On Saturday 8th August Vienna Gaels, Slovak Shamrocks, and admirers of Gaelic culture & sports joined for a day of exhibition games and fun. Hosted at the Seyring Sportsplatz, Gaelic football, hurling, and camogie were all ímpressively demonstrated by a large turnout of players. It was the first camogie game for Vienna Gaels, and the intensity on the pitch proves the energy required to build a team is already there.
The event was well organised, including the adherence to current hygiene and safety rules. Not only did spectators get a chance to watch Gaelic sports, but there was also the opportunity to have a go at a long puc. There was also a BBQ and chance to catch up between the games, with live Irish music throughout the day and into the evening.
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.
2017 has been packed full of action for the Vienna Gaels and we’re far from done as the business end of the season approaches.
So before we head into this weekend’s Vienna 7s tournament (26 August from 13:00 hrs at Meiereistraße 18, 1020 Vienna) and the final weekends of Gaelic football, hurling and GAA handball, let’s take a quick look back at our exploits to date.
The third edition of the Austro-Slovak Indoor Winter League proved to be another enjoyable and useful start to the season for the Vienna Gaels and neighbours Slovak Shamrocks.
After February’s opening round in Vienna was a one-sided day in favour of the Gaels, the second half of the competition saw the Slovaks fight back on home court.
The Yellow Tits – led by the ferocious defence of Justin “Terminator” Walker and unrelenting pace of Bernie “The Body” Motal – were the most consistent side throughout the league and deservedly picked up first place.
The women’s competition could not have been any closer at the conclusion as both Slovak sides ended the second round level on points, one ahead of Vienna’s Black Mambas.
Men make it three-in-a-row
The outdoor season began with a regional tournament in Vienna, which proved to be a brilliant day of football, which saw Cumann Warszawa’s youthful and talented squads saw them come out on top in both men’s and ladies’ competitions at Rudolf-Tonn Stadion.
Vienna’s men’s fortunes improved significantly in the following tournaments, coming out on top in Zurich (with Niall Colleran as tournament MVP) and Prague (with John Baxter as MVP). The victory in Prague was particularly sweet as an understrength squad came from behind to beat Berlin in the semi-final and avenged an earlier loss to Prague in the final.
Berlin got their own back in the final regional event, beating Vienna in the final, but the third regional championship in as many years was already safely wrapped up.
The women’s team was involved in a season-long battle for the bronze medal with Zurich, which went right down to the final tournament.
At their home tournament, a narrow loss to eventual runners-up Berlin showed they can match the best the region has to offer. A consistent set of tournaments resulted in a fourth place finish, a single point behind the Swiss side.
Aisling Pircher, Laura Sinnott and Isabelle Wolfsgruber picked up MVP awards during the season so far, backed up by brilliant team effort and spirit by the women’s team at each tournament.
There’s one big tournament left for the footballers in 2017, the Pan-European Championship, held in Maastricht on 21 October, and Vienna will be represented by both men’s and women’s teams for the season finale.
Hurlers ready themselves for European competition
After making their debut at the end of last season, the hurling section of the club has reached a new level this year, with its own training slot, more equipment and ambitious plans for the rest of the year.
The Gaels played against a combined Slovak/Moscow Shamrocks side at the Bratislava 7s tournament in June (video above) and are working hard to get a competitive team for the final two European tournaments of the season – 9 September in Den Haag and 30 September in Dresden.
Hurling training takes place every Wednesday at 19:00 hrs at Steinergasse 12, Atzgersdorf, 1230 Vienna and beginners are very welcome.
Fun and games galore at the summer party
This summer’s party doubled up as a farewell to our dear members Laura and Conan and it turned out to be a fabulous day and night, filled with great food and even better games.
Races of various shapes and sizes, dizzy penalties and a ‘poc fada’ provided more than enough entertainment and we can relive the highlights thanks to the video below.
We built the wall!
Thanks to the support provided by the GAA and the Department of Foreign Affairs, the GAA handball section of the club now has a place to call home.
Two one-wall handball courts have been set up at USZ Hietzing, training will begin there soon and the Gaels plan to host tournaments in the very near future, with a long-term goal of becoming the hub of the sport in Europe.
Plenty has been achieved and experienced so far this year, but a thrilling few months lay ahead for Vienna Gaels GAA club, starting with Saturday’s tournament in our own back yard.
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.