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Hurlers claim Dresden Shield title in dramatic fashion

The Vienna Gaels hurling team recorded their best day out to date with a rousing day’s performance in Dresden at round one of the Cultec European Hurling and Camogie Championship 2018. Leading into the day as one of the lowest seeds in the ten team tournament, the odds were stacked against them for claiming silverware, however prevail they did. Here’s our report from chief benchwarmer for the day, Noel Fitzgerald.

Group stage: Fast start against Darmstadt before a Dresden and Setanta slump

The Gaels began the day as one of the lowest seeds, which meant that in order to make the semi-finals for the much coveted shield trophy, they needed to win at least two games, with winning three earning them a lower seeded opponent in the semi-finals. They started well, disposing of Darmstadt with a 5-7 to 0-8 rout, before Dresden posed them bigger problems in the second game of the day. A poor first half saw them trailing by 0-3 to 0-0, before a fightback in the second half led by Peter Mongey brought them back in touch. With the Gaels trailing by three late into the second half, a Noel Fitzgerald goal tied the sides only to be cancelled out by a Dresden goal, which in turn was cancelled out by a Peter Mongey three-pointer. The Gaels were then controversially disallowed a Diarmuid O’Riain goal, and with the final whistle blown the controversy continued as Dresden were given a one-point victory, much to the dismay of the Vienna Gaels, who had believed the scoreline was a draw. A hangover from the controversy seemed to continue into the final group game against Setanta Berlin, as two early goals left the Gaels with a six point mountain to climb to make their way into the shield semi-finals. Fight back they did however, and they came out the other side by the skins of their teeth with a one point victory, 2-7 to 3-3, a trend which would continue for the day.

Shield semi-finals: Gaels upset old footballing rivals Berlin

Their two wins gave them a second place finish in group C, and plotted them against top seeded Berlin GAA, who were dropping down from group A to compete for the shield. Rank underdogs, the Gaels went out and played aggressively, the combination of their tigerish play and Peter Mongey’s long-range point scoring giving them a 0-3 to 0-0 lead at half time. As Berlin began chipping away at the Gaels lead, they were dealt a hammer blow as a free was unsuspectingly hammered at a poorly guarded goal and the Gaels got their key three pointer. A quick change in tactics then aided the Gaels in holding out with the lead, as Berlin struggled with long balls down on their square, big men such as Darren Gleeson and Ray Abery preventing fast ball out from their defence and slowing down their play. In the end goalkeeper Tom Birch was the hero as his full-stretch diving stop turned a Berlin goal effort around the posts and the Gaels claimed their first upset of the day, with a 1-7 to 1-6 win.

Shield final: Gaels claim silverware as Earls of Leuven and Hamburg are toppled

The Gaels took their tigerish, aggressive play into the final against the combination side of the Earls of Leuven and Hamburg GAA, again taking the lead early, however the Earls were more able to cope with the Vienna vanguard, with two star players in particular causing the Gaels headaches. Vienna took the slimmest of one point leads into half-time and, revved up by the words of manager Kilian Smith coming in to the second half, won a free on the edge of the square. The men in yellow and red expected Peter Mongey to go for goal and manned the goal line, however it didn’t matter as a piledriver of a shot was deflected off the goalkeeper’s hurl and into the net. The Earls would respond by tearing up the field and claiming a goal of their own, to leave a cliffhanger of a game finale. Vienna resorted to the same tactics that closed out their second half against Berlin, sending in forwards Rob McMahon and Noel Fitzgerald to cause trouble on the opposition square, but with the Gaels leading by one, a free was awarded to the Earls on the edge of the square. Sensing a terrible case of déjà vu, the Gaels lined as many men as they could on their goal line and the Earls popped the free over the bar, leveling the sides for what would be the last time. The hero for the Gaels would then arise as a Peter Mongey sideline cut skidded past intended target Diarmuid O’Riain and found its way to the well-refreshed Rob McMahon, who dinked left, dinked right and scraped the winner over the bar, to much delirium on the sideline. The Gaels held out for a 1-6 to 1-5 win and claimed a famous victory.

First ever medals for the hurlers as Peter Mongey wins ‘Shield player of the tournament’ gong

At that night’s awards ceremony held in Dresden city centre, the Gaels would collect their first medals of 2018 and the hurlers first medals in history, as Peter Mongey would win their first hurling ‘Player of the tournament’ award. Traditionally a football club, these are tremendous achievements for the hurling side of the club who have been regularly training through the winter, spring and now into the summer.

Hurling eyes turn towards Berlin as footballers head to Bratislava

The hurling squad now turn their eyes toward round two of the Cultec European Hurling and Camogie Championships in Berlin on June 16th, aiming for a full squad to attend once again, however next up for the club is round two of the Central/Eastern European Gaelic Football Championships in Bratislava on May 26th. Watch this space for a preview for that tournament next week as the Gaels go for gold once again!

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Hurlers head for Dresden as 2018 story begins

All signs point for Dresden this weekend as the Vienna Gaels hurling team take part in round one of the Cultec European Camogie & Hurling Championship 2018. Last year was the year where hurling really kicked off in the Austrian capital, with the Gaels achievements including taking part in the first ever hurling game to take place on Slovakian soil, claiming their first wins as they reached the final of the Den Haag round of the championship, and finally winning their first trophy, with the plate title claimed in Dresden.

Momentum has continued well into 2018, as winter training at our football base at Stadion kept the hurling itch scratched, and the recruitment of Peter Mongey as coach for the squad has brought intense training sessions, with a focus on player development and enjoyment of the game, leading to an increase in recruitment. With round one of the championship on the horizon this Saturday, team manager Kilian Smith brings a twelve-strong squad to Dresden, including debutantes Matthew Dane, Alan McKenna and Peter Mongey. Noel Fitzgerald brought his dictaphone out to the last Wednesday night training session before the big trip for some team news and updates on the ground.

Kilian Smith – Manager

“Obviously with the plate from last year’s successful ‘quest for tupperware’ now nestled nicely in the kitchen cupboard, this year we’re targeting the coveted Cultec European Camogie & Hurling Championship shield. I have a sword in the living room that’ll go very well with it.”

Jimmy “The Knife” Cunningham

“My enthusiasm for this tournament is absolutely through the roof Noel. I’m delighted you gave me the chance to give this interview. Let this be a warning to anyone in my way on Saturday, I ain’t no butter knife!”

Tom “Big Bás” Birch

Goalkeepers are a mad bunch by nature, and Tom Birch has been angry for the last three weeks, which was the last time someone asked for a whiskey when he offered them a beer. No better man to have between the sticks!

Peter “Coach” Mongey

“The lads have really come on in spades with the effort and training they’ve been putting in this year. They even know how to hold a hurley the right way around now.”

‘Radler’ Ray Abery

Radler Ray has taken the hurling season very seriously this year, so much so that he has now given up drinking beer and only drinks the lemony goodness of radler. “Better than milk, lads!”

Alan “Chili” McKenna

“My girlfriend is busy the entire weekend so she said to leave her alone. What better way to pass the time than conjuring up some lovely hurling?”

It’s all shaping up to be one hell of a weekend of hurling. Stay updated on how the team does in Dresden by following our Twitter account (twitter.com/viennagaelsgaa), Facebook page (facebook.com/viennagaelsgaa), Instagram (instagram.com/viennagaelsgaa) and our Vienna Gaels Whatsapp group!

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When in Rome: Vienna Men’s team finish runners up while Ladies finish sixth in eternal city

The Vienna Gaels converged on the eternal city on April 21st for round one of this year’s Central/Eastern Gaelic Games Europe Gaelic Football Championship. The ladies faced stiff competition as they took on seven other teams in the ladies tournament, while the men were one of nine teams looking to claim the honours on the day.

Ladies off to a flyer in local derby

The ladies burst out of the blocks in the first game of the day, a Clara Meiners goal the deciding factor in a 1-1 to 0-2 win over neighbours, the Slovak Shamrocks, as Anna Psintrou led a tenacious defensive rearguard to hold off the Slovaks in the second half. After losing out to champions-to-be Lazio, they gave reigning Central/Eastern champions Munich Colmcilles a serious fright in their final group game, leading at half time before finally running out of steam to lose by 0-11 to 2-2.

Group stage loss hardens men for the long road to the final

With nine teams split into three groups of three teams each, the men’s team faced a tall order to make the semi-finals through the ‘front door’, finding themselves in a group with hosts Lazio and reigning Senior Pan-European champions Cumann Warszawa. After recovering from a scare to beat the host side by 1-6 to 1-4, they were edged out by the Warsaw side by 1-7 to 0-5, subjecting them to the round robin in order to make the semi-finals.

Ladies lose out in goalfest to finish in sixth place

Their third place group finish secured the Gaelettes a place in the 5th/6th playoff against perennial rivals, Zurich Inneoin. The Zurich ladies were an impressive side on the day, beating eventual finalists Cumann Warszawa on the way to their third place group finish, however the Vienna Gaelettes showed no respect for reputations, starting the game off with a Clara Meiners goal. As Zurich ticked the scoreboard over with points, the Vienna ladies stayed in the hunt for goals, Clara adding another to her tally for the day as Jordan Arnswald claimed her first score in Vienna colours. Aisling Pircher saved a penalty harshly awarded against her on the stroke of half time as the Gaelettes trailed by three at the break. They would continue in goal-scoring fashion in the second half, as a long-range Aisling Pircher effort, a Katie Riley fisted goal and a Jordan Arnswald penalty kept them in the game, eventually losing out to a more consistent Zurich side by 5-10 to 6-2.

Men travail the long road to the final

Consigned to the back door, the men’s team made up for lost time, dispatching the sides from Prague and Zurich in quick succession to face group winners Munich Colmcilles in the semi-finals. Early goals were the key here, as a clinical scoring performance led by John Baxter gave the Vienna Gaels a controlled 3-7 to 0-3 win, and a shot at revenge over their early conquerors, Cumann Warszawa.

Men finish runners up as long day in the sun catches up with them

With five games already under their belt, the battle-hardened men’s side squared up once again with Cumann Warszawa, in a rematch of the round one tournament final of 2017, where the Polish side were winners on the day. The game started brightly for Vienna, a John Baxter point giving them the lead, however a fortuitous goal gave the Warsaw side a 1-5 to 0-3 lead at half time. The Polish side would start the second half with a goal from the throw in, and despite giving as much fight as they got, the Vienna side came out on the wrong side of this result, a late penalty putting the sheen on a 2-8 to 1-4 loss.

Player of the tournament awards for Baxter, O’ Riain and Psintrou as Gaels tour the eternal city

Following their superb efforts over the day, Diarmuid ‘The Dragon’ O’ Riain and Anna Psintrou claimed the ‘players’ player of the tournament’ accolades from their peers, while John Baxter collected an official ‘player of the tournament’ award from the referees committee. The Gaels attended the official tournament night out in Scholars bar in Rome, and the following day would coin the catchphrase “When in Rome” far too many times as they enjoyed the sunshine and sights that the Italian capital had to offer.

All signs now point to Bratislava, hurlers head to Dresden

The emphasis for the footballers now shifts towards round two of the Central/Eastern European Football Championship, as the Slovak Shamrocks host what is sure to be a keenly attended tournament for the Vienna Gaels on the 26th of May. First up in May, however, is round one of the The Cultec European Camogie & Hurling Championship, as the Vienna Gaels hurlers travel to Dresden for the opening round. With superb training sessions led by Peter Mongey and a raft of new recruits, excitement is high among the Gaels for this year’s hurling season.

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Vienna Gaels Player Profile – Barry Guihen

The Vienna Gaels player profiles return, this week we talk with Barry Guihen about his love of tea, Paul Walker and playing dress up with the other Barry’s in the Vienna Gaels men’s squad. Barry is a member of our football, handball and hurling squads, as well as having represented the auld enemies over the border, the Slovak Shamrocks in handball. It’s a long story, but rumors persist of a high fee for his performance on the day, like at least a tenner.

Name: Barry Guihen
From: Navan, Co. Meath
Age: 29
Occupation: Researcher in technology, law and ethics, quizmaster.

Funniest (PG) story from your time with the Vienna Gaels?Anything Katie Riley has said that wound up in Darren’s little black book, ‘The Chronicles of Darnia’.

Most memorable trip with the Vienna Gaels? The hurling tournament in Den Haag was a highlight. Being assured by a fella so drunk he was fighting a losing battle with his own equilibrium that he “had played at the highest level” truly was the inspiration my life had been lacking.

If money was no object, what would you do all day? Count my bitcoin and continue to pretend it’s worth anything at all.

Tell us something about yourself we don’t know? Sometimes I do, in fact, stop talking.

What makes you angry? Making a cup of tea and realising I don’t have any milk.

First sporting hero? Meath hero Ollie Murphy.

Ideal date? Quiet pint on a Monday evening, safe in the knowledge that the Gaels are all at training.

Name three things that are always in your fridge? Milk (though it goes so quickly I sometimes get caught out, and then I get angry), cheese and the female characters from my failed novels.

Your last meal before training and first food afterwards? I usually don’t have time to eat as I rush from work. Afterward, a cup of tea cures all.

One team-mate you’d have in your corner in tag-team MMA?
Baxter, although he’d have to promise to only go for the other team!

Who is the best and worst dresser in your squad? Best is maybe Noel and his shoes? John Sullivan’s got a style to him as well. Worst? I suppose it has to go to Barry Lunn in my t-shirts.

Who is the prankster in the squad? Simon, but he’s got an heir to the title in Noel.

Any football superstitions? Only that it takes divine intervention for my shots to not go wide.

What makes you nervous? Extended silence or hearing that Sullivan is leading training.

Last time you cried? Watching Furious 7 in the cinema and that fecking send off to Paul Walker had me in floods.

Who would you like to be stranded on a desert island with? Anne Murray or Simon Deignan. Anne because there’s no way she wouldn’t force a solution to it. Simon because the place could be deserted completely, and he’d still know someone who could help us out. After annoying them first.

Who’s the most famous person you’ve met? I got drunk with Will Ferrell once. That was a good time.

Who is the most under-rated Vienna Gael? We’ve so many players who put the head down and just get stuck in, but maybe Anita for both how she plays and the trojan work she does behind the scenes.

What’s your most prized possession? I have this mug for tea that my parents gave me and it is perfect in every way.

Best advice you’ve ever received? Stop talking.

Best thing about being a Vienna Gael? Too many reasons to count but it’s probably the fashionable jerseys.

Worst thing about being a Vienna Gael? When we forget to wash the fashionable jerseys.

Describe yourself in three words? Very lucky indeed!

Vienna Gaels player profiles – Alan McKenna and Katie Riley

The Vienna Gaels have never been short on characters, and the class of 2018 are no different. Here, we profile 2017 men’s and ladies footballers of the year, Alan McKenna and Katie Riley!

Alan McKenna 

Name: Alan McKenna
From: Drogheda, Co. Louth
Age: 30
Occupation: Land Surveyor

Most memorable trip with the Vienna Gaels? The trip to Maastricht, Holland for the Pan Euros last year. Good football, great night out, even the odd midnight sauna trip! Great craic from start to finish.

Favourite part of living in Austria? High standard of living, it’s only a couple of hours to Ireland and you can easily visit all the surrounding countries for weekend getaways.

Who is the best and worst dresser in your squad? Simon Deignan usually looks pretty sharp on nights out. Barry Guihen and his strange t-shirt collection has some work to do.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten? I once tried a bit of dog in Hanoi, Vietnam. Also ate scorpion and snake in Bangkok.

First sporting hero? Roy Keane.

Name three things that are always in your fridge? Sparkling water, Chocolate and the makings of a meat feast sandwich!

One team-mate you’d have in your corner in tag-team MMA? I think Barry the Brawler is definitely the man for this job!

Who is the prankster in the squad? Maybe not a prankster but Simon Deignan is definitely the joker of the club!

What’s the best show on TV? At the moment Derry Girls. Really funny.

Who would you like to be stranded on a desert island with? My wonderful girlfriend Victoria!

Who’s the most famous person you’ve met? I got a photo with Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh in Croke Park a few years ago. He was honoured!

Who is the most under-rated Vienna Gael? Barry Guihen, a gentleman on and off the field.

Your last meal before training and first food afterwards? Fruit before and again after, maybe washed down with a sneaky pint.

Best advice you’ve ever received? College is third level education, travelling is fourth level education, so try to travel as much as possible.

Best thing about being a Vienna Gael? The club is full of great people, both for playing sports and social events.

Worst thing about being a Vienna Gael? At the moment, Bernie the Body’s preseason training!

Katie Riley

Name: Katie Riley
From: Amsterdam, NY
Age: 26
Occupation: Science Teacher

Funniest (PG) story from your time with the Vienna Gaels? I’d have to say all my innocent sayings that always turn out to be something not so innocent. Especially if you do something stupid like ask the WhatsApp group of more than eighty people if anyone is up for the ‘night ride’ on your first week in the group.

Most memorable trip with the Vienna Gaels? There was a REALLY long bus ride to and from Padova/Rovigo. We entertained ourselves with the game HeadsUp and I’ve needed seen a better ski jumping impression than Jimmy’s impression on that trip.

First sporting hero? Mia Hamm, I used to play soccer when I was a kid before I got to high school and took up volleyball.

Name three things that are always in your fridge? Butter, Milk, Cheese. I really like my dairy.

One team-mate you’d have in your corner in tag-team MMA? Simon Deignan, I’ve been told he has a blackbelt and that would come in handy here.

Who is the best and worst dresser in your squad? Ivanka I would have to say is the best dressed, she always has the latest high fashions (which she pulls off for bargain prices) and I would have to say I could be the worst dressed, I really like to be comfortable and can’t say no to a nice woolly sweater or a warm flannel shirt or a puffy vest. None of that would fly at NY Fashion Week.

Who is the prankster in the squad? Jen ‘Prank Sinatra’ Nolan has been know to pull a few fast ones on us. It’s always a surprise when she does.

Any football superstitions? I always like to wear the #3 jersey. I’ve had the number since I was playing volleyball in high school. Apparently it used to be Rebecca’s number until I showed up and stole it from her.

Last time you cried? The other night watching Grey’s Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes knows how to write a tear jerker.

Your last meal before training and first food afterwards? Before training, a peanut butter and cheddar cheese sandwich. After training, another peanut butter and cheddar cheese sandwich.

Who would you like to be stranded on a desert island with? I’ve watched enough Gilligan’s Island to know that someone like the Professor comes in handy so I would have to say my boyfriend Tim, since he is an engineer. I think we would be able to survive and make it out of there.

Who is the most under-rated Vienna Gael? Isabelle Wolfsgruber. She has power, great legs and a defense like a brick wall.

Best advice you ever got? My Uncle Pudge has always reminded me that rule number one, don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule number two, it’s all small stuff.

Footballer who was your childhood hero? I didn’t know Gaelic football existed when I was child.

Best thing about being a Vienna Gael? The camaraderie.

Describe yourself in three words? Bubbly, Loyal, Nerd!