Roll on 2014! Gaelic football restores confidence with Malmö Massacre

A glance at the recent history of this city’s – and this country’s only – men’s gaelic football side reveals the current squad has a lot to live up to. Between 2007 and 2011, Copenhagen GAA won five European tournaments, finished runners-up eight times, and claimed the European Shield a remarkable three years in a row.

This season has been quiet in contrast. In total, there have only been three match weekends. But after finishing fifth in Malmö in May, and fourth in Tallinn in August, there were definite signs in their final outing that 2014 promises to be a lively affair – to say the least.

Instead of a tournament, this was a one-off fixture against their fiercest rivals, Malmö, and for Copenhagen GAA a revenge mission following a bruising 3-10 to 1-6 defeat in Sweden in May.

No optimism on the Øresund
Still, the men’s team weren’t exactly full of optimism heading across the Øresund. Given Malmö’s home advantage, recent good form and dominance in the fixture, and Copenhagen having endured something of a difficult season, defeat looked likely.

But from the off it seemed that Copenhagen must have had a good team-talk on the short trip over the bridge, as they started the game brightly with early exchanges going their way.

Nevertheless, it was Malmö that took an early lead, with a well-struck point in the third minute. If this caused any doubts in the Copenhagen side (aided on the day by a strong contingent from Gothenburg), they hid it well and were soon on the scoreboard themselves. A well-worked move up the left flank ended with a killer pass to Ed Lyne in the full forward position, who slid the ball left footed under the Malmö keeper for a goal that settled the nerves.

Another goal and a point soon followed, and suddenly Copenhagen had a commanding lead. Their early momentum was subdued midway in the half, when a heavy challenge on defender Billy Finn saw him out cold for several minutes. With Finn replaced, the half continued at a slower pace, but Copenhagen added a couple more points to go in at half-time in a very strong position. The return of Kenny Grogan to the team after a year in Germany, and the excellent debuts of Ciarán FitzPatrick, Michael Roche and Darragh McEniry helped the cause immensely in that first 30 minutes, and suddenly the confidence missing earlier in the season was back.

No way back for Malmö
The loss of star forward Kevin Kenneally to injury early in the second half was not enough to disrupt the Copenhagen machine, and a procession of scores followed, with both Lyne and Roche adding further goals (the latter a cracker), as well as McEniry from the spot. Some fine points were also knocked over, with the midfielders and half-forwards getting in on the act.

It was a real team effort from Copenhagen, with great performances all over the field. Lasse Hansen was solid in defence, while also chipping in with a point, and Grogan was a veritable wall. Colm O’Sullivan of Ballinskelligs was first to everything and fought for every ball. FitzPatrick’s debut was full of running and scrapping – more of the same in 2014 will be the hope. And the high fielding displayed by Fionn Murphy was most impressive and will surely have impressed team coach Terence Donnelly.

Malmö, missing some regulars, did have some strong periods and took some good scores themselves, but in the end it was something of a procession. A fine victory for Copenhagen then and a sense that next season could be one to remember.

“It was great to finish the year strongly, and all the more rewarding having got this result on Malmö’s home patch,” said Coach Donnelly.

“We’re hoping for better things in 2014, and numbers are growing again, so things are looking up,” concurred double scorer Lyne.

Ladies lack cohesion
The ladies, though, were unable to match the men’s performance. Merging with Gothenburg, the lack of familiarity meant it was always going to be a tough task against a well-drilled Malmö outfit, and once the Swedes had taken an early lead, they never relinquished it.

Leading player of the season candidates Lene Offersen and Lærke Bruun Hansen once again performed well, as did Magda Lyne up front, who accumulated some fine scores in the process, and debutant Ann O’Connor in defence. 

Everyone is welcome, regardless of their skill level, to during the season attend training every Monday at Arsenalvej in Christianshavn from 6pm. For more details, see www.copenhagengaa.com, or the club’s Facebook group.