This is a late report because we were waiting on photographs
The Viet Celts contingent in KL
As is usual in Spring before our season officially opens, the Viet Celts joined up with Thailand GAA and travelled down to KL for March 6 to support our friends from Malaysia GAA as they organized their invitational tournament, the KL Challenge.
For this Viet Thai touring party, Thailand GAA sent John Campbell, Andy McEntee, Michael Hynnes, Shane O’Mahoney and Jalal the Yank. The Viet Celts sent Jim Kiernan, Bob Patterson, Shane Golden and Aidan O’Brien . We were also fortunate to have the services of all-round Malaysian sportsman, Mohamad Hasrol Nizam who came into the Viet-Thai squad as a late replacement for VC injured.
Our first game was against a very strong Singapore White team and although Viet Thai lost there were a lot of positives to be taken from the game considering if was the first time the team had been assembled. Mohamad Hasrol Nizam played like he had been born with an O’Neills in his hand.
Our second game, against Malaysia Blue was the highlight of the tournament for us. The team started to click and everyone on the team from goalkeeper to full forward played out of their skins to match Malaysia Blue point for point with VC Shane Golden and Aidan O’Brien getting on the scoreboard for the Viet Thai with two magnificent points.
The Viet Thai keeper pulled off a point blank range save in the second half but then had the misfortune of going over on his twisted knee and misclearing the ball. After a valiant effort to make amends which included a sliding tackle and a blood curling roar which was as much in anticipation of doing further damage to the knee as to frighten the oncoming Malaysian forward, the ball ended up in the back of the net and although the Viet Thai had chances at the end, this goal proved to be the difference between the sides.
However heads were held high as we walked off the field and I said in the after match speech that I could not remember being more proud of a group of Gaelic Footballers. John Campbell pointed out that I had said the same thing at the KL Challenge last year but this time I meant it.
Such was the optimism in the camp that had we played Kerry 30-40 minutes later, we would probably have beaten them but we had to wait a further three hours to play against the Malaysian Warriors AFL team many of whom had played with the Viet Thai the year before and as good at Gaelic Football as they are at Australian Rules. Whilst the Warriors were wisely minding themselves in the shade, the Viet Thai were helping out the tournament organisers by refereeing, umpiring, scoretaking and doing linesmen in the blistering sun.
It was a fairly cooked Viet Thai team which took to the field three hours later. In the first half Bob Patterson floated in a stylish pass bordering on the glamorous to set Shane O’Mahoney up for a thunderous shot which rattled the bar and into the back of the net. Soon after however, a well rested Warriors team started to over run midfield. The Viet Thai backs, Andy McEntee and Michael Hynnes came to the rescue time and time again with the Viet Thai goalkeeper pulling off a number of fine saves. Andy McEntee and Michael Hynnes were the best players for the Viet Thai team not just in this game but over the course of the tournament. However the Warriors managed to put enough scores together to win the game.
Later on Viet Celts dual star, Aidan O’Brien took part in the Poc Fada and were it not for an unfavourable gust of wind, he might well have won the competition but did the club proud by finishing in second place.
For the Duracelts, Thu impressed the visiting scouts from Kilkenny with two very fine attempts later on.