Another instalment of the Fitzpatrick Cup is upon us this weekend as the sixth edition of the AFL Europe universities tournament is set to take place in Oxford.
UCC is the reigning premiers in both the women’s and men’s divisions, but with the standard getting better each year, the other university teams will give themselves every chance to compete for the ‘Fitz Cup’.
When talking to UCC Club President James O’Callagahan, he said he believes this Fitzpatrick Cup will be the most competitive one yet.
It will also be the first time since 2016 that the tournament will be held in England, after the last two were held in Cork, Ireland.
Having the tournament in Cork over the last two years certainly helped participation grow with the Cork-based teams, but playing away won’t put off any of the travelling teams off. “Credit to the boys, they’ve been working hard and travelled to Cork for training since early January, such is their commitment. I think the idea of playing in such a great venue has its own draw too,” CIT coach Eoin O Sullivan said.
Birmingham President Matt Darowski is another who is excited by the venue for the tournament, and it also benefits the Birmingham teams. “Even though we’re not playing at home, it will definitely help us as we can take our strongest team,” he said.
This time, Oxford will do the honours as hosts, which will also see them return to the Cup after their absence from last years competition. Joining the hosts and reigning premiers are fellow university teams CIT, Cambridge and Birmingham.
Oxford isn’t just hosting the tournament, they want to win it. “Once the AFL Europe team bring both cups to Oxford, they won’t be leaving,” said Romy Minkio, the club’s president.
This season has also seen the introduction of the National Universities League, allowing teams to give players more valuable game time.
When talking about the NUL, Mike Baker, the Cambridge Vice President, said it has allowed the clubs’ teams to play more matches and get some results on the board heading into the ‘Fitz Cup’.
Once again there will be eight men’s team, while there a four team in the women’s draw. UCC, CIT and Oxford all have two men’s team’s, showing the growth of the sport in universities across the clubs from Ireland and England that will battle it out for this years Fitzpatrick Cup.
2015 – Birmingham
2016 – Birmingham
2017 – UCC1
2018 – UCC1
2017 – UCC
2018 – UCC
Saturday, 2nd February 2019
Horspath Athletics and Sports Ground, Horspath Road
Oxford OX4 2RR.