As the curtain went down on the European GAA season at the Gaelic Grounds on Saturday November 5th, Amsterdam GAC was left to reflect on their most successful season ever, culminating in the club picking up the European Shield title.
Heading into the final tournament of the year, played in UL and the Gaelic Grounds, Amsterdam were riding high on the back of three consecutive European tournament wins.
With the European title already wrapped up, Limerick was a chance to enjoy a well-deserved victory lap, in front of home support including many families who made the trip to Limerick, and a novel opportunity for many of the club’s non-Irish players, to experience the country where gaelic games began.
For the fifth time this season, Amsterdam produced two full men squads, and after the Amsterdam A’s dispatched with a Luxembourg side in their opening match, on a scoreline of 8-08 to 0-04, it was time for a historic match for the club. Amsterdam A’s faced off against Amsterdam B’s for the first time ever, and training ground friendships were soon thrown out the window in a strongly contested match.
The A’s were too strong for the B’s, and qualified for the quarter finals, but the B’s were not to be disappointed in a great day for the second team. They went on to defeat Luxembourg in the final group match, and after that convincing win, they faced Toulouse in the quarter-finals.
While the B's were making their way to the semi finals, Amsterdam A’s picked up two more victories against former Shield champions Copenhagen in the quarter finals and St-Gallen in the semi’s en route to the final.
Under floodlights at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick, the A's faced off against Amsterdam B’s conquerors, Belgium. To play in one of the largest GAA stadiums in Ireland was an incredible experience and the A’s did not disappoint in producing one of the greatest matches and comebacks in European GAA history. 3 points down coming into the final seconds of normal time, Pete Jansen claimed a crucial goal to take the final into extra time, and after two periods of level scoring, the final was decided by a sudden death point. A superb day of football by both Amsterdam teams and great performances throughout the A and B ranks in particular by Conor O’Rourke, Colm Brennan, Neville Ducie, and Pete Jansen.
The Holland Ladies also had their own dramatic extra-time battles, in a day which saw them overcome old foes the Belgium ladies.
A semi final clash saw awaited them against Paris Ladies. In a thrilling match, the two sides could not be separated after normal time, and two periods of extra time. A shootout was then to decide the match, and while Holland Ladies bowed out of the tournament at this stage, they did so with a battling performance, and have much to be happy with it coming into next year’s championship. Strong performances in particular on the day by Heather McCormack and Rose Holland.
So an incredible end to an incredible season, with captain Derek Lowry receiving the European Shield from European County Board Chairman Willie Cashin, and former GAA President Sean Kelly.
With all three teams finishing the year with great performances, 2012 is already looking bright for Amsterdam GAC as the club looks to cement their position as Europe’s leading GAA club!