After a very successful year for Australian Football in Ireland, this Sunday the year of footy will culminate in the country with the Harvey Norman AFL Ireland Women’s Premiership Grand Final.
It has been one extraordinary year for the game in the nation.
Throughout a jam-packed year of events, the Irish have showcased their class through the Draft Cup , Super 7’s, Leprechaun Cup, Fitzpatrick Cup, Champions League, Taster Sessions, Charity Challenges and Euros 18 competitions.
For women’s football, Michael Currane told afleurope.org the year has seen record numbers in both participation and competition success.
“10 different Irish Women’s Clubs / Teams have been formed and have competed,” Michael said.
“As of Round 3 of the Premiership, 150 girls had participated across domestic competitions.”
“5 Irish Players are about to play professionally in AFLW 3.0 , an extended Irish Banshees Development Squad of 50+ Players has been established and the foundations are being laid for the first Women’s Universities and Schools games over the coming months.”
“This sensational year for the country wraps up this weekend with the first Irish Women’s Premiership, with 4 competing teams and a number of partners on board.”
After three rounds of intense competition between the West Clare Waves, Cork Vikings, Dublin Angels and Portadown Power, one spot in the grand final remains up for grabs as we approach the final day of competition.
To this point in the tournament, the West Clare Waves have been the standout in the competition as the only undefeated side in the league.
With nine wins from nine games the Waves have booked their place in the Grand Final, and they are currently preparing to await the winner of the preliminary final between the Cork Vikings and Dublin Angels in the big dance.
Waves skipper Rosie Currane told afleurope.org that the team have had a fantastic season, but they won’t be getting ahead of themselves when Sunday’s match takes place.
“Yes we have had an amazing year, it’s hard to believe it,” Rosie said.
“We are delighted to be back in another final and particularly as it’s the first Irish Women’s Grand Final.”
“But we certainly won’t be getting ahead of ourselves and will need a huge effort from the team as both teams in the Preliminary Final are of a very high standard and capable of playing some brilliant football.”
When asked how her team has been so successful in 2018, Rosie noted the passion and desire the girls have for the sport as one of the key factors to their improvement throughout the year.
“There is no magic formula,” Rosie said.
“We have an amazing group of girls who just love the game and enjoy every single minute of Aussie Rules they play.”
“We are competitive of course but the main thing is that we really, really enjoy ourselves and playing this great game that we have all become addicted to.”
The preliminary final is set to be a blockbuster contest.
Both the Dublin Angels and the Cork Vikings finished with the regular season on the same number of wins, with the Vikings draw against the Power giving them second spot on the ladder by just one point.
Player-Coach of the Vikings Marie Keating told afleurope.org her side is very excited for the opportunity that presents itself this weekend.
“It’s been a privilege to be coach of the UCC Crusaders/Cork Vikings for the last three years,” Marie said.
“The players have varied experience in different sports and playing styles but have always approached improving themselves in Australian Rules Football with an inspiring sense of fun and dedication.”
“I’m absolutely delighted that we have made the semi finals of what has been a very competitive first Premiership for AFL Ireland Women’s and I look forward to each and every game to come with the team this season.”
Co-Captain of the side Siobhan O’Donnell explained to AFL Europe that the side’s improvement is a testament to the work being done behind the scenes at the club.
“I’d like to thank one teammate/coach in particular for her unwavering dedication and infinite AFL wisdom, Marie Keating (Keats),” Siobhan said.
“She has moulded a group of rugby and G.A.A. players into an Australian Football team.”
“In my opinion, the most effective way to improve as an Aussie Rules player is in a match setting.”
“It is only then that you can really see the importance of accurate kicking in order to secure a mark, or that the key to keeping possession is through high-spirited communication between teammates.”
“We chose to call ourselves the Cork Vikings for a reason.”
“We are a team of brave women, marked by battle wounds and we won’t leave the footy pitch without putting up a good fight!”
Coming up against the mighty Vikings in the semi-final, Captain of the Dublin Angels Laura Flannery has spent the season leading by example, telling afleurope.org “We are delighted to make the semi-final of the first AFL Ireland Women’s Premiership. All of the Angels have put the work in to develop their skills and continued to improve in each and every game.”
“The vikings are a skilled and talented team who will be tough opponents next Sunday. We are hoping for a cracking game!”
Despite finishing on the bottom of the ladder, the Portadown Power still managed to secure 16 points in the league while achieving two victories in the process.
They will take on the loser of the preliminary final at 2:00pm, in the Bronze Plate Final.
Michael Currane told AFL Europe that their physical style and work in the contest has been a highlight of their football in 2018.
“Their physical style of footy has proved very effective and difficult to break down,” Michael said.
“Over the three rounds the Power have been competitive throughout with a number of very close games and they were in a 3-way dogfight for finals spots down to the final siren.”
On Sunday, the day of football will begin with the first preliminary final at 1:00pm, before the Bronze Plate Final at 2:00pm and the Grand Final at 3:00pm.
The Grand Final will be played in Islandbridge and is supported by and associated with the Irish Australian Chamber of Commerce & the Australian Embassy in Ireland.
For more information, please visit the official AFL Ireland Women’s page here.