The Irish Warriors and Banshees fly out to Melbourne, Australia today as they get ready to contest the sixth edition of the AFL International Cup which commences on Sunday August 6th. To date the Warriors have won two of five International Cup titles and were runners up in the last edition in 2014. The Banshees were winners in 2011 and runners up to Canada in 2014. Both teams will be strongly fancied again this year although the competition is expected to be tougher than ever.
Melbourne Demons Women’s AFL star Laura Corrigan Duryea, originally from Cavan, will co-captain the Irish Banshees along with Onora Mulcahy from Cork. This is Laura’s third International Cup with Onora making her debut. The Warriors, will be skippered by Belfast Redbacks’ David McElhone, who has played in the last two International Cups.
Both squad have selected the maximum allowable Australian based players under tournament rules. The men’s team is coached by Brian Currane, with tournament veteran Mick Finn acting as Player/assistant coach.
The Irish Warriors face a difficult draw in Division One as they are due to meet reigning Champions Papua New Guinea, plus France, European Champions Great Britain, and New Zealand, who have never placed outside the top four and were winners in 2005.
Should the team be successful in the group stage they will qualify for a Grand Final at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on August 19.
The Women’s team, the Irish Banshees sponsored by Alfa, were winners of the inaugural edition of the event in 2011, and will be hoping to overcome Papua New Guinea, USA, and a continental Europe team, the European Crusaders in order to book a place in the finals where they could meet old rivals Great Britain or Canada.
The final of the women’s competition takes place at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne on the evening of August 19.
Both teams will wear a special change strip in the competition honouring the memory of the late great Jim Stynes, who died tragically five years ago. Jim’s younger brother David has played in both Ireland’s winning teams in the past and will be involved again in the backroom team.
The Warriors have nine players that have previous International Cup experience The biggest contingent of ARFLI club players is from Leeside Lions with six players, the South Dublin Swans have five players on the plane and Belfast Redbacks three. The Powerhouse club in Melbourne provides the largest contingent of Australian based Irishmen with five players including Declan Nannery originally from Westmeath, the younger brother of 2011 winning Warrior Brendan Nannery.