The Amsterdam Intermediate team, which first got off the ground in 2011, and had a stunning second season by edging out favourites Belgium and winning the inaugural Benelux Intermediate Shield in 2012, have had a stop-start 2013 by their own admission. The team started out well in holding their own in senior competition in the Amsterdam 10 Year Invitational in March, and followed it up with a final in the Den Haag Intermediate tournament in April but due to a number of retirements and players leaving Amsterdam, the Intermediate team felt the pinch with most of their players being promoted to the senior team.
While it’s great to see the “B” players doing well in the seniors, there’s something about the Intermediate team that has made their absence felt at competitions this year throughout the club. It can be narrowed down very simply…within the Intermediate team, every player knows they must throw their body on the line for each ball, every tackle, every 50/50 to stand a chance of doing well. There’s no superstars, or x-factor forwards to rely on…just 11 hard working players (and 1 sub on a very good day!!). The team always creates a buzz and according to the senior team, motivates them to work harder in their matches.
Luckily as the summer came to a close, and September arrived, so did a handful of new players and the future for the Intermediate team looks brighter for 2014. But 2013 wasn’t over yet, and the Intermediate’s headed to Athlone in October to take part in the inaugural European Intermediate Championship.
Drawn into a group of five teams included Paris, St. Gallens, Slovak Shamrocks and Italian newcomers Rovigo, Amsterdam knew that one slip-up could cause costly. Their first match set the team against St. Gallens – a fiercely proud team, similar to Amsterdam B’s, in that they were stepping out from the shadows of their former teammates, Zurich GAA. While they tried their best to keep up , the ‘Dam set a lightning pace and won the encounter by 3-09 to 0-00.
Next up were Paris, who after a few years in doldrums, were looking more and more like their old European Championship side. A tough match for the ‘Dam, though while they stayed in front throughout, were still nervous of the speed of Paris’s half forward line. A point ahead going into the final few minutes, Amsterdam struck gold with a goal, and gave Paris enough time for only one last attack. Paris replied with their own goal, but the ‘Dam won through by a point and sighed a breath of relief, knowing that most likely their fiercest opposition for the day had already been seen to.
Slovak and Rovigo both gave earnest accounts for themselves, but were no match for the Dam who were oozing confidence at this stage, and as the curtain came down on Saturday’s matches, Amsterdam stood with four wins out of four, topping the group, and heading to Sunday’s semi-finals.
Four teams remained on Sunday in the hunt for the Intermediate crown – Amsterdam, Paris, Vienna, and Amsterdam’s semi-final opponents, Prague. Prague were a tough side, and Amsterdam didn’t help themselves with a number of wasteful kicks while playing with the wind in the first half. However Amsterdam’s pace and skilful football won out by 6 points in the end against Prague’s one dimensional high ball into the square approach.
A final awaited against favourites Vienna, and was probably the toughest match the Intermediate team had faced in its three year existence. At half time, the scores were level and it was apparent to all that whichever team struck early in the second half, would take off from there. Unfortunately for the ‘Dam, Vienna scored a sucker punch of a goal straight from the throw in. Despite this, the heads didn’t drop, and the ‘Dam fought on, making sure every ball was contested, every shoulder was hit. Solid points were scored by Colm Ryan, Sean Fitzgerald, and Kenny Monaghan, but Vienna struck a second goal and saw the game through to finish with a four point victory.
Heartbreak for a very tired Amsterdam team, but after 6 matches, winning 10 halves, drawing the 11th…the final half was just too much for them. Despite the loss, it was a great performance from a tough as nails team, led by captain and Athlone native Tadhg O’Shea, with strong performances by Jack O’Gorman, Ruairi Lehman, Colm Ryan, Sean Fitzgerald, and Kenny Monaghan. While a cup didn’t return with the team, pride was restored to the Amsterdam Intermediate name during what was otherwise a quiet season, and the beginnings was there to be seen of a rebirth for this squad of underdogs!