All eyes on Stockholm as Scandinavian GAA season reaches climax
The Scandinavian Gaelic football championship reaches its climax this week in Stockholm as the home team and 2009 champions Malmö fight it out to be crowned kings of the Vikings.
With defending champions Stockholm Gaels and fierce rivals Malmö GAA tied at the top of the table, it’s winner takes all as the Swedish capital hosts its first-ever competitive tournament on Saturday August 20 at Årstafältet.
Gothenburg GAA and Oslo will make up the senior men’s tournament, with the four teams facing off in a round-robin format before the best two on the day meet in the final to decide the destination of the John Aherne trophy for 2011.
“We promise a great day, not just for the Irish in Scandinavia but for every sports-loving Swede and ex-pat. With more and more young people leaving Ireland every day, the standard of Gaelic football here is incredibly high and getting higher,” says Gaels chairman Philip O’Connor, whose book about the founding and first season of the Gaels is published next month by Gill and Macmillan.
“Despite the great friendships that exists, there’s no love lost between the teams either, and whoever walks away with the honours on Saturday night will be worthy winners.”
Alongside one of Europe’s most intense and competitive Gaelic football championships there will be two invitational events as clubs from Helsinki (Finland) and Tallinn make their competitive debuts.
Tallinn’s ladies will meet two Stockholm sides and their mens’s team face off against Helsinki and two Stockholm teams in seven-a-side tournaments.
“The growth in the games in the region is phenomenal, and we are delighted to welcome the two new clubs- not least because it gives all our players a chance to get some serious action.”
“We look forward to an expanded Nordic championship next year when we fully expect Tallinn and Helsinki to be up there fighting for the title,” says O’Connor.
The day starts with player registrations at ten o’clock with group games going on all day, and the finals due to begin at 1500. The Swedish Irish Society will be organizing activities for children, with training sessions, lucky dip and a bouncy castle all on hand to keep the younger fans entertained.
Catering on the day will be provided by the Dubliner, sponsors of the Stockholm Gaels with music and entertainment provided by John Higgins of Blackwater Music. Gaels members and musicians Brian Burns and Brian Friel, who both have fine solo albums coming out this autumn, will also appear.
O’Connor’s book, “A Parish Far From Home”, will be published on September 9 by Irish publisher Gill and Macmillan. For more information about the book and contact details, please visit www.aparishfarfromhome.com.