2019 European Championships Tournament Review

After three days of thrilling football, it all came down to the women’s and men’s Grand Final’s on Saturday afternoon to decide the winners of the 2019 European Championships. In the women’s final, it was the Irish Banshees against the German Eagles, while the men’s draw saw the Danish Vikings battle the Great Britain Bulldogs.

With clear weather on Wednesday and Thursday, the weather took a sharp turn for the weekend’s games as the temperature dropped and the rain started to fall. Despite the weather, all the teams were as keen as ever to play, and it was intriguing to see how the teams adapted to the new conditions.

Every team played a carnival-style format of 20-minute halves on Wednesday, before the men switched to 20-minute quarters for their semi-finals on Thursday, while the women kept playing 20-minute halves.

However, Saturday saw all games played in the traditional format of 20-minute quarters, allowing for one big final day of football at Wimbledon Park to conclude the 2019 European Championships.

Photo by Danny Radis Photography

Placing matches:

Before those two finals took place, the third-place matches were played on pitch one with the Irish Warriors playing the Croatian Knights in the men’s, while the Great Britain Swans played an AFL London team, the Wandsworth Demons, in the women’s.

After just missing out on reaching the Grand Final due to points differential, the Swans were looking to finish their tournament with an impressive performance in this exhibition game.

A young Swans team made the most of their fast start as they quickly gained control of the match and didn’t look back from there as they finished their tournament with a 78-point victory. After their success at the 2016 tournament, the Swans will be slightly disappointed at their performance but will have gained plenty with a young squad getting some valuable international experience.

Following the women’s third-place match was the battle for third in the men’s between the Irish Warriors and the Croatian Knights. After both teams lost out in the semi-finals, they were hoping to finish their 2019 European Championships with the bronze.

It was predicted to be an interesting clash of styles, with the physicality of the Croatian’s key to the way they play, while the Irish rely on their ball use and direct play.

However, after a demanding couple of days, the Knights struggled to keep pace with the Warriors, as the Irish dominated the majority of the game on their way to secure third place at this years European Championships.

The Irish were hoping to challenge for the championship after finishing second at this year’s Euro Cup but came up against a strong GB Bulldogs side in the semi-finals, so had to settle with third place in the end. However, they will be happy with how they dealt with a number of challenges across the competition.

Photo by Danny Radis Photography

For Croatia, they just couldn’t match Denmark in their semi-final but showed in their pool that they continue to improve as they made Grand finalists, the Bulldogs, work really hard for the win in their game.

Over on pitch two, the sixth-placed German Eagles men’s team took on AFL London team the Wimbledon Hawks as the Eagles looked to finish their tournament on a positive note.

With muddy and wet weather arriving in London on Friday, Saturday’s games were much more contested affairs than the games on Wednesday and Thursday, and in this contest, it was the AFL London team that came out on top.

The Eagles were hoping to finish their tournament on a high, but with a depleted squad as a result of injuries throughout the tournament, they couldn’t match an impressive Hawks team who adjusted to the conditions better.

Despite not recording a win throughout the tournament, the Eagles will have learnt a lot, with a large portion of their squad playing the 18-a-side format for the first time.

In the fifth-place match between the French Coqs and another AFL London team, the Wandsworth Demons men’s, the opening quarter was a physical contest, with neither side giving an inch. However, the running game style and overall endurance of the French team started to show in the second quarter as they gained control and ran out comfortable winners to finish their tournament off with an impressive victory.

The French played some entertaining football, but just lacked a bit of physicality and adaptability to the 18-a-side format in their pool games against Croatia and Great Britain, as they eventually finished fifth following a big win over Germany in the placing match on Thursday.

Photo by Danny Radis Photography

Women’s Grand Final:

With all the final placing matches complete, it was time for the two Grand Finals.

In the women’s, the undefeated Irish Banshees took on the German Eagles as the Banshees were looking to go one better then they did in 2016. After winning the 2019 Euro Cup, the Banshees were also looking to claim all the major AFL Europe tournaments for the year.

Having won all of their four pool games in a comprehensive style, the Banshees were looking to finish the tournament with five wins from as many games, while the German Eagles reached the Grand Final after finishing with one win, equal with the Great Britain Swans, but had a superior points difference.

The Banshees were favourites, but the Eagles were hoping to cause an upset and make their opponents work hard for the title. However, as they had from the start of their opening game, the Banshees dominated this match as their midfield kept winning the centre clearances and managed to lock the ball in their forward half.

Despite a strong defence, the Eagles struggled to create any dangerous attacking play and the Irish defence held strong.

As the game went on, the Irish continued to extend their lead, and when the final siren sounded, they had recorded a 102-point win to claim the 2019 European Championships in style. The Banshees ended up going through the whole competition without conceding a point in what was a perfect tournament for the team.

Photo by Danny Radis Photography

 

Men’s Grand Final:

The final game of the tournament was the men’s Grand Final between the Great Britain Bulldogs and the Danish Vikings, with the Bulldogs looking to go back-to-back after their success at the same competition in 2016.

However, they were coming up against a strong Vikings team that had been impressive in their pool games and their semi-final against Croatia.

The opening quarter was a tough contest, with neither team able to get control of the match in very muddy and wet conditions as the rain continued to fall. At the first break, it was the Vikings up by just a point with both teams kicking a goal each.

In the second quarter, the Bulldogs started to adjust to the weather better than the Vikings and were more efficient going forward, as they kicked two goals while keeping Denmark scoreless to lead by 13 points at the main break.

Just like the start, the third quarter was a battle against the weather as much as it was between the two teams, with both defences standing strong as the Bulldogs were the only team to kick a goal and extend their lead to 23-points heading into the last quarter.

The Bulldogs continued their dominance in this match as they extended their lead in the fourth quarter. The Vikings did manage to get their second goal of the game, but a quick reply from the Bulldogs put to rest any potential comeback, and it was the Great Britain Bulldogs who claimed a resounding 35-point win to claim back-to-back European Championships.

Of course, this kind of event wouldn’t be possible without the support and help from everyone involved, so thank you to all the players, coaches, staff, umpires, medics, volunteers, sponsors and fans for making this year’s 2019 European Championship such a success.

Photo by Danny Radis Photography

 

Final Standings

Women’s Competition:

1. Irish Banshees

2. German Eagles

3. Great Britain Bulldogs

 

Men’s Competition:

1. Great Britain Bulldogs

2. Danish Vikings

3. Irish Warriors

4. Croatian Knights

5. French Coqs

6. German Eagles

 

Golden Whistle – Dan Wild

 

Women’s Team of the Tournament:

Backline: Raffi Jones (GB), Annika Rode (Germany), Maria Quirke (Ireland).

Half Back Line: Lottie Colquhoun (GB), Katherine Franklin (GB), Elisabeth Maxeiner (Germany).

Centre: Michelle Farrell (Ireland), Mairead Coyne (Ireland), Chloe Hall (GB).

Half Forward Line: Mairead Seoighe (Ireland), Marie-Louise Winkler (Germany), Denise Heckmann (Germany).

Forward Line: Ionna Kapasaki (Germany), Kate Flood (Captain, Ireland), Maria Byrne (Ireland).

Followers: Aine Tighe (Ireland), Theresia Meißner (Germany), Dervla Higgins (Ireland).

Interchange: Marie Keating (Ireland), Jen Taylor (GB), Joanne Doonan (Ireland), Martha Williams (GB).

Coach: Michael Currane (Ireland).

 

Men’s Team of the Tournament:

Backline: Niall Down (Ireland), Kasper Jonck Hjuler (Denmark), Myles Hudson (GB).

Half Back Line: Andrew Cochran (GB), Florian Naumann (Germany), Owain Ryland (GB).

Centre: Martin Shannon (Ireland), Mikkel Kjoge (Captain, Denmark), Clement Decaux (France).

Half Forward Line: Arnaud Uzabiaga (France), Josip Habljak (Croatia), Jack Coughlan (GB).

Forward Line: Michael Sharp (GB), Mikkel Broe Hjerpe (Denmark), Phil Evermann (Germany).

Followers: Paul O’Halloran (Ireland), George Dibble (GB), Mathias Bernfried Biron (Denmark).

Interchange: Liam Burns (Ireland), Josip Karadza (Croatia), Aksel Wedel Bang Jensen (Denmark), Dino Sulic (Croatia).

Coach: Dean Thomas (GB).

Angus Boyle – AFL Europe