Last Saturday, new ground was broken as the first competitive game of hurling took place in Finland.

A mini-sevens tournament was held by Helsinki Harps with a hurling match featuring players from the club serving as the centrepiece of the festival.

The game was part of Helsinki's inaugural 'GAA Festival' - a day celebrating Irish sports and culture - and to mark the Harps' 10th anniversary.

Organisers said it was a significant landmark to reach in the midst of the pandemic.

"We wanted to organise this game because it has never been done before in Finland to this level," Harps PRO Paddy Reynolds said.

"I personally feel it's a very accessible sport for Finnish people, with their love of other stick sports such as ice hockey, floorball and pesäpallo [Finnish baseball]. I think we felt that if we didn't try it, we would always wonder, 'what if'."

With gatherings limited through the pandemic and training infrequent, Harps officials say that retaining the enthusiasm for their native sports was a key goal.

The club's Youth Development Officer William O'Gorman told Finnish media outlet Yle News that playing Gaelic games in the Covid era was still possible, albeit with minor adjustments.

The hurling enthusiasts trained by kicking footballs around small gymnasiums, using old ice hockey helmets as hurling headgear. They taped PVC pipes and wooden planks to soccer goals to turn them into the GAA posts.

Up to now, Harps had focused on Gaelic football, but last weekend saw Finland receive its first taste of hurling with the exhibition game during the mini-sevens.

Founded in the spring of 2011 by a group of Irish people, Helsinki Harps were the first Finnish Gaelic football club.

Since then, membership has increased greatly with players from Ireland, Finland, Australia, Vietnam, USA and Turkey all participating.

The breakthrough is further good news for all involved with Nordic and European Gaelic Games.

Since its inception with four clubs, Gaelic Games Europe has witnessed huge success in development and promotion across Europe with over 3000 members in 15 countries, stretching from Moscow to Galicia, Spain and from Oulu in Finland to Gibraltar.

Continued growth, particularly in Spain and France, sees the number of clubs and membership continuing to rise.

Many of these teams are made up solely of native home-grown players and Gaelic Games are now being taught in schools in Galicia, and in Brittany as part of the PE curriculum.