It was disappointment for both the Banshees and Warriors on Grand Final day at the AFL Europe 18-a-side European Championships. In the women’s final the Banshees lost out to Great Britain Swans 1.2. 8 to 0.2. 2. This was followed by the men’s Grand Final where the Warriors lost their title to Great Britain Bulldogs on a score of 7.9. 51 to 4.5. 29. Five first half goals to the Bulldogs was the difference on the day as the Warriors struggled to pull back that early lead.
Reports from AFL Europe
Women’s Final – GB Swans vs Irish Banshees
The much anticipated women’s final followed the third place playoff with only a draw and a 1-point victory to the Swans separating the two squads throughout their round matches.
The wind had picked up and was going to make a big difference in this game and whichever side was going to adapt quicker would come away with the much coveted title of ‘Champions of Europe’.
As expected it was an absolute dogfight to start the game. Stoppage after stoppage was created by both sides fierce attack on the football and their committed defensive pressure.
The crowd were in for a treat as the ruck dual between Clara Fitzpatrick of Ireland and Lea Cobham of GB was incredible to watch.
Onora Mulcahy was paid the utmost respect from the GB coaching panel as they opted to tag the ball magnet by employing her AFL London teammate, Rose Lewis, to do the job.
Despite it being a goalless first quarter the crowd were heavily invested in the game as the ferocity shown by both sides had passers by stopping in to see what all the fuss was about.
50-meter penalties seemed to be the flavour of the day as a GB centre-half forward, Rania Ramadan, was marched into the goal square to convert what turned out to be the match-winning and only goal of the game.
From here the game evolved into a scrap with nearly all 36 players on field descending on the Irish forward 50 to make sure nothing went through the Banshees goal.
The last quarter flew by as the Irish did everything they could to get within range to put through that much needed major. Full credit to the Swans defence who stood up when needed to repel anything and everything that came their way.
When the final siren sounded the home crowd erupted with jubilation and stormed the field to celebrate with the new champions of Europe, the GB Swans. The girls were out on their feet and should be proud of how they represented not only their countries but also the amazing development of women’s football in Europe.
The final scorecard reading 1.2. 8 to 0.2. 2.
GB Swans: R. Ramadan
GB Swans: L. Cobham, A. Saulter, D. Saulter, F. Blount, L. Smith, R. Ramadan
Irish Banshees: C. Fitzpatrick, O. Mulcahy, A. Payne, M. Walsh, M. Beaven, L. Connolly
Men’s Final – Irish Warriors vs GB Bulldogs
The main event had finally arrived. The all-conquering Irish Warriors were against up-and-comers the GB Bulldogs in what was set to be one for the ages following their 1-point thriller only days beforehand.
Last time they had meet in the European Championships Final was in 2013 when a last second Irish snap gave the Warriors victory.
The Irish had been the form side all tournament, showing why they have been European and International Champions on numerous occasions.
The Bulldogs, in front of a home crowd, had other ideas and jumped out of the blocks early to register 5 first quarter goals to the Warriors 1 running with the wind. Andy Walkden contributed 2 of those majors and was looking dangerous whenever he went near the footy.
The GB side had come out with a plan and executed it to perfection in the opening exchanges. The big test for them was going to come in the second term when the Irish had the wind at their backs.
The second term didn’t go as expected for the Irish who were bombing away long whenever they got the football in their hands. This was exactly what the Bulldogs wanted as their spare man racked up a ton of the footy.
The Irish looked rattled and didn’t have an answer for what the Bulldogs were throwing at them. Their usual run and carry was non-existent and cracks were starting to show.
One of the best players all tournament, Kevin O’Brien from Ireland, was being tagged out of the game by GB’s, James Talbot. The little general from AFL London was quick to tell this reporter of his unsung efforts as a lock-down midfielder throughout the week at the tournament after-party on Saturday.
Likewise, the tournament’s equal leading goal scorer, Padraic O’Connell, was being well held by the dependable, Matty Goodman, whose added counterattack was immense for the home side.
The unthinkable had happened and the Irish had been kept goalless running with the breeze. The Bulldogs had their tails up going into halftime and with one hand on the trophy they weren’t going to let this slip.
A spirited halftime speech from the Irish coach had the boys in green raring to go after the main break. Two quick goals to Colin O’Lordian and Muiris Bartley gave the Warriors a sniff but to GB’s credit they absorbed the pressure and took control of the game.
A late goal to Andy Walkden calmed the nerves of the boisterous home crowd and gave the Bulldogs a 3 goal advantage going into the final term.
The Irish knew they could close the gap and with the wind coming over their shoulders the Bulldogs knew it was still anyone’s game.
The Warriors had the better of the final term but poor foot skills really hurt them going forward and they were unable to convert their chances. Time was getting away from them and when Walkden converted his fourth goal of the day it was all but over for the reigning champions.
A late goal to Kevin McDonnell left it too little, too late for the Irish and when the final siren sounded a new champion of Europe was crowned.
Andy Walkden was huge for the Bulldogs and became only the second player in the tournament to register a unanimous best on ground performance. A huge effort in a grand final by the GB half forward.
The final score read 7.9. 51 to 4.5. 29.
Both sides proved they be tough opponents when they play in next year’s International Cup in Melbourne and will do their Countries and AFL in Europe proud.
All sides should be proud of how they represented their countries and we can’t wait to see how everyone develops in the future.
A huge shout out to the umpiring squad for officiating an amazing week of football and to all volunteers who gave up their time to help in any way possible.
Hopefully we’ll see a few familiar faces at the upcoming Euro Cup in Lisbon.
GB: A. Walkden 4, M. Cashman, D. Hastie, C. Britton
Ireland: M. Bartley, G. Murray, C. O’Lordian, K. Mccdonnell
GB: A. Walkden, L. Booth, J. Coughlan, M. Hudson, C. Britton, M. Goodman
Ireland: G. Walls, C. Fitzgerald, C. O’Halloran, D. Joyce, D. McElhone, K. O’Brien
|Player of the Tournament||Votes||Team|
|Andreas Svensson||27||Swedish Elks|
|Kevin O’Brien||26||Irish Warriors|
|Muiris Bartley||24||Irish Warriors|
|Gavin Murray||24||Irish Warriors|
|Jakob Jung||22||German Eagles|
|Hampus Olsson||21||Swedish Elks|
|Andrew Walkden||16||GB Bulldogs|
|Tristan Thormann||14||German Eagles|
|Buster Sund||14||Swedish Elks|
|Ruben Streicher||14||German Eagles|
|Leading Goal Kicker||Goals||Team|
|Paudric O’Connell||9||Irish Warriors|
|Marc Cashman||9||GB Bulldogs|
|David Hastie||7||GB Bulldogs|
|Andrew Walkden||7||GB Bulldogs|
|Jan Huesken||6||German Eagles|
|Dominic Joyce||5||Irish Warriors|
|Jack Coughlan||5||GB Bulldogs|
|Muiris Bartley||5||Irish Warriors|
|Gavin Murray||5||Irish Warriors|
|Eoin O’Murchu||4||Irish Warriors|
The Top 10s
|Player of the Tournament||Votes||Team|
|Clara Fitzpatrick||41||Irish Banshees|
|Rania Ramadan||28||GB Swans|
|Onora Mulcahy||25||Irish Banshees|
|Danni Saulter||25||GB Swans|
|Alex Saulter||24||GB Swans|
|Aisling Gillespie||23||Irish Banshees|
|Marley Beaven||19||Irish Banshees|
|Chloe Hall||16||GB Swans|
|Leading Goal Kicker||Goals||Team|
|Aisling Gillespie||6||Irish Banshees|
|Caroline Sellar||3||GB Swans|
|Danni Saulter||3||GB Swans|
|Rania Ramadan||3||GB Swans|
|Ashleigh Payne||2||Irish Banshees|
|Lea Cobham||2||GB Swans|
|Chloe Hall||2||GB Swans|
|Naomi Curtis||2||Irish Banshees|
|Ciara Moane||1||Irish Banshees|
|Louise Darby||1||GB Swans|