Irish Watch – AFL Round 15 Review

Things were back to normal for round 15, as all 18 teams featured in an enthralling weekend of action filled with jaw-dropping highlights and tight finishes.

Round 15 would also see a season high seven Irish players feature across the country, with their influence on the competition as a whole getting stronger and stronger.

 After missing the past seven weeks with a nasty quad injury, experienced Gold Coast defender Pearce Hanley enjoyed a successful return in the Sun’s 42 point loss to Sydney at the SCG.

 Proving to be a welcome addition, Hanley was excellent in sureing up the Suns back half and providing some crucial guidance to what is a very inexperienced Gold Coast defence.

 Critical in shutting down the influence of in form Swans small forward Tom Papley, Hanley slotted back into the Suns half back line beautifully as he showed his worth both defensively and offensively with ball in hand.

The veteran would end up with a solid 21 disposals and seven marks and got through the game with no follow up injury scares.

An important cog to the Suns lineup, Hanley will continue to progress over the next month as they hope to break their ten game losing streak.

The Bombers would return to the Thursday night stage in round 15, this time facing the red hot Giants in the familiar surroundings of Marvel Stadium.

In what was a tight encounter for much of the night, a last quarter surge by the Bombers would prove too much for the GWS, as they run out six point victors in what many thought to be controversial circumstances.

As for Irishman Conor McKenna, his good form would continue under the roof as he again proved critical to the exciting and tough brand of footy being produced by the Bombers in recent weeks.

His pace and skill was on display for all to see on Thursday night, as he constantly looked to get the ball moving quickly and expose the Giants for speed across the half back line.

Finishing up with 17 disposals, six contested possessions and a mark, McKenna was excellent for the Bombers all night and really rose to the occasion in the final term as his side roared its way to a famous victory.

Friday night football would return to the Cattery for the first time in 2019, as the ladder leading Cats took on the fifth placed Crows in a crucial contest.

After a strong start which saw Adelaide get out to a 20 point lead, the class of the Cats would eventually take over in the second half, as Geelong successfully bounced back with a 27 point win. 

The Cat’s Irish defensive duo were again brilliant all night, as they were successful in limiting the influence of a number of Adelaide’s star forwards.  

Although he was relatively quiet with ball in hand only having the nine disposals, Mark O’Connor stood out with some moments especially defensively matched up on the likes of Eddie Betts and Lachy Murphy.  

He also took a number of key marks, and was smart in the way he used the ball to assist the Cats ball movement from defence.

As for Tuohy, it was a relatively quiet night by his lofty standards with 18 disposals and four marks across half back.

His ball use however was certainly on point as he used at an extremely effective 89%, and was consistent in his ability to put the Cats in dangerous positions across the middle of the ground and even inside 50.

He also exhibited an excellent toughness around the contest and was pivotal in his leadership as Geelong’s defence comprehensively got the better of Adelaide’s forward line.  

It was old fashioned wet weather footy at the MCG on Saturday afternoon, as a last gasp goal by Jamie Cripps saw the Eagles get out of jail against the wayward Hawks.

 After an extended period out of the side and some excellent performances in the VFL, forward Conor Nash made his return to the Hawks AFL side.  

In a day that didn’t suit key forwards, Nash toiled hard and experienced some reward with seven disposals, four tackles and a crucial goal to get the Hawks off to a fast start.

His tackling pressure was a particular highlight to his performance on the weekend, as he often made it tough for the Eagles defenders to get the ball outside their defensive 50.  

He also provided a strong target for the Hawks to kick to and was excellent in his ability to compete and assist the likes of Paul Puopolo and Luke Breust in trying conditions.

Meanwhile, Conor Glass was again solid across half back and the wing with his hardness and skills on a wet day simply outstanding.

Finishing up with 11 disposals, four contested possessions, five marks and a tackle, Glass played his role well all day, and was just reliable on a very scrappy day.

 The highlight of his game however would be the way he used the ball, as his 91% efficiency was not only super impressive but critical to how the Hawks went about so nearly upsetting the reigning premiers.