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Nizzo Monferrato win first GAA Handball tournament in Vienna

Written by Noel FitzGerald

Six men’s teams and four ladies teams from three clubs descended on the new, purpose-built Vienna handball walls at USZ Hietzing for the 2017 Gaelic Games Europe Handball Championships. Representing Vienna, the Vienna Gaels, Vienna Franky’s, Austro-Irish Underdogs and Hietzing Hammers contested the men’s championship with visiting teams from the Slovak Shamrocks and Nizzo Monferrato, while in the ladies championship, Vienna was represented by the Vienna Valkyries, Vienniese Waltzers and Reliable Shamrocks, taking on Nizzo Monferrato.

In the men’s group A, the Austro-Irish Underdogs  overcame the Hietzing Hammers, with both sides falling to Nizzo Monferrato, while in group B the Vienna Gaels came out on top, pipping group runners-up Vienna Franky’s, with the Slovak Shamrock’s pulling up the rear. That set up a cup semi-final of Nizzo Monferrato against Vienna Franky’s, while on the other side of the draw there an all-Vienna affair with the Austro-Irish Underdogs meeting the Vienna Gaels.

In the ladies competition, after the group stage, the Viennese Waltzers took on the Reliable Shamrocks in the 3rd/4th place playoff, while the Vienna Valkyries looked to upset the odds against top seeds Nizzo Monferrato.

The Waltzers went on to top the Shamrocks to claim the bronze position, while in the final, the ladies from the Italian club were worthy winners with another comprehensive win.

In the men’s Shield competition, the Hietzing Hammers took on the Slovak Shamrocks, with the former claiming the silverware and fifth place overall in the tournament.

In the semi-finals, the Vienna Gaels took a convincing win to face Nizzo Monferrato in the final, who also dispatched of the Vienna Franky’s in convincing fashion. On this occasion it was tournament favourites Nizzo Monferrato who took the win, their third consecutive title.

The competitions were preceded and followed by workshops from GAA handball development officer Darragh Ruane, who kindly gave his weekend to aid in the progression of GAA handball in Europe, before everyone went to club sponsors Charlie P’s for the trophy presentation and tournament dinner.

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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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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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Hurlers head to Dresden hunting first official victories

13 Vienna Gaels make the trip to Dresden, a German city known for being a hotbed for hipsters – demonstrated by the fact it has a hurling-only GAA club, for the final round of the Cultec European Hurling & Camogie championship on Saturday 30 September.

A group of 12 men and one woman (Katie Riley) represent the Gaels this weekend, just three weeks after their first tournament of the season was called off in Den Haag.

The wet weather put off three of the nine teams that day, but the six teams which braved the weather played an unofficial tournament and Vienna reached the final of it.

Buoyed by that positive performance, expectations are higher for this weekend than they were ahead of the previous round, when glorious hurling leader Darren Gilbert said he hoped “to win at least one match and come home with as few broken hurls and bones as possible.”

The 12-team men’s tournament sees Vienna placed in a group alongside Stuttgart and top seeds Luxembourg.

First place in each group goes to the cup semi-finals, while second enters the shield. Although confidence is high, beating a Luxembourg team with experience of playing at the highest level will be a huge task for a Gaels squad still in search of a first competitive victory in just their second-ever event.

Katie will compete in the camogie championship for the second year running, as part of the Setanta Berlin/Holland amalgamation, as Vienna continues to build a camogie team of its own.

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Vienna men extend regional lead, ladies produce best performance of 2017

Prague was the destination for our Gaelic footballers last weekend for the penultimate round of the Central/East Europe Championship and there was an air of mystery about this adventure.

The men, following victory in Zürich, came into the weekend top of the table but knew maintaining this position would be far from straightforward considering many of the ‘first-choice’ players were unavailable, but this granted an opportunity to a whole new bunch of men to step up and make their mark.

As for the ladies, they were travelling with arguably their strongest team of the year to date, but the one-off addition of Holland and Belgium to the mix meant progressing to the semi-finals in their 10-team competition would be a big ask.

Early shock sets men straight

Vienna’s men made sure of their spot in the semi-finals with victories against Zürich and the Italian combination of Lazio/Padova, but suffered defeat against the hosts in the final group game, forcing the guys to regroup ahead of the knockout rounds.

Two victories (against Rovigo and Prague) and two defeats (against Berlin and eventual winners Holland) was the ladies’ return for their efforts in the group, which wasn’t enough for a semi-final spot on the day, but did set up a date with Zürich, a key match in the overall rankings.

Playoff wins all around

Victory over our Swiss friends meant a fifth place finish on the day and a jump up to third in the regional standings for the women’s team.

Laura Sinnott earned herself one of the tournament’s MVP awards, capping off the team’s strongest showing of the season so far.

The men were left with no substitutes for their semi-final against Berlin, but recent times have shown us that Vienna love semi-finals against Berlin and this occasion was no different. Trailing by two points in the final minute, Tristan Deppe popped up with the winning goal to secure a berth in the final against Prague.

Vienna atoned for their earlier defeat by overcoming exhaustion and the hosts’ best efforts to win 0-8 to 0-3, claim a second consecutive tournament victory and increase the lead at the top of the overall standings. John Baxter was rewarded for his fine performances on the day with an MVP award, the third event in a row in which Gaels player has earned one.

Next up is the 4th Annual Slovak Shamrocks GAA Invitational, played in Bratislava on 17 June, giving our teams a chance to enjoy some 7-a-side football as there are even rumours circulating about a hurling match.

The final stop for this year’s regional championship is Munich on 1 July and a strong squad is expected to make the journey as Vienna look to gather momentum and confidence for this year’s Pan-European Championship.

Ladies’ Regional standings after Round 3
1. Munich Colmcilles – 65 points
2. Berlin GAA – 61
3. Vienna Gaels – 35.5
4. Zurich Inneoin – 33.5
5. Cumann Warszawa – 25
6. Prague Hibernians – 23
7. S.S. Lazio Calcio Gaelico – 22
8. Slovak Shamrocks – 19.5
9. Warsaw B – 10
10. Rovigo – 10
11. Basel GAA – 5
12. Vienna B – 4.5

Men’s Regional standings after Round 3
1. Vienna Gaels – 70 points
2. Berlin GAA – 49
3. Munich Colmcilles – 45
4. Prague Hibernians – 31
5. Cumann Warszawa – 25
6. S.S. Lazio Calcio Gaelico –  24.5
7. Zurich Inneoin – 23
8. Rómhánaigh Augsburg Óg GAA –  17
9. Slovak Shamrocks – 17
10. Padova GAA – 9
11. Vienna Vipers – 8
12. Geneva Gaels – 8
13. Basel GAA – 6
14. Zurich B – 5