Cambridge is back again for the 2019 Fitzpatrick Cup, with the women’s side aiming to go far in the finals after they finished as runners-up last year. For the men’s squad, they are hoping to put a disappointing Fitzpatrick Cup from last year behind them as they target a finals appearance.
Last season was the first time Cambridge had a women’s team in the Fitzpatrick Cup, and despite many of their team playing for the first time, they reached the final.
Mitch Barker, the Vice-President of Cambridge University Australian Rules Football Club, said, “their skills and experience have come a long way. They’ve been playing more matches leading up in the newly formed National University League, with some strong results.”
For the men, they have retained a large part of their core team from last year but have added some new players, getting various results in the National University League.
The women’s side has a number of new players, but one standout is Maighread Ireland. The Cambridge side does already have a large Irish contingent and that has helped her adapt efficiently into the side.
Their male counterparts have seen good numbers at their Thursday training session, with British ruckman Andy Everall being a real standout. “He’s mobile with a really strong set of hands and a rapidly improving kick. For being so new to AFL he’s really picked it up quickly and made an impact in the middle for our team,” Mitch said.
Both teams have had good preparation recently and are confident they have improved from last year. As a result, Cambridge feels that they are capable of taking their game up a level in this tournament.
Taking charge as the coach for Cambridge is David Sykes, who will also have input from various senior members.
“He’s been coaching the teams for a couple of years and has really helped the Women’s and Men’s teams improve in this time,” said Mitch.
Leading into this tournament, the two sides have been working on their pressure and looking to make the most of the strength through the midfield. “The women’s team strength is their ability to apply pressure and tackles and win the ball back and I think you’ll see this play out in the tournament,” Mitch said.
With the men’s team, they will be looking to make the most of their strong midfield, their key part of the team. “We rely on the middle to deliver a lot for the team and so far it’s worked,” Mitch said.
With the kind of football that 9-a-side promotes, winning the ball first will be key and that’s where Cambridge’s midfield strength will be crucial, while their pressure when they don’t have the ball will be important in creating key turnovers.
Cambridge has had a good build-up to this weekends Fitzpatrick Cup, with both teams having plenty of time to develop tactics and team structure. For the women’s squad, they will be confident of going far in the tournament once again, while the men will be hoping their midfielders and tackling pressure will lead them to a place in the finals.
Angus Boyle – AFL Europe.