Irish eyes are smiling once more
What a fantastic weekend in Edinburgh for the 2012 AFL Euro Cup. The Warriors robbed the cup from Denmark in a last gasp theft by unusual suspect Muiris Bartley. Perhaps it was justice for the many years the Vikings came from Denmark to pillage Ireland. The women’s team, the Banshees also played a game against a European selection eventually winning after a close tussle. What was encouraging from this game was its competitive nature with some impressive players and skills shown by both sides.
Match day began for me at the unearthly hour of 6:50am. After some Sun Warrior activated barley, some granola and a banana I had enough good low GI foods to keep me well powered for the day ahead. We were at the grounds by 8am and there was frost on the ground! However the sun was out and there was no wind. Our first game was at 9am against Finland. I had a kick about on Thursday with one of their team, Freddie Romar, as he is also a South Dublin Swan, however I didn’t give away any team secrets and we beat them comfortably. Wins followed against Spain and the Czech Republic, who were in the competition for the first time.
At this stage we had a good break before our quarter-final so we all had some more food and a little rest. Our next opponents were Germany. They put up a fair fight in the first half of the game but we ran over them in the second half. Our semi-final was against England. An age old rivalry if ever there was one, the English came very close to beating the Warriors last year in this tournament and they had a very professional preparation, having played two international nine-a-side tournaments in recent weeks. The English started better and had the lead in the first half. In these games of only 24 minutes every score is important as there isn’t much time to recover from a slow start. However we clawed back the lead with particular spirit shown by Rebel Eoin O’Suilleabhain. Final score; England 4.1(25) Ireland 7.4(46).
So the final was a repeat of the 2010 European 16-a-side final against the Danish Vikings. Denmark has one of the oldest leagues in Europe and their players are experienced with an average of about 65 games per player. Nine players were in the International Cup 2011 squad. This experience was far greater than some of the Warriors and this told in the game as we struggled to contain the fast and accurate Danes. The men in red and white led at the break and it really looked bleak for us as with only 60 seconds on the clock we were still 11 points in arrears. However a goal on the run from the ever reliable John O’Regan gave us a lifeline and after winning the next centre bounce the ball ended in Cork blonde bombshell Muiris Bartley’s grasp whose nerveless kick from an tight angle to the left of centre went between the big posts to put us 1 point up. There was time for no more, we had robbed the Danes, but no one ever remembers how you win only that we did it! It was a comeback the late great Jim Stynes, who we remembered on the Irish guernsey would have been proud of, final score; Denmark 4.5(29) Ireland 5.0(30)
back row l to r: Paul Redmond, Bobby Byrne, David Lally, Ryan McCloskey, Kevin McSorley, Gerard Walls, Sean McElhone (coach), Sean McMahon, Sean Paul Henry, John O’Regan, Kevin O’Brien, Richie Duignam
front row l to r: Eoin O’Suilleabhain, Peter Ross, Muiris Bartley, John Enright, Kevin Brennan, Paul Ryan (manager).
Personally I feel very sorry for the Danes, but after losing this year’s Irish Aussie Rules League Premiership semi-final by a slim margin I didn’t want to experience that feeling again this year. So we won and I’m delighted to have a very impressive looking winner’s medal and be a Euro Cup champion. The closeness of the top teams also means next year’s full sized European Championships being hosted in Dublin next summer will be very exciting.
At the medal presentation AFL Europe coordinator Ben McCormack said the final was the best game of footy he had seen in Europe. Former Melbourne Demon star Glen Lovett was on hand to award the medals. At the awards function later that night two Irish players were selected on the team of the tournament, midfielders Kevin O’Brien and Ger Walls. My teammate from the Europe Crusaders last year, Luke Booth playing for England this year also got a team of tournament guernsey.
My wife and team chiropractor Tammy and me, special thanks to Tammy for having me 110% for the tournament.
The best looking medal I’ve ever won
The winners and runners up
The winning Irish Banshees
Close up of Jim Stynes Melbourne number 11 guernsey on the Irish guernsey
Making it into Melbourne’s highest selling daily the Herald Sun, http://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/irish-warriors-beats-denmark-vikings-to-win-euro-cup-in-edinburgh/story-fn9eu7in-1226480233036?sv=5d73f1e6c1c081b2bb72aa6fed41e801 right beside the report of the Sawns defeat of the Magpies, funny enough the other story in this image is about Heidelburg losing the Melbourne Northern Football League Grand Final. Irish Aussie Rules star Mick Finn and hero of the 2011 IC Grand Final plays for them.