BERLIN GAA 1-15
BELGIUM GAA 1-12
Berlin GAA became the first team in European GAA history from outside the strong Benelux and Channel Islands regions to win the European Senior Football Championship title last month – the most prestigious competition on the continental European circuit.
The victory means Berlin GAA now advance to Round 1 of the AIB Leinster Junior Club Football Championship in Dublin in October, where they will bid to become the first European men’s team to win a club championship game in Ireland.
The European SFC has been dominated in recent years by Benelux teams. Last year’s champions Amsterdam were beaten in the quarter-final by 2017 champions Luxembourg on July 6 – a result which many felt left the title at the mercy of either Luxembourg or Belgium GAA.
However Berlin GAA upset the odds to beat Luxembourg convincingly in the semi-final to set up a final against Belgium GAA in Maastricht, the Netherlands on July 21 – the location of the only regulation size 15-aside pitch in continental Europe.
Like Berlin, Belgium were also seeking their first title.
After a cagey opening five minutes in which the sides traded a point apiece, Berlin GAA gradually got on top in midfield and scored 1-4 without reply in a dominant 15-minute spell to lead by seven points after 20 minutes.
At that stage it looked like Berlin could pull out of sight but Belgium showed serious intent to claw themselves back into the game. Using a pressing game, the Belgians gradually gained control of possession and cut the lead to two points before a Berlin GAA free on the stroke of half-time left them 1-9 to 1-6 ahead at the interval.
The third quarter was a real dogfight, with Belgium chipping ahead at the Berlin lead point by point. With defences on top, the scoring rate was low but Belgium hit five points to just two from Berlin to draw level at 1-11 to 1-11 heading into the final fifteen minutes.
However, Berlin showed they had the resolve to match their obvious attacking ability by hitting four points without reply in the decisive closing phase to lead 1-15 to 1-11 with time almost up.
Belgium, to their credit, never gave up and they pushed hard in the closing minutes to try and rescue the game. They got back to within three but the well-stocked Berlin defence showed no signs of wilting and the final whistle sent the small but ecstatic group of Berlin supporters in attendance into raptures.
BERLIN GAA: A Coates-McDowell, JM Lieskovsky, J Murphy, J Mooney, L Quinn, E Kennefick, J Meineke , R Miegel, T Clinton, T Adamson, A Sullivan, M New, P Joy, R O’Neill, J Bollmeyer.
Subs: T Middleton, P Stafford, P Steiglechner, J Galiano Celestino, M O’Driscoll, A McDaid.