Early tomorrow morning the Irish Banshees and Warriors commence their 2017 International Cup campaigns in Melbourne after a week of preparation in the Victorian capital. The Warriors the champions of 2002 and 2011 and runners-up in 2014 meet the team that contested the last two Grand Finals alongside the men in green, Papua New Guinea. In 2011 the Warriors came from behind to run out three goal winners but at the last tournament in 2014 it was PNG that snatched victory in the last minutes to win by 3 points at the final hooter.
PNG are expected to be as strong as ever in this opening encounter and it will be a tremendous challenge for the Brain Currane coached Warriors in their first of four pool games. This game will be stream live at 2:15am GMT Sunday Aug 5 at this link https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVNIihETzsAGXnyN0pnJHDA
The Banshees start later that morning against USA Freedom at 5am, again being streamed live. They have prepared well for this tournament which they won in 2011 in the inaugural women’s competition but lost out in the Grand Final to Canada in 2014. USA Freedom are expected to be well drilled and keen in what will be a challenging opening game for the Banshees. World Footy News reports the US women have growing numbers and should be stronger than 2014. The Banshees didn’t play the USA Freedom in 2014 but the Americans won all there games except for a comprehensive beating my eventual winners Canada Northern Lights. Successful 2011 Warriors coach, Tom Madigan returns as joint head coach of the Banshees this year having also taken the job in 2014. Brendan Kelly from Belfast Redbacks who is also in the Warriors squad joins him at joint head coach
Meanwhile this week both teams visited Melbourne Demons, this year’s Irish clash guernsey is a replica of the Demons home kit with the Demons red swapped for Irish green. This is in memory of the late Jim Stynes, a Demons hero, who passed away five years ago this year. Jim’s younger brother David, who played in several International Cups and was the 2014 head coach handed out the special guernseys alongside his sister Dearbhla.