Banshee Corrigan Duryea’s Dees journey

It has been a whirlwind few months for Ireland’s only AFL women’s (AFLW) competition player, Laura Corrigan Duryea.  After six games with Melbourne including today’s victory over Adelaide in Darwin they sit joint second on the ladder and are in contention for a Grand Final spot with one round remaining.

From being a late edition to the Melbourne list Laura has started and played an influential role in all Melbourne’s games to date.  Laura started off in the full-back position but in recent games she has played half-back.  Laura is an Irish pathfinder in the new competition wearing the same number 11  as another famous Irish Demon, Jim Stynes.  It’s very likely many more talented Irish athletes will play in future seasons of the AFLW, just like Jim Stynes open the door for many other Irish men getting the opportunity to play AFL.  The league itself in its first season has got great support with games live on TV and big crowds turning up.  The very first game of the competition attracted 24,500 fans with over 2,000 lock out as the venue was at capacity.  The peak TV audience for that first game was also a remarkable 1.1 million viewers.  Below are some photos from her history making AFL women’s competition debut season.

Preseason training

 

Laura flying the flag for Ireland on Australian TV

 

Laura has got plenty of media interest

 

Laura clears the ball against Collingwood

 

Cavan meet up in Sydney with GWS staff member Nicholas Walsh

 

Laura (far right) with her Melbourne teammates

 

Charging forwards

 

Reaching highest in Round 4 against Carlton

UCC dominate Fitzpatrick Cup

University College Cork hosted the AFL Europe intervarsity competition last month and also took home the men’s and women’s cups.  On a bright February Saturday at the UCC sports grounds the well organised event finished in perfect fashion for the hosts who have developed an impressive club in recent years.

Read report below from www.afleurope.org

A last-minute pitch change and some early rain didn’t deter participants at the weekends annual Fitzpatrick Cup hosted by the University College Cork (UCC).

With 8 men’s and 3 women’s teams in action it was always going to be a great day of Aussie Rules action.

Despite the muddy pitches, Group A got off to a flying start with UCC 1 and Irish Uni’s claiming early victories. Group B started in similar fashion with Oxford 1 and Mixed ARFLI showing their class.

Mixed ARFLI went through the Group stages undefeated but were unable to progress as they were acting as a top-up team after a disappointing late withdrawal from reigning champions, University of Birmingham.

The standings following the Group stages:

Group A
Team Played Win Loss Draw Points For Against Percentage
UCC 1 3 3 0 0 12 152 18 844.44
Irish Uni’s 3 2 1 0 8 84 59 142.37
Cambridge 3 1 2 0 4 37 83 44.58
Oxford 2 3 0 3 0 0 9 122 7.38
Group B
Team Played Win Loss Draw Points For Against Percentage
Mixed ARFLI 3 3 0 0 12 129 37 348.65
UCC 2 3 2 1 0 8 79 73 108.22
Oxford 1 3 1 2 0 4 47 82 57.32
Maynooth 3 0 3 0 0 34 97 35.05

 

The women’s competition was hotly contested with Maynooth claiming two early victories to sit atop of the table following the Group stages. They were closing matched-up with UCC and were scheduled to play in the grand final later in the afternoon after finishing second.

The standings following the Group stages:

Women
Team Played Win Loss Draw Points For Against Percentage
Maynooth 2 2 0 0 8 46 14 328.57
UCC 2 1 1 0 0 16 19 84.21
Oxford 2 0 2 0 0 15 44 34.09

The Men’s semi-finals pitted UCC 1 against Oxford 1 and Mixed Uni’s against UCC 2 to determine who would be playing off in the Grand Final.

UCC 1 lifted another level to easily account for a valiant Oxford 1 outfit with the final score reading 77 to 12.

The other semi-final went down to the wire with UCC 2 eventually getting over the line in a 1-point thriller. Final score in that game read 24 to 23.

The women’s final was between Maynooth and UCC after they finished in the top 2 of the division. Only 4-points separated these two teams in the Group stages and with Irish Banshees Head Coach, Pat Leavy watching from the side-lines it was always going to be a tight contest.

The first half proved just that with possession hotly contested and the scoreboard reflecting accordingly. UCC got the better of the second half and overran the previously undefeated Maynooth women claiming the Fitzpatrick Cup with a score line of 30 to 8.

It was destined to be a UCC clean sweep of the Fitzpatrick Cup but it was yet to be decided which men’s team was going to take the spoils. UCC 2 were the obvious underdogs but the chance to knock off their older rivals in UCC 1 meant that they were primed and ready to go.

The first half was a thriller with both teams putting it all on the line. A couple of quick goals got UCC 1 out to a 3-goal lead going into half-time. UCC 2 scored the first goal of the second half and the crowd was calling for an upset.

The more experienced heads of the UCC 1 boys proved too much to overcome for the 2s with some late goals blowing out the score line, 50 to 14. A well-deserved clean sweep for all involved at the UCC Aussie Rules program.

Special congratulation to John Enright who came away with the Golden Whistle for his excellent performance both on the pitch but also off it for arranging the umpire squad and formalizing the umpiring appointments.

Player of the Tournament for the men went to Paul Murphy of UCC 1 which topped of a great week for him after being named in the first five Irish Warriors to be selected for the International Cup in August.

Best on Ground in the final for the women went to UCC’s Eimear Sexton for her ferocity around the contest throughout the entire game.

Extra special thanks to all the volunteers who assisted in putting on a fantastic day of football along with the organising committee at UCC for making sure the day ran smoothly.

The countdown to the Fitzpatrick Cup 2018 is on!

Women’s Champions – UCC Crusaders

Men’s Champions – UCC 1 

For more event photos jump click through the following links

https://www.facebook.com/pg/AFL.Europe.Ltd/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1393565570663928

https://www.facebook.com/pg/AFL.Europe.Ltd/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1393598833993935

 

Banshees announce IC17 players

The management and coaching staff of the Banshees are delighted to announce the updated list of Irish and U.K. based players who have earned their seats on the plane to Melbourne for IC17.

CONGRATULATIONS to the following:-
– Carolann Cassidy (Ulster Kookaburras)
– Linda Connolly (Wandsworth Demons)
– Molly Cullen (Dublin Angels)
– Laura Flannery (Dublin Angels)
– Aisling Gillespie (Ulster Kookaburras)
– Aine Higgins (Dublin Angels)
– Emma Kelly (Ulster Kookaburras)
– Olivia McCann (Ulster Kookaburras)
– Roisin McFadden (Ulster Kookaburras)
– Rachael McGee (Ulster Kookaburras)
– Onóra Mulcahy (Wandsworth Demons)
– Sarah O’Donovan (U.C.C. Crusaders)
– Fiona Roarty (Ulster Kookaburras)
– Leona Russell (Ulster Kookaburras)

Ladies – well deserved on being selected but the hard work continues from now until August.

The next batch of players will be named following the upcoming Leprechaun Cup and the London Footy Festival.

Fitzpatrick Cup in UCC on Saturday

The 2017 edition of the European Intervarsities championships is upon us with the competition being held this Saturday February 4th at UCC playing fields Curaheen, Cork city .  The Cup is named after AFL Chairman Mike Fitzpatrick who played with Oxford University Aussie Rules team in the 1970s and Mike has previously presented the winning cup to the UCC team.  Last year the competition was in Birmingham with the University of Birmingham taking the cup.  This year’s event promises to be another exciting edition with eight teams doing battle.

Read AFL Europe preview below

The Fitzpatrick Cup is upon us. Tomorrow is the day a new universities champion will be crowned for both the men’s and women’s divisions.

Heavy rainfall wreaked havoc on the UCC grounds earlier in the week but with sunshine and a balmy 6 degrees forecast for tomorrow we’ll be expecting fast-paced action from the get go.

The day kicks off at 11am with three pitches in action throughout the day. The men’s division will be played off amongst 8 teams in 2 Groups.  The top two teams in each Group will progress to the semi-finals while the bottom two in each will battle it out for the minor placings. The Groups are as follows:

Group A:

  1. UCC 1
  2. Oxford 2
  3. Irish Uni’s
  4. Cambridge

Group B:

  1. Oxford 1
  2. Maynooth
  3. UCC 2
  4. Mixed ARFLI

The women’s division will consist of 3 teams, UCC, Maynooth and Oxford, with the top two progressing straight into the Grand Final at 3:30pm.

The full tournament fixture along with the live streaming link can be found on the AFL Europe website (afleurope.org).

On the eve of the Fitzpatrick Cup we caught up with tournament organiser, UCC Head Coach and all-round good bloke, Eoin O’Sullivan, for a quick chat.

How’s the tournament preparation coming together?

“Everything is looking good at this stage, a few hiccups here and there along the way, but it’s coming together well. Pitches are ready, players and umpires en route, it’s shaping up to be a great day’s footy. Just hope we get the weather to match!”

How are the teams shaping up?

“Well, I suppose we have home advantage so we’d hope to be strong around the ground. Our difficulty has been picking 16, our second squad is as strong as the first! But looking through the lists, the Mixed Uni team are very strong in every line, and Oxford have recently beaten Birmingham too, and are travelling strong, so they’ll be a serious outfit. I know the Maynooth lads have put in serious prep, and have a few tidy players in their list. Also, I’ve played against one or 2 of the Cambridge boys, they don’t miss, and in short games like this, accuracy is vital. So, it’s wide open really.”

Any players to keep an eye on?

“Singling out players is always difficult, giving them a tag is added pressure. I never had it when I played, and sure was class, but nobody knew! I’m sure these boys will love the limelight though, so I’ll drop a few names. UCC have 3 Jacks, 2 Oisin’s, 2 James’, and 2 Kev’s, they’ll surely produce something between them. Maynooth have Darragh O Morain, he’s bound to play well someday. Mixed Uni’s have Hally. That’s all that needs to be said on that. Cambridge have Mossy Harrington up top, the closest thing there is to a Buddy Franklin in Europe. And Oxford have Geoff Pascoe, a man that knows all the rules, and will surely push them to the limit for their cause.”

Who’s going to come away from Fitzpatrick Cup in 2017?

“Ah c’mon, you can’t ask me that! Having 2 dogs in the fight, I’d like to think that UCC can make it an all Cork Grand Final. No doubt the other boys will be out to stop that, but our boys are boasting a mix of youth, experience, National Team players and hardy b*****ds in both squads!”

Ireland’s Laura Corrigan set for women’s AFL debut

Sunday will be a historic day for one Irish Banshee as Cavan woman Laura Corrigan Duryea is expected to debut for Melbourne football club in their opening round women’s AFL game against Brisbane Lions.  She has big boots to fill having been given the same number 11 jumper worn with such pride by Melbourne hero and Irishman Jim Stynes. But Laura herself has many of Jim’s attributes and will be a fine representative of the Melbourne footy club.

Interest in the new women’s competition has already reach unprecedented heights as the opening game between Collingwood and Carlton on Friday night say 24,500 fans turnout with several thousand more locked out as the ground was at capacity.  Watch all the women’s games live and free at this link watchafl.afl.com.au. All at ARFLI wish Laura the best of luck for Sunday’s game and the season ahead.

 

For more detail on Laura selection read the article below that appeared recently in the Irish Times

Laura Corrigan’s story, or at least its beginning, is a familiar one.

Like many footballing backpackers she reached for the obvious touchstone when she landed in the Melbourne suburb of St Kilda’s nine years ago. The Cavan midfielder, who had already taught PE in Dublin and was the winner of two Ulster intermediate medals, only planned to stay a year Down Under yet immediately joined the local GAA club.

Today she’s still living the dream: newly-wed (her married name is Duryea) and living in Mornington Peninsula, an hour south of Melbourne in wine country, just a block away from the beach and a world away from her native village of Milford, near Belturbet.

So far, so Irish Down Under reality TV script.

The unique part of her story is that she’s about to become part of Australian sporting history.

The inaugural “professional” women’s Australian Football League (AFLW) kicks off in February and Corrigan is the only Irish player involved.

She’s playing for football giants Melbourne, who have even allocated her the 11 jersey, a treasured number locally thanks to the club’s deceased Irish legend Jim Stynes.

Almost six feet tall, Corrigan quickly took to the local game, helped, she admits, by her natural physicality which sometimes got her in trouble when she played for Drumlane and Erne Gaels.

“I got a few yellow cards in my day. Growing up in a village full of boys didn’t help because I originally played the boys’ rules. When I was coming out here everyone said ‘oh you’ll have to play that Aussie Rules, it’s a game that’s made for you!’”

She’d actually picked up a six-month ban before she left for “a bit of an altercation with a referee” after taking umbrage at his addition of 11 minutes of added time in a county semi-final.

“I’d booked to go away anyway but you know what the rumours would be like: ‘Ah she’s going to Australia because she was banned!’” she adds with a chuckle.

“I played Gaelic here initially and then met a girl who suggested I’d be good at Aussie Rules. At that stage I thought I was only going to be here for a year so I thought ‘Stuff the Gaelic, I can play that when I go home.’”

International tournaments

Corrigan started in footie with the University of Melbourne but then joined premier Victorian Women’s Football League (VWFL) side Diamond Creek and has played in seven Australian Grand Finals to date, one of which the team won.

She has also played for the Irish Banshees, a representative team who play in women’s footie’s international tournaments.

She has returned to GAA (with Melbourne club Sinn Féin) in the past two years and there have been Sundays where she has played both codes for her two clubs, which are 40 minutes apart.

But right now she’s immersed in the nascent professional women’s Australian Football League (AFL) against pretty big odds.

Clubs scouted the existing state leagues but also set up academies to recruit and fast-track elite athletes from other sports.

Corrigan, who turned 33 in December, was listed in the official draft last November but while 14 of her Diamond team-mates were picked, she wasn’t.

Yet every franchise had three “free picks” during the subsequent free agency period so she got on the phone and started calling clubs.

Melbourne’s head of women’s operations, Debbie Lee, against whom Corrigan had played, liked her skills and chutzpah and forwarded her tapes onto their coach, Mick Stinear. Within 24 hours they had signed her as defensive cover.

“It was amazing! I got the call in the car on the way to work and thought: ‘What? I have to go and teach now?’” she recalls.

Club rosters are 27 strong, with only 22 players selected each week for the 16-a-side games. Corrigan’s priority now is making those game-day panels and Melbourne’s historic opener is at home to Brisbane Lions on February 5th.

“The women’s AFL wasn’t meant to happen until 2020 but the growth in the game is so huge they brought it forward,” she explains.

New teams

Of Australia’s registered club footie players 27 per cent (380,041) are now women and 354 new teams were established last year, a jump of 19 per cent. The 2016 televised women’s Allstar game drew an average audience of 746,000.

The inaugural season (February-March) involves just eight clubs with seven games each and the top two to a straight Grand Final.

To maximise audience potential, the women’s Australian Football League (AFLW) has been timed to fill the vacuum after the Australian Open tennis and T20 cricket. That means live TV coverage but playing in the white heat of summer.

Pay rates have also been questioned.

Average AFL salaries are $300,000 but the initial base pay for the women’s admittedly shortened and part-time league was just $5000, which improved marginally after a “#bootsoff” social media campaign – so-called because female players don’t automatically get free boots.

Players such as Corrigan will now get the base-rate of $8,500 (€6,000) with a reported $25,000 (€17,600) for marquee players. This is tied to a contract maximum of nine hours a-week collective training but doesn’t account for players’ additional voluntary training.

Pre-season and training camps coincided with Corrigan’s summer holidays and she has taken a year’s leave from her primary school job in the city with the hope of picking up some substitute teaching locally when the league finishes.

Melbourne’s women share gym facilities with the club’s male stars and will play their home games in Casey Fields, home to the club’s second men’s Victorian Football League team.

“I never imagined anything like this would happen,” she says.

“I always tried out for the state team and played a bit of country ‘metro’ and representative footie here, but I never thought I’d make it to this. With the timing and my age I really thought I’d missed the boat. You pinch yourself some days, it’s unreal!”

IC17 Training Squad Announced

The Irish Warriors management team have today named an extended Ireland based training squad for the 2017 AFL International Cup. More players may be added in the weeks ahead depending on performance in the Winter Championship and arrangements are also being made for UK and Australia based players to train and have trials and these will be announced in the coming weeks. A final squad of 30 players will be selected from the three groups in the spring. The final management team for the tournament has been confirmed today too, with Mick Finn joining Brian Currane and Ciaran O’ Hara on the senior coaching staff. The team will be managed by Michael Currane, and Paul Ryan will once again serve as tour manager.

Gareth Baird

Muiris Bartley

Matt Bell

Liam Burns

Oisin Collins

Kieran Conroy

James Galvin

Stephen Guing

Rochford Hanmore

Sean Paul Henry

Luke Hickey

Domnic Joyce

Brendan Kelly

David Lally

Adam Looney

Colin Lordan

Mark McCauley

Ryan McCloskey

Brendan McDevitt

Kevin McDonnell

David McElhone

Sean McGlinchey

Stuart McKeating

Tom McKenna

Kevin McSorley

Paul Murphy

Gavin Murray

Padraic O Connell

Paul O Halloran

Kevin O Sullivan

Shane O Sullivan

Seamus Owens

Ronan Sheehan

Peter Traynor

Gerard Walls

John White

 

Banshee selected by Melbourne

Our Irish Banshee Laura Corrigan (on right in photo) has been chosen by Melbourne FC as one of its three free agents for its 2017 women’s squad to play in the first national women’s AFL competition.  She becomes the first Irish women to be selected at this level of competition in what will be a semi-professional league being played next February and March.

Women’s football operations manager Debbie Lee said Corrigan (affectionately known as Irish, as she hails from County Cavan) was an experienced recruit.

“’Irish’ is a really good addition to the team. She brings experience, given that we’ve got 10 players under 20 years of age,” she told melbournefc.com.au.

“She’s a really tough, competitive player and also brings height to the team, so we see her as a tall defender and a second ruck option.

Corrigan, who has been in Australia for nine years, said it was a great opportunity to become the first female Irish player for Melbourne. And she is fully aware of the legacy held by the late, great Jim Stynes at the club.

“It’s all pretty surreal at the moment … but it’s a dream,” she said.

“I came to Australia backpacking nine years ago and I wanted to give the game a go.

“Now I’m getting the opportunity to play AFL – it’s unbelievable.”

Corrigan, 33, will play under her married name Laura Duryea.  She started her career with Melbourne University, but has played the past seven seasons with Diamond Creek. She has also played in seven Grand Finals and also captained Victoria Gaelic football team in 2016.  Laura has played in the last two International Cups for the Irish Banshees, winning in 2011 and being a runner up in 2014.  She hopes to don the green again next August at the 2017 International Cup in Melbourne.

 

AGM & National Conference This Saturday

The ARFLI AGM and National Conference will take place this Saturday in Cassidy’s Hotel on Cavendish Row(At the Top of O’ Connell St) in Dublin from midday. This is a crucial AGM for ARFLI. Saturday also marks the official launch of the league’s partnership with Cassidy’s who have become our official Conference Partner. We would like to extend our gratitude to Damien Cassidy and the staff of the Hotel for their assistance and support in bringing about this vital new partnership for ARFLI.

Ireland Team To Play GB Bulldogs

The Irish Warriors team to play the European Champions this Saturday, October 22nd has been named and is listed below. The game will take place at the National Sports Campus in Abbotstown on the Turf Field behind Sports HQ and will commence at 2PM. The game will be followed by an ARFLI Womens Game.

 

Gareth Baird

Matt Bell

Liam Burns

Oisin Collins

Stephen Guing

Roch Hanmore

Sean Paul Henry

Luke Hickey

Brendan Kelly

David Lally

Colin Lordan

Ryan McCloskey

Kevin McDonnell

David McElhone

Sean McGlinchey

Stuart McKeating

Tom McKenna

Paul Murphy

Gavin Murray

Padraic O’ Connell

Conor O’ Halloran

Seamus Owens

Peter Traynor

 

 

Ladies light up Lisbon

The Irish Banshees national women’s team took the silverware from the 2016 AFL Europe Euro Cup 9-aside tournament last weekend with a close fought victory over the English Vixens in sunny Lisbon, Portugal.  This year saw The Banshees joined by England, Scotland, Denmark, France, Sweden and Croatia as the women’s game grows in popularity every year in Europe.  The Banshees and the English Vixens have met in recent finals but the Vixens have won the most recent encounters.  On this occasion the Banshees deserved the rub of the green and pulled out the victory in a tight final by 16 to 7 at the final siren.  It was a delighted captain Emma Kelly who was first to raise the cup on a great day for Irish women’s Aussie Rules.

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A delighted Carolann Cassidy
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The Banshees overcame Croatia in a group game
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The victorious Banshees with coach Pat Leavy

Meanwhile the Warriors weren’t just as lucky putting in a tremendous effort in reaching the Grand Final before losing out to Croatia after extra time.  The Warriors came out of their group with ease and then defeated local rivals England in the semi-final before setting up a Grand Final against Croatia who have had significant success at the 9-aside format of the game.  The final saw a wind assisted Croatia race into a significant lead, but with the Warriors having the wind in the second half they pulled back to level at full time.  In extra time Croatia kicked nearly every attempt for six points and this impressive accuracy got them over the line 53 to 39.

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A fine mark by Coilin O Lordain

 

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Warriors’ ruckman Gavin Murray takes off

 

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Warriors’ Luke Hickey in full evasion mode

 

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Warriors line up for Grand Final anthems