One millennium on, Vikings return to Guernsey, hungry to plunder

Following their impressive second place, Copenhagen’s Gaelic football side go into this weekend’s ‘home’ tournament in Limerick with an outside chance of retaining the European Shield


Not since the 10th century have so many travelled from Denmark to Guernsey, although this time they went via Gatwick, and they were packing footballs, not axes.

Following on from a somewhat disappointing tournament in Brussels a few weeks ago, Copenhagen GAA travelled knowing that an improvement would be required this time out – particularly if there was to be any chance of retaining their coveted European Shield.

The omens were not particularly good as the club travelled without coach Phil Murray, captain John Lambert and vice-captain Kenny Grogan – indeed just four of the team that travelled to Brussels were available on this occasion. A few stalwarts did return, however, and some added firepower was added with Mark O’Kane and Declan Graham making the journey from Stockholm. Trip organiser John Kelleher saw to it that a little divine help would also be at hand, booking the club into a relaxing retreat centre for the weekend. This time out, morning prayers would be more likely than hangovers.

The action began with a tough assignment against a very strong Amsterdam outfit that seem hell-bent on taking this yearÂ’s Shield. From the off Copenhagen struggled to get to grips with the opposition and were chasing shadows all over the pitch. The Dutch racked up the scores while the Danes spurned the few opportunities that came their way. A hefty defeat was the result. Taking stock of the situation, Copenhagen had to refocus. It was realised that only a berth in the final would see them with a chance of retaining the Shield in Limerick on November 5. Two victories back to back would be required.

Guernsey/Jersey were up next, and the Danes took to the pitch with a steely resolve. All over the pitch the required improvement was evident, but the Channel Islanders would not go down without a fight. Ahead at the break thanks to a goal from Sean Coogan, the second half was frantic, but a harder edge from Copenhagen saw them fight for every ball and never give up the initiative to the opposition. When Kieran Punch was hauled down in the square, a penalty was awarded and converted coolly by Graham. With the game on a knife edge, a last-minute high ball into the Copenhagen square had the onlookers gasping, but Brendan Fagan – playing midfield – popped up deep in defence and rose above the attacker to punch a clearance that steadied the nerves. Copenhagen would go on to notch up a couple more points from the boot of Coogan, Graham and O’Kane, and see out a tight game 2-08 to 2-04.


It was an improvised line-up with several veterans returning and some making the journey from Stockholm

In the final group game Paris were waiting. Lessons were learned in Brussels a few weeks before, and now these lessons were put into action. Minutes into the game a good passing move from midfield ended with a pass to Graham on the edge of the square. Tightly marked, he off-loaded to the on-rushing Ed Lyne who made no mistake, blasting into the net. The Danish side continued attacking for the rest of the game, keeping the scoreboard ticking over – O’Kane and Graham in particular made a number of excellent long-range scores. Final score: 1-10 to 1-02, and Copenhagen marched on to the final while the French took to the stands.


Another chance to take on Amsterdam was the prize for reaching the final; this time Copenhagen knew the scale of the task. A defensive approach from the beginning would see the Dutch manage just 1-03 in the final, but the effort of containing this quality side meant few opportunities up front for Copenhagen, who scored just two points. Nevertheless, getting to the final was an achievement in itself, and hopefully Copenhagen can rally the troops and go one better in Limerick this weekend.

Meawnhile, the ladies team had a rather disappointing weekend – having made the trip with a strong squad, they learned on Saturday morning that no other teams had travelled. They offered some needed support to the men’s team however, and did some sight-seeing, making the most of a bad hand. Credit is due for the spirit in which they took the disappointing news.

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