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.