AFL Europe Championships Team Preview – Irish Banshees
Every three years the AFL Europe Championships take place for teams to assert their dominance and claim bragging rights against their European counterparts, as well as gain valuable 18-a-side match practice in the lead up to the International Cup the following year.
In the lead up to this year’s AFL Europe Championships in London we’ll be focusing on each team and previewing their chances of taking out the top prize.
In the first of our women’s team previews we are getting to know the Irish Banshees a bit better.
What’s happened since International Cup 2014?
The Banshees last competed at International level in 2014 where we went down to Canada in the final of the International Cup in Melbourne but managed to bounce back from that disappointment to beat a very impressive England Vixens side in the final of the Euro Cup in London.
Since 2014 a number of our key players have moved on or are unable to travel to London due to other sporting commitments which mean the Banshees side that takes to the field in London will have only 5 players who have previously experienced international football.
On the flip side, the positives for the Banshees is that this year we have unearthed a lot of new talent and their enthusiasm and love of the game will be on display in London.
Brendan Kelly, who is the coach of the Ulster Kookaburras has joined the coaching staff for the 2016 tournaments. Shaun Saurin who previously coached the squad to Euro Cup success is unable to travel to London due to a family wedding but is doing some preparatory work with the team in advance of London.
Who’s in for AFL Europe Championships in 2016?
At the tournament there will be a joint coaching team of Pat Leavy and Brendan Kelly. The team are in safe hands as Pat, who managed the team at IC14 and EC14 has played with the Warriors from 2003 to 2013 which included two International Cup campaigns as well as numerous Euro Cups.
Brendan has also played in numerous Euro Cups and at IC14. He is currently a member of the Irish Warriors team competing at the Championships and he is hoping to retain the title he won in 2013.
The management team also have a number of support staff behind them, most notable Deirdre Ní Chearaill, former Banshee international and current lady president of ARFLI who has been one of the driving forces behind resurrecting the Banshees in 2016. She will be acting as team liaison.
The team is shaping up pretty well. We can see huge strides in each player’s development since the start of the summer. There is a good blend of youth and experience in the squad and some very exciting new players will be on show. On one hand you have multiple international medal winners like Emma Kelly, Fiona Roarty and Carolann Cassidy and on the other you have really exciting new prospects like Olivia McCann, Colleen Quinn, Claire Donnelly and Clara Fitzpatrick.
Add in some full format experience from the AFL London league gained by Onóra Mulcahy and Linda Connolly and we think it’s a formidable team.
We have 16 players from the Ulster Kookaburras, 1 from the Galway Magpies, 2 players from London club, the Wandsworth Demons, with the remainder coming from the Dublin Angels.
AFL Europe Championships focus
We would have liked to have had more collective training sessions in the lead up to the tournament but to counteract that we have linked in with the men’s carnival rounds in the ARFLI premiership. This has allowed the girls learn the finer points of AFL from looking at the men’s game.
We’re looking forward to playing on a full oval as we rarely get the chance, so in particular we’ll be looking to add width and pace to our game, which will allow the players adapt their Gaelic football skills to a new game. The experience of 18 a side will be of huge benefit going into IC17.
Our strength is definitely the quality of our footballers. All the players have played Ladies Gaelic Football to a high level in Ireland. Our weakness is probably the lack of 18 a side football in Ireland and an inability for the team to train collectively on a regular basis.
Who has the X-Factor?
Emma Kelly, Onóra Mulcahy and Fiona Roarty can really dominate, so it’s certainly worth watching out for them. As we are travelling with a relatively new squad, a number of players have really improved out of sight over the last few months so it would be unfair to single any one player out.
That is the exciting part of a tournament, you never know which player we will be all talking about by the end of it – hopefully it will be one wearing green!
Coach’s thoughts – Pat Leavy
“We’d expect to have a fair crack at getting to the final, but we know it will be difficult. The Crusaders will have the best players from Denmark, Sweden, Norway and France, while the GB Swans are currently the benchmark in Europe. The GB women’s league is probably the best female league outside of Australia. The Vixens were excellent the last time we played them in 2014 and have improved since.
From a Banshee point of view, how the tournament unfolds will be determined by how our players react to full format and knowing the potential in our team, I’m excited at seeing how they will develop as the tournament progresses but expect a great team performance and hopefully we will get over the line”
- Claire Donnelly (Ulster Kookaburra’s)
- Terri Kelly (Dublin Angels)
- Ciara Mone (Ulster Kookaburra’s)
- Catherine Collins (Dublin Angels)
- Emma Kelly (Ulster Kookaburra’s)
- Fiona Roarty (Ulster Kookaburra’s)
- Carolann Cassidy (Ulster Kookaburra’s)
- Olivia McCann (Ulster Kookaburra’s)
- Onóra Mulcahy (Wandsworth Demons)
- Naomi Curtis (Dublin Angels)
- Mairead Walsh (Ulster Kookaburra’s)
- Marley Bevan (Dublin Angels)
- Ursula Murphy (Irish Exiles AFL)
- Linda Connolly (Wandsworth Demons)
- Leona Russell (Ulster Kookaburra’s)
- Claire Doherty (Ulster Kookaburra’s)
- Clara Fitzpatrick (Ulster Kookaburra’s)
- Aisling Gillespie (Ulster Kookaburra’s)
- Edel Gray (Ulster Kookaburra’s)
- Crea McAleer (Ulster Kookaburra’s)
- Tracey Moloney (Irish Exiles AFL)
- Amy O’Donnell (Ulster Kookaburra’s)
- Nuala O’Hagan (Ulster Kookaburra’s)
- Colleen Quinn (Ulster Kookaburra’s)
- Oonagh McAnespey (Ulster Kookaburra’s)
- Niamh Mc Fadden (Ulster Kookaburra’s)
- Colleen Mallon (Irish Exiles AFL)
- Ashleigh Payne (Dublin Angels)