AFL Euro Champs – Teams Form Guide
There are five nations competing against Ireland in the 2013 AFL European Championships. Here I attempt to produce a from guide for the sides.
Germany Black Hawks
I played against Germany at the last two Euro Cups (annual 9 aside European competition). They have some strong players and in last year’s Euro Cup quarter final caused us lots of bother in the first half. They may be developing at a full-sided nation but could be a surprise packet.
Player to watch: Jakob Jung
Apparently the tallest people in the world, a sure advantage in Aussie Rules they are a proud sporting nation and will leave nothing on the line when it comes to being competitive. They have played many tournaments in Europe and have been competitive. In 2011 they were beaten finalists in the Euro Cup and won it in 2010 beating Ireland in the semi-final. They are being coached by Ireland’s Ciaran O’Hara so they should be a well structured team.
Player to watch: Tomi Cvetko
Swedish coach Dan McClaer says they are some really good athletes in the Swedish squad and although the size of the country can make squad meet ups difficult they go into this tournament with a decent chance of lifting the cup. Their first game is against the Irish and this will probably decide if they make the final. Sweden are experienced, by European terms in playing the full sided game and they have been to International Cups in Australia. Ireland’s last meeting with Sweden was in the group stages of the 2011 International Cup where the Irish had a convincing win.
Player to watch: Erik Sahlin
Great Britain Bulldogs
Great Britain Bulldogs are the team Ireland know most about having played each other frequently due to our proximity. In particular in the Euro Cup there have been some real close encounters with Ireland winning by very narrow margins in the last two Euro Cup semi-finals. However full-sided footy is a different game. Ireland have played GB twice this year as warm ups for this competition. In the first meeting in early April at the Surrey Sports Grounds GB were convincing winners. In the return fixture in Dublin Ireland won 58 to 22. Probably the strongest league outside of Australia is the London league with teams packed full of aussies, a GB qualified player training and playing in this league should have a significant advantage in terms of improvement. Their chances of lifting the cup will be decided on their day 1 encounter with Denmark.
Player to watch: Luke Booth
The Danes are second seeds for this tournament and have really given Ireland some scares in recent times. They were runners-up to Ireland in the 2010 European Championships in a close contest and last September should have beaten Ireland in the Euro Cup final only for Ireland to get two goals inside the last minutes to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. What is impressive about Denmark is their skills. I think they have an 18 round club league in Denmark and the extra games obviously benefit the national players.
Player to watch: Jens Djernes
The players I know most about, they have won every trophy available to an international team in the past years. This includes the 2010 European Championships, the 2011 International Cup and the 2011 and 2012 Euro Cups. However there are only 7 players remaining from the 2010 European winners and only 5 (Eoin O’Suilleabhain, James Flavin, John Enright, Ger Walls and Gerald Lenihan) from the 2011 International Cup team so this squad has limited experience of playing the full sided game. This was demonstrated in the beating they took away to GB Bulldogs in April. Home advantage will help but the Irish will have to be at the top of their game to win this tournament. Denmark look like the biggest obstacle to a home victory but GB could also be a real threat. We’ll know more about everyone’s ability after day 1 on Saturday.
Player to watch: Paul O’Halloran