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League of Ireland history: Vienna calling

Does anyone know the European football competition that was thought up by a group of Irish workers and first run in Dublin 32 years ago, in 1984? It’s a competition an Irish team has won 3 times, and one that we will be represented at this week in Vienna.

The answer is the European Airports Football Championship [EAFC]. The brainchild of a group of Dublin Airport Authority [DAA] workers in the early 1980’s, by 1984 they had the first competition organised. It took place at the ALSAA Sports Complex at Dublin Airport and the Dublin Airport team was essentially Aer Rianta FC [now DAA FC], who were founded in 1972 and have played in the AUL ever since [apart from a brief spell in the Leinster Senior League].

Dublin Airport won that inaugural competition which featured 9 teams from airport authorities all over Europe and the event was such a success that it settled into a biennial format. This year’s competition in Vienna will be the 17th running of the event. Dublin Airport have won the competition 3 times in total – the inaugural 1984 event and two further successes, in Rome in 1992 and Vienna in 1996.

The previous staging of the competition [2014] was held in Poland, at Wisla Krakow’s Henryka Reymana City Stadium, with training and administrative back-up at the nearby Com-Com Zone Football Complex. So St Patrick’s Athletic weren’t the only Irish team to compete in Poland in 2014!

The draw for this week’s tournament took place on Tuesday 31st May, with Dublin Airport being drawn in a tough group alongside home side Vienna Airport and Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport. The football tournament will run from 3rd June to 5th June. Games are two by twenty-minute halves for the group games and two by thirty-minute halves for the knock-out stages.

The EAFC is staged under the auspices of the European Airport Football Authority [EAFA], which was formed in 1987 with the objective of promoting and developing the competition, allowing staff of the airport authorities affiliated to participate in sport and build links. The EAFA provides administrative and secretarial services to the EAFC championship, and they have their own elected committee and well-maintained website. Similar events to that run by the EAFA for airport authority staff are run on a pan-European level for airline staff and air-traffic control staff.

This tournament is always great experience for those who play in it. Whether their football careers eventually lead to League of Ireland or not, the players are getting experience of representing their city [and indirectly, country].

We wish the Dublin side the best of luck this week!

Brian Quigley

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