Tag: AFL Europe

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

 

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

Ireland ready for Euros

Starting on Sunday, Irish Warriors commence their challenge of retaining the 18 a-side European Championships in Motspur Park Oval, Wimbledon, London.  The women’s team, the Irish Banshees are also there and commence their competition on Thursday with both Grand Finals on Saturday 21st August.

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The 2013 Euro winning Warriors

This year there are four men’s teams and three women’s teams competing.  It is the first women’s full sided tournament and shows the progress the women’s game has made in Europe in recent years.  The men’s competition has shrunk in nations compared to the 2013 edition hosted by ARFLI in Dublin.  Then there were six men’s teams but absent this year are Denmark and Croatia.  Also a team that competed in the 2014 International Cup, France are not made the short trip to London.  Denmark are the most notable absence having impressed in recent 9 a-side Euro Cups however it is disappointing they are not attending considering their strong footy tradition in real aussie rules on a full sized oval and 18 a-side.

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The IC14 squad, only 8 of them will play at EC16

However based on rankings from the 2013 tournament and International Cup performances the two strongest teams in Europe at competing, Ireland and Great Britain.  The Warriors field only eight of the squad that were such narrow runners up to Papua New Guinea at the 2014 International Cup in Melbourne and come with a mixture of home based and English based players.  Some notable players include Lions duo Muiris Bartley and Conor O’Halloran who both won their first ARFLI title last week and also competed in IC14 and EC13.  Another Lion, Luke Hickey has youthful dash and could have a big tournament.

Of the English based players, Tom Stack played in the European Champions League Grand Final in Amsterdam last March with Manchester Mosquitos and should make an impact.  Another very notable English based player is Kevin O’Brien who was on the team of the tournament at IC11.  Slightly confusing is the fact that their are actually two Kevin O’Briens in the Irish squad and both play for London club Wandsworth Demons.

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Kevin O’Brien evades PNG at IC11 Grand Final in the MCG

Player of the tournament in The Euro Champs in 2013, former Galway Magpie John O’Regan is absent as he has emigrated and will be missed for his all round footy ability.  Probably the Warriors biggest obstacle in winning their third European Championships is Great Britain.  In 2013 only one point separated the sides with a last gasp goal from Mark Leavy the difference.  At the 2014 International Cup Great Britain had high expectations but probably under performed.  In particular at that tournament they struggled against the free flowing style of the Pacific island teams, with Nauru the team the halted their progress.  With many Warriors have Gaelic games backgrounds it is hoped they can replicate this free flowing game that seems to unhinge team GB.

However only three of the International Cup 2014 GB Bulldogs squad remain, they are Will Worthington, James Talbot & Owain Ryland.  Many of the GB players named will be making their GB Bulldogs debuts after impressing club competitions with others returning to the Bulldogs guernsey after a competing in either IC11 or EC13 Bulldogs campaign.

Irish Warriors’ Squad

Defenders

Muiris Bartley(UCC & Leeside Lions)

Sean Paul Henry(Belfast Redbacks)

Luke Hickey(UCC & Leeside Lions)

Brendan Kelly(Belfast Redbacks)

Stiofán Mac Finn(Wimbledon Hawks)

Tom McKenna(Belfast Redbacks)

Paul Murphy(UCC & Leeside Lions)

Conor O’ Halloran(Leeside Lions)

Eoin Ó Súilleabháin(Leeside Lions)

Tom Stack(Manchester Mosquitoes)

Gerard Walls(Belfast Redbacks)

 

Midfielders

Liam Burns(South Dublin Swans)

Conor Fitzgerald(Wandsworth Demons)

David McElhone(Belfast Redbacks)

Sean McGlinchey(Belfast Redbacks)

Stuart McKeating(Belfast Redbacks)

David Miller(Belfast Redbacks)

Gavin Murray(South Dublin Swans)

Kevin Young Kev O’ Brien(Wandsworth Demons)

Eoin Ó Murchú(Wandsworth Demons)

 

Forwards

Conor Fitzgerald(North London Lions)

Dominic Joyce(Leeside Lions)

Ryan McCloskey(Belfast Redbacks)

Kevin McDonnell(Galway Magpies)

David McGinty(Galway Magpies)

Kevin McSorley(Belfast Redbacks)

Kevin Old Kev O’ Brien(Wandsworth Demons)

Padraic O’ Connell(Leeside Lions)

Cóilín Ó Lordáin(Leeside Lions)

 

Standby/Emergencies

Rory O’ Donnell(UCC & Leeside Lions)

Alan Tobin(Wandsworth Demons)

 

SCHEDULE

DAY ONE – SUNDAY 14TH AUGUST

1pm Irish Warriors v German Eagles

3pm Great Britain Bulldogs v Swedish Elks

 

DAY TWO – TUESDAY 16TH AUGUST

4pm German Eagles v Swedish Elks

6pm Great Britain Bulldogs v Irish Warriors

 

DAY THREE – THURSDAY 18TH AUGUST

1.30pm Great Britain Swans v Irish Banshees

2.15pm Irish Banshees v European Crusaders

3pm European Crusaders v Great Britain Swans

4pm Irish Warriors v Swedish Elks

6pm Great Britain Bulldogs v German Eagles

 

DAY FOUR – FRIDAY 19TH AUGUST

11.30am Irish Banshees v European Crusaders

12.15pm Great Britain Swans v Irish Banshees

1pm European Crusaders v Great Britain Swans

 

DAY FIVE – SATURDAY 20TH AUGUST

1pm Men’s Third Place PO

2.30pm Women’s Grand Final

3.30pm Men’s Grand Final

(The following team previews are based on those that appear on the AFL Europe website that were then reported on World Footy News www.worldfootynews.com)

Ireland Warriors

The team itself is coming together well, blending a mix of youth and experience. With multiple International medal winners like David McElhone and Eoin O’Suilebhain mixing with some really exciting prospects like Stuart McKeating, Paul Murphy and Luke Hickey this Warriors side looks pretty formidable.

The ruck duo of Gavin Murray and Dominic Joyce (Dominic back in Ireland after multiple seasons playing in rural NSW) will be ones to look out for and can be really dominate. They could dictate first use for their midfielders which is key to winning big games.

The improvement shown by players like Sean Paul Henry is going to be vital for the Warriors. His natural athleticism has always had him at the forefront of opposition discussions but not his foot skills have become a focal point of his game which makes him a really exciting prospect for the Irish side.

Great Britain Bulldogs

With a very young looking Bulldog’s squad, many of who are making their international debut, it’ll be very hard to pick who would potentially provide the difference in this tournament. The University of Birmingham keep producing high quality players and their link up with the North London Lions continues to be fruitful. Ross Denton, Jack Coughlan, Jonny Harvey, Andy Walkden, Chris Britton, George Dibble and Michael Sharp have all come through the pipeline and will be worth a watch at EC16.

The London league is seeing impressive performances from the Wimbledon newbies in Myles Hudson, David Hastie, Marc Cashman and Jason Hill, while Alex Watson and David Jordan at the Wandsworth Demons are putting in highly rated performances along with West London Wildcats defender, Lewis Brackstone.

The AFL CNE league continues to churn out new and young talent in Craig Degville, Andrew Cochran and Harry Duffield. More experienced players such as Owain Ryland, Andy Smith, Will Worthington and Luke Booth will be keys to bringing success, through their big tournament experience and years of service to the Bulldogs. All in all, X-Factor performances have the ability to come from the whole GB squad and we’re as excited as anyone to see who’ll shine at the AFL Europe Champs.

Sweden Elks

You can never go past veteran Andy Svensson. The oldest player in the team seems to get younger when he plays footy. Having played since the early 2000s he is a valued member of the team. Andy was a member of the Denmark side that defeated Great Britain back in 1996 when the Helsingborg Saints were members of the Denmark AFL. New Elks, Alex Olsson and Calle Wrang have proved in domestic footy that they can produce, whilst stalwarts Chris Martensson and Hampus Olsson will lead the team with bravado.

One of the most improved players is Buster Sund from Norrtalje. He was just 17 years old at International Cup in 2014 and gained valuably from that experience to become one of the most dominant players in the Stockholm league in the past two years.

German Black Eagles

The Germans are strong across the park and are blessed with the ability to play their players in any position. A few names to keep an eye out for are big bodied midfielder/defender, Florian Naumann, who can take a strong mark overhead and hits very hard. Ruben Streicher is a raw talent who plays as a tall forward or ruckman. He was named in the Euro Cup team of the tournament last year in Croatia and is only going to improve. Jakob Jung is one to watch for the opposition. He has all the attribute of a top-quality midfielder with his speed and skills, he’s also tough as nails so will be hard to stop in the Champs.

Players who have shown significant improvement for the Eagles are Jan Husken and Simon Assmus. Both will be hoping to continue their rapid develop and shake up competition.

 

History in the Making: Women’s European Championships in Australian Football

Some of the Banshees at a recent training session
Some of the Banshees at a recent training session

Irish Banshees’ squad

Claire Donnelly  Ulster Kookaburra’s

Terri Kelly            Dublin Angels

Ciara Mone         Ulster Kookaburra’s

Catherine Collins              Dublin Angels

Emma Kelly         Ulster Kookaburra’s

Fiona Roarty       Ulster Kookaburra’s

Carolann Cassidy              Ulster Kookaburra’s

Olivia McCann   Ulster Kookaburra’s

Onóra Mulcahy Wandsworth Demons

Naomi Curtis      Dublin Angels

Mairead Walsh  Ulster Kookaburra’s

Marley Bevan    Dublin Angels

Ursula Murphy  Irish Exiles AFL

Linda Connolly   Wandsworth Demons

Leona Russell     Ulster Kookaburra’s

Claire Doherty   Ulster Kookaburra’s

Clara Fitzpatrick                Ulster Kookaburra’s

Aisling Gillespie Ulster Kookaburra’s

Edel Gray             Ulster Kookaburra’s

Crea McAleer    Ulster Kookaburra’s

Tracey Moloney               Irish Exiles AFL

Amy O’Donnell  Ulster Kookaburra’s

Nuala O’Hagan  Ulster Kookaburra’s

Colleen Quinn   Ulster Kookaburra’s

Oonagh McAnespey       Ulster Kookaburra’s

Niamh Mc Fadden           Ulster Kookaburra’s

Colleen Mallon  Irish Exiles AFL

Ashleigh Payne                 Dublin Angels

 
The Banshees at IC14
The Banshees at IC14

The below discussion is from World Footy News, more detail on Banshees later in week.

Women have competed at the Euro Cup 9’s since 2010, but the 2016 edition of the European Championships showcases the continuing growth of Women’s Footy across Europe with Great Britain and European Crusaders* joining Ireland in full-field 18-a-side competition.

The Irish Banshees are currently ranked 4th of only four fully Ranked Nations (Played more than 8 International Matches) with 46.81 Rating Points. As Great Britain Swans and the Crusaders debut at this level they begin their international journey with 40.00 Rating Points. It is difficult to predict how the two new teams will measure up against each other and the seasoned campaigners, Ireland, winner of International Cup 2011 and Runners-Up to Canada Northern Lights at IC14.

So if we assume the Higher ranked nation will win more often than not then we could expect to see the Banshees to gain enough rating points (over 2 rounds and final of this tournament) to enable them to climb above United States Freedom into third place behind Australia and Canada.

Great Britain and the European Crusaders will slot in amongst the other provisionally ranked nations possibly at P1 and P4 depending on which team is more successful. Congratulations must be extended to both debutante teams as they join the International Australian Football family of nations

*European Crusaders: Team made up from players from other nations unable to field full 18-a-side teams. This team has players from France, Great Britain and Scandinavia.

Warriors Squad Announced

Joint Head Coaches of the Irish Warriors National Team, Brian Currane and Ciaran O’ Hara have today announced the final squad and standby players for the 2016 AFL Europe Championships which will take place in London in August. All players are asked to contact the coaches by Wednesday of this week to confirm their availability between the dates of August 12th and 20th. The Squad is as follows.

Defenders

Muiris Bartley(UCC & Leeside Lions)

Sean Paul Henry(Belfast Redbacks)

Luke Hickey(UCC & Leeside Lions)

Brendan Kelly(Belfast Redbacks)

Stiofán Mac Finn(Wimbledon Hawks)

Tom McKenna(Belfast Redbacks)

Paul Murphy(UCC & Leeside Lions)

Conor O’ Halloran(Leeside Lions)

Eoin Ó Súilleabháin(Leeside Lions)

Tom Stack(Manchester Mosquitoes)

Gerard Walls(Belfast Redbacks)

 

Midfielders

Liam Burns(South Dublin Swans)

Conor Fitzgerald(Wandsworth Demons)

David McElhone(Belfast Redbacks)

Sean McGlinchey(Belfast Redbacks)

Stuart McKeating(Belfast Redbacks)

David Miller(Belfast Redbacks)

Gavin Murray(South Dublin Swans)

Kevin Young Kev O’ Brien(Wandsworth Demons)

Eoin Ó Murchú(Wandsworth Demons)

 

Forwards

Conor Fitzgerald(North London Lions)

Dominic Joyce(Leeside Lions)

Ryan McCloskey(Belfast Redbacks)

Kevin McDonnell(Galway Magpies)

David McGinty(Galway Magpies)

Kevin McSorley(Belfast Redbacks)

Kevin Old Kev O’ Brien(Wandsworth Demons)

Padraic O’ Connell(Leeside Lions)

Cóilín Ó Lordáin(Leeside Lions)

 

Standby/Emergencies

Rory O’ Donnell(UCC & Leeside Lions)

Alan Tobin(Wandsworth Demons)

 

Swans Fourth at European Champions League

South Dublin Swans were the Irish representatives in the second running of the AFL Europe European Champions League held last Saturday March 19th. This very efficiently run tournament organised by AFL Europe and the Amsterdam Devils was held at the impressive Dutch national rugby centre in suburban Amsterdam.  The tournament has grown since last year with 13 men’s teams and 5 women’s teams participating. The calibre of the competition was high with teams being their league’s champions and each team also allowed four Australians on the pitch at any one time in this 9-a-side format.

Swans Paul O'Halloran against the West London Wildcats
Swans Paul O’Halloran against the West London Wildcats

The Swans had the earliest start of the day at 10am in their four team group. First up was the Russian representatives, the Lazy Koalas on the show pitch in the facility. This was a good opener for the Swans to find their rhythm and they won comfortably by a margin of 62 to 7 in the 24 minute game. The next game was more difficult against the Zagreb Dockers who featured one of the strongest players playing in Europe, Tomislav Cvetko. Although Cvertko did some damage the Swans won again 24 to 14. The final group game turned into the pool decider for a place in the competition semi-finals. This was against the dominant team in Sweden, Sodermalm. This was a very close encounter with nothing between the teams and goals being traded back and forward. The Swans showed great determination to win this one by the slim margin of 28 to 26.

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Brian O’Kane storms through midfield

Having topped the group the Swans had the difficult task to playing reigning Champions League holders, the West London Wildcats in the semi-final. At this stage they had lost full back Peter Ross to injury and others were licking their wounds. Although the Swans opened well, scoring the first goal they could not match the impressive Wildcats who soon took control on the scoreboard and ran out comfortable winners 76 to 6. The Swans didn’t have long to think about that disappointing result as they then played the other beaten semi-finalists, the Hamburg Dockers in the third place playoff. This was a better performance from a tiring Swans team, but they just feel short of another win going down 38 to 23.

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Craig Wood evades a Zagreb Dockers tackler

The West London Wildcats won the tournament for the second year in a row beating the Manchester Mosquitoes in the Grand Final 43 to 13. In the women’s tournament the GB Swans won the Grand Final beating the Swedish Ravens. Overall it was a great experience for the Swans and it was impressive to see the calibre of club teams from all over Europe. Swans small forward Kevin Brennan was the Swans best and fairest over the competition and got onto the team of the tournament.

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Kevin Brennan with his Team of the Tournament jumper

 

Swans team
Swans team

Swans Ready for Europe

South Dublin Swans take on the club champions of Europe next Saturday in Amsterdam in the 2nd running of the AFL Europe Champions League.  This event is for the winners of Aussie Rules leagues across Europe and both men’s and women’s competitions are being played.  In the men’s competition the Swans will have 12 rivals for the title of best club team in Europe.  The opposition include 2015 champions the West London Wildcats and also the 2015 London league champions the North London Lions.

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The Swans are sending a strong team with a full squad of 16 players travelling.  Amongst the Swans are experienced past Irish Warriors Kevin Brennan, Bobby Byrne, Paul O’Halloran, Peter Ross and Darren Sheils.  They also will have talented second season players in Brian O’Kane, Rob Monks and Liam Burns on the plane and experienced Aussies Craig Wood and Darren Snell.  The rest of the squad will include some of the greatest club men in the history of the Swans including Ed Warren, Patrick Cummins,  Noel Tate, Shane Thomas, Omar Mamad and Sean Guerin.

 

The Swans have a long and successful time in ARFLI having won three of the last five Premierships and also being the winner of the most flags in ARFLI history.  However it is going to be a tough task to be crowned Champions League champions but they are expected to but all their energy into bringing the title back to Ireland.

 

Visit www.afleurope.org for details of draw and results.

 

Warriors miss bronze at Euro Cup

The Irish Warriors lost out on a bronze medal in the 2015 Euro Cup 9s tournament in Umag, Croatia last weekend when hosts Croatia Knights kicked a last minute goal to secure a medal.  It was a disappointing end to the tournament they won in 2011 and 2012.  The day started with an easy win against Norway 90 to 1 before a much closer victory over Germany 35 to 20.  That victory set up a semi-final contest against England.  Unfortunately for Ireland they lost that game 23 to 9.  That meant they went into the third place play-off against Croatia.  That game was a close contest but the Warriors had control of the game entering the final minutes.  However a last minute kick secured the bronze medal for the delighted hosts.  Best for the Warriors over the tournament were Ronan Geraghty who set up the play well from midfield and Ryan McCloskey who was the main threat in the forward line.

 

The Warriors squad fielded only three players that played at the 2014 International Cup and their lack of experience was the difference against more seasoned sides like England.  The men’s tournament was won by Denmark who came from behind to eventually beat England by a comfortable margin of 47 to 26.  This year the Irish Banshees didn’t contest in the women’s tournament that was won in impressive fashion by the England Vixens.  Next year the European Championships full sided competition is also being hosted by Croatia, the Warriors will be hoping for better performances then to retain their European title they won in 2010 and 2013.

 

Full results

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Watch the live stream from the tournament here

Redbacks Fly The Flag For Ireland

The Belfast Redbacks will these weekend become the first Irish club to compete in the AFL Europe Champions League in Amsterdam. The team which secured their second premiership in three years last september, complete a remarkable journey having only rejoined the league in 2009 following a hiatus of three years. Everyone involved in Irish Footy wishes the team and management the very best of luck and we know they’ll represent their club, their league and their country with distinction. To keep track of their progress you can find updates on afleurope.org and on AFL Europe’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.

A Real Double Irish

Ireland on course for back to back AFL International Cup triumphs

Having won the men’s and women’s tournaments at the last AFL International Cup in 2011, Ireland are on track for repeat successes in the 2014 competition.   The International Cup is a triennial event conducted by the AFL since 2002, and this year a record number of 18 nations from Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Pacific have participated. The Irish Warriors men’s team will play Papua New Guinea Mosquitoes in the Grand Final on Saturday evening at 4:50pm in the Melbourne Cricket Ground in a repeat of the last final in 2011. This game is the undercard to the 2nd v 3rd blockbuster between Geelong and Hawthorn with over 80,000 attendance expected. The Irish Banshees women’s team will also play their 2011 final rivals the Canada Northern Lights in the Grand Final at Punt Road Oval, home of AFL team Richmond Tigers at 2:10pm on Saturday.

 

The men’s decider is expected to be a close affair with the hard running hand balling style of PNG contrasting with the more direct kicking approach of the taller Irish team.   Ireland have had some close contests before reaching the final after a bruising opening game against Fiji. The group decider against Nauru under lights in Bendigo was only settled in the final quarter and again in the semi-final against South Africa on Tuesday the result was only confirmed late in the game the Warriors eventually won by 25 points 8.5 53 to 4.4 28.

 

Papua New Guinea have been to every International Cup Grand Final since the competition began in 2002 but have won only once in the previous four finals, against New Zealand in 2008. They also lost the 2002 and 2011 finals to Ireland. In the 2014 tournament PNG cruised through their opening two group games against Japan and India before being shocked by South Africa in the group decider going down by nine points.   They managed to get a semi-final spot on score percentage and then had to play many people’s tournament favourites New Zealand in the semi-final. In this game they attacked from the start and were four goals to no score up at the end of the first quarter. New Zealand couldn’t handle their free flowing style and superior ball skills and speed. As the game progressed PNG extended their lead to win 12.3 75 to 4.4 28.

 

PNG danger men include former AFL listed players Gideon Simon and Brendan Beno.   In their semi-final win PNG big man John Ikupu was also very influential working well with busy on-baller Theo Gavuri. Amua Pirika is a real threat at full forward and will have to be watched. One injury doubt for the Mosquitoes is captain, John James Lavai. He had until midway through the third quarter of the game been the best player on the ground against New Zealand Hawks, but then he hobbled off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.

 

The Warriors have a tall side and some of their most influential players are talls, including captain Michael Finn, full forward Padraig Lucey and primary ruckman Paul O’Halloran. They also have a very experienced on-baller in David Stynes who kicked two goals against South Africa and energetic players such as Brendan Browne and Ronan Geraghty in midfield.   However every player will be tested against PNG and the ability to win more of the one-on-one match ups may decide the contest.

 

In the women’s decider Canada have worked hard since their 2011 defeat to Ireland to improve their skills and structures. The work seems to be paying off and they have impressed in their round robin games to date. The Irish Banshees have also made their way to the final with relative ease although have not being scoring as freely as Canada.   Important players for the Banshees will include talls Laura Corrigan, Aimee Louise Hazely and Louise Loughlin. UTS Shamrock Gill Behan will be an important goal kicker and others to watch out for include Paula Keatly and Una McKay.

 

For the Canadians captain Aimee Legault is one to watch along with Ottawa Swan Emma Dickinson and Edmonton Emus duo Brandie Corrigan and Danah Arnold. Based on performances to date the Canada Northern Lights will go in to the final as favourites but if the Banshees can be tight in defence and fluent in attack they could be on course for a repeat victory. Both finals can be watched live on www.aflic14.com.au.

Blu Marine Warriors Through To S/Fs

Ireland’s National Mens Aussie Rules Team, The Blu Marine Irish Warriors are still on track to become the first team to win back to back AFL International Cup titles, following a come from behind win in their final pool game.

Facing the only country other than Australia, where Aussie Rules is the national sport, Nauru; the team showed real character twice coming from behind. Nauru started best, scoring two gaols inside the first minute, but the Warriors responded with two goals and several behinds of their own. In the second quarter Ireland retained their advantage three goals to two. 

Late in the third quarter Nauru scored two goals to take a three point lead, but Padraig Lucey inspired his teammates with his third goal and ensured that Ireland were leading at the last change. In the final quarter, goals by John O’ Regan and two more from Lucey meant a 27 point victory over a team who were also unbeaten to this point.

Prominent for the Warriors were Ronan Geraghty, Kevin McSorley, Player-Coach David Stynes, Mike Finn and Gerard Johnston. 

The Blu Marine Irish Warriors will now play South Africa in the Semi-final on tuesday. Should they win they will defend their title in the MCG next saturday.

Final Score: Ireland 10.6(66) Nauru 6.3(39)

Goals: Padraig Lucey 5, Gerard Johnston 1, David Stynes 1, Ryan McCloskey 1, Mike Finn 1