New Australian Football tournament in Belfast to host national teams from Ireland and UK

Some of AFL Europe’s top national teams are heading to Northern Ireland for a 10-a-side tournament on Saturday, October 16th.

The inaugural Clover Cup, hosted by AFL Ireland, welcomes the men’s and women’s national sides from Ireland and the United Kingdom to compete at Patrick Sarsfields GAA club in West Belfast.

A total of nine teams will be participating across two pitches in what will be the first time that these sides have lined up against one another since AFL Europe’s Euro Cup in Norrtälje, Sweden two years ago.

The five teams making up the women’s tournament on October 16th are England Vixens, Irish Banshees, Scottish Sirens, Ulster Machas and Welsh Wyverns.

It’ll be an exciting match-up between the Banshees and Vixens who last met in the grand final of the Euro Cup in 2019. A commanding second half saw the Irish girls steer clear as 30-point victors.

Wales finished 6th in the 2019 Euro Cup, while Scotland did not compete. The Scottish girls have been longing to get back into some international footy and will be ready to challenge Ireland and England after the completion of the inaugural AFL Scotland women’s competition (SARFL Women’s).

The Machas are a new team competing at the tournament and will be made up of players within the Ulster area.

Four teams will take part in the men’s tournament; Irish Warriors, Scottish Clansmen, Ulster Wolfhounds and Welsh Dragons.

The Warriors are expected to be strong with a number of national team tryouts and trainings already held over the past few months.

The Clansmen, Wolfhounds and Dragons will be up for the challenge in what is going to be a very competitive tournament.

Unfortunately, there’ll be no Euro Cup men’s grand final rematch due to the absence of the England Dragonslayers who are unable to participate in the upcoming event.

The Wolfhounds, like the Machas, will be made up of players from the Ulster region.

Both tournaments will begin at 10:30AM local time in what will be the first encounter of Australian Football for the venue in Belfast.

The round robin format for both competitions will see games played in 14-minute halves, with the day’s play wrapping up before 5:00PM.

The Clover Cup is still welcoming more umpires to officiate across the day. If you or someone you know would like to attend and help out with umpiring at the event, please contact any of the national team coaches or reach out to AFL Ireland via Facebook.

Fixtures and team lists are currently being confirmed and will also be announced on the AFL Europe website in the coming weeks.

Good luck to competing teams and congratulations to AFL Ireland and all involved for getting this tournament organised.

All attending teams fall within Northern Ireland’s Common Travel Area and will be able to safely attend the tournament.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

AFL Europe Podcast: With Special Guest Nicola Barr

Greater Western Sydney Giant Nicola Barr joins the AFL Europe Podcast as a special guest for episode 28.

Nicola was the first-ever player to be drafted into the AFL Women’s competition ahead of its inaugural season in 2017.

She has continued to play at the Giants since, and just a few months ago signed a two-year extension to see her with the club until at least 2023.

The AFL Europe community will remember Nicola from her travels around Europe in 2019, visiting and coaching more than ten different clubs as well as attending the Euro Cup in Norrtälje, Sweden.

Nicola speaks on how much she enjoyed spending time with the AFL Europe community as well as sharing a bit about her AFLW career with GWS, playing alongside Irishwomen Staunton and Stack, balancing life as a part-time pro athlete and the exciting upcoming stars at her club and in the competition.

Listen to episode twenty-eight via Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Alternatively, type in and search AFL Europe Podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts.

AFL Europe Podcast: One Kick Later – Bérengère Portal

Welcome to episode twenty-seven of the AFL Europe Podcast for another instalment of our One Kick Later series.

Bérengère Portal joined us last month to talk about the rise of Australian Football in France and in particular, the growth of the women’s game.

During an internship in Australia in 2008, Bérengère discovered Australian Football and was fascinated by it. Upon her return to France, Bérengère tried the sport with her university and has since played a significant role in the growth of the sport across the country.

Bérengère has represented France in international tournaments and events on numerous occasions, including travelling to Australia for the AFL International Cup and to Villers-Bretonneux for the AFL Europe ANZAC Cup.

Listen to episode twenty-seven via Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Alternatively, type in and search AFL Europe Podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts.

In-form Vikings the team to beat in Ireland | AFL Ireland Round 4

The men’s and women’s footy seasons continue in Ireland as the league approaches finals. Check out the latest action thanks to Reporter for AFL Ireland, Stephen O’Sullivan.

Galway Magpies v South Dublin Swans (men’s)

The Swans were back on the road, this time The Swamp in Claddagh was the venue for their round four match-up with the Galway Magpies. The Magpies would have gained encouragement from their first win of the season during the Festival of Football, and it just so happened to have come against the same opposition.

For the Dublin outfit, they knew a win would cement a place in the preliminary final, at least.

The Swans needed no more encouragement than the promise of finals footy. Ben Coughlan, playing in a more advanced role, set the tone for the afternoon early on. Presenting well on the lead, he managed a couple of early impressive contested marks, with matching accuracy in front of goal.

Shaun Murphy was at his usual best early on, kicking two majors, including a goal from the boundary for the Magpies. With their fast, hard-working midfield, the Swans took control and added further goals through the impressive Frank O’Donnell and Connor Dunne. Seamus McSorley marked his first competitive start for Swans with a goal and also played his part in the Swans stubborn defence for part of the game.

The Maggies produced their best footy in the second quarter. Once more Shaun ‘Smurf’ Murphy got on the scoresheet, along with Mark Kavanagh, as they matched their Dublin counterparts in the goal kicking stakes, each booting three in the second term. The Swans, however, would edge further in front. Noah Copping snapped a clever goal in the dying stages for the Swans.

A tactical shift in defence in the third, allowed the Swans to capitalise in the forwards. Connor McGrorty and Shane Faulkner did a great job in marshalling the Magpies forward line, allowing just one goal against them through Darren Dennehy. Levi Kalms from the boundary and a trademark running goal from Connor Dunne responded for the Swans.

In the final term, early Galway goals from Murphy and Sean Madden highlighted their fighting spirit. The use of the interchange bench has been impressive from the Dublin side this season and they used that to great effect in the fourth quarter.

Capitalising on a tired Galway defence, Stephen O’Sullivan kicked three final term goals, the first a fantastic team goal through impressive handling in the midfield with Frank O’Donnell finally releasing to the small forward for a simple finish. Ben Coughlan grabbed his third of the day, again through intelligent leading and unerring accuracy off the boot.

In the end the South Dublin Swans remained top of the ladder after their most complete team performance of the season.  They even managed a few sociable drinks in the Claddagh sunshine with their Galway counterparts afterwards.

Final score: Galway Magpies 8.4. (52) def. by South Dublin Swans 17.15. (117).

Cork Vikings v Ulster Kookaburras (women’s)

The top two teams did battle once more, this time the Vikings taking home advantage. After winning the women’s Festival of Football in Ireland, the Cork girls would have been confident of avenging their opening round defeat at the hands of the Kooks.

Once more, Amanda Brosnan was dominant for the Cork outfit. The Kerry woman was flawless in the middle and booted a goal to match her performance. The Vikings set the pace in the first quarter, kicking six goals along with five behinds. The Ulster side remained within touching distance with three goals of their own.

Annie Walsh was once more in form for the Vikings. With an eye on the top scorers award she bagged five more goals to add to her tally on the day. The Vikings edged further in front with three more goals in the second term to their opponents one.

The final two quarters were a near carbon copy in terms of scores. The Cork Vikings outscoring their Ulster rivals by five goals to two in each of the last two quarters. Eva Cafolla was fantastic for the Ulster Kookaburras. She remained on the scoring trail kicking three goals on the day, along with two from Elaine Maguire which ensured some pride for the hardworking Kooks.

Shannon Stevenson wasn’t to be left out. She added four goals to her season’s total, while Marie Keating and Rebecca Corbett grabbed hat-tricks apiece. The returning Caroline Condon also got on the scoresheet with a goal of her own.

An emphatic victory for the ever improving Vikings was capped off by memorable performances from their captain Maria Quirke and Amanda Brosnan, in the midfield.

It sets up a mouthwatering finish to the season as these two teams will surely do battle to the very end.

Final score: Cork Vikings 19.12. (126) def. Ulster Kookaburras 8.9. (57).

Leeside Lions v Belfast Redbacks (men’s)

A repeat of the opening round game, the Belfast Redbacks made the arduous journey south to Cork to take on the unbeaten Lions. The Redbacks themselves were impressive at the Festival of Football two weeks earlier. They cruised to the grand final and finally overcame the Leesiders in the final match to claim the title.

With Premiership points on the line this time around, the Redbacks needed to keep pace with the top two sides to enhance their chances of a home prelim.

In simple terms, this game was a cracker. Both sides cancelled each other out in pretty much every department, which is testament to the quality of players on show. Kevin Jones and Dean Skinner battled hard in the midfield for their respective sides, while both forward lines fought hard against hardworking defences.

Darren O’Dwyer for the Lions was once more at his accurate best, kicking three goals in what was a relatively low scoring game in comparison to previous rounds. The Redbacks boasted a sharp shooter of their own, Kyle Devine wasn’t to be outdone and he kicked three majors to share top scorer on the day with O’Dwyer. The Tyrone man ensures goals and has been a welcome addition back into the Redbacks squad since round two.

In the backline for the Lions, James O’Callaghan had a fantastic game. Along with his defensive teammates, they managed to keep the free scoring Redbacks to eight goals on the day, which is an impressive stat.

The Lions forward line kept ticking over in round four. Padraic O’Connell and James O’Shea added two goals apiece to the scoreline. Gerard Walls and Sean Paul Henry were solid for the Redbacks and managed to quench the Lions forwards thirst for goals.

In a seesaw encounter it was the Leesiders who finally came out on top, outscoring the Redbacks by just ten-points. Both teams can take great encouragement from their battling performances and who knows, we may get another meeting between the two as we edge closer to finals footy.

Final score: Leeside Lions 9.12. (66) def. Belfast Redbacks 7.14. (56).

Cork Vikings v South Dublin Swans (women’s)

In this rescheduled round three encounter, the Cork Vikings showed why they were favourites for this season’s AFL Ireland Womens Premiership.

Playing in Tramore Valley Park, the free-scoring Vikings were relentless.

After an inaccurate first term, the Cork outfit soon found their feet. Amanda Brosnan once more starred in a fantastic performance by the whole Vikings side. Seeing plenty of the footy, Brosnan managed a game high seven goals. The Swans to their credit dug deep and Angie Crispe reflected the spirit of the newly formed side through hard work and determination in the middle of the field.

The more experienced Vikings were in no mood to be generous, however, limited their opponents to just three-points in total. The Swans certainly weren’t helped through an early injury to their main goalscorer, Sorcha Nolan.

The Cork side grew in confidence as the game progressed. Annie Walsh added four to her tally while Caroline Condon, Maria Quirke and CJ Murphy each claimed two majors each.

It was a whitewash for the Cork Vikings in truth. The South Dublin Swans can be encouraged by the fight shown by their players and will get better as they gain more experience with each match.

Final score: Cork Vikings 19.24. (138) def. South Dublin Swans 0.3. (3).

If you would like to get involved and contribute to AFL Europe as a County Reporter, please contact your local AFL league president or email jackson.jones@afleurope.org.

Stephen O’Sullivan – Reporter for AFL Ireland

Jets and Giants to meet in AFL Switzerland Grand Final

The fourth and final round of the AFL Switzerland, hosted by the Geneva Jets at a beautiful ground by the Lake of Geneva, has finally determined which two teams would progress into the Swiss grand final. Read the full review of round four and a finals preview thanks to Keelan Seen from AFL Switzerland.

Seniors

Geneva Jets vs. Winterthur Lions

The hosts from Geneva took on the Winterthur Lions in the first game of the day and well, playing against a fresh Jets side is never easy. There were also some last-minute emergency list changes for Winterthur as some of their players got up a little too late for the long drive down to Lausanne. Nonetheless, the Lions knew what they had to do.

The Lions had to manage their percentage going into the game against the Jets if they wanted to make it into the grand final. But of course, the Jets had their own agenda, and it was relentless.

With a full squad and some new young guns coming in, the Jets once again proved dominant. Whilst the Lions were winning most of the hit-outs, it was the hard running and great link-up play from the Jets that helped them to a big win in the first match of the day.

Final score: Geneva Jets (76) def. Winterthur Lions (9).

Geneva Jets vs. Zurich Giants

In game two, it was the Giants who took on the Jets. Just like the Lions in the previous game, in order to make the grand final, the Giants needed to win or preserve their percentage.

Right from the start of the game, the Giants seemed the stronger side. They were outrunning their opponents and hitting up their teammates perfectly. The Jets seemed exhausted from their first game and couldn’t keep up with the Giants at all in the first half.

It seemed that the Jets would finally be beaten for the first time since 2019, when the mighty Basel Dragons defeated them in round one. Well, in the last five minutes of the game, that all quickly changed.

Suddenly, the Jets seemed to wake up and started playing their well-known ruthless footy. By kicking a couple of late goals, they managed to turn the game on its head.

Congratulations to the Jets on making their third consecutive Grand Final and ending the season undefeated!

Final score: Geneva Jets (80) def. Zurich Giants (48).

Winterthur Lions vs. Zurich Giants

The final seniors match of the day was going to decide who would face Geneva for the premiership, held in Basel today. However, after the Giants incredible performance against the Jets, the Lions had to not only beat the Giants, but do so by a big margin.

Of course, the Giants were a bit out of breath after their game against the Jets but they are still a very strong side, so it really promised to be an interesting game. The Lions went in hard for the early clearances and got a lot of the ball.

While the Giants defended very well, there was one man they could not defend. Lions full forward Jacob Brownley was clunking everything out of the air and was very reliable with his kicking too. At half time, the Lions led by 23-points and their hopes of playing in grand final were very much alive.

The Giants switched up some of their positions in the second half and seemed a lot better organised. Both teams were scoring goals and it was a great game for any neutral spectator to watch. However, for everyone playing it was nerve-wracking.

In the end it was a great win for the Lions but thanks to their consistency throughout the season the Giants remained ahead on the league ladder by percentage.

Final score: Winterthur Lions (71) def. Zurich Giants (51).

Reserves

Geneva Jets vs Winterthur Lions

Once again there was a great turnout for the reserves game with many new faces on both sides. It was the Jets with their young core of players who seemed fitter but there were a lot of really good passages of play for both sides.

Both teams managed to share the ball around and get their teammates into the game. Every possession had to be fought for and the intensity was no lower than in the seniors games beforehand.

It’s really exciting to see not only the talent developing on both sides, but also the fantastic attitude that all the players on the ground had.

Final score: Geneva Jets (115) def. Basel Dragons (24).

And that’s a wrap for the home and away season in Switzerland! The third ever AFL Switzerland Grand Final will be held on Saturday, September 18th in Basel. We’re all looking forward to it and can’t wait to get back out on the field again.

Details about the grand final can be found here.

If you would like to get involved and contribute to AFL Europe as a County Reporter, please contact your local AFL league president or email jackson.jones@afleurope.org.

Keelan Senn – Reporter for AFL Switzerland

Where to watch the AFL Grand Final in Europe

The 2021 AFL Grand Final is next week!

For the first time in AFL history, the grand final is moving to Perth, Western Australia. Melbourne Demons and Western Bulldogs had big wins in their prelim bouts and will go head-to-head for the premiership on Saturday, September 25th at 5:15 PM local time.

The later-than-usual start time suits us footy fans in Europe very well, with the game kicking off on our screens at 10:15 AM if your in the west of the continent, 11:15 AM central and 12:15 PM over east.

So, where will you be watching the grand final? Our partners Belushi’s will be screening the action LIVE in their bars right across Europe! Read on to found out how you can reserve a table at any of their venues.

LONDON, UK

Belushi’s will be showing the game in four of their venues across London including the refurbed Hammersmith (West London) bar, famous Dugout bar at London Bridge (Central London), Camden (High Street) and the traditional Flying Horse (Liverpool Street).

Get your friends and family together and book yourself at one of these bars by clicking on each of the venue names above, or by filling out the booking form on the Belushi’s website here.

PARIS, FRANCE

The ever so popular Belushi’s Gare du Nord will be showing the action on dozens of TV’s in their sports bar, along with the Paris Canal bar, besides the Canal de l’Ourcq.

As sponsors of the Paris Cocks Footy club, you’re likely to be cheering on the match alongside many of the AFL France players in Paris!

To head to either of these venues, fill out the reservation form here.

BERLIN, GERMANY

Belushi’s Berlin Alexanderplatz was the original Belushi’s to start showing the AFL Grand Final and over the years has built a passionate following.

A short walk from Friedrichstrasse S-Bahn and Hackescher Markt, you can also book in at Belushi’s in Berlin Mitte.

The atmosphere at both of these bars will be second to none and their central locations make it easy to get to.

Book a table for the morning via the Belushi’s website and get ready for a fantastic day.

BARCELONA, SPAIN

Belushi’s in Barcelona will be showing the game on two massive projector screens as well as having the commentary blasting out.

Just off the Ramblas, this bar is in a great location.

Lock in your table by booking online, here.

Please note that whilst all the information in this article is correct at the time of writing, viewings are subject to local COVID-19 regulations.

Eiffel Tower watches over return of Australian Football in France

Playing in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The remarkable return of Australian Football in France.

On Saturday, September 4th AFL France hosted a special day of Australian Football as part of the Australia Now Festival in France.

The event, starting at 10:00 AM local time, was held in front of the Eiffel Tower at Stade Èmile Anthoine and consisted of footy activities and matches, showcasing the sport to the public and connecting Australian and French sporting enthusiasts.

The day started with activities for newcomers to come and try the sport, including an open session for kids.

Then, at midday, Australian Ambassador to France, Gillian Bird, took on the role of the first “bounce” to launch the opening match of the day.

The three matches (two men’s, one women’s) played in the afternoon featured nearly 80 French male and female players from ten different AFL France clubs.

Captain of the men’s Paris Cockerels, Pierre Boscart, spoke on his and everyone’s enjoyment from the event.

“Australia Now was truly an event to remember. The location was amazing, at the foot of the Eiffel Tower,” said Boscart.

“I was also glad to see many children trying the sport. Most of all, we were extremely happy to meet up with the different French clubs after the lockdowns.

“Having all teams mixed created exchanges and a positive spirit. I believe It was a great way to get footy back on track in France, as all participants came back extremely motivated from the event.”

Over 150 people were estimated to be in attendance for the day, with plenty of onlookers witnessing their first-ever match of Australian Football.

“Footy is back in the country after two years impacted by the COVID situation… What a day it was for the sport in France,” said Thomas Depondt of AFL France.

“This was an incredible occasion to show how Australian Football is growing in France. This sunny day in Paris, with three friendly matches including one women’s game, launched the new season starting in October.

“The community is looking forward to playing again soon.”

With the season fast-approaching, anyone who is interested in joining a team in France is welcomed to do so by messaging their interest to AFL France on Facebook or Instagram.

Following the event, the sport continues to gain more interest with five new female recruits eager to join the Paris women’s side.

We’re excited to see the 2021/22 season get underway next month as well as what’s in store for the future of the sport in France.

Congratulations to the team at AFL France on organising such a successful and momentous event.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe

Thirty-three community footy clubs across Europe awarded funding boost

Thirty-three Australian Football clubs across Europe have successfully been awarded grants following AFL Europe’s Club Support Program.

The program welcomed local footy clubs within AFL Europe to apply for funding to assist in the recovery and growth of their club.

AFL Europe are pleased to share that the amount of funding contributed into the community totalled £15,000 and was distributed to clubs within 16 different countries.

The new funding will bolster the growth and development of Australian Football through the remainder of this year and for years to come, following a challenging period for the sport across the continent.

Grant applications that were successful included funding towards the implementation and growth of women’s teams, driving participation through social media and website promotion, venue hire, especially indoor facilities to ensure team training can continue through winter, junior programs, and equipment costs such as goal posts, portable scoreboards, new playing kits and first aid supplies.

We were overwhelmed with the number and quality of applications that were received through this program as shared by AFL Europe Chair, Oliver Howard.

“AFL Europe is extremely pleased to provide grants totalling £15,000 to footy clubs across 16 different European countries”, said Howard.

“After an incredibly difficult period with no matches being played, we are committed to supporting the rebound and continued growth of footy right across Europe.”

Many of our participating countries and teams this year enjoyed a steady return to play after their season was significantly impacted during 2020.

Regular leagues across Europe have been able to resume, with some even amid planning small international tournaments to be played later this year.

In 2022, AFL Europe are planning a regular season of events that will see the return of international competitions and tournaments such as Champions League and Euro Cup.

We are excited to see the impact the funding shared will have on each club and the sport in their region, and look forward to sharing the success stories of each club putting their funding to use.

Double Blues succeed Bats in first-ever match in Hungary

The Budapest Bats in AFL Hungary were joined by Croatia’s Sesvete Double Blues to compete in the first match of Australian Football played in Hungary. Read how the two sides went thanks to Reporter for AFL Hungary, Zoltan Marosy.

Two weeks on from their debut at the AFL Europe Festival of Football, the Budapest Bats and AFL Hungary have made history yet again.

On the 28th of August, AFL Hungary and the Bats hosted their first-ever game of Australian Football.

Held in the beautiful city of Esztergom, the match between the Hungarian and Croatian sides was watched on by curious locals, who had never seen a sport quite like this before.

The picturesque venue was situated under the imposing Esztergom Cathedral and next to the River Danube, which is also the Slovakian border.

The Bats showed as much grit and determination as you could ask for from a team playing only its second game.

Midfield bulls, Károly and Gergő Petrányi, often took the opposition by surprise with their fierce tackling and courageous marking, while experienced on-baller, Tom Wayman, collected plenty of possessions and kicked the only goal on the day for the Bats.

A tough day for the Hungarian defence, led by skipper Zoltan Marosy, with star backman, Mark Ryan, out missing through injury.

It was a weekend to remember for the Sesvete Double Blues, as they took home the perpetual trophy for the first time.

Star ruckman, Josip Karadža, dominated most of the stoppages, while half-forward, Tomislav Cvetko, left the Hungarian defenders helpless with his low and hard passes. Forward duo, Robert Jeličić and Ronan Moran (playing as a guest from Ireland) both had days out, kicking 15 goals between them.

Overall, it was a successful day for the sport in Hungary and we look forward to many more matches to come for the Bats.

Final Score: Budapest Bats 1.4. (10) defeated by Sesvete Double Blues 23. 20. (158).

If you would like to get involved and contribute to AFL Europe as a County Reporter, please contact your local AFL league president or email jackson.jones@afleurope.org.

Zoltan Marosy – Reporter for AFL Hungary

Ten hours separate first and final matches in jam-packed 2021 Festival of Football

Beginning at 9:30 AM (BST) in Russia and Scotland, and finishing beyond 7:30 PM (BST) in Croatia, this year’s AFL Europe Festival of Football was a monumental one.

The event, in its second year running, once again welcomed all participating countries in Europe to host a tournament with their local clubs in a local city of their choice, all on the same day of Saturday, August 14th.

This year, we approached the half century of almost 50 matches played with exactly 50 teams from 12 different countries.

Thanks to AFL Europe’s Official Apparel Partner, O’Neills Sportswear, each tournament was supplied with new umpire shirts for the near 30 umpires officiating across the day.

And while teams were competing for title of Festival of Football champion of their respective tournament, each player had the chance to be voted best afield and win a player of the tournament guernsey, again courtesy of O’Neills Sportswear.

It’s time to recap all the action from the start of the day to its end, as we congratulate and review the 12 countries who participated in our 2021 Festival of Football.

RUSSIA


Kicking off the 2021 event were some of our most westerly European teams in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Beginning at 9:30 AM (BST), AFL Russia hosted a tournament with the Baltic Hawks, Northern Tigers and St. Petersburg Cats.

The first victory of the day went to the 2020 St. Petersburg Australian Football League (SPAFL) premiers in the Northern Tigers, defeating the Cats by 12-points.

The Tigers looked to continue their momentum into the second match of the day, but could not keep up against a fresh Hawks outfit, who went on to last the day undefeated with winning margins of 31 and 15.

Congratulations to Pavel Aman who was awarded player of the tournament.

SCOTLAND


Getting things underway in the morning, along with Russia, were the men’s and women’s sides in Scotland.

Six matches were played in Edinburgh, starting with the women’s round robin and followed by three matches of the AFL Scotland men’s competition.

The Edinburgh Bloods women’s opened up the round robin with a big win over the Glasgow Sharks. The Sharks remained on the pitch for the second match in Scotland and managed to bounce back to defeat the Greater Glasgow Giants by five goals.

A final match between the Bloods and Giants resulted in a victory for the home side, who were crowned as champions of the day with their very own Hannah O’Brien awarded as player of the tournament.

Edinburgh’s men’s side carried on the women’s momentum into their match-up against West Lothian Eagles with a big win.

The Tyne Tees Tigers enjoyed a convincing win against the Reading Roos, whilst the Giants men’s were able to overcome the Sharks by 38-points.

POLAND WITH CZECH REPUBLIC


The Warsaw derby set about the first of ten games to be held in Nysa, Poland for the Festival of Football.

All teams played three games each to determine which two teams would progress to the grand final, as well as a third place play-off match.

However, players in Poland were competing for more than the title of Festival of Football champions, as spots in Poland’s national team, Polish Devils, were up for grabs.

The visitors from the Czech Republic, Prague Dragons, went into the day as favourites and in their first match, proved all onlookers just why.

A triumphant ten-goal win over the Warsaw Bisons hurled the Dragons to the top of the table, to then win their next two games and see themselves into the grand final.

The Warsaw Boars defeated Wrocław Lions and just snuck past Fort Nysa FC by two-points to meet the Dragons in the final match.

Roger Scott, head coach of the Polish Devils, spent the day closely monitoring the performance of all players for selection of the Polish national team.

“For this tournament, we challenged the players to show us how they can implement the skills we learn in trainings, to real match situations. They out-performed my expectations!” said Scott.

“Not only this, but they played with a huge amount of guts, a desire to win, and showed a level of sportsmanship and professionalism I haven’t seen in Poland before.

“I’m proud of everyone and happy to report that Poland will be taking a very strong team to the next international tournament.”

Continuing their dominant day out, Prague went on to defeat the Boars by eight goals and were crowned champions of the day.

Perhaps the match of the day was the third-placed play off game, as Fort Nysa and the Bisons went right down to the wire. The Bisons coming out on top by just three-points.

Congratulations to Tyson from the Boars and Sebastian from the Lions who were tied as the players of the tournament, and Kevan Lyons from Prague who was the umpire of the tournament.

Shoutout to Klaudia Ćwiąkała for her fantastic coverage of the day on AFL Poland’s social media accounts.

IRELAND


Heading over west and to start the first of fourteen matches in the south of Dublin, and across two pitches, were the men’s and women’s teams in Ireland.

The men’s tournament got the day underway as the Belfast Redbacks and Leeside Lions claimed commanding wins before midday, and would eventually go on to meet in the grand final.

The women’s matches commenced soon after and with the South Dublin Swans, Cork Vikings and a combined side between the Ulster Kookaburras and Galway Magpies.

Head Coach of the Irish Warriors and AFL Ireland Men’s Competition Representative, Eoin O’Sullivan, reflected on the day that was had in Ireland.

“It was great… We had 14 games of footy throughout the day, with over 150 players taking part, six umpires, three pitch managers and numerous more helpers throughout,” said O’Sullivan.

“The games themselves were fantastic, with some being decided by less than a goal, and every team picking up a win along the way. Then, we log on to AFL Europe and see similar situations in cities all over Europe, it’s just amazing.”

Angi Crispe was awarded the umpire of the tournament medal, taking on the role of field umpire for the women’s grand final as well as chasing scores, goal scorers and best on ground votes throughout the day.

Cork Vikings, who were impressive all day, won the women’s tournament with their very own Maria Quirke awarded as the women’s player of the tournament.

In the men’s competition, the Redbacks kept up an undefeated performance to be crowned champions of the tournament. Conchúr O’hAlluráin from the Redbacks won men’s player of the tournament.

SWITZERLAND


Combining round three of their 2021 season with the Festival of Football, AFL Switzerland featured four games in Vessy, Geneva.

The first match was held between the Geneva Jets and the Zurich Giants, as the home side went on to win convincingly.

Rolling straight into their second match, the Jets defeated the Winterthur Lions to go 2-0 and become the winners of the tournament.

Zurich and Winterthur had a close encounter for the third match of the day, both seeking their first win. The Lions remained strong in the final minutes of the game to win by 16-points.

The fourth and final match in Switzerland was competed between the Geneva and Basel reserve sides.

The Jets reserves were the only team in Switzerland to surpass a score of 100 for the day, defeating the Dragons by 12-goals.

Congratulations to Geneva Jets’ seniors player Brad McConnachy and reserves player Clemens Bourgeois for being selected as the players of the day.

DENMARK


The Danish Vikings were on show for the first time in almost two years and were up against a select DAFL Australian side for the Festival of Football in Denmark.

Prior to the Danes vs. Aussies match was a mixed game played between new and old men’s and women’s players in the DAFL.

It was great to see some of the DAFL’s legends return to the pitch for a kick, as well as some new faces trying out Australian Football for the first time.

A quick storm hit Copenhagen during the warm up for the Vikings and Australia match which set up slippery conditions that could not separate either team by the end of the first half.

Perhaps the Vikings just needed a half to warm-up, as they got back to their 2019 European Championships form and dominated the Australians in the second half to win by a margin of 78-points.

Josefine Ravanaki (mixed match) was awarded as the best player of the day.

FINLAND


Our most northernly matches on August 14th started at 3:00 PM (BST) in Turku.

The day started with a round robin between three teams; Turku Dockers, Helsinki Heatseekers and the newly formed FAFL All-Stars side, and finished with one final match played as a friendly game with players from various clubs playing together in mixed teams.

Coach of the Turku Dockers, Stephen Phillips, spoke on the final game of the day and his joy of Finland being involved in the Festival of Football for a second year in a row.

“The [final game] was a really nice way to end a fun day,” said Phillips.

“It summed up the feeling from the whole Festival – that it’s just great to be playing together again after such a long forced break.”

Turku managed an early victory over the All-Stars as both sides were soon to be handed a loss each by the Heatseekers, who were far too strong on the day.

Congratulations to Alix Kalliojärvi who was the umpire of the tournament and Dylan from the Turku Dockers for winning player of the tournament.

AUSTRIA (WITH HUNGARY)


Styrian DownUnderDogs and Vienna Galahs were joined by the Budapest Bats from Hungary who were eager to make their Australian Football debut.

A few last-minute injuries and players away on holiday meant the Bats and DownUnderDogs were a few numbers short, however, would combine their sides on the day to compete in just the one match against the Galahs.

A well-structured Galahs side and perhaps a lack of chemistry between the Bats and DownUnderDogs players led to a big victory for the home team.

“The game went very well for us. We improved our skills and have trained fairly hard since our last game against Munich,” said Galahs vice captain, Maximilian Tomek.

“All of our hard efforts paid off and earned the Vienna Galahs their first victory in 2021.”

Despite the loss, Zoltan Marosy from Budapest was voted best afield whilst Desmond Reilly was awarded as the umpire of the day.

BULGARIA


Bulgaria also welcomed the debut of a new side as the Varna Demons travelled down the east coast to Burgas, to compete against the newly formed Burgas Hawks.

The Hawks, who are led by co-founder of AFL Bulgaria, Stamen Stamov, have been in development for a couple of months and held regular training sessions during the summer.

Experience prevailed in Bulgaria as the Demons continued their fine form from their round two win in the AFL Bulgaria season to defeat the Hawks 102 to 45.

The inaugural AFL Bulgaria season is currently tied at one win apiece between the Sofia Magpies and Varna Demons.

The two teams will next meet for round three of the season on September 18th.

CROATIA


The final matches of the 2021 Festival of Football were held in Croatia. Played on the coast in the small town of Tribunj, the first game in Croatia did not start until 5:00 PM (BST).

The women’s match was played first between the Sesvete Redlegs and Zagreb Panthers. Undefeated from four rounds in the Croatian league, the Redlegs were clear favourites heading into the festival.

But now earning the name of the Festival of Football specialists in Croatia, the Zagreb Panthers were up and about for their first win of the year and defeated the Redlegs by 20-points.

As the sun started to set, the pitch lights were turned on and the men’s match got underway.

Two teams were formed with the men’s players as ‘Team Red’ and ‘Team Green’ who went head-to-head to determine the champion men’s team for the Festival of Football in Croatia.

Congratulations to ‘Team Green’ who were eventual winners, as well as Iva Marinčić from the Zagreb Panthers and Miro Jumanović for winning the player of the tournament awards.

Ivan Molnar and Roko Buljanovic were selected as the umpires of the tournament.

Thank you and congratulations to all teams who were able to put on a safe event and participate in this year’s Festival of Football.

We were thrilled to see this year’s event go bigger and better with more countries, teams and matches on display, as the AFL Europe community came together for another fantastic day out.

A final thanks to O’Neills Sportswear, AFL Europe’s Official Apparel Partner, for supplying each participating country with player of the tournament guernseys and umpire shirts.

Jackson Jones – AFL Europe