Match of the Round

Belfast Redbacks v Galway Magpies (ARFLI Men’s Premiership)

25.05.19  Mallusk Playing Fields 13:30


This weekend’s ARFLI matchup will see a grand final rematch grace the fields of Mallusk as reigning premiers the Belfast Redbacks take on the 2018 runners-up, the Galway Magpies.

Heading into Round 3 of the 2019 competition, the Redbacks have held onto their undefeated status from the 2018 season thanks to a solid pre-season effort.

With slick ball movement and smart use of the body around contests, the Redbacks have got themselves to the top of the table, however they’ll come up against perhaps their toughest opposition yet when they face the fierce Magpies tomorrow afternoon.

The Magpies are a thrilling team in their own right, and their ability to run out games with their high footy-IQ is sure to be on display when they come looking for revenge this round.

“The Galway Magpies are certainly formidable opponents for our third game of the season and shouldn’t be underestimated”, said Belfast Redbacks President Conor Mallon.

“The Magpies and the Redbacks have built a great rivalry over last few years, with the Redbacks beating us in 3 previous grand finals. It would be nice to beat them on their home turf as we’ve only done that once in our history – they are always tough games!” said Shaun Murphy, Galway Magpies President.


The Redbacks have had a larger pre-season than usual, with their appearance at the AFL Europe Champions League tournament in April proving to be a big motivator for the team over the winter season. The Redbacks battled through the best teams in Europe undefeated, until a close loss in the grand final saw the hosting Amsterdam Devils take out the title for 2019.

“It would be hard to top our unbeaten 2018 season but we are certainly aiming to be back to back Premiers this season and take on the best in Europe again at the 2020 Champions League. We took a lot of positives from this tournament and there is certainly an appetite to be back again next year and be the first Irish team to lift the title in the history of the tournament” said Mallon.

There’ll be a wealth of talent on display this weekend, with both sides featuring a blend of young and experienced players to watch out for, with plenty of representatives from the Irish Warriors national side pulling on the Redback and Magpie kits.

Belfast credit much of their success to their tight-knit club culture, both on and off the field, and some recent player recruitment has helped to kick their 2019 campaign off to a flying start. “David McElhone, Dean Skinner, and Kyle Devine put in some great individual performances during last season and at the Champions League so we are expecting more of the same from these guys this season. We also have some great new recruits like Ben Hoey” said Mallon.

“Our team goals this year have obviously been to take the next step and win the league, but more importantly to grow the club both on and off the field and recruit new players to Aussie Rules in the West of Ireland. Two of our players to watch are young Conor Fahy and our captain Kevin McDonnell.” said Murphy.


The spectators in Belfast are certainly in for a treat this weekend and we look forward to recapping this top of the table clash in next week’s Around the Grounds.

Stay up to date on the Belfast Redbacks here and the Galway Magpies here. 


Special thanks to Fine Wine Partners for their support of the growth of the game throughout Europe.

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe