Vienna Gaels’ reputation in Ireland is once again strengthened by our feature in this week’s Northern Standard newspaper. The Northern Standard is available as an ePaper @ northernstandard.ie.
Co-chairperson Noel Fitzgerald was interviewed by the paper to highlight Vienna Gaels and our post-lockdown measures. As Austria was one of the countries to go into an early lockdown, it means we are also coming out of lockdown before other countries. Our position means that we can share our successes as well as our challenges with others.
Another article in the same paper focuses on the journey of the Vienna Gaels GAA club, with an interview of one of the club founders, Des Reilly. Des is one of the club’s active members, from helping newer players, becoming one of the most prominent referees within Gaelic Games Europe, as well as representing his native Monaghan.
This follows on from Vienna Gael’s recent feature in the Irish Examiner – again the current Covid-19 situation was the contextual backdrop for the interview.
We are always happy to chat to media, please get in touch with Vienna Gaels if you would like to do a feature or interview.
Thanks to the Northern Standard and the writer of the original articles; Colm Shalvey. Thanks to the Irish Examiner and the interviewer Colm O’ Connor. Thanks to Ray Abery for the photographs.
It’s a new week in Vienna – businesses are opening, training is returning, and most importantly – another player profile is here for you to read! Let’s get to know Ray Abery.
Name: Ray Abery Age: 28
Where have you lived? I grew up in Portugal, studied in Glasgow, lived for a few months in the Netherlands and Belgium, and now I’m here in Austria.
What’s your occupation? Naval Architect, one of not so many in Austria.
How did you end up in Vienna? I finished my degree ad followed my love for boats here.
Do you speak any other languages? Teach us a phrase. Aye, I speak German and Portuguese fluently. There is this Portuguese saying; “Nasceste com o rabo virado para a lua” and you’d say it to someone lazy but fortuitous, similar to always landing on one’s feet. It translates to “Born with your bum facing the moon.”
What restaurant do you recommend in Vienna? Is this for Tripadvisor? In my opinion, the Martinigansl at “Carmen und Ich” before Christmas trumps all.
Who brought you to Vienna Gaels? That would have to be Barry Guihen- We met at the pub quiz he used to moderate at the Highlander on Garnisongasse. “You should try hurling, you’ll pick it up in no time,” he said. A few years later and I’m still at the level of a hockey player holding a hurley.
What sports do you play? I’ve enjoyed playing hurling as a defender. And I play and coach field hockey at SV Arminen.
How have you found the lockdown? Did you pick up any new hobbies? It was a necessary evil I guess, but the morning commute was a dream with so little traffic. My girlfriend and I have been discovering the surrounding nature by bike and on foot, which has been so fun. Lobau, Bisamberg, and the Wienerwald are all scenic and readily accessible.
What are you looking forward to most this summer? Seeing as we’re most likely not going to be able to travel far, I’m looking forward to hiking in the Austrian mountains.
What’s your secret skill? I learned to identify all national flags for every country in the world to win a 10p bet. Does that count?
Best thing about being a Vienna Gael? The good atmosphere among my teammates. An 8 hour bus ride to Dresden turns from gruelling journey to 8 hours of card playing fun.
Worst thing about being a Vienna Gael? Trying to explain why hurling is fun with three or four plum-shade bruises after a tournament.
Who is the most underrated Vienna Gael? As a defender I’d say Tom our hurling keeper. As a player he’s a phenomenal shot stopper, and off the pitch he’s an all-round funny guy.
What do you miss from home? I miss swimming in the sea. You can’t quite scratch that itch with lakes and rivers.
Favourite snack? Those Billa jaffa cakes with a cup of tea.
What have you learned about yourself during the last few months of lockdown? I learned that I am quite easily entertained, and that Age of Empires II is bags of fun.
If you started a podcast, what it be? I do love a good podcast, mine would be about nautical trivia and be titled Mythboaters.
What advice would you give to someone moving to Vienna? Apart from joining the Gaels – don’t let the grumpiness of the Viennese fool you, they’ve warmth and humour hidden beneath that outer layer.
Vienna Gaels football training returns to Monday evenings at Rugby Union Donau. The following guidelines are to be followed: Changing rooms are not yet available, come dressed to play Disinfect your hands before training Avoid sharing equipment (such as gloves) with others Respect 2 metres distance from other players Train in groups of max 10 persons Respect general hygiene rules (hand washing, and cough or sneeze into elbow or tissue) Avoid arriving or leaving training in big groups If you’re sick, stay home!
As the club starts to plan a slow return back to the pitch, the focus is now on trying to recognise everyone after 3 months of untamed hair growth, lack of sunlight, and varying levels of ‘corona-fitness’. However at least with the Vienna Gaels Player Profiles you are guaranteed to learn more about a few members of the club in great detail. Let’s get to know Dunja.
Name: Dunja Sustic Age: 31 From: Zagreb, Croatia.
How did you end up in Vienna? I came to Vienna as an Erasmus student, loved it, and moved here.
Favourite place to eat in Vienna? Charlie P’s of course – otherwise I would say Spanish tapas; Puerta del Sol.
How did you get involved with Vienna Gaels? One of the regulars in Charlie P’s introduced me to Irish football.
What sport do you play, and what other sport would you try? I play Gaelic football, mostly defence. I would try handball.
What teammate would you pick to be with in quarantine? Lucy and Nives, they can handle the craic 🙂
Did you pick up any lockdown hobbies? Yes I did. Started baking, and now I can make a badass carrot cake.
What is your favourite snack? Radishes and spring onions
What are you looking forward to this summer? Going home finally and enjoying holidays on the coast.
What is your secret skill? I trained professionally at table tennis for 7 years.
Dunja has already made a big impact with the ladies football team since she started playing. We look forward to seeing her in action at the next football competition, and before then, maybe at the next Vienna Gaels table tennis competition…
It has been a strange few months for everyone, especially due to the lack of training, competitions, and social events. Over the last year we have seen so many new faces join the club. To start off a new series of player profiles, let’s get to know Pádraig.
Name: Pádraig Garrihy / Porridge Age: 32 From: County Clare Places you’ve lived: Clare, Galway, France (Saint Emilion), Vienna.
How did you end up in Vienna? It felt like an adventure. I brought a backpack and my CV – I came here in Jan 2019 and got work in a kitchen.
Do you speak any other languages? Teach us a phrase Some French, and my German is improving every day. A French ‘old man’ phrase -“Sante – mais pas de pied”…Do it when cheersing a French person for a laugh. It roughly translates to “Smell – but not the feet.”
Best place to eat in Vienna? Charlie Ps – best burger in Vienna.
What Gaelic sport do you play? Hurling and football – half / corner forward
What teammate would you pick to be in quarantine with? Jack Rea. He’s got lovely calves. 😂😂
How did you find the lockdown period generally? Really enjoyable. As someone who has switched career paths and countries a lot recently, I don’t have anxiety for ‘maybes’ in the future, I’ve been in pseudo-lockdowns before and thrive in them. Plus, my family and friends are all healthy. I’m starting a podcast in the next 2 weeks – I guess that’s my new hobby. Also keeping sane by hitting a sliotar off a wall near my apartment during the week.
Tell us something about you we don’t know: I finished 3rd in a 39 mile ultra marathon in Connemara 3 years ago.
Worst thing about being a Vienna Gael? It’s predominantly Irish, for now. I want see the diversity of Vienna shown within our team line-ups.
Best thing about being a Vienna Gael? The community itself. We had 80 plus people running for charity in a virtual relay marathon within a week of it being suggested. Echt leiwand oder?
Who is the most underrated Vienna Gael? Dave Walsh. When he’s not nursing a foot injury, he brings a real touch of class to the hurlers.
What have you learned about yourself during the last two months? That your energy is very important to the mentality of those around you. Smile more and others smile back. The environment that you choose is very important, especially when things are not going as planned.
Stay tuned for more player profiles, and keep an eye on the Vienna Gaels social media for upcoming announcements regarding training.
The Vienna Gaels GAA Club enjoyed a very successful third hosting of the European Gaelic Football Championships on October 19th, as over 700 Gaelic footballers from all over Europe descended on Rudolf Tonn Stadion in the Austrian capital to compete in 13 different competitions. Here’s club PRO Noel Fitzgerald with a report on the day and how the Vienna teams fared on the day.
A ‘Thank You’
From an organisational perspective, this was a huge undertaking and not only do the participants on the day but also the Vienna Gaels owe a huge debt of gratitude to the army of volunteers who ensured that this tournament ran as smoothly as it did. From those who were at the stadium on Friday erecting goal posts to the pitch co-ordinators to tournament control to the clean-up operation in the evening, this was very much an ‘all hands on deck’ operation and the Vienna Gaels are very proud to have such a wonderful club with so many people to call on for help!
And now on to the football…
The Vienna Gaelettes were very much a new-look side at this tournament, with a new coach in Fiona Fleming alongside a host of new players. Blending the experience of club stalwarts such as Zina Scimemi-O’Sullivan and Aisling Pircher with debutants such as Emma Kielty and Johannah O’Mahony, this fresh side faced into some challenging fixtures, first up was a loss to traditional ladies football powerhouses Munich Colmcilles, before Laura Connally scored a goal in a 1-12 to 1-1 loss to Paris Gaels/Belgium. They rounded out the group stage with a 0-2 to 3-9 loss to Copenhagen/Augsburg, whom they would then face again in the Junior B semi-finals, this time tightening up their defence a bit, exiting the tournament with a 0-2 to 2-6 loss. In what was a tough day for the Gaelettes, they can be happy with themselves as so many players encountered competitive Ladies Gaelic Football for the very first time. The future is bright for Ladies Gaelic Football in Vienna!
Vienna Gael Force
Vienna Gael Force made their debut at the Pan Euros as for the first time ever, the Vienna Gaels had the luxury of fielding two full ladies teams at a tournament. As with the Gaelettes, it was a mixture of experienced players with those much newer to the sport, and they also faced a challenging schedule. Up first was their neighbours from the Prague Hibernians, where they were unlucky to lose out by 0-3 to 0-7. Up next was a bit of a mismatch with eventual Intermediate A champions, Fillas de Breogan, before they wrapped up their group stage with a more encouraging performance against eventual Junior A champions Cumann Warszawa B, with Ellie Jansa notching her first goal in a 1-2 to 3-5 loss. Their scoring form would continue in their final game of the day, as they lost 2-3 to 5-10 to eventual Junior B winners Zurich Inneoin/Lazio. The Gael Force ladies can be proud of themselves in a day of debuts for many of their players, alongside Gaels stalwarts such as Ciara Keenaghan, Anna O’Malley and Clara Meiners.
The Vienna Gaels men returned to the Intermediate grade at this Pan-Euros after their last outing in Maastricht in 2017, where they came runners-up in the Senior B championship. Able to field a full-strength side, they were able to give a debut to Micheal Conneely as player/coach alongside club stalwarts such as Mark Campbell, Chris Wright and skipper for the day, Alan McKenna. Losing their first group game to the Frankfurt Sarsfields by 0-3 to 1-5 put them on the back foot before they steadied the ship with a 0-7 to 0-1 win over Cumann Warszawa B. This left them with straight knockout games for the rest of the day, as they beat Den Haag GAA 0-9 to 0-3 before their performance of the day, facing Jersey Irish in the Intermediate A semi-final. In a battling display, the Gaels were leading by three points when a Darren Gilbert diving save was required to keep the ball out of the Vienna net, as they held on for a rematch of their first game of the day in the Intermediate A final against the Frankfurt Sarsfields. Unfortunately for our men the gas just wasn’t left in the tank as a more youthful Frankfurt side won out by 2-11 to 1-3.
The Vienna Vipers were a motley crew gathered from our hurling squad, family members, various people’s phone contacts and the pub but they gelled quickly after learning each others names in the morning. Their first game was a 2-6 to 0-2 points loss to eventual Junior A winners Copenhagen GAA before a chastening loss to the Eindhoven Shamrocks by 3-6 to 0-1 after being level at half time. A narrow loss by 2-4 to 1-5 to a Madrid/Moscow combination was next as the Vipers showed steady improvement before coming back from going 2-1 to 0-0 down to within three points of the Prague Hibernians, only to fall to our neighbours by 3-4 to 2-2. Their finest hour was still to come though, as they took on the Paris Gaels ‘B’ in the Junior D semi-final. Though leading the game early through a long-range Tony Murphy goal, they couldn’t quite shake off the Paris side, who stayed in touch throughout the game. Coach Noel Fitzgerald turned to the bench, was unimpressed by what he saw but utilised it nonetheless, springing Nigel ‘Doc’ Fleming, James ‘Hightower’ Keeney and Niall ‘Student’ Buckley on for some ‘fresh’ legs. The plan somehow worked, as ‘Doc’ got on the end of a speculative attempt at goal to fist the ball over the bar, while Niall claimed a Tom Birch kickout, sparking the move which lead to the game’s winner, as star man Brian McGorrian rifled over the winner to rapturous applause on the sideline. The less said about the following Junior D final afterwards, the better.
Banquet dinner and afterparty
Once the long day of Gaelic football ended, the events moved to Schutzhaus Zukunft, where a banquet dinner was served while local band ‘Express Train’ entertained the crowd before and after the awards ceremony. Afterwards, the fun and frolics moved to club sponsor bars Charlie P’s and Flanagan’s.