Semi-finals here we come
After yesterday’s win over Nauru we are now in the International Cup semi-finals. The game was played under lights at Queen Elizabeth Oval in Bendigo after the local derby between Castlemaine and South Bendigo. There are strong Irish connections with this part of Australia so it was great to go there for a game. In fact Ian Bracken from the Castlemaine club founded the Belfast Redbacks club and played in the very first Aussie Rules game in Ireland. I’m sure he was a proud man yesterday to see how far Irish Aussie Rules has come to be playing an international footy match in his locality.
The Castlemaine club was formed in 1859, it is the second oldest documented football club in Australia after the Melbourne Football Club and it has produced a large number of notable Australian rules footballers. The club was formed in an era before codified rules and organised competition, without a league to participate in, the club was an irregular competitor during its first decade. Sounds very similar to the early years of ARFLI.
The South Bendigo and Castlemaine clubs showed us great hospitality providing us with everything from trainers to after game food, they even supplied us with sandwiches immediately after the game! The game itself was a close affair with Nauru using their running game to good effect whereas we tried to dominate with our talls. It was only in the last quarter that we managed to pull away with Kerry man Padraig Lucey making a significant contribution at full forward kicking five goals to add to the five he got against France. At the final hooter we had 27 points to spare but we knew it had been a real contest. Earlier in the day I heard the surprising news that South Africa had beaten PNG by 9 points. This means we now play South Africa in the semi-final at 1:30pm Tuesday in Royal Park. They’ll be tough opponents to beat.
On a personal note I had an injury ridden week, after being tackled on kicking the ball against Fiji in the opening game I limped off after less then 5 minutes game time. The rest of Sunday through the whole week my chiropractor wife Tammy and I have been working round the clock to get the swelling down around my ankle and healed. By the miracle of chiropractic I was back training at full pace by Thursday after being a cripple on Monday. By yesterday’s game I was 100%. Having prepared for this tournament from as far back as 2011, I have no time for injuries to get in my way now. So we march on to Tuesday, it should be an exciting day where we hope to avenge the controversial playing on after the siren 2008 International Cup third/fourth place playoff defeat to the South Africans.