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.