The 2019 European Championships are just around the corner and as part of the build-up, AFL Europe will be previewing all nine teams involved in this year’s tournament. The European Championship is AFL Europe’s premier 18-a-side tournament, played every three years, and this year will see teams from across the continent travel to London to see who comes out on top.
In our final 2019 European Championships preview, we look at the Irish Warriors who will be itching to get out on the Wimbledon Park grounds in London as they aim to reclaim the European Championships.
After winning the inaugural tournament in Dublin back in 2013, the Warriors were defeated by their arch-rivals, the Great Britain Bulldogs, in the 2016 Grand Final so the Warriors will be hoping to go one better this time around.
Their side will be ready and raring to go after a busy year for AFL in Ireland. At this year’s Champions League in Amsterdam back in April, the Belfast Redbacks finished second, only just falling short against the hosts, the Amsterdam Devils. The Redbacks then went on to win back-to-back premierships in the AFL Ireland league, but not without being challenged by the likes of the Galway Mapgies and Leeside Lions.
While there are a number of quality Redback players in their European Championships squad, the competitiveness of their local league will have helped strengthen the team, knowing they have the standard required to battle for the European Championship.
At this year’s Euro Cup, the Irish Warriors made it all the way to the final in Sweden, but lost to the England Dragonslayers so they will use the motivation from that result to also push them towards success this week.
Their ultimate goal for the European Championships will be to win it, while also playing an attacking and exciting brand of football.
With a number of debutants, they will also be looking at preparing a number of players in the 18-a-side format ahead of next year’s International Cup in Australia.
It looks like the Warriors have a number of targets for this years tournament, from transitioning a number of young players into their talented squad, but to also play so impressive football along the way, and to win.
The Irish will have a great opportunity to do so, but will also be challenged by Germany and Denmark who are both in Pool A along with the Warriors.
Their key motivating factor for their more experienced players returning for another AFL Europe tournament will be to beat the Bulldogs shall they meet in the final, but coach Brian Currane will be expecting them to play a certain style of football that he will hope will take them all the way.
That particular style has been evident in the past to those who have witnessed the Irish play and Currane will be expecting them to reach their prime at the perfect time.
In the bigger picture, the experience for this squad at the European Championships will be invaluable ahead of the International Cup next year, where the Warriors will be hoping to reach the Grand Final after they finished third in 2017.
By having a combination of new and eager players as well as an experienced core group, the Warriors have the squad needed to go all the way at this year’s European Championships. They also have the motivation to do so, and with a well drilled attacking but physical game style, expect to see them battling it out in the final match on Saturday.