Posts tagged ‘Aussie Rules’

Grand Final Preview


Saturday is Grand Final day at the AFL European Championships with Ireland Warriors and Great Britain Bulldogs facing off at 4pm at DCU sportsgrounds.   This promises to be an exciting final between teams that are frequent opponents.  The form line for this tournament are the games both teams played against Sweden and Denmark.  GB had a 20 point win over Sweden on Game Day 3 and Ireland eked out a one goal advantage over the Swedes on Game Day 1 when Sweden may have been fresher.   Against Denmark both Ireland and GB had near identical performances, losing for the first three quarters to win by 10 points at the final hooter.

So we are expecting a very close tussle on Saturday that may not be decided until late in the final quarter.   I thought that GB might have an easy final game of their group against Sweden as they had already qualified for the final.  However they couldn’t rest up and had to work hard to secure the victory.  In contrast Ireland were expected to have the tougher game against Croatia.  The Croats could have still qualified for the Grand Final if they won, however the Warriors had an easy victory.

A pivotal player for GB is ruckman Anthony Trigg, who was absent on Thursday but is back for the final.  The big 205cm Melbourne based Trigg who was selected on team of the tournament at the 2011 International Cup.   His battle with Ireland’s inform Paul O’Halloran will be interesting and may decide the outcome of the final.  Other impressive performers for the British team are Mark Ireland and Ian Mitchell.  Sean Walton, who has gained experience playing for the European Legion team against Australia’s elite underage players is another that is expected to have a big impact.  Top scoring forwards are South Cardiff Panthers’ big full forward Chris James and Birmingham Bears’ Sam Willatt and both these players will need to be watched closely by the Irish defence.

Aside from my South Dublin Swan teammate Paul O’Halloran, others that have impressed for Ireland include the captain and follower John O’Regan who has been involved in much of the best play engineered by the home team.  The Irish defence has worked had applying pressure to their opponents with the likes of Derryman Sean Paul Henry and Rebel Conor O’Halloran performing well.   I hope another defender, Eoin O’Suileabhain will be fit for the final after limping off on Tuesday, as his experience from previous European and International Cup competitions would be beneficial.  The forwards have shared the workload with big full forward Brian O’Connell an obvious threat.  Brian’s younger Leeside Lions teammate Muiris Bartley has been a menace to opposition defences with his high energy efforts and another Lion, Brain Roche has made some important contributions, in particular his two goals in the final quarter against Denmark.  Ireland seem to have no shortage of attacking flair and the experienced Kerryman James Flavin, who already has one European Championship medal to his name,  is also expected to be an important forward in the final.

So who is going to win?  Having trained and played with the Warriors for the past three seasons I might be biased, but with their greater experience of playing and winning finals and the home advantage I think the Warriors will sneak it.  However expect a close and full blooded contest as whatever the sport there is never a shortage of commitment when Ireland play their nearest neighbour.

Other games on Saturday are the 5th and 6th place play-off between Croatia and Germany, I expect a repeat of game day 1 with a Croatia victory in what should be a close game.  The 3rd and 4th place game is between neighbours Sweden and Denmark.  Denmark will be very disappointed to not be contesting the final after final quarter hiccups against both GB and Ireland.  They have some fantastic footy players and I expect them to get something from this tournament by winning this game.

So if you can come down on Saturday, game times are 12pm, 2pm and the Grand Final is 4pm.  If you can’t make it watch live on


August 9, 2013 at 9:45 pm Leave a comment

Euro Champs Round 2 wrap

Round 2 of the European Aussie Rules Championships in DCU, Dublin was a contrast to the wet and windy conditions endured last Saturday, it might even have been described as warm on game day 2 (well warm by Irish standards if not aussie ones).  Now I’ve got the compulsory discussion for an Irishman about the weather out of the way I’ll get down to talking about the footy. The middle day of the group stages had some very competitive clashes and periods of impressive footy.  It was make or break time for some teams and a chance to make the Grand Final for one.  First up were the Croats against the Swedes.  On Sunday Croatia went to support Mayo at the Gaelic Football at Croke Park and even bumped into the All-Ireland trophy, Sam Maguire.

Croatia meets Sam

Croatia meets Sam

Mayo have a tall burly midfielder called Aidan O’Shea who won man of the match on Sunday, looking at Croatia it feels like they have a team of Aidan O’Sheas such is their height and physical presence.  I think Sweden knew they were in a game where ice baths would be needed afterwards.  This was a keenly contested contest from the first bounce with a contrast in styles where Sweden wished to avoid contact and Croatia’s preference for using their height and strength to charge straight down the oval.

Aidan O'Shea (8) on Sunday

Aidan O’Shea (8) on Sunday

Sweden’s greater experience and structure had them ahead for most of the game but then Croatia’s direct approach started to yield goals and they were the width of the goal post away from levelling midway through the final quarter.   However late on Swedish ruckman David Wahlberg goaled to give Sweden a nine point lead before the final siren sounded.   Final score 5.2 32 to 5.11 41. Even though Croatia lost, a win against the Irish Warriors on Thursday evening would see them advance to the Grand Final, so they still have a lot to play for.  Perhaps County Mayo head coach James Horan will be drafted in for words of encouragement before Thursday’s game?

The second game of sunny Tuesday was Great Britain against Germany.  Both team’s have some serious ‘High Towers’ with Great Britain’s Anthony Trigg measuring 205cm tall or 6 foot 10 inches as the Brits would say.  Trigg was picked as the ruckman for the International Cup 2011’s World XVIII team.  He is also playing with Melbourne VFL team Northern Blues only one step below AFL, this is also Carlton’s feeder team and Irish AFL pros Zach Tuohy and Setanta O’Halpin would have learned their trade at the Blues.  However the crafty Germans were prepared for this and had an equally tall ruckman, meaning Trigg never got it easy.  I’m not sure what they feed these guys or is it just that they were stretched on a rack when they were younger?

Welshman Anthony Trigg

Welshman Anthony Trigg

Great Britain always had control of this game against a determined German side.  Trigg did a lot of good work for the winners and Ian Mitchell was spraying some very nice passes from midfield setting up a platform for another giant, South Cardiff Panther’s Chris James to score a tournament high 4 goals.  Not surprisingly Germany had to defend a lot and their full back Fabian Cordts of Hamburg Dockers, who you would swear was an aussie when speaking English repelled team GB time after time in an impressive display. Final score 9.12 66 to 2.3 15.  This result means Great Britain have secured their first ever European Grand Final spot with a game to spare.  They do not know their opponents yet but it could be any team from Pool A.

Ireland Warriors

Ireland Warriors

The final game of the evening was the big clash of the number 1 and 2 seeds, Ireland and Denmark.  They know each other well having contested last year’s Euro Cup final and the 2010 European Championships final with Denmark losing both these games by very narrow margins.  As this game proceeded it looked like the Vikings would get revenge as they opened a 4 goals to none lead at the first break.  They continued their dominance to half time leading 32 to 16.  The Danes were showing greater composure than the Warriors with more accurate kicking and better marking being rewarded on the scoreboard.

At three-quarters time Ireland were still down by 15 points and it didn’t look that promising.  However as Ireland surged in the last quarter Denmark seemed to wilt as they also had done on Game 1 against Great Britain.  Two goals by Corkman Brian Roche, who had a stormer of a final quarter followed by one by the experienced Kerryman James Goose Flavin had Ireland in the lead for the first time in the game.  The icing on the cake was when South Dublin Swans ruckman Paul O’Halloran turned his man to kicked the sealing goal at the siren.  After last year’s Euro Cup final, I said Denmark snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.  I think the Danes will feel the same about this one.

James Flavin reaches for the mark

James Flavin reaches for the mark

It was a good days footy with Great Britain in the final and the possibility of either Sweden, Ireland or Croatia joining them.  If the Irish Warriors can beat Croatia on Thursday they are in the Grand Final, however Croatia might have other ideas, hopefully James Horan is busy elsewhere in the coming days….

Watch live match footage on game day here

Watch replays here

Follow the tournament here

Next fixtures on Thursday all at DCU sports grounds

August 8, 2013Dafllogo2012Denmark VikingsGermanyGermany Black Eagles 3:00 pm
August 8, 2013SwedenSwedish ElksBritainGB Bulldogs 5:00 pm
August 8, 2013Warriors-01Irish WarriorsCroatiaCroatia Knights 7:00 pm

August 7, 2013 at 9:56 am Leave a comment

Euro Champs Round 1 Review


The AFL European Championships opened on Saturday in showery windy conditions that made ball handling difficult at times.  The opening game between Denmark and Great Britain had a surprise result with 2010 Euro Championship fourth GB overturning 2010 runners-up Denmark.  It might have been the first time Ireland played for Great Britain with Sheffield Thunder’s Mark Ireland being a goal scorer.  The Danes led for the first three quarters but GB pushed on in the final quarter to win 7.1 43 to 4.9 33.  I didn’t see much of this game because of tournament duties but from the score board it seems the Danes were wasteful in front of goal with GB being very accurate kicking just one behind.  The result now means Great Britain are on track for the Grand Final but the Danes will now have to beat Ireland on Tuesday to retain hope of advancing.


Game two was hosts Ireland against Sweden.  Conditions were difficult in this game with some heavy rain at times making good footy difficult.  It was the lowest scoring game of the three played with Ireland winning by a slim margin of one goal 3.4 22 to 2.4 16.  The Irish goals came from Derryman Sean Paul Henry, Co Cork’s Brian Stretch O’Connell and the Kingdom’s Vince Manning.  Irish head coach Shaun McElhone will be thankful to come away with a win in a game that was always close.  Another win will be required against the stung Denmark Vikings on Tuesday to keep Ireland’s Grand Final ambitions on track.  Ireland defender Kevin McSorley was yellow carded near the end of this game and after a tribunal hearing will miss Tuesday’s clash with the Danish Vikings.

The final game of the day was Croatia against Germany.  The Croats sporting some unusual haircuts opened the game with wind advantage and a flurry of goals with six coming in the opening quarter.  Croatia forward Ivan Ivos was one player that impressed with his strong marking and accurate kicking and with three goals currently leads the golden boot competition.  In the second quarter with the wind the Germans recovered kicking 3.2 without reply to reduce the deficit to three goals at half time.  The second half of the game was keenly contested but defences become more frugal only coughing up 3 more goals between both teams, final score 7.5 47 to 5.3  33.  As I expected the Croats are a strong, tall and very athletic team. I was impressed with there marking and accurate goal kicking and they look like they will trouble any team they play.  After a slow start the Germans found their rhythm and put together some fine passages of play.  The Germans will be disappointed to lose but encouraged by their competitiveness and will look forward to Tuesday’s meeting with Great Britain.


A great innovation for this tournament is that the matches are being transmitted live and can also be watched later on youtube.  This allows us all review a game as it can be a bit of a blur in real time.  It will be interesting to see how coaches use this extra information to identify team’s key players and patterns of play.  Having watched the Ireland Sweden game again and talked to some of the Irish players they found their isn’t much time on the ball as players are pressing the opposition constantly and the relatively small size of the oval means there aren’t that many open spaces to charge into.

Saturday wasn’t ideal conditions for footy as it was both windy and wet.  My iphone weather app states it will be highs of 21C and sunny for the rest of the week, so fingers crossed for players, spectators and volunteers that the weather will behave!

Watch live match footage on game day here

Watch replays here

Follow the tournament here

Next fixtures on Tuesday all DCU sports grounds

August 6, 2013SwedenSwedish ElksCroatiaCroatia Knights3:00 pm
August 6, 2013BritainGB BulldogsGermanyGermany Black Eagles5:00 pm
August 6, 2013Warriors-01Irish WarriorsDafllogo2012Denmark Vikings7:00 pm

August 4, 2013 at 11:49 pm Leave a comment

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

Croatia Knights

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

Sweden Elks

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

Denmark Vikings

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

Ireland Warriors

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

August 1, 2013 at 10:15 am Leave a comment

Ireland ready for 2013 European Aussie Rules Championships


The biggest single event ever in Irish Aussie Rules is nearly upon us. The second AFL Europe Championship will take place at DCU Sportsground, Dublin from August 3rd to 10th.  My local club South Dublin Swans will have three players on the 26 man Irish squad, ruckman Paul O’Halloran, defender Shane Liddy and forward Bobby Byrne.  Unfortunately I miss out having dislocated my shoulder on May 27th, the championships are probably a week too soon for me to prove my fitness.  The Irish Warriors are the reigning champions having won the 2010 tournament in Sweden and then went on to win the 2011 International Cup in the MCG in Melbourne.

The six nations competing are the best Aussie Rules playing nations in Europe.  They are Ireland, Great Britain, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Croatia.  Ireland are favourites based on current rankings but are expected to be challenged hard for the title by the very consistent Danes and the strong GB and Swedish teams.  Both Croatia and Germany are expected to be athletic teams with plenty of height around the oval and could spring a surprise or two.  There is clear evidence the rest of Europe is rapidly catching up with Ireland with more players dedicating themselves to the sport.  Last September Ireland were fortunate winners of the Euro Cup 9 aside tournament being pushed to the siren by both England and the Danes who somehow lost a game they looked certain to win after a very late goal by Corkman Muiris Bartley.  Also this spring at the Surrey Sports Grounds the Great Britain Bulldogs had a convincing win over an understrength Irish team although the result was reversed in the return fixture in Islandbridge in April.

I think this tournament is a great opportunity to showcase Aussie Rules in Ireland.  The Irish national team have had some magnificent results on foreign shores in recent years and now there’s a chance for the Irish sporting public to support this winning team.  Many people have seen the game on TV but this is a chance to see the game up close.

All tournament news and details can be found at the official website Anyone wishing to purchase their tickets for the championship can also do so at the official site.  Although it looks like I’ll be busy volunteering next week I plan to have match day blogs during the tournament to update everyone on events in DCU.

July 29, 2013 at 4:01 pm Leave a comment

Irish eyes are smiling once more

The victorious South Dublin Swans teammates

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, 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.

September 26, 2012 at 11:19 pm Leave a comment

Swans win the Premiership

South Dublin Swans 2011 Premiers

My team the South Dublin Swans have won the Jeep ARFLI Premiership for 2011.  Here’s the match report.

The South Dublin Swans have won the Jeep Irish Aussie Rules Premiership after a hard fought win against the Cork based Leeside Lions in Durrow, Co Laois last week, final score 6 goals and 9 points 45 to 5 goals and 7 points 37. 

The Swans got to this stage after a close semi-final victory against the Mid-West Magpies.  Their Grand Final opponents Leeside Lions had a much smoother path to the decider with an easy semi-final win over the Dublin Demons and may have been slight favorites based on this performance.  From last year’s team the Swans had lost a few players including big ruckman Paul O’Halloran, however another big man, Tom Russell made this position his own in 2011.  The Swans also had three players that played in the victorious 2011 International Cup that Ireland won in the Melbourne Cricket Ground in August, full forward, Manus Breathnach, half back James O’Byrne and midfielder, Darren Sheils. 

The game was played 14-aside with the Swans defense of Moose, Louis, Peter, Rambo, Noel and Dec. In the middle was ruckman Tom and midfielder rotation between Mick Hurley, Daz, Scotty and Freddie Romar.  In the forwards were Marty, Chucky, Bobby, Manus, Simon, Rhino and Kev.  Further interchange options were available from Pat, Niall and Dara.  The only unavailable player from the tight semi-final victory was Conor Evans who was overseas.  Other players that contributed over the year including Byrce, Neil Lester and Eddie could not tog out because of injury.

The Leeside Lions were aiming for their first Premiership since 2007 and opened the game better playing with a moderate wind on their backs.  They led at quarter time by 15 points to 8.  The Swans overturned this deficit in the second quarter keeping the Lions scoreless and adding three goals to their tally to led 4.5 29 to 2.3.15 at half-time.  Much to the fore in the second quarter was big Swans full forward Manus Breathnach who was causing the Lions defence a lot of problems.

On the resumption of the third quarter the Lions came back strongly with some composed play from Irish Warriors captain Cian Quigley and fellow international Eoin O’Suilleabhain in the Lions half-back line.  At the end of the penultimate quarter the Lions were right back in it being just two points behind 5.7. 37 to 5.5. 35

It was now make or break time in the game and some committed performances were required all over the park by the Swans.  The Swans had the wind in the final quarter and managed to bag another goal to makes things a little more comfortable.  However with time running out the Lions continued their patient build up play but their desire to retain possession over field position meant they ran out of time in the end.  The Lions had an after the siren kick that they missed meaning the Swans won by a narrow eight point margin.  On the final siren it was elation for the Swans players and supporters who have now won back to back premierships, a fine achievement for this proud South Dublin club.  Best on ground in the final was Swans ruckman Tom Russell who outplayed his opponent, former Irish international Brian O’Connell.  A great achievement for Tom in his first season playing Aussie Rules.

South Dublin Swans goalscorers: Manus Breathnach 4, Michael Hurley 1, Nick Pigdon 1`

The joyous journey back to Dublin

October 3, 2011 at 12:02 pm Leave a comment

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