Tag: Irish Warriors

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)

 

Irish in Australia win Harmony Cup

Well done to the Irish team on winning their first Harmony Cup in Melbourne yesterday.  The one day tournament included eight nations with players being eligible based on their ethnic origin rather than their place of birth.  Several Irish Warriors and some former ARFLI players represented the Irish including; Michael Finn, Jonnie Doherty, Dean Ryan, John Patrick O’Regan, Wayne Reilly, Diarmuid Griffin and Dominic Joyce. Paul Ryan the founder of the former ARFLI club the Midland Tigers was part of the management team. Another notable player was Australian born Michael Dufficy whose father is from Roscommon. Michael was part of the Roscommon Gaelic Football team last season.  AFL legend Ron Barassi, a great supporter of the international dimension of aussie rules presented the trophy and medals to the winning Irish.

2014 Irish Warriors captain Michael Finn and Ron Barassi
2014 Irish Warriors captain Michael Finn and Ron Barassi

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

Irish Warrior Lucey becomes Cat

Report from World Footy News

Irish Australian Rules footballer Padraig Lucey has been snapped up by Geelong for two years as an international rookie. As part of the Ireland Warriors men’s team at this year’s International Cup in Melbourne last month, Padraig has managed to catch the attention of recruiters in a couple of ways.

Not only has he been a contestant on the FOX 8 television show The Recruit, he has also come from a successful International Cup performance for Ireland. In his five games, Padraig booted 14 goals, including impressive bags of five against highly fancied Nauru and a huge six goals against France. He also featured amongst the best players for Ireland in many matches.

According to the Herald Sun article by Adam Baldwin, “Geelong’s ruck crisis is set to see it turn to an Irishman who was last week delisted from a reality television series.
The Herald Sun can reveal Padraig Lucey — a part-time pool lifeguard from County Kerry — will join the Cats on a two-year deal.

The 21-year-old was last week cut from FOX 8 series The Recruit and has been training at local football club Heidelberg.

Lucey, a 204cm ruck prospect, qualifies as a category B rookie under the international player rules and his salary will sit outside the cap — unless he is upgraded to the senior list and plays AFL games.

The Cats have experience acquiring talent outside the usual channels, securing steeplechaser Mark Blicavs — who played 23 games this year — and basketballer Michael Luxford was signed in 2013.

Lucey has a Gaelic football background and first kicked an AFL football 18 months ago via an AFL combine in Ireland run by fellow Kerry man and Sydney premiership play Tadhg Kennelly.

He represented the European Legion against the AIS earlier this year, before accepting an invitation to be on The Recruit.”

Padraig is a product of one of Ireland’s newest Australian Rules clubs, the UCC Bombers, which is a huge pat on the back for the team from Cork to be unearthing such talent.

This is a fantastic opportunity for Padraig to continue the production line of Irish players who have succeeded in coming into AFL ranks. And at 204cm, Padraig will certainly be looking at plenty of time in the ruck, or even as a key position player, having played for Ireland in both roles and being selected in the World team, made from the best performed players at the International Cup, as the centre half forward.

For full Herald Sun story on Padraig, go to – http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/afl…7061191164

Review of Warriors IC Grand Final

Heartbreak for BluMarine Irish Warriors as PNG gain sweet revenge

Report by John Corrigan

The BluMarine Irish Warriors suffered a heart breaking three point loss in the grand final of the 2014 International Cup at the MCG on Saturday August 23rd. Following an epic contest the Warriors went down to a skilful Papua New Guinea Mosquitoes outfit despite leading for virtually the entire contest. Two late goals by the Mosquitos saw them take the title for the first time since 2008, gaining sweet revenge having lost to Ireland in the previous final in 2011.

Full of speed and slick skills the PNG outfit dominated possessions and inside 50 entries for long periods but without a tall presence in the forward line were unable to make it show on the score board. Ireland in contrast were led in attack by tournament best and fairest winner Mick Finn who kicked 3 goals in the first quarter and four in total. Ireland’s full forward Padraig Lucey was equally impressive in the air but failed to take full advantage on the score board,  kicking 1 goal 4 behinds with two out on the full.

The Warriors started the game in the ascendency with David McElhone running off half back and Muiris Bartley winning plenty of ball. Following a free kick for a high tackle Finn shot truly for the opening goal. Joseph Peni was heavily involved for the Mossies but he could do little to stop Finn as he took a huge contested mark from Pauric Smith’s pass. Finn scored his second major from the resulting kick and his third followed swiftly as he chased down and tackled a PNG defender.

PNG started to gain a foot hold in the match as their dynamic ruckman John Ikupu began to have a huge influence. Crucially they managed to get on the score board at the death of the first quarter.  Gregory Ekari found Jeconiah Peni who went back and kicked an excellent goal after the siren off a slight angle from 48 meters.

Continuing their newly found momentum the Mossies kicked two behind to open the quarter with Pena Wingti outstanding off the half back flank. They found reward for their play when Archie Mai kicked the only goal of the quarter with an inspired left foot snap from the pocket following a ball up. The Irish only managed two behinds for the quarter as their forwards were starved of opportunities and the unforced errors began to mount. Lucey took a pack mark and found Padraig Fanning in acres of space. He steadied and shot from 40 meters only to see his shot sail just to the left for a minor score. However despite being under the cosh the Warriors took a narrow five point lead into the long break.

The Warriors knew that they would have to lift their intensity and stick more tackles if they were to remain in front. This they did with renewed vigor but were unable to halt the waves of attack from the PNG army of runners. Ikupu’s influence was coming more pronounced as the Irish defense came under intense pressure. But for an outstanding display from Alan Farrell, who took several incept marks, and the excellent Brendan Browne PNG would have taken command. It was Ireland however who scored the first goal of the quarter. Lucey took another strong mark, played in field to Fanning who in turn found Sean Paul Henry in the pocket. He marked brilliantly and played on to kick a goal and give Ireland a 10 point advantage.

PNG continued to threaten with Peni and Luke Savere controlling midfield. They edged back into the contest with another excellent snap from the boundary as a clean tap in the ruck from Ikupu to Gideon resulted in a fine goal. Savere was at the heart of most of the Mossies go forward ball but the Irish held firm to take slender 3 point advantage into the final break.

PNG got the critical first goal for the fourth quarter; Theo Gavuri, earned a free kick following a high fend off from Wayne Reilly, found Brendan Beno on the lead who slotted it through. With Farrell again reading the game superbly and Gerard Johnston to the fore, Ireland powered forward. Player coach David Stynes received a free kick and found Finn who crashed the pack to mark strongly. He proved his class once again to kick a vital goal from 45 meters to increase Ireland’s narrow advantage.

PNG reacted by lifting their running game to new level, looking to play on at all times and use their pace to stretch the Irish defence. The Warriors hung on desperately as the Mossies continued to dominate possession. Ikubu was everywhere, winning the ruck contests despite giving up a height advantage and taking mark after mark across the field. Eventually the pressure told as Ikubu drifted forward to take a spectacular mark in from the side of a contest. He kicked it straight over the goal umpires head from 15 meters to see PNG take the lead for the first time with only 4 minutes left on the clock.

With Ireland pushing forward Scott Johnson found himself all alone with ball in hand. He picked out Beno who had his arms chopped, only 15 meters from goal. His simple goal brought the lead to 9 points which proved too much for the Irish despite Lucey’s late goal.

Time ran out for the Warriors and the final siren provoked wild celebrations from the PNG players, staff and vocal supporters. Their superior running game and an ability to impose their game style on the opposition saw them run out worthy winners. Ikupu was deservedly awarded the medal for best on ground for his outstanding all round display.

While the Warriors will no doubt be proud of their intensity and work rate, unforced errors, missed tackles and turnover ball proves costly as the growing pressure on the back line eventually told. With an average age of just 21 the fitness and work rate of the PNG side eventually told but there were pushed to the limit by the Warriors. The Irish were devastated at the climax but can feel immense pride having come so close to doing what no other country has managed, retain the International Cup.

PNG:       1.2   2.5    3.8   6.9   (45)

Ireland:    3.2   3.4   4.5   6.6   (42)

GOALS

PNG: Beno 2, Ikupu, Gideon, So-ong, Agita

Ireland: Finn 4, Henry, Lucey.

BEST

PNG: Ikupu, Beno, Simon, Guvuri, Peni

Ireland: Finn, Farrell, McElhone, Henry, B Browne

 

Watch a full replay of the game here http://www.afl.com.au/global/aflic14/streaming

 

AFL Media photos

2014 International Cup Grand Final - Ireland v PNG
Ireland captain Mick Finn
2014 International Cup Grand Final - Ireland v PNG
Padraig Lucey
2014 International Cup Grand Final - Ireland v PNG
Gerard Johnston
2014 International Cup Grand Final - Ireland v PNG
player/head coach David Stynes
2014 International Cup Grand Final - Ireland v PNG
Ronan Geraghty

 

John Corrigan photos

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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 Battle Past South Africa

Ireland 0-0, 4-1, 5-3, 8-5 (53)

South Africa 0-2, 1-3, 4-4, 4-4 (28)

 

Ireland: Lucey 2, Stynes 2, Finn, Joyce, O’Halloran, Geraghty

South Africa: Mongia, Sokoyi, Moshoeshoe, Sobetwa.

Best players;

Ireland: O’Regan, McElhone, Joyce, Conor O’Halloran, Lucey, Stynes.

South Africa: Funda, Pani, Phakedi, Mkhize, T.J Moagi, Moshoeshoe

The Irish Warriors dream of claiming back to back International Cup titles remains on track as they fought off a skilful South African Lions outfit to set up a Grand Final re-match with Papua New Guinea. Despite failing to register a score in the opening period the Warriors took control, nullifying the South African’s running game in the second half winning by 25 points.

The game started at a frantic pace with both sides nullifying the other through disciplined defence. The Irish were finding it difficult to find their tall forward targets with Padraig Lucey and Mick Finn being doubled teamed when on the lead. The Warriors suffered a blow with ruckman Paul O’Halloran being forced off with a shin injury as two behinds to South Africa saw them take a slender advantage into the first break.

Playing with the wind the Irish managed to impose themselves in the second quarter with David McElhone winning plenty of ball. He provided the spark for the first goal of the game as he picked out Lucey who marked and goaled from 30 meters. Theirs second followed quickly with player coach David Stynes goaling with an inspired left foot snap from the boundary. The Lions tried to hit back with Atang Moshoeshoe showing great run off half back and Khayalethu Sikiti winning the contested ball.

Their efforts proved fruitful as small forward Marco Mongia kicked the Africans first goal of the contest following a free kick from 35 meters. A snapped goal to Ronan Geraghty and a second to David Stynes stretched the Irish lead to 16 points at half time.

Within a minute of the re-start South Africa got back in the contest with a crumbed goal to Vuyisile Sokoyi following a monster 70 meter torpedo kick from Tshoboko Moagi. The Lions increased their intensity in the 3rd quarter and with TJ Moagi heavily involved they continued to make inroads into the Irish lead. A further goal to Moshoeshoe saw them narrow the gap to just 4 points but disaster struck for the Lions when a moment of ill discipline, 100 meters off the ball, led to Cameron Daly receiving a red card.

With the change in momentum evident, Mick Finn took a strong mark just 10 meters out for an easy conversion. A late goal to Bayanda Sobetwa kept the game in the balance going into the last break with Ireland only leading by 5 points.

Playing a man down began to take its toll on the Lions as the Irish dominated the final quarter with Dominic Joyce having an increased influence. He marked directly from a South African kick out, played on and kicked it straight over the goal umpires head for a major. Further goals to Lucey and Conor O’Halloran sealed the victory as the Irish eventually won by 25 points with the Lions unable to trouble the scorers in the final quarter.

Having only come together as a squad a few days before the tournament the Irish started slowly but have improved with every performance and appear to be hitting their stride going into the final. Their forward line did not function as they would have liked today but they did enough against a strong South African side. The Lions will be very disappointed as they were aiming to make the Grand Final for the first time. Having produced an outstanding performance to beat PNG last Saturday they now will have to regroup for the 3rd/4th place play off against New Zealand on Friday. While the Lions can take pride in the progress they have made since the 2011 event they are left to wonder what might have been. The Irish in contrast will eye the ultimate prize at the MCG as they attempt to become the first team in the short history of the tournament to win consecutive titles.

 

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