Anzac Cup 2016 – Australian Applications

The 2016 Anzac Cup will comprise of both a Men’s and Women’s Australia v France match.

If you wish to represent Australia and are an ex-pat currently living or travelling through Europe please fill in the application form explaining why this would be a special match for you to play in. Playing abilities are not the focus, we are more interested in personal connections to the area or the armed forces and the ANZAC’s special history. In the tradition of the ANZAC spirit kiwi’s are also more than welcome to apply.

Applications to play will cost £90, this includes a full Australian kit (playing jumper, shorts and socks) as well as a team tracksuit (bottoms and jacket), a dinner after the match and three nights billeted accommodation (Fri, Sat & Sun).

The matches will take place on Saturday 23rd April, followed by a dinner with all involved. Sunday will be more relaxed with a visit to the memorial then Monday morning Dawn Service will be attended as a full Australian group, after the Dawn Service you’re welcome to head home or explore the incredibly beautiful area and the other surrounding memorials.

Any questions, please email Sarah Ongarello on – if there is enough interest, a coach may be organised from London to Villers-Bretonneux, please enquire if interested.

*Please note applications are open to both Australians and Kiwis.

Fitzpatrick Cup 2016

With the competition returning to Birmingham for the second year running it was always going to be a tough ask of any team to prise the  Fitzpatrick cup out of the University of Birmingham trophy cabinet. This proved true with UoB retaining their title beating 2013 winners UCC Bombers in the final.

Six teams competed in the Universities Fitzpatrick cup on Sunday 24th January 2016 with a 50/50 split of English & Irish teams. University College Cork (UCC) were able to bring two team across and Maynooth also competed in their first competition showing encouraging Higher Education growth from Ireland!

The pool stages saw some competitive matches including a draw between Oxford and UCC2. This left Oxford topping pool B on percentage- full pool standings and results below:

Pool A standings:
1. University of Birmingham
2. University College Cork 1
3. Cambridge

Pool results: UoB 3.3.21 def UCC1 1.4.10; UCC1 5.3.33 def Cambridge 0.1.1; UoB 7.5.47 def Cambridge 4.4.28

Pool B standings:
1. Oxford
2. University College Cork 2
3. Maynooth

Pool Results:UCC2 6.4.28 def Maynooth 2.2.14; Oxford 5.5.35 def Maynooth 2.1.13; Oxford 3.4.22 drew UCC2 3.4.22

It is fair to say eventual winners UoB didn’t hit their full potential until the semi-final stage defeating UCC2 by a convincing 62 points. The second semi final was decided by a much smaller margin with UCC1 ensuring Irish representation in the final.

SF1- UoB 10.10.70 def UCC2 1.2.8

DSC_0224 UCC1sml

SF2- UCC1 3.4.22 def Oxford 3.2.20


This left UoB and UCC to fight out for the trophy. Halftime in the England Vs Ireland final contest was close with both teams missing opportunities with UoB leading at the break 1.2.8

to UCC 0.4.4. UCC would be left to rue their inaccuracies unable to score a goal in the final with UoB running out winners 6.6.42 to UCC 0.7.7. UoBs Ryan Cawley received Best-on Ground for the final.


Birmingham have a busy 2016 planned with upcoming matches against Oxford, Cambridge, Huddersfield Rams and North London Lions as well as hosting their own tournament.

AFL England Universities Coordinator Ian “Fabio” Kafka had this to say about the event: “For the second year running the tournament was held in Birmingham, but with more teams in the competition, it was a much more competitive day than it was last year. It was fantastic to see so many new faces playing the sport and hopefully continue playing for many years. Congratulations to Birmingham who ran out worthy winners for the second year running.”

All photos from the day can be seen at

Written by Claire Shapland and originally posted at

Irish trio impressing club recruiters at NAB AFL Academy’s US camp

CILLIAN McDaid was doing his homework when a strange number flashed up on his phone. He didn’t answer the call, and instead let it go through to his message bank.

When he rang it back a little later but didn’t get an answer, the 18-year-old Irishman figured it was probably a wrong number and got back to his studies.

About to go to bed that night, McDaid got a text message from former Sydney Swans and Gaelic star Tadhg Kennelly, asking him to test at the Dublin Combine in December last year.

“The first thing I did was run upstairs and tell my parents I had got a text from Tadhg because I couldn’t believe it,” McDaid told this week. “I was absolutely delighted.”

McDaid performed well over the weekend of testing and the 18-year-old was then invited to travel to Florida to train with the NAB AFL Academy on its camp at the IMG Academy.

The quick 183cm Galway player was one of three AFL hopefuls from Ireland to join the aspiring draftees on the tour last week, working alongside Darragh Joyce and Ray Connellan in front of scouts from 11 clubs. Each of the clubs interviewed all three internationals, and each has different stories to tell.

McDaid was the youngest, and used YouTube demonstration videos to practice his skills before arriving in the US. At first he found it tough to stop himself from kicking around the corner – as is customary in the Gaelic game – but gradually became more natural kicking off the middle of his feet.

He doesn’t finish school until June, and will play local football and hurling in the meantime, but is attracted to the idea of an AFL career because of its full-time nature – a glimpse of which he was given on the Academy’s camp, which is designed to reflect the running of an elite club.

“It was daunting to start with from a skills perspective, but just being in a professional environment is something I’ve never really experienced. At home we did camps for maybe one day, but being in a bubble for a week was brilliant,” he said.

“You’re not really able to be a professional in my sport back home so to get the chance would be great. That’s the lure.

“If I go home now and don’t pursue this then I’ll have a day job and go to college and try to squeeze in football in the evenings and on the weekends. But if you’re a professional then you can give it a right good go.”

As well as the ball handling skills, there were other differences McDaid noticed between himself and the Australian contingent of the squad. For one, they were (mostly) all strong swimmers.

“There’s a pool in Ireland, but you just mess about in there, you don’t do laps,” he said, adding another thing. “They’re all quite tanned, compared to us three who are all quite white.”

Joyce was more familiar with the game before landing in Florida and joining the Academy squad, who are all vying for selection at this year’s NAB AFL Draft.

The 18-year-old was flown out to Australia last year and tested at the draft combine at Etihad Stadium in October. He visited Essendon, St Kilda and the Sydney Swans alongside fellow Irishman Colin O’Riordan, who was then signed by the Swans as an international rookie.

The feedback from clubs was that Joyce was perhaps a little too young to be ready for the significant move to Australia, but having been back to Ireland, gone to college and kept in contact with O’Riordan, he is more sure this time that it’s what he’s after.

“Now it’s settled into my head that I want to do it and I’m treating this camp as a bit of a pre-season,” Joyce said.

At 21, Ray Connellan was the “big brother” of the trio and the speedy 188cm prospect from Westmeath saw it as his best opportunity to impress. Connellan was a part of Ireland’s squad that beat Australia in the International Rules Series last year, and has always wanted to pursue a career in the AFL.

“There’s no young guy growing up who doesn’t want to be a pro,” he said. “That’s why this week has been unbelievable with the Academy – you wake up, eat, train, eat, sleep and do it all over again.”

Connellan showed his zip and intensity during drills at the IMG Academy, and has previously run a 2.78-second 20-metre sprint, which gives him an elite trait that clubs are searching for. (That time would place him equal second in combine history behind Joel Wilkinson’s 2.75-second run in 2010.)

Across the week, the Irish players sat in on all of coach Brenton Sanderson’s presentations and team meetings and with every day, Connellan understood more and more of the terminology.

Every night after the doing the group pilates session, the Irish trio went out to one of the IMG Academy fields and spent half an hour kicking the footy back and forth to become more accustomed to its shape and variances.

Connellan has taken a Sherrin home and hopes an AFL club will come knocking. If not, he might go to them.

“A lot of the recruiters have asked me if I’d be willing to move over to Australia to finish my degree and play some lower league football,” Connellan said.

“If I’m going to invest my time I may as well do it properly and do everything I can to get to the top level. At 21 this might be my last shot at it so I’d be pretty keen to do anything to make it happen.”

Originally posted by Callum Twomey on