football championship.

Both men’s and women’s teams produced fine performances throughout the day en route to the final, before coming up short against German opposition. However, the following day provided one of the many firsts of the year.

Nine players took on Rovigo in a GAA handball challenge match, just the second competitive outing for the club in the sport. Rovigo took the victory after a morning filled with some tense and entertaining matches, which sparked new interest in the sport.

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Retaining regional gold

After an underwhelming visit to Warsaw in Round 2, the final regional tournament in Berlin would decide the overall men’s champion and it came down to the semi-final clash between Vienna and the hosts.

Despite not hitting top gear, Vienna found a way through sheer will and a goal by John Sullivan in the dying seconds to force the match into extra-time. The equalising goal signalled a clear shift in momentum and another goal early in the 2×5 minute extra-time by Diarmuid O’Riain meant that Vienna retained the title for the first time and won it for the third time in four years.

Some bizarre organisational issues left the ladies battling for 5th place on this occasion, but they did it with style and ended their campaign with victories over Venetian Lionesses and Berlin.

Gaels on the world stage

The summer months featured the usual 7-a-side tournaments in Bratislava, won against the hosts and Kuwait Harps, and Wetzelsdorf, which featured the very first hurling match since the code was introduced to the club during the summer, but the big news came from Dublin at the GAA World Games.

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Vienna was represented by three players at the massive event, John Baxter (playing for Europe’s Irish men), Katie Riley (European Ladies native team) and Andreas Magerle (Germany native team).

Baxter’s team just missed out on taking home the Shield with a loss to Australasia in the final, Andreas and the German team finished 8th overall, while Katie’s side took the plate after a win over Middle East.

Hurlers and handballers make history

The Gaelic football Pan-European championship tournaments in Munich and Maastricht saw the ladies earn a silver medal in the Shield competition, losing to France in an entertaining final. There was little success for the men, but it provided a valuable reminder of what is needed to compete at that level and will surely set the tone for 2017.

Hurling and GAA handball grabbed the spotlight in October and November, another first for the club and the GAA in Europe.

The traditionally Gaelic football-focused club broadened its horizons in 2015 with entry into the European Gaelic Handball Championship in Italy and the Gaels went one step further in 2016 with entry into all three European GAA final tournaments.

12 men made the trip to Dresden in Germany to take part in the hurling tournament, joined by Katie Riley, who played camogie for Switzerland.

All credit goes to Rob McMahon and Darren Gilbert, who were instrumental in introducing the sport and developing the team.

Our “handball heroes” rounded off the European season in Italy with Jimmy Cunningham, Katie Riley and captain Michael Organ competing in the men’s and mixed tournaments.

An injury to Michael in the opening match brought an end to hopes of winning gold this year, but the club is set for big things over the next 12 months.

Deignan returns

2016 concluded with a bang thanks to the first Charlie P’s Champions League, which saw over 40 players take part in a four-team mixed (non-contact) friendly competition over the final two training sessions of the year, won by the Golden Eagles.

This marked the return of Simon Deignan to the field, after a lengthy layoff following a shoulder operation. Big thanks to him for leading the club at training, on the sideline and behind the scenes this year.

We look set for a fabulous year on and off the field in 2017 and it all kicks off with the Winter League in February!

Awards

Footballer of the year (male) – John Sullivan
Footballer of the year (female) – Katie Riley
Hurlers of the year – Darren Gilbert and Rob McMahon
Handballer of the year – Michael Organ

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GAA handball heroes set to make history

Vienna Gaels will make history at this weekend’s European GAA Handball Championship.

The Austrian club will be the first to compete in all three European GAA final events this year – Gaelic football, hurling/camogie and GAA handball.

The tournament will take place in Nizza Monferrato, Italy on 26/27 November. Nizza are the current champions and host the competition for the second year in a row.

The team consists of Katie Riley, Jimmy Cunningham and captain Michael Organ, who tells us what the team have to look forward to in Italy:

“The three of us will take part in a mixed competition against a team from Nizza. This competition could be Vienna’s best chance to win their first European gold in handball! Massive shout-out to Jimmy and Katie for representing the club in football, hurling/camogie and handball this year.

“Jimmy and I will play in the men’s B category against Nizza B, UL B and Rovigo. The two best teams from this category will play in the B final and advance to the A category on Sunday.

“Here we could potentially face UL A or Nizza A for a place in the grand final. UL A will be captained by Paudi Quish; he’s ranked 9 in Europe, and the current All-Ireland Intermediate Champion. Nizza A, the current European Champions, will by lead by Simone Corsi, ranked 23 in Europe.

“We have a fighting chance in the B category so we’ll have to wait and see what happens Saturday night. Big thanks to everyone that’s trained during the year and all the support from around the club. 2016 has been a great year for handball in Vienna and hopefully we’ll have something to show for it at the end of the weekend.”

Best of luck to our ‘handball heroes’ who are aiming to finish Vienna Gaels’ 2016 season with a flourish.