No trophies, but all to play for after Copenhagen

There was a lot to be positive about after this weekend’s clashes in Copenhagen, but the results weren’t one of them. The men’s team missed out on a Scandinavian final for the first team since the club came into being, and the Whites of the ladies came up just short against a tough, experienced Copenhagen side.

A loss in the opening game against the hosts put us on the back foot from the off. With a sluggish Gaels side taking their time before hitting their stride, Copenhagen had gone out in front before being pegged back.

Stockholm got the upper hand in the second half only to be hit by a sucker-punch goal scored by Seán Coogan. A desperate assault commenced and the Gaels clawed their way back to within a point, and when Phil O’Connor was taken down in the square with seconds left, the ensuing penalty should have been enough – but the spot kick cannoned back off the upright and despite getting their hands on the rebound, the Gaels were unable to put it away and victory went to the Danish side by the slimmest of margins.

With two teams involved in the three-team ladies’ tournament, we divided our girls evenly into Whites and Blacks (their shirt colours) and sent them into battle.

The Whites were next out of the blocks, and the story was eerily similar as the girls of the Gaels got their first taste of competitive action. Copenhagen’s girls hit them with a flurry of points and goals in the first half, but the Whites used the break to re-organise and gave a tremendous second-half display. There were commanding performances all over the pitch as the Whites gave it all they had in the hot sunshine and walked away with a draw in their first-ever competitive game.

Meanwhile, the lads were back in the line of fire against old foes Malmö, and again a bad start was to be their undoing as passes flew astray and scores went untaken. Malmö got a goal in the first half to put them in the driving seat but once again Stockholm collected themselves before pulling themselves back into contention. But in a result that was to prove decisive on the day, the lads couldn’t make it over the finish line and a draw was the final outcome.

The two ladies teams were up next as the Whites met the Blacks, with the Whites running out winners in a high-scoring encounter. The Blacks were now under the cosh, seeking a victory against an experienced and technically proficient Copenhagen side if they were to make it to the final.

Meanwhile, the boys were back in town over on the rugby pitch, and with matters now out of their hands they threw of the shackles and put in a performance against Gothenburg that harked back to their debut here a little over a year previously. Guo Guodong made the pass of the day to set up John Carroll for a well-taken goal, and O’Connor should have added a second, only for his attempted lob to cross the bar for a point instead. Some fine, free-flowing football was played, but all that was left was to wait to see if Copenhagen could beat Malmö and give the Gaels a place in the final.

The Blacks had a tough time of it in their second fixture and despite a brave performance they fell to a dominant Danish team- the old saying “goals win games” was to be proved true once more in the Scandinavian sunshine. Still, the Whites would face off against the Danes in the first tournament of its kind in the region for many years.

Meanwhile, Copenhagen gave it all they had and led Malmö for most of their group game, but the Skåne side came back to snatch a victory and book their place in the final, where they would again meet the hosts. After a much-needed rest in the shade, Mark Rattigan’s men came out and completed the job in a tight, tense final to clainm the tournament victory and put themselves well in contention to regain the crown they lost to Stockholm last year.

There was more heartbreak for the club as the Whites gave it all they had in the final, but despite some superb scores and excellent defensive work, the Copenhagen girls won out in the end. Had there been an award for female player of the tournament, Stockholm could have had more than one representative up for consideration.

Once again, gaelic games provided a great backdrop for a great sporting day in the sunshine in Scandinavia, and all credit to the Copenhagen club for their organisation and hospitality. Congratulations too to both clubs on making the final, and especially to winners Malmö, who showed great character to come from behind to book their place in the final.

The results on the day means that it’s all to play for in Stockholm in August, with Stockholm, Copenhagen and Malmö all in the running for the Scandinavian crown, and Oslo and Gothenburg can still have a big say in where the John Aherne trophy spends the coming winter.

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