2019 ANZAC Cup Player Profiles – Emily McKie

What was once a ‘pipe-dream’ for Emily McKie is now becoming a reality as she is set to represent Australia in the ANZAC Cup against France at Villers Bretonneux this year.

Emily has been involved in the game for many years at different levels, from playing to coaching, and working in an administrative capacity. However, due to age restrictions with female football and injuries, Emily hasn’t been able to play for a number of years.

“It is really hard to compare all of my footballing experiences as each of them has been in different elements of the game. After being involved in female football for years in both an administration and coaching capacity, just the idea of being able to pull on the boots and represent Australia in an ANZAC match on the other side of the world is so surreal,” Emily said.

Making this even more of an incredible event for Emily is her family history and connection to the ANZAC’s.

Her Great-Great Uncle, Albert Denmead, was 27 when he was sent to fight in Egypt as part of World War One. After that, he was moved to Gallipoli but was wounded and had to be taken back to Egypt, which saved his life at that point due to what happened at Gallipoli.

In Emily’s own words, what happened next was pretty grim.

Once he had recovered, he was promoted to Lance Corporal due to a lack of numbers. He was then killed in action in Marseille in France.

Despite Marseille and Villers Bretonneux being on the opposite sides of France to each other, Emily says she is definitely going to try to find the time to find Albert Denmead’s gravestone.

Emily had another Great-Great Uncle, Private Reginald James Denmead, who fought in WW1 as part of the 29thInfantry Battalion.

The experience of being in France on ANZAC Day is also going to be a significant event for Emily. “I think the whole experience of being in France during ANZAC Day and looking at the social constructs of what is happening around people at the time will be very fascinating,” she said.

“I am definitely feeling more privileged to be in the position I am, knowing and understanding the relevance of my history and I’m curious to see how I will feel when it comes around, Emily said.

This experience is likely to provide Emily with a memorable start to her life in Europe, as she is currently completing a university exchange in Germany at Leipzig University. During her time in Germany, she is developing a football club in Leipzig to be part of the AFLG competition.

On top of that, she has taken on the role of Head Coach at the German National Women’s team for the Euro Cup being played during June in Sweden, and the European Championships during October in London.

“To think that our game of AFL, which is based primarily in Victoria, can give us many opportunities in different areas of the world is crazy,” Emily said.

Having grown up in a small town in Victoria, to now living in Germany and playing in an ANZAC Cup for Australia, Emily is certainly continuing to make the most of the opportunities to be involved with Australian Rules.

It’s those kinds of opportunities that Emily is looking forward to the most, to learn about her family’s history and the sacrifices made by her Great-Great Uncles. The chance to play football again, a chance to represent her country and to remind herself how lucky she is to be Australian.

Special thanks to the National Australia Bank for their continued support as Major Partner of the ANZAC Cup.

By Angus Boyle – AFL Europe

Champions League 2019 Tournament Review

The very best of AFL throughout Europe comes together once a year for the Champions League. This was the 5th annual outing of the event, held once again in Amsterdam, to contest for the AFL Europe Champions League Trophy.

15 men’s teams and 8 women’s teams battled it out to be crowned the best European club of this nine-a-side competition for 2019. With 29 different nationalities being represented across the globe the growth of this competition continues to exceed expectations, as word of mouth and love for the game continue to spread.

23 of Europe’s best teams competed at Amsterdam’s Sportpark de Eendracht and throughout the day added to be a total of 56 matches across the five pitches, making it a huge day of Aussie Rules. Working through their pool matches before progressing to finals and then some to the Grand Finals, teams had to work hard, aiming to be the men’s or women’s champions for 2019. This again is seen as such a stellar event and as one of the premier competitions for international Australian football.

Women’s Competition

Group stages

With two new women’s teams of the Zagreb Panthers and the Amsterdam Devils making their debut in the competition, it leaves the women’s side of the event to have some unknown and excitement to brew, while eager to see the improvements and changes of the more experienced sides.  Plenty of onlookers and teams were eager to see the future of the new teams and how the more experienced campaigners would react with plenty of great match-ups on the schedule.

Group A consisted of the Port Malmo Lynx, Nottingham Scorpions, Amsterdam Devils and the 2018 champions, seemingly the team to look out for in the women’s competition,  the West Clare Waves. The Scorpions and Waves left no time in asserting dominance into the competition with some convincing wins to start off the event.  The host side of Amsterdam gave it their all all day bringing a great amount of passion to the event but were outdone by a lot of class and experience from it’s pool competitors. All other three teams recorded some large wins throughout the day, where the Scorpions finished second in the group behind a convincing West Clare Waves who only allowed one point against them throughout their three pool matches.

Group B was considered one of the closest groups of the competition, including many tight games spread between the Wandsworth Demons, Hamburg Dockers, Paris Cockerelles and the Zagreb Panthers. With all three of Paris’ matches being decided by under eight points, for them to only come out with one win seems to not justify the competitive run they had. The Panthers in their inaugural turn in this event, showed a lot of heart with an extremely close game against Paris and proved that they can hit the scoreboard on offence. They unfortunately finished with zero wins, but showed plenty of positive signs for the future. Hamburg and Wandsworth seemed very forceful on the offensive end, having some big wins through the pool stages.  Wandsworth showed the competition they are not to be messed with, with an important win over Hamburg, later leading the group stage in pool B.

Finals

The finals promised for some close encounters, with the top four teams focused on making the big dance. The Hamburg Dockers who had such an amazing tournament were out shone by the speed and class shown by the West Clare Waves who won convincingly by 46, heading to a second consecutive Grand Final appearance. Semi Final 2 was a much closer encounter where the game between Nottingham and Wandsworth was a grind for the win. The grit and skill of Wandsworth ran it out towards the end defeating the Scorpions by 13 points, progressing to the Grand Final.

Like many Grand Finals of the Australian game it started with both Wandsworth and West Clare having a tough body on body battle with plenty of contested footy. This didn’t last long as West Clare kicked into gear and showed the amount of raw fitness they had, even after injuries and the amount of games they had played already. The Demon’s crowd really got behind the skill and everything their women’s team were doing which was great to see, however the class that the Waves showed the entire day, again was brought out in this match. Never letting down they put on an extremely dominating performance with sheer pace and skill winning by 39 points and taking out their second consecutive AFL Europe Champions League win.

West Clare Waves (39) defeated Wandsworth Demons (0)

Men’s Competition

Group Stages

Only one new side of the Prague Dragon’s made their debut in the men’s competition adding an aspect of the unexpected to the event as the rest of these men’s teams, pull out very experienced teams in this nine a side competition and look to flourish on their efforts from previous years.

With an uneven amount of teams, Group A became one of the most formidable, with the Wandsworth Demons, Manchester Mosquitoes and Bristol Dockers, all big clubs in their respective areas of England. The Demons showed their forward pressure and dominance in their first game against Bristol posting a whopping 94 points in the 26 minute match. Despite the power of their group, Bristol held their heads high, and finished the group stage third of the three teams. With both Wandsworth and Manchester posting enormous wins already in the group stage, this pairing of the two teams on Pitch One had a big audience in the crowd and great anticipation. The crowd were not disappointed with a fiery display between the two sides, showing how far they would go to win this competition. Leaving nothing out there on the field both teams gave it their all, however the Demons turned the jets on in the second half and with great disposal efficiency, were able to win this one by 27 points and lead to the top of Group A.

Group B had an abundance of exciting match-ups with the new and experienced coming together in this one. Four time Champions League winners and the current trophy holders, the West London Wildcats seemed to be the team to beat in this group with the Copenhagen Giants, Zagreb Dockers and Prague Dragons hungry to take that crown. With countless close games in this group, many decided by under 10 points, Zagreb came so close to beating the four time champions in the first game losing to the Wildcats by four points. Seeing these as part of the powerhouses of this pool, the Prague Dragons showed just how close this group B really was, creating a draw between the Dockers and Dragons. Showing exciting signs for a new team to the event and the grit and determination of both teams to hang on. The Copenhagen Giants showed their ability to get scores on the board, showing their determination, narrowly winning two matches. However they came across a fired up Wildcats team, where West London finished the group stage unbeaten and lead this Pool B at the very top, seemingly having a rocky start to their campaign unlike other years, but still within a close reach of the trophy yet again.

Group C made for some thrilling affairs between the sides. This pool included the Belfast Redbacks, Winterthur Lions, Hamburg Dockers and the Edinburgh Bloods. The Bloods and Lions in the group were outshone at times by the Redbacks and Dockers, however showed many passages of play that could excite the crowds. Winterthur had a tough competition and with their best game being against the Bloods in a competitive affair. They still finished with their heads held high, finishing with no wins for the day. The Bloods in this game found a bit of confidence and really gelled against the Lions making this their only win but with a real positive outlook on the rest of the event. These group stage games proved how dominant the Redbacks and Dockers can be on such smaller AFL pitches, who both had some big percentage boosting games with pace and accuracy towards goal. Coming up against each other promised for a close encounter, but Belfast won this highly skilled battle by 16 points as they narrowly edged their way to the top of Group C to finish the group stages.

Group D provided the competition with some of the most exhilarating teams on display, involving the host team of the Amsterdam Devils, drawing in plenty of big crowds and support to build the atmosphere. The group consisted of the Amsterdam Devils, Paris Cockerels, Oslo Crows and the Norrtalje Dockers. Paris showed real fight to get over the line with two wins, especially winning a one point thriller against the Norrtalje Dockers. The Cockerels fought till the end just hanging on against the Dockers, helping Paris to finishing second in the group stage. Norrtalje, being very unlucky not to get over the line in this match-up were able to have a solid win against Oslo helping them to get at least the one win on the board. Oslo had a tough day with some big losses involved, however showed real unity and passion as a team throughout the day, even without recording a win. The home side of the Amsterdam Devils showed some real class on many of their home grounds. With multiple wins being over 40 points and the memory of being a part of many Grand Final losses in past years, they wanted to assert themselves as a real chance to take out this years event finishing with three convincing wins and topping their group after the first stages.

Finals

The Division 1 semi finals were too hard for anyone at the event to pick and the chance of a new Champions League men’s winner was a real possibility. The match-up of West London and Belfast was seen as intriguing by talk around the onlookers, as people were eager to see if the Wildcats would reign again or for the Redbacks to change the guard. Such an even battle across the entire ground, created for a tough match and goals having to come from pure burst of power. The Redbacks knowing they were up against one of Europe’s best ever AFL teams, had to bring their A-game and certainly did, using their sheer skill around the ground and being able to hang on by 4 points to head to the much wanted Grand Final, knocking out the four time champs.

Two of Europe’s powerhouse clubs of Amsterdam and Wandsworth were apart of semi final one. Neck and neck this entire match and such a big crowd with many Demons fans cheering on and such a big turnout for the hometown team, the suspense built for a tight finish. Down five with a minute or so left it looked all over for the home side. However with a turnover and surge forward for the Devils they were able to get a mark down forward. Lining up as the siren went a nervous chatter surrounded the ground – this kick could send them into the Grand Final. From a decent way out from goal, the ball was roosted and sent through the big sticks, where a wave of Amsterdam fans rush the field as they have won the match with a goal after the siren and headed to the big dance. Arguably the best match of the tournament and best finish to a game in the events history.

The Grand Final now open to a new winner for the first time in this competitions existence created a real buzz in the air and also unknown as these matched seemed like it was going to make for a perfect battle. Both teams with a high marking forward line and eagerness when heading forward made for an exciting display of footy. A close encounter throughout, Amsterdam seemed to will their way to the finish line to get the victory by 10 points. A fitting way to finish the last year the event will be in Amsterdam and great for the home team and crowd.

Amsterdam Devils (30) defeated Belfast Redbacks (20)

 

With the amazing support and effort from so many people we were able to make a memorable day for all involved. A massive thank you and mention to the umpiring squad for 2019 – 14 umpires were able to cover 56 matches which is a fantastic effort and thanks to them for their outstanding contribution to this Australian game in Europe.

 

 

2019 Golden Whistle winner James Olle receives trophy from 2018’s Winner Katrina Stopinski

 

For the fifth consecutive year our thanks must be said to AFL Netherlands for their amazing management of this event in conjunction with the team at Spark United and Sportpark de Eendracht for hosting us.

Also thank you to Drovers Dog for providing the food and beverage for the day, helping everyone quench their thirst and hunger with a great setup throughout the entire day.

We applaud all the volunteers and pitch managers for keeping the day running on time and for their support of the game in Europe.

We would also like to acknowledge the Australian Ambassador, Matthew Newhaus and Tony Pubjie the First Consul of the Australian Embassy to the Netherlands for coming along and supporting this fantastic event by presenting the Team of the Tournament jumpers and the Champions trophies.

To the entirety of the teams, players and coaches, congratulations on an amazing tournament played in great spirit both on and off the field.

You all represented your leagues and nations with pride.

Good luck and well wishes for a great 2019 season ahead!

 

 

 

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

 

2019 ANZAC Cup Player Profiles – Sean Barker

Imagine being the person responsible for ordering the first shot fired by an Australian in World War One? Well Sean Barker’s Great-Grandfather, Richard Stanley Veale, did just that.

Britain had just declared war when a German ship, the Pfalz, was attempting to leave the heads at Port Philip Bay on the 5thof August 1914 and was ordered to stop. Veale was a midshipman on a boat tasked with intercepting the Pfalz and after it failed to follow instructions to come to a halt, Veale lifted the H signal flag which indicated a hostile vessel. Following that, the gunners at Fort Nepean fired upon the German ship.

Veale then served in the South Pacific islands, China and East Indies stations, mainly aboard the HMAS Encounter, for the remainder of the war before continuing in the naval reserves after its conclusion in 1918.

As fate can be a strange thing, Veale also gave the order to Fort Nepean to fire Australia’s first shot in World War Two, on September 4th, 1939. He was in charge of the Bass Strait approaches towards Port Philip Bay.

When an Australian freighter, the SS Woniora, had failed to acknowledge the recognition signal, Lieutenant Commander Veale ordered for a shot to be fired across its bow from the same gunner at Fort Nepean.

Fast forward to 2019 and Sean Barker will be making his own mark on Australian history, playing for the Australia squad against France as part of the 2019 ANZAC Cup played at Villers-Bretonneux.

Sean is still relatively new to the game, having been invited to a few training sessions at the Paris Cockatoos in 2016 through a friend.

“I’m pretty hopeless at the skills but really appreciated the comradeship and the laid-back atmosphere of the Paris Cockatoos. I played a few other sports at various clubs in Paris, but the Paris footy club is something special,” he said.

Sean has been working in France since 2013 and attended the dawn service at Villers-Bretonneux 2014 but wasn’t aware that there was an ANZAC Cup event. Now he plays with and against members of the French squad week in, week out.

“I attended the dawn service in 2014. It was an experience I will never forget. I was amazed at the number of people who came out in the freezing temperatures to this small village, not just Australians, but the French community who still pay their respect,” Sean said.

Sean has also visited many of the sites on the Western Front since moving to France and as a result, has learnt a lot more about the experiences many of the ANZAC’s went through.

When Sean takes to the field this year, his Uncle, grandson of Richard Veale, will be attending the match as well. In this case, it might feel like a full-circle moment for Sean, with his Great-Grandfather a member of the ANZAC’s during both World Wars and now Sean will be representing him in a football match that illustrates many of the ANZAC values.

From growing up with along the sun-drenched beaches of the Gold Coast to now living in France with his fiancée Laurianne and about to play for Australia at the ANZAC Cup, this is an experience Sean never thought would happen but is certainly excited about.

“I can honestly say that it never crossed my mind to be playing Aussie Rules in France. I grew up on the magnificent Gold Coast beaches surfing and playing rugby and had never kicked the red Sherrin. It’s pretty surreal to be playing this match, can’t wait!” He said.

It will be another piece of history that he will be able to hold on to and share with his family, just like that of his Great-Grandfather Richard Stanley Veale.

Special thanks to the National Australia Bank for their continued support as Major Partner of the ANZAC Cup.

By Angus Boyle – AFL Europe

Irish Watch – AFL Round 3 Review

This weekend would see the season start for all of our fit Irish players, with round one of the NEAFL and VFL kicking off for the reserves sides.

Round three of the AFL would see four Irish players represent their respective sides in blockbuster clashes around the country.

After being dubbed “the worst list since Fitzroy”, Pearce Hanley’s Gold Coast Suns again silenced their doubters with a spirited five-point win over the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium.

Playing across the half back line, Hanley’s experience was critical all day for the Suns as they held off the fast finishing Bulldogs to claim one of the best wins in the club’s history.

In his best performance for the year thus far, Hanley would pick up an impressive 22 disposals and four marks as he continues to regain the dash and class that made him so damaging at the Brisbane Lions.

His on-field leadership was also something to admire, as he led from the front and acted as a coach like figure on the field for the young Sun’s defense around him.

With the game going down to the wire, Hanley would step up on countless occasions by taking big marks, making the right decisions and generally changing the tempo of the game to help his team hang on.

Thursday night would see young Mark O’Connor get another chance to impress on the big stage as his Geelong Cat’s travelled to Adelaide to take on the Crow’s in a blockbuster clash.

In what was a tight game throughout, Geelong proved themselves a genuine contender as they repelled every Adelaide advance and came away with a majorly impressive 24-point win.

Playing in a defence that restricted a once dominant Crows forward line to just 75 points, O’Connor was superb in the back pocket as he battled away brilliantly with seasoned star Eddie Betts.

O’Connor would prove more than a handful for Betts who found himself unable to hit the scoreboard and provide that trademark spark within Adelaide’s forward 50.

Along with his excellent work defensively, O’Connor would also assist in setting up the Cat’s attack off half back claiming 11 disposals of his own.

Faced with a do or die proposition against the Demon’s on Friday night, Conor McKenna’s Bombers would come up trumps on the MCG as they put in a spirited performance to run away 18-point victors.

Criticised for their slow ball movement and unwillingness to take risks, a rejuvenated Bombers would take the field on Friday night with Irishman McKenna leading the charge off half back.

Backing up his excellent game last week, McKenna would collect 20 possessions at 75% efficiency whilst also laying three tackles as he played his defensive role to perfection.

Seen throughout the night charging out of Essendon’s defence and setting up attacking movements for his team, there was lots to like from the 23-year old’s game which really resembled that of Pearce Hanley in his absolute prime.

The final Irishman to take the field this weekend would be young pressure forward Conor Nash, who’s Hawks bounced back from their fourth quarter meltdown last week to secure a much needed four points against North Melbourne.

Known for his pace and relentless approach to chasing and applying pressure, Nash was excellent in disturbing the Kangaroo’s defence and forcing seasoned campaigners such as Jasper Pittard, Jamie MacMillan and Shaun Atley into mistakes.

Along with his excellent pressure, Nash would contribute offensively with 11 disposals and a goal as he looks to expand his game and turn into a very dangerous small forward.

Moving to the VFL and it was an exciting day for North Melbourne’s Red Og Murphy, who after crossing over from Gaelic football last off season made his debut for the Kangaroo’s reserves.

Still very much adapting to the nuances of our game, it would very much be a learning experience for Murphy as he only managed the five disposals as North Melbourne went down by 39 points to a more experienced Werribee outfit. However, this was an important stepping stone for Murphy and no doubt a day he will never forget.

With all competitions now officially underway, expect more and more exciting updates from our Irish player as they each look to further enhance their skills and become key contributors for their respective clubs moving forward.

 

By Zac Standish 

2019 ANZAC Cup Player Profiles – Claudia Bailey

Since the age of five, Claudia Bailey has played Australian Rules Football whenever she could get her hands on a footy.

After playing Auskick until she was 12 when rules came in that meant she wasn’t allowed to play, Claudia continued playing at school and got selected in a Riverina team. Following that, she joined Thurgoona Football Club but could only train with the under 21’s as she was too old to play.

Her desire to pursue the game eventually paid off when she got the opportunity to play for a Greater Western Sydney Giants development squad and played in a tournament for AFL Southern NSW open women’s squad.

In January 2018, she joined the West London Wildcats where she won the Premiership Division coaches award and was also selected to play for the London All-Stars team against Great Britain.

During the following off-season, she played with the Sussex Swans in the European Championship League which allowed her to travel outside the UK, an experience Claudia says was a big honour.

“I have had some pretty amazing experiences in my football career, and I am so grateful for every one of them,” Claudia said.

Being involved in the game for so long has presented Claudia with numerous opportunities, especially with women’s football growing at such a high rate. However, for Claudia, having the opportunity to play for Australia in the ANZAC Cup will rank as one of her highest achievements.

“Having all these memories, playing in the ANZAC Cup would rank as one of my highest achievements as a footballer, and one of the greatest honours for my family given the history of my great grandfathers and their experiences in the war,” she said.

Her family has a strong connection and history with both wartime and the ANZAC’s. Two of her great grandfathers, Franc Prosen and Jozef Mikuletic, fought in World War Two in the Yugoslav army.

Her other great grandfather, William Alfred Henry Ellis, fought in World War One in Egypt as part of the 4thLight Horse Regiment. He began his duty there in March 1917 but was admitted to hospital in the same year with rheumatism and fibrositis. William arrived back in Melbourne in December 1917 and was discharged from service in April 1918.

While William was part of the ANZAC’s on WW1, Claudia’s great grandfathers who fought in WW2 had a very different role.

Both Franc and Jozef fought for the Yugoslav Army, which was also known as “The Yugoslav Partisans” or the National Liberation Army. Franc fought from 1941 to 1945 and survived, but Jozef was not so fortunate.

In 1941, Jozef, who was one of the Resistance Fighters, went missing and his body was never recovered. He was tragically killed in Croatia and is buried in a mass grave.

One of the ways Claudia wants to remember her great grandfathers by is being involved with the ANZAC commemorations, and she says this will be one memory that will stay with her for the rest of her life.

“It is on my bucket list to experience an ANZAC Day service in Turkey but having the opportunity to be involved at a place that holds such significance such as Villers Bretonneux in France is an honour,” Claudia said.

From playing football growing up in NSW, playing in London and now to playing for Australia in the ANZAC Cup, Claudia has an impressive list of footballing experience. This occasion though is more than that, it’s a chance to represent her family and she says it’s an opportunity that she is humbled to be part of.

Special thanks to the National Australia Bank for their continued support as Major Partner of the ANZAC Cup.

By Angus Boyle – AFL Europe

Telstra reconnecting with AFL Europe in 2019

AFL Europe is excited to announce the partnership extension with the Australian telecommunications heavyweight, Telstra, who have signed on as the Official Ball Partner for 2019. Telstra’s efforts to grow the game and get the AFL ball into as many European hands as possible was a great success in 2018 and is set to have an even greater impact in the upcoming season.

Having shared a close relationship with the AFL for many years, Telstra ensures the professional Australian game is available to AFL fans to stream live, fast and data-free for Telstra mobile customers. What strengthens this relationship with AFL in Australia even further, is the fact that Telstra are now in the second year of an important six year mobile and digital rights agreement.

Such a renowned Australian company and one that has been so closely connected to the Australian game, AFL Europe are thrilled to have Telstra branded footballs being used across the continent in 2019. These footballs will be used in all the major events throughout the year, including Champions League, ANZAC Cup, Euro Cup, the European Championship and many of the leagues across the continent.

AFL Europe’s General Manager, Ryan Davey is again thrilled to be working alongside Telstra ahead of a massive 2019 season, “Extending this partnership into 2019 is an outstanding result for AFL in Europe. Not only do we have Telstra branded Footballs to use at our events and sell via our online shop, the support from Telstra also allows us to supply clubs, schools and Auskick centres with footballs (free of charge) via our Football Grant program.”

“Telstra is such a well-known Australian company; it is amazing for us to partner with them and their support will go a long way towards helping us reach our goals of growing this great game and getting more footballs into the hands of footy fanatics throughout Europe.”

Telstra’s Managing Director for EMEA, Tom Homer, echoed these sentiments saying “it has been a fantastic year for AFL Europe and furthermore both Telstra and the AFL are growing in Europe. It is exciting to extend further the longstanding partnership we have in Australia to help get more people involved in the game across the continent”.

Please visit the AFL Europe Shop to purchase a Telstra branded football and keep an eye out on our website and social media platforms for the announcement of the upcoming Football Grant program.

2019 Champions League Tournament Preview

It’s only two more days until the fifth annual AFL Europe Champions League, hosted again in Amsterdam on Saturday, the 6th of April. Club teams from all across Europe will spend the day battling it out to see who comes out on top as the best men’s and women’s club side in Europe.

Both the West London Wildcats and the West Clare Waves will be returning as reigning champions of the tournament, but the two sides will be looking over their shoulders as they know they are the teams to beat.

For the 2019 edition of this major event in the AFL Europe calendar, 23 teams will descend on Amsterdam. In the men’s draw, there are 15 competing teams split between four pool’s and the women’s competition will see eight teams split into two pools.

 

EXPLAINING THE FIXTURE STRUCTURE

AFL Europe began the fixturing process by ranking all 23 clubs using the most recent three-year history of their league’s results in the tournament, in order to create a draw that would best deliver a fair fixture for all competing sides.

The resultant draw saw the 15 teams competing in the men’s division divided into three groups of four teams and one group of three teams via a ‘Ranked Draw’, while the eight sides contesting the women’s division were separated into two groups of four by the same process.

Given the disparity between the group sizes in the men’s draw, match length has been increased slightly for matches in Men’s Pool A (three teams) to ensure that playing and rest time is ultimately as even as possible between all 23 clubs across the day. As a result, the men’s Pool A matches will have 13-minute halves while every other pool game in men’s and women’s has 10-minute halves. All finals matches, including the grand finals, will all consist of 12-minute halves in all divisions.

In each group, teams will play each other once throughout the group stages, with the top side in each men’s pool, and top two sides in women’s pools progressing to semi-finals.

2019 Champions League Fixture

 

WHO PLAYS WHO?

In Pool A of the men’s draw, the Wandsworth Demons, Manchester Mosquitoes and Bristol Dockers will challenge each other for top spot. Due to the odd number of men’s teams, this pool has three teams compared to four teams in the rest. With the reigning AFL London premiers in Wandsworth taking on the AFLCNE premiers Manchester in the final pool match, this all-England match-up could decide who goes through to the semi-final.

Looking towards Pool B, the West London Wildcats will look to get off to a strong start in their bid to record a fifth Champions League in a row – the only team to have won the competition since its inception. Joining them are the Copenhagen Giants, Zagreb Dockers and the Prague Dragons. The 11:30am game between Copenhagen Giants and the Zagreb Dockers will be one to keep an eye on as both teams will be aiming to pounce on any games dropped by the Wildcats.

Next is Pool C, which will see all teams view themselves as favourites as the Belfast Redbacks, Hamburg Dockers, Edinburgh Bloods and Winterthur Lions battle it out. The Hamburg Dockers and Belfast Redbacks will view this as a perfect chance to push for a semi-final appearance, so their game at 1 pm on pitch four is set to be a thriller between two closely ranked sides.

The final group, Pool D, sees the Amsterdam Devils, Paris Cockerels, Norrtälje Dockers and Oslo Crows go against each other for a semi-final spot. On pitch four, the Paris Cockerels will play the Norrtälje Dockers in what could be a tight match between two well-matched sides who missed out on last year’s Champions League and will be looking to make their mark in 2019.

Over to the women’s competition, and the West Clare Waves, Port Malmo Lynx, Nottingham Scorpions and Amsterdam Devils make up Pool A.

Last year’s Champions, the West Clare Waves, will be the team to beat but the Port Malmo Lynx and Nottingham Scorpions are both strong teams coming off the back of good seasons last year, while Amsterdam Devils will be ready, playing in their first Champions League. Keep an eye on the opening game on pitch two, as Amsterdam Devils open proceedings as hosts and a new side against last year’s champions, the West Clare Waves.

In Pool B of the women’s, the Wandsworth Demons, Paris Cockerelles, Hamburg Dockers and Zagreb Panthers will be fighting it out for a top two spot which will result in a division one semi-final. The 12:30 pm game between Wandsworth Demons and Paris Cockerelles sees an England versus France match-up, which could also be the decider to see who finishes top in Pool B.

Kick-off for the day starts at 9:30am, with the presentations scheduled to take place around 6 pm. Make sure you tune in to all the AFL Europe social media channels to keep up to date with all the action.

 

2019 Team Previews:

Part One– Belfast Redbacks, Copenhagen Giants and Hamburg Dockers (Women’s).

Part Two– Paris Cockerels, Winterthur Lions and Amsterdam Devils (Women’s).

Part Three– Manchester Mosquitoes, Zagreb Cvjetno Dockers and Port Malmo Lynx.

Part Four– Oslo Crows, Norrtälje Dockers and Nottingham Scorpions.

Part Five– Wandsworth Demons, Prague Dragons and Zagreb Panthers.

Part Six– Edinburgh Bloods, Amsterdam Devils and Wandsworth Demons (Women’s).

Part Seven– Bristol Dockers, Hamburg Dockers and Paris Cockerelles.

Part Eight– West London Wildcats and West Clare Waves.

O’Neills signs on to join AFL Europe again in 2019

O’Neills Irish International Sports Limited are set to join AFL Europe as the Official Apparel Partner for the fourth consecutive year. With an aim to reinforce growth of the Australian game in Europe, O’Neills and AFL Europe will come together once again in a bid to expand on their partnership from previous years.

O’Neills Team of the Tournament Jumper presented to the best player from the West Clare Waves at the 2018 Champions League tournament in Amsterdam

General Manager of AFL Europe, Ryan Davey has seen the partnership grow from strength to strength and is excited for another year working together, “we are so pleased to be working with O’Neills once again. With the help from Kieran, Orla and the entire team, O’Neills has been able to provide great service and quality products to the entire AFL Europe community. We are very grateful to have O’Neills as our Official Apparel Partner again and value their efforts in supporting all those involved with Australian football across the continent.”

 

  O’Neills ANZAC Cup guernseys, Villers-Bretonneux, France

Aside from supplying quality playing kits and leisurewear to teams from across Europe, O’Neills will also support AFL Europe’s major tournaments throughout 2019; including the ANZAC Cup, Champions League, Euro Cup & European Championship.

Australian Spirit Captains present His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, with an O’Neills Australian Spirit playing jumper for his 70th Birthday at the ANZAC Day Dawn Service in Villers-Bretonneux, France

 

O’Neills is Irelands largest sportswear manufacturing company specialising in the design, manufacture and personalisation of performance training kits, playing kits and leisurewear. Building on its reputation of high-quality Gaelic football kits and unbeatable delivery times, O’Neills supplies athletes and teams at the highest level in rugby, soccer, netball, hockey, cricket, athletics, cycling, boxing and of course, Australian Football.

O’Neills Euro Cup Team of the Tournament guernseys presented to the best female players during the tournament in Cork, Ireland

 

Commenting on the renewal of the partnership, Kieran Kennedy, Managing Director said: “O’Neills are delighted to extend our partnership with AFL Europe into 2019. We are looking forward to working with the AFL Europe community to deliver outstanding designs and high-quality playing kit and team wear.   We wish the AFL Europe team including Ryan and Lily every success as they continue to grow the Australian game across Europe.”

For information on how your club, event or competition can be a part of this and join O’Neills to create a unique identity, please contact Orla Ward (oward@oneills.com).

Irish Watch: AFL Round Two Review

After a week of incredible upsets to kick off the 2019 season, round two did not disappoint with a number of tight finishes and incredible results headlining an action-packed weekend of footy.

It would again be five Irishmen to take the field this weekend for their respective sides, while the rest wait anxiously for their various state league fixtures to kick off this coming weekend.

Starting with the feel-good story of the week, Irish veteran Pearce Hanley would be a key contributor as the underdog Suns pulled off an in upset victory over the inform Fremantle Dockers on Sunday afternoon.

With many critics questioning whether the Suns would even win a game in 2019, coach Stuart Dew had the boys from up North playing an inspired brand with a number of unheralded youngsters paving the way for a defining win in the club’s short history.

Alongside the club’s youth, Hanley was superb in guiding the side with his experience as he claimed 19 disposals in a clinical display off the half back line.

With injury wrecking his past two seasons up on the Gold Coast, it was great to see Hanley fit and firing at Metricon Stadium on Sunday Afternoon, with the trademark dash that saw him become one of the most exciting players in the competition beginning to come back into his game.

He would also show great leadership throughout the match, with his cool head proving critical at time as the Suns grinded out an impressive victory.

After being overlooked last week, Sydney brought back crafty Irish defender Colin O’Riordan for their massive Friday night clash with the Adelaide Crows at the SCG.

Despite one major blunder where he inexplicably gifted Adelaide rookie Chayce Jones a baffling 100-meter penalty due to the new rules introduced this season, the 23 year old was gallant in defense taking five marks and having 15 disposals.

Kicking at 73%, O’Riordan was always willing to take on the risky option and get the Swans ball movement moving positively after a stagnant start to the season.

He was also pivotal in helping Sydney curtail the influence of some of Adelaide’s premier forwards, with the likes of Taylor Walker, Eddie Betts, Tom Lynch and Josh Jenkins only combining for five goals.

Despite his efforts, the Swans were simply outclassed by the Crows who claimed a crucial 26-point win to get off the mark in season 2019.

It was a thriller at the MCG on Sunday afternoon. After holding a comfortable 30 point lead at three-quarter-time Conor Nash’s Hawks would fall victim to an incredible comeback that saw the Western Bulldogs kick nine goals to one in the last term and steal a famous victory.

After playing his role to perfection in last week’s upset win over the Crows, Nash would have a quitter afternoon at the home of football only managing eight disposals and a tackle on a wet afternoon in Melbourne.

Despite his low stats, Nash would still find ways to contribute with his pressure around the ball and energy at the contest yielding positive results for the Hawks on a number of occasions.

It was a demolition job down at the Cattery on Saturday night as Mark O’Connor’s Cat’s drew revenge on the Demon’s from last year’s elimination final to claim an emphatic 80-point win.

After having perhaps, the best game of his career last week against Collingwood, O’Connor wouldn’t have quite the same influence against Melbourne as he only gathered 11 disposals in a rain-soaked match down in Geelong.

Despite this, the defensive aspects of O’Connor’s game were exceptional as he along with the rest of the backline kept Melbourne to a lowly 46 from an astounding 72 inside 50’s.

His disposal was also solid in the wet, with his dash off half back setting up the Cats for scores on multiple occasions.

It was another dismal day for the Bombers, who after being destroyed by GWS in round one failed to bounce back, suffering a humiliating 11-point loss to a re-building St Kilda.

In a match headlined by comedic errors from the Bombers, McKenna stood tall off half back claiming 17 disposals in what was a gallant performance.

Renowned for his run and dash off half back, the Irishmen would do all he could to inspire his teammates as he constantly looked to take the game on and be aggressive with his ball use.

After a few solid seasons at the top level, McKenna is beginning to show signs of big improvement in 2019 as he hopes to become a regular high performer in the Essendon side and lead them out of the major hole they find themselves in just two weeks into the season.

So, with another week under the belt things intensify in the wild world of AFL, with shock results and as teams adjust to the new rule and interpretation changes – nothing is certain in this competition.

With more Irish players set to start their seasons next weekend either at AFL or state league level, it will be interesting to see how far they grow as 2019 looms as a transcendent year for Irish footballers.

Irish Watch: AFLW Grand Final Review

A record crowd saw Ailish Considine and the Adelaide Crows win the 2019 AFLW Grand Final in commanding fashion over Carlton.

53,034.

This incredible figure will be a talking point for many years to come, as South Australian’s flocked to the Adelaide Oval on Sunday afternoon to witness a history-making AFLW Grand Final.

In a match riddled with incredible stories from both Adelaide and Carlton, Irish pioneer Ailish Considine would make her mark on the biggest stage as she became the first European AFLW premiership player.

With five Irish girls beginning this incredible AFLW journey, Considine would fly the Irish flag fittingly to the end as after just eight weeks of professional football she managed to achieve the ultimate goal.

After obliterating the Cats in the preliminary final last weekend, the Crows came into the Grand Final red hot favourites to overcome a Carlton side that built solid momentum throughout the back end of the season.

Typical of all grand finals, it was on from the first bounce as a fired-up Carlton outfit pressured the Crows into mistakes early and managed to hit the scoreboard first.

Despite the best efforts of the Blues early, the Crows machine would eventually kick into gear as they began to match Carlton around the contest and burn them on the outside.

In a dazzling first-half display, the Crows skipped away to a huge 42-point lead at the main break, with the Blues simply unable to match their class.

After a couple of solid weeks upon returning to the side, Ailish Considine continued to thrive in her role as a pressure forward with her attack on the ball and relentless ferocity critical in causing Carlton mistakes.

She would also contribute a crucial first quarter goal to get the Crows rolling, with the Irishwoman saluting to the 50,000 strong crowd in what turned out to be a memorable moment.

As the siren sounded, the Crows would see themselves 45 points ahead as they claimed a very well deserved second AFLW premiership.

The only downside from the afternoon would be ACL injuries to forward Chloe Scheer and superstar Erin Phillips, with the latter claiming best on ground honours despite being stretchered off in the third term.

So, with the AFLW season now finished it has been truly incredible to see the growth of the Irish players with all five making solid contributions to their respective clubs.

With Ailish fortunate enough to taste the glory of a premiership, it is amazing to think how far these girls can come in future years and the talent they will inspire to come over and participate in the great game of Australian Rules Football.

By Zac Standish.