European Championship, Vienna

The final day of the season saw Malmö GAA send 9 boys and 4 girls to Vienna for the European Gaelic Football Championship. The men, joined by one player from Helsinki and helped out by some borrowed hands from Vienna and Zurich, competed in Malmö green, while the girls joined with Leuven and Hamburg ladies to play as an amalgamation.

The day started first for the ladies and with a number of players who haven’t played together before, it took time for the team to gel and settle into the game. This led to a slow start and, despite coming together well in the second half, ultimately led to a three point defeat to Frankfurt. They grew into the day, however, and improved to draw with Zurich in their second game and then went one further to defeat Slovak Shamrocks in a dominating victory, a series of results which would see them into the Junior semi-finals.

Meanwhile, the men’s team started their day against a strong Hamburg side. Hamburg enjoyed a lot of possession which was converted into plenty of scores. On the other side of the field Malmö were almost unable to score a point. They were, however, converting almost every chance they got into a goal. In the end, Malmö won out by a point with a final score of 4-1 to 2-6. This was followed up with a well-earned victory over Slovak Shamrocks. Next up, Munich Colmcilles provided a stern test, but one which Malmö were able to match, the game ending in a draw at six points apiece. A deserved victory over Paris in the final group game saw Malmö through to the Junior A semi-final.

After some confusion with score difference across the groups to decide who would reach the knock-out stages, we Malmö eventually found out who they would face next. The ladies would go on to face Warsaw, while Prague awaited the men. After a slow start in the semi-final and down a point at half-time, Malmö swung into action in the second half. Prague struggled to advance the ball under intense Malmö pressure at every kick-out and in the end Malmö won comfortable by six points. The final was to come a short while later against, of all teams, Copenhagen. On the other side of the venue, the ladies met their match against a strong Warsaw team. While our side fought bravely and performed well, Warsaw had too much to offer and marched on the ladies final, which they would go on to win.

The final started with Malmö taking an early lead and dominating proceedings throughout the first half. Copenhagen struggled to find their men with kick outs under an strong Malmö press, while Malmö’s backs were first to the ball when it did make its way past halfway. Going forward Malmö took an early goal and tacked on a couple of points to lead going into half time. Things changed in the second half however, with Copenhagen changing their tactics to run at a tiring Malmö midfield. This led to a lot of success for Copenhagen who took a four point lead into the final minute after a series of points and a well-taken goal. There was more drama to come however, with Malmö earning a penalty with about 30 seconds on the clock. The penalty was dispatched into the bottom corner and Malmö knew they would have one last chance to score an equalizing point. A scrappy kick-out from Copenhagen gifted a sideline ball to Malmö within scoring range on the right-hand side. It wasn’t to be, however, as the final shot just ended up on the wrong side of the post. With that, the final whistle went and Copenhagen celebrated into the evening as deserved winners.

In the end, it was a great effort from both of our sides who deserve enormous credit for their performances despite being low on numbers and playing with players they had never previously met. Congratulations to Warsaw and Copenhagen and thanks to Vienna Gaels for hosting an excellent tournament.

Malmö Abú!