The Viet Celts Hanoi Schools Cup was played on St Patrick’s Day, 17 March on the VAS astroturf grounds in My Dinh, Hanoi. Three schools took part, Hanoi Academy (HA) with all Vietnamese students, Vietnam Australia School Hanoi (VAS) with all Vietnamese students and Hanoi International School (HIS) with mostly non-Vietnamese students.
HIS were making their debut in schools Gaelic Football and sent a very impressive contingent to the tournament with one team in the boys’ competition and two teams in the girls’ competition. Their boys’ team, for example, was composed of a very eclectic bunch of sophisticated individuals, two Malaysian brothers, two German brothers, three Japanese, one Czech, three Koreans and one Vietnamese.
Boys: Group Games
Hanoi International School 2.3 (9pts)
VAS Hanoi 1.4 (7pts)
This was a well fought game where HIS signaled their strong ambitions to win the tournament. VAS moved the ball well but missed a few good chances early on. HIS were a lot more clinical in front of goals as well as winning more balls in the air. They scored a goal on either side of the half time whistle which set them up for a great win after surviving a late rally by VAS in the closing phase of the second half. Man of the Match was Daniel Papendiek of HIS. Best for VAS were Nguyen The Hung and Nguyen Quang Anh.
Hanoi International School 4.3 (15pts)
Hanoi Academy 2.1 (7pts)
Hanoi Academy traveled with a depleted squad which meant they had no subs and so got stretched in games. However this did not stop Mai Hoang Long and Duong Thanh Long of HA, who took no prisoners even though they were among the smallest players on the field. They won most of the contests they went for in the air, playing like neurotic grasshoppers against bigger players. HIS however played some scintillating football, controlled the game well and ran out comfortable winners by 8 points and qualified for the final. HIS coaches, Brandon Gauthier, Colm Ross and Alan Trenberth looked like happy men. Best for HIS was Yuta Takagi.
VAS Hanoi 6.9 (27pts)
Hanoi Academy 1.1 ( 4pts)
Whoever won this game would join HIS in the final. The VAS forward line started to click early on and knocked in some great goals as well as a good many points in combination with their midfield. The Hanoi Academy team had no answer for it as tired legs began to tell and VAS racked up a high score. Man of the Match was VAS forward Thanh Anh who hit a bountiful patch in front of goal. Best for Hanoi Academy was Tran Nguyen Hoang Duy. The scene was set for a HIS vs. VAS final.
HIS Buffalos 1.2 (5pts)
HIS Dreckos 0.2 (2pts)
This match was an historic occasion for Vietnamese Gaelic Football as it was the first competitive match ever in Hanoi in schools Gaelic Football for girls. The HIS Dreckos get their name from an amalgamation of Dragons and Geckos, two houses within the HIS school system. The HIS Buffalos are another house.
There was a good brand of Gaelic Football on display. Both teams were well prepared by Head Coach, Mike Clifford with some good kicking and hand passing throughout the game. Ms. Lisa Hughes and Ms. Althea Gallaway ably marshaled the teams from the sideline.
Both defenses were quite solid, breaking down attacks with some authority. HIS Buffalos had slightly more of the play and took their chances when they arose to win the game by three points. Player of the Match was Haruka Shimada of HIS Dreckos. Best for HIS Buffalos was Amali Buxbaum. Well done to all the girls in what was probably the most pleasing game of the day from a tournament development point of view.
Champions: HIS Buffalos
VAS Hanoi 1.4 (7pts)
Hanoi International School 1.2 (5pts)
It was a final that will live long in the annals of Vietnamese Gaelic Football. VAS had the better start but HIS came right back at them. VAS started to get their hand-passing in synch but HIS still dominated the high ball. These two elements were perhaps the two most distinguishing features of the two different styles of play. However, it was a good open game with many well fought contests and a great willingness by both sets of players to put themselves on the line. HIS were getting the upper hand in the middle of the second half and VAS looked to be doubting themselves until Man of the Match, Do Le Anh Quoc steadied the ship with a beautifully angled left footed free kick from the sideline, ‘Maurice Fitz’ style over the bar.
HIS still came back at VAS in the dying moments of the game. VAS endured a veritable encampment on their goal line followed by a barrage from the opposition. Nguyen Trong Tan for VAS was tigerish in defense. They survived, however, to win the cup in what was probably their most satisfying win to date. Best for HIS was the omnipresent Viktor Husak. The other teams will surely be back for a chance to knock VAS off their perch at the All Vietnam Schools Cup which is being played at the same venue on 5 May.
Champions: VAS Hanoi
The Irish Ambassador, Damien Cole, presented gold, silver or bronze medals to all the players as well as the cups to the respective winning captains.
Haruka Shimada won the Catherine Ganley Award as Player of the Tournament in the girls’ competition.
Viktor Husak won the Jack Kiernan Award as Player of the Tournament in the boys’ competition. Well done to both recipients.
The organizers of the tournament, the Viet Celts would like to compliment the various coaches on their well-prepared teams. These coaches are Seamus Doran of Hanoi Academy: Jim Kiernan and Shane Culbertson of VAS Hanoi, Mike Clifford, Brandon Gauthier, Colm Ross and Alan Trenberth of HIS Boys and Ms. Lisa Hughes and Ms. Althea Gallaway of HIS Girls.
We would like to thank the Irish Ambassador, Damien Cole, for coming out to the tournament and presenting the medals and trophies as well as engaging in banter with the young players. Special mention must go to Lana Le who organised all the medals and trophies
Claire Coughlan refereed the girls’ final and Dave Cunningham refereed the boys’ final. Many thanks to both. A special thanks to Official Tournament Photographer, Len Elliot who took a lot of great shots which will serve as a fine pictorial record. Thanks also to VTC 10 television, who filmed the games for their Sunday news programme.
Finally we would like to say well done to all the players who made it such a memorable competition and all the schools for getting involved.
All Photos: Len Elliot
After giving his all and fighting for every ball for HIS in the final, one of the Malaysian brothers shed a few tears after the game as many a good sportsman has done before him. When a Malaysian student of Indian extraction sheds tears at the finish of a tense and exciting Gaelic Football final in Hanoi after his multi-cultural team narrowly lost a great battle to a team of Vietnamese players, then you think maybe, just maybe this sport stands a good chance of truly going global.