Match of the Round

Irish Warriors v GB Bulldogs

It’s been just over 2 months since the Great Britain Bulldogs held aloft the European Championship trophy. It’s a day their opponents, the Irish Warriors, won’t forget too quickly as they were completely outclassed at a game they’ve dominated for years.

The Bulldogs used their home tournament as a platform to launch towards their ultimate prize of claiming the International Cup next year. Since their EC16 victory they’ve played Holland, in what was their opponents first ever 18-a-side international, and had players involved in the 9-a-side Euro Cup with England, Scotland and Wales.

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The Irish were hurt badly by their final performance at EC16, it stung a lot. If anything its provided them with the perfect wake up call for their International Cup preparations. They bounced back at the recent Euro Cup in Lisbon but ultimately fell short in extra time of the final against a strong Croatian outfit.

This weekend sees the two sides meet again for the first time since that EC16 final, this time on the Warriors home turf in Dublin. The National Sports Campus plays host to the next epic chapter of this fierce rivalry and with a traditional 2pm bounce scheduled its sure to attract a large crowd of vocal Irishmen and women.

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Both teams are coming in with numerous changes to when they last met.  Alex Watson, Charlie Steel, Anthony Brannigan, Jordan Wynne and Tomos Wyn-Jones enter the mix for the Bulldogs.

The Irish welcome Oisin Collins, Roch Hanmore and Peter Traynor into the side. They’ll sorely miss playmakers Kevin O’Brien and Muiris Bartley in this hit-out but it provides an opportunity for some others to take the next step up.

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Neither side will be taking a backward step in this encounter as it provides all 44 players an opportunity to stake their claim for a place on the plane next August. Good luck to everyone involved in this one, hopefully matches like this become a regular fixture throughout the season.

Player to watch….

GB Bulldogs

Andy Walkden was the difference between the two sides in the EC16 final in what was a man of the match performance. His form hasn’t dropped off as he earned team of the tournament honours at the recent Euro Cup in Lisbon. The Warriors will have to keep a close eye on the crafty half-forward if they are to be any chance.

Irish Warriors

Ryan McCloskey was unstoppable at EC16 before a shoulder injury interrupted his campaign. His absence in the forward line was sorely missed in the later stages of that competition. The small forward doesn’t need many possessions to hurt his opposition so whichever Bulldog marks up on him will have to be switched on at all times.

A word from….

GB Bulldogs – Team Manager Jason Hill:

“This gives GB more vital preparation going in to International Cup 2017. It was great winning against the Irish in London but this will be a totally different game in their home conditions and if we want to compete at IC17 we will need to be able to take the game to teams in uncomfortable places. A lot of thanks goes to Ciaran from Ireland for setting up the game and we are excited to bring a GB side across the Irish Sea in what we hope will be a more regular fixture.”

Team Lists

GB BulldogsIrish Warriors
Luke Booth (Captain) (Huddersfield Rams)Gareth Baird
Michael Sharp (VC) (North London Lions)Liam Burns
Chris Britton (VC) (Manchester Mosquitoes)Stephen Guing
Anthony Brannigan (Tyne-Tees Tigers)Sean Paul Henry
Lewis Gedney (Wolverhampton Wolverines)Brendan Kelly
David Hastie (Wimbledon Hawks)Colin Lordan
Myles Hudson (Wimbledon Hawks)Kevin McDonnell
Alex Overton (Huddersfield Rams)Sean McGlinchey
Ryan Spivey (Sussex Swans)Tom McKenna
James Talbot (North London Lions)Gavin Murray
Matthew Warwick (West London Wildcats)Conor O’Halloran
Jordan Wynne (Wimbledon Hawks)Peter Traynor
Andrew Cochran (Manchester Mosquitoes)Matt Bell
Marc Cashman (Wimbledon Hawks)Oisin Collins
Jack Coughlan (North London Lions)Roch Hanmore
George Dibble (Wolverhampton Wolverines)Luke Hickey
Tim Gower (Manchester Mosquitoes)David Lally
Jason Hill (Wimbledon Hawks)Ryan McCloskey
Michael “Spike” Kilheeney (Manchester Mosquitoes)David McElhone
Owain Ryland (London Swans)Stuart McKeating
Charlie Steel (Wandsworth Demons)Paul Murphy
Andy Walkden (Manchester Mosquitoes)Padraic O’Connell
Alex Watson (Wandsworth Demons)Seamus Owens
Tomos Wyn-Jones (University of Birmingham)Coach: Brian Currane
Coach: Dean Thomas
Support Staff: Hilary Wilson, Charley Dakin, Millie Morgan