Vienna Gaels have returned to training, with Monday night’s numbers (38) exceeding those prior to the pandemic. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, after all. On Monday we decided to use our regular Gaelic football training pitch for a combined hurling/camogie training, aimed at all experience levels. The result was a massive turnout from complete beginners to advanced players. The men’s hurling team have successfully grown over the last few years, and on Monday we saw a huge level of interest in camogie, based on the crowd of women that turned up.
Creating an active and varied training session while still adhering to the current social distancing restrictions has been a challenge that individuals within the club have risen to. Credit is due to the coaches and other people who have helped out, including Fiona Fleming, Kilian Smith, Anne Murray, Noel Fitzgerald, Stephen Walsh, and Darren Gilbert.
Following the regulations is also a whole club effort, and Vienna Gaels members have really come together as a community. The measures in place on Monday were sent out to club members in advance, and included the following: arrive in sports clothes, disinfect hands before playing, do not share equipment, respect 2 metres distance between players, train within your smaller group, respect general hygiene rules, and avoid travelling to or from training in large groups. These measures were put together with the aim of having clear guidance for club members, and will be updated as the situation changes.
Every Sunday there is a casual puc about in Prater open to everyone, hope to see everyone there and at the next hurling/camogie training.
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…
Our own Noel Fitzgerald spoke to Colm O’ Connor as part of the Irish Examiner Sport podcast. Although the Austrian government has not explicitly referenced when Gaelic sports are allowed to return, measures related to playing sports and having meetups have been gradually relaxed since the beginning of May. Noel gives an overview of how the situation in Austria is currently progressing, with the unique perspective of being elected as a co-chairperson for the club shortly before a global pandemic. Another big topic to cover – how Vienna Gaels will get back to sport is revealed – the social Sunday puc about* is the first careful step. For for information about getting involved with Vienna Gaels, get in touch!
*puc about, puc around: To meet up with friends for a casual hit around with a hurley and a sliotar. If you do this in a public park in Vienna, expect a few interested looks!