Umpire Spotlight – Paul Barron

From “doing a shoey” in front of the Australian Ambassador for Sweden to combining the tricky balance of umpiring and playing Australian Football, Paul Barron has been involved in the game for roughly 20 years.

Having started umpiring at the age of 14 in Sydney, before moving on to senior football as he went up the ranks, Paul gained a wealth of experience in the game, so when he moved to Malmo in Sweden in 2014, he had no hesitation in combining playing and umpiring to stay involved in Australian Football.

“I umpired for many years in Australia as I was never a very good player and the pocket money growing up was handy,” he said. Now he regularly umpires at major tournaments around Europe.

Paul’s umpiring experience includes two underage national championships in Australia, one held in Brisbane and the other in Melbourne. He has also umpired in Denmark, in his local league and at this years Euro Cup in Sweden as well as in the Champions League in Amsterdam.

At this year’s Euro Cup, Paul was awarded the Golden Whistle, given to the umpire of the tournament, and celebrated in true Australian fashion.

“I was accepting the trophy in front of the Australian Ambassador and local mayor when one of the Irish players came up to me with a beer and a football boot. Of course I couldn’t say no, so now I can tell everyone that I’ve done a shoey in front of the Australian Ambassador to Sweden,” he said.

Winning the Golden Whistle was also a bit of a special moment for Paul, as the tournament was in the country he is currently living in, and many of his teammates were present from Port Malmo.

“It was a nice moment. Living in Sweden I got a big cheer since a lot of my Malmo team mates were there playing for the Swedish national team,” he said.

For many umpires, their goal is to umpire the highest quality football possible, which tends to be the grand final in whichever league they are in. Paul achieved that goal last year in the Danish Australian Football League between the Copenhagen Giants and the Farum Cats.

Having said that, Paul has umpired plenty of football at a variety of levels, and his aim for umpiring in Europe at the moment is to do as many games as possible to help grow the sport.

“My goal is to umpire as many games as possible. I love the fact that Australian Football is played outside of Australia so by umpiring, I’m enabling people to play footy in Europe. And if I can teach some of the newer players the rules or give some advice to new umpires then even better,” he said.

Becoming an umpire is a daunting experience to some, but there are plenty of opportunities at local leagues and major tournaments throughout Europe where people can get involved and Paul says there are lots of those opportunities available for anyone who wants to give it a try. With people like Paul involved, those who are willing to give it a try will be in good hands as his experience in the game goes to show.

During his football career, Paul has been involved in plenty of games either as a player or umpire and will hopefully be involved in plenty more to come – and the “shoey” story will certainly be told for a while!

Angus Boyle – AFL Europe

Colin O’Riordan is making his mark at AFL level

It’s been an interesting journey for 23 year old Irishman Colin O’Riordan, coming from a Catholic household in the Irish countryside with Gaelic football running through his veins.

Following in the footsteps of his champion Gaelic Football playing father (Michael), O’Riordan would achieve this same goal in 2014 when he made his senior debut for Tipperary and immediately becoming a regular at senior level and racking up numerous awards.

His career trajectory was set as a professional Gaelic player.

It wasn’t until an AFL Europe draft combine caught his attention that he found out about Aussies Rules and it didn’t take long for him to be hooked on the game.

“I went over to London to play an exhibition game for AFL Europe against the AIS boys from Australia and while only playing for 40-45 minutes I was interested in the game and intrigued by a possible pathway to the AFL.” O’Riordan told AFL Europe.

After impressing at the combines in Europe, O’Riordan would attract the attention of three AFL clubs in St Kilda, Essendon and Sydney, with the decision made very easy by the effort the Swans made in their recruiting pitch.

“I just loved Sydney, they flew me up to training at their Academy where I had a few kicks the footy and ever since then I decided that if I got offered a contract that’s 100% where I’d want to be.”

He would eventually be picked up in October 2015 by the Swans with an international rookie contract, showing how quickly he had impressed recruiters.

Sydney recruiting manger Kinnear Beatson was extremely happy to have secured the Irish talent, speaking glowingly of O’Riordan’s ability to grasp the game so quickly.

“What struck us most was how well he kicked the footy, he genuinely looks like an AFL footballer” Beatson said following the clubs signing of O’Riordan.

“He’s got great skills, takes the ball at the highest point when marking overhead, his work ethic and his competitiveness really shone out in the session he had with us.”

O’Riordan’s dedication would be a standout trait when he joined the club, as he remembers working hard to earn the respect of the group and get the best out of himself as an athlete.

“All you want to do is try to impress and that’s all I did, I just wanted to go as hard as I could for as long as I could and gain the respect of the playing group.”

This work ethic would see the young Irishman take dramatic strides, as he picked up the game quickly and slotted in beautifully to the Swans NEAFL set up.

Playing his first game in 2016, match notes suggested the Irishman did not look out of place from the beginning as he claimed 20 touches in just his second match at the level.

Despite being very new to the game, O’Riordan was never content at state level, with his eyes firmly set on the AFL from the beginning.

“You don’t really want to play NEAFL and that’s the reality, you come over with your head set to play AFL and for me that’s all I really wanted.”

Spending two years honing his craft at state level, O’Riordan would begin to truly breakout in 2018 where he averaged an astounding 28.9 disposals and 8.6 marks a game to put himself in the frame for senior selection.

After a string of dominant performances in the NEAFL, O’Riordan would finally get his chance to play senior football in round 17 of 2018 when the Swans travelled to Docklands Stadium to face North Melbourne.

It’s a day Colin says he will never forget. “It was what I always wanted.” He said. “Being able to get my Mum and Dad over to watch the game made it even more special, and to win the way we did, I just wanted more.”

He would play two more matches in 2018, showing glimpses of a promising future at the highest level.

With three pre seasons under his belt, 2019 was the year O’Riordan looked to make his mark.

“It’s been a progressive year.” He said reflecting on 2019.

“[Playing senior footy] is obviously what I came to do and I’ve learned a lot more this year than any year.”

This growth saw him able to string together 11 straight games through the middle of the year before being struck down with a groin injury two weeks ago.

Throughout his 12 games, O’Riordan averaged 14.1 disposals and 4.3 marks across half back and the wing whilst looking more and more confident at the level each week. Despite his success this year, the Irishman is far from satisfied.

“I’m happy but not really content with where I’m at.  I’m not sure I’ll ever be content with where I am, it is a step in the right direction.”

As for the team as a whole, the Swans have been the youngest team in the competition on numerous occasions this year which is something O’Riordan is super excited about moving forward.

“We still want to progress and we are annoyed with aspects of this year, however it’s been pretty special to be a part of a group with a real sense of camaraderie and belonging.” He told AFL Europe.

“It’s exciting times for sure.”

At the end the day though for Colin O’Riordan it’s all about going out there and giving his all.

“You have to have confidence in your own ability that you can beat [anyone].” He said of the jump to the AFL.

“You can really just focus on yourself, get your body right, and when it comes to the weekend have an absolute crack.”

 

Zac Standish – AFL Europe 

Belushi’s Presents: Player Spotlight – Phil Forbes

Each week, AFL Europe in combination with Belushi’s will take a look at one of our star players competing in fixtures across the continent in Player Spotlight. 

Growing up in the outer-east suburbs of Melbourne, Phil Forbes was surrounded by people who loved the game of AFL and before long he joined the craze, playing four years for the South Croydon Bulldogs in his teenage years.

Phil moved to Poland for work and initially didn’t think about playing AFL in Europe, but after hearing about the rise of the game in the continent he was eager to become a driving force for the game in a new country.

With his height and agility, Phil has developed his game since being in Poland and has played in some important games on the international level in many countries.

“I’m 194cm and while I’m far from my prime, I can still move pretty damn fast. Whether I’m on the field or watching from the sidelines, I’m always talking, yelling, or just generally being loud. Here in Poland where a lot of Poles are traditionally shy, my loudness can be encouraging and get everyone going,” he said.

AFL is such a big part of the culture of Australia and when you support a team you feel connected to so many others each AFL season. Phil explains that when moving overseas to Poland he was always looking for things to help his experience feel like home and playing AFL was certainly a main contributor.

“Being an expat, I’ve found myself trying to focus on the things from home that I truly love and miss – AFL is one of them. When I moved to Poland, I never considered playing, but it just kind of happened and evolved. Now that I’ve started playing again, I’m finding a new love for the game.”

Phil wanted to build on the sport in Poland and started to put together a national side where today, thanks to his volunteer work, has put the Polish Devils side on the map as they made their debut in this year’s Euro Cup.

Phil recruited, taught, coached, managed and played all in order to get this side off the ground and after such an effort to be a part of the tournament in Sweden, the future of the Polish Devils looks extremely promising thanks to his hard work.

Since founding this Polish side, Phil has created a crew which he believes is helping to create it to be a more successful club, “I’ve had to sacrifice a few other things in order to get the ball rolling. I’m lucky that I work with a half dozen others (Aussies and Poles) and we delegate jobs pretty well. I take care of the websites and marketing, another guy takes care of the training, another guy takes care of all the admin, another manages the money. Building these core group of guys wasn’t easy, but the best way to improve yourself as a player and a club is to delegate and keep each other accountable.”

While Phil has loved his time building the game in Poland, one of his favourite moments of his Australian Football career so far was playing in an ANZAC commemoration match in Peronne, France, last year.

“To be in a small French village, playing our game from our home, in a city where so many Australian’s fought and died, 100 years ago, it was a hell of an experience,” he said.

From playing football in the outer east suburbs in Melbourne as a teenager to having a significant role within Polish football and playing in France, Phil has been a key pillar for the game in Europe and hopefully his work both on and off the field has helped create a pathway for the next group of stars to play in Poland.

If you are interested in finding out more about Australian Football in Poland, head to the following link: http://futbolaustralijski.pl.

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

Special thanks to Belushi’s for helping grow the game in Europe

 

PSS Presents: Around the Grounds

Each week AFL Europe will take a look around the continent at the Australian Football highlights and thrilling matches. This Around the Grounds article delves into the standout performances from the weekend’s action and is presented by PSS International Removals.

CATS WIN THURSDAY NIGHT THRILLER

Thursday night football welcomed the Port Malmo Maulers and Farum Cats as the two sides battled it out in the race to decide positions for the upcoming finals. On a day where there had been sun, rain and even hail storms in the region, the weather cleared enough for a closely contested football match that went right down to the final siren. The Cats got off to a flyer, with fast ball use and making the most of their opportunities as they led by 29 points at the first break. However, the Maulers stepped up a gear in the second quarter and showed everyone what they are capable of as they clawed back the score and held a six-point lead at half-time – a 35 point turnaround in one quarter. The Maulers continued their momentum, but the Cats had also lifted their intensity and both defences were able to gain more control in the third quarter compared to earlier in the match. At the final change, it was the Maulers who were in front by 13 points. However, following the theme of this contest, there were more twists as the Cats piled on the pressure and with the last kick at goal for the game, scored a pivotal goal as they recorded an important five-point win in a fantastic game of football.

Final Scores (DAFL)

Men’s: Port Malmo Maulers (80) defeated by Farum Cats (85).

 

RHEIN MAIN REDCATS AND AMSTERDAM DEVILS RETURN MATCH A SUCCESS

After a successful match earlier in the year in the Netherlands, the Rhein-Main Redcats hosted a return match against the Amsterdam Devils women’s team on Saturday. In sunny conditions as seen in the picture below, the Redcats and Devils battled it out against each other at the Ostpark in Frankfurt. The Redcats team was made up of a combination of players from the Rheinland Lions and Frankfurt Redcats who have been competing in the AFLG Women’s league this season, while the Amsterdam Devils hadn’t played a competitive match since hosting the Champions League in April. In the last game, the Devils came away with the victory and Saturday saw the same result but the visiting team were made to work hard for the win. The Devils started off the stronger of the two teams, with their ball movement and physicality showing around the contest. With a number of players with experience in Gaelic football, the Devils were the stronger side, but a well-worked team goal in the third quarter highlighted the improvement of the Redcats team. The Redcats continued to fight hard but couldn’t match the Devils experience on a day that could become a regular feature in the future. It was a great day for all involved and created a great opportunity for AFL Netherlands and AFLG Women to build a positive relationship for the future of the game in those two countries.

Final Scores (AFL Netherlands/AFLG Women)

Women’s: Rhein-Main Redcats (6) defeated by Amsterdam Devils (99).

 

DOCKERS HEAD INTO AFLG FINALS UNDEFEATED

On Saturday, the Hamburg Dockers hosted the Berlin Crocodiles as the home side looked to finish the home and away season undefeated, while the visitors were looking to secure their place in the finals and gain some momentum heading into the finals, starting in two weeks’ time. In a tight, physical match, the class of the Dockers shone as they were able to control enough of the game in the key stages to win the final game of the home and away season by 29 points. Despite the final margin, the Crocodiles will believe they can take the game right up to the Dockers in the kind of environment that finals football can produce if they meet at some stage during the AFLG finals. Both defences will look back at the game and find positives with the low-scoring match which tend to be the nature during finals, so both sides would have taken plenty of positives out of the game. The Dockers will be deserved favourites from here after going through the season undefeated, but the Crocodiles will be looking forward eagerly to put their own impression on this year’s finals series, with semi-finals on the 24th of August before the Grand Final a couple of weeks later.

Final Scores (AFLG)

Men’s: Hamburg Dockers (66) defeated Berlin Crocodiles (37).

 

 

PSS International Removals have helped people move from the UK to Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere in the world for over 37 years. They offer friendly advice, no matter whether you’re sending a few boxes or a whole house removal including car. For more information call 020 8686 7733 or visit the PSS Removals website.

Angus Boyle – AFL Europe

Irish Watch – AFL Round 21 Review

It was a tough weekend for two of our more high profile Irishman, as Conor McKenna’s Bombers and Pearce Hanley’s Suns suffered crushing defeats to the tune of 104 and 91 points respectively.

The Bombers, in particular, were the subject of much criticism following their embarrassing performance against the Western Bulldogs, as they let their opposition pile on 21 consecutive goals to put their finals hopes at serious risk.  

With many Bombers players targeted for their lacklustre efforts, you certainly can’t put McKenna in that category as the lightning-fast defender showed off his new bright blonde haircut with a spirited performance on an otherwise dirty night for his team.

In what was an incredibly lopsided affair, McKenna would do all he could to help stop the dominance of the Dogs and generate some pace and energy off the Essendon half backline.

Picking up a respectable 19 disposals, three marks and four tackles, you couldn’t fault the Irishman’s efforts as he gave 100% until the final siren.

His willingness to take the game on in spite of the situation his side found itself in was a particular highlight of his game as he always looked for an attacking option.

He also used the ball going at 69%, serving as a shining light on the otherwise dour night for his struggling team.

Similarly to McKenna, Hanley pushed hard all day for the Gold Coast who were simply overawed by what can only be described as a Brisbane Lions juggernaut at the GABBA.

Having not registered a win since round four, it was a daunting task for the Suns who are looking to close what has been a disastrous season on a positive note.

However, after a tight start, they were no match for second-placed Lions who, led by a six goal haul by Charlie Cameron, flexed their muscles over their cross town rivals.

As for Hanley he would again play a crucial role for his team patrolling the defence whilst also getting involved through the middle of the ground.

One of the few experienced heads in the Suns lineup, Hanley did all he could to spark his team as he looked to use his trademark run and dash to make things happen.

Collecting a reasonable 17 disposals, five tackles and a mark, he certainly battled hard till the end and tried to lift his younger teammates.

His use of the ball was again superb, going at 76% as he constantly looked to take aggressive options and put the Lions on the back foot.

It wouldn’t be all doom and gloom for our Irishman however, with Hawthorn forward Conor Nash being a late inclusion into his sides dominant 56 point win over the Giants with Canberra.

In unique snowy conditions in the nations capital, the Hawks would brave the cold beautifully to dismantle a Giants side who struggled to get going from the outset.

Replacing Jack Gunston less than an hour before the first bounce, Nash would come in and produce a career best performance in a forward line that functioned beautifully in trying conditions.

With the game plan simply being kick it forward, Nash’s pressure was excellent in helping the Hawks lock the ball inside their attacking half and dictate the game.

His ability to get up the ground was also outstanding as he picked up a career high 16 disposals as he ventured up across half forward and up to the wing at times.

He also showed his presence around the goals, hitting the scoreboard once and having five score involvements.

Along with his ability to find the ball and convert, Nash would commit 18 pressure acts and have two tackles in what was an outstanding display from the big forward.

Zach Tuohy’s Cats would enjoy a return to form on Saturday night as they kept North Melbourne to the lowest score in the club’s history on their way to securing a much needed 55 point win at GMHBA Stadium.

Tuohy would produce another clinical performance across half back and on the wing, proving to be a vital part of what was an exceptional defensive performance from the Cats.

Along with his ability to curb the influence of North Melbourne’s forwards, Tuohy was creative with ball in hand and helped springboard a number of Geelong attacks from the back half.

Picking up a solid 22 disposals and four marks, Tuohy added much needed speed to the game with his ability to break the lines proving crucial on a number of occasions.

In the VFL, Geelong’s Stefan Okunbor experienced a major milestone in the Cats win over North Melbourne as he kicked his first ever goal. 

A natural athlete, the 21 year old showed flashes of brilliance and courage as he continues to adapt to Australian Rules Football.

Zac Standish – AFL Europe

Match of the Round

Rhein Main Redcats v Amsterdam Devils

10/08/2019  Ostpark, Frankfurt  4:00pm

In a chance to get some competitive match play in as a team and grow the bonds within the AFL Europe community, the German Rhein Main Redcats will face the Amsterdam Devils in a women’s clash this weekend.

The Amsterdam Devils side have some experienced and polished players, while the Rhein Main side are a combination of the Rheinland Lions and the Frankfurt Redcats but have found a great balance and are confident that they can again play well together.

Held in Frankfurt, all players are keen to face each other once again, after a meeting earlier in the year in the Netherlands was a huge success.

In their last encounter the Devils outshone the Redcats, who were an extremely new side at the time. With some time to work together as a team and the home ground advantage for the Redcats, expect a thrilling match up that will come right down to the wire.

For the Amsterdam Devils, they have not played a match since the Champions League in April so are extremely excited to be back on the field in a competitive environment.

Devils’ Captain Bridgette Allen describes the team’s feelings as they head over to Germany, “The girls are very excited as we haven’t had a game in a while… It’s a great chance for the Devils girls to actually get some more competitive game time! We have a couple of new players debuting so it will be a great game.”

In her debut match for the Devils, Gaelic player Kate Caulfield is expected to use her elite skills in a new sport this weekend. “We are anticipating her skills will cross over brilliantly, plus she has killer speed which will be an asset in the midfield,” said Bridgette.

With the coming together of two countries, Janine Becker of the Rhein Main Redcats is thrilled to see the growth of women in the sport and how these types of matches are extremely beneficial for the growth of the game in Europe.

“It is so great to see how you can find the spirit of footy and everything involved with it spreading in other countries! All the support between the teams from different countries is incredible. Seeing other clubs growing their women’s team and footy for women becoming bigger and bigger all over the world should be an inspiration for every other country,” said Janine.

One of the most improved players for the Redcats is Marie Kaiser. Only starting to play the game last year, her commitment to continuously improve has helped her become one of the Rhein Main’s best players and her skills across the ground will be pivotal to the side and exciting to watch.

This international match is set to be a great learning experience for all involved, and a chance for some new players to get a game under their belt. Both clubs are set to grow and succeed into the rest of 2019 and beyond, and this weekend’s international friendly is sure to show that both on and off the field.

 

Stay tuned to next week’s edition of Around the Grounds to see who came out on top!

 

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

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

 

 

 

Community Spotlight – Michael Currane

As one of the original driving forces for AFL in Ireland 20 years ago, Michael Currane has well and truly been there since the beginning.

From playing, to managing, to coaching, Mike is a major factor to the success of AFL Ireland and is the epitome of what AFL Europe stands for on and off the pitch.

Inspired by Irish AFL player and Brownlow winner Jim Stynes, Mike regularly watched highlights of the great Australian game growing up and wanted to be a part of it all.

“I absolutely loved the game from the first moment I saw it. There was a highlights package on our Irish Language TV Station, and I was glued to it every week, watching legends of the game including our own Jimmy Stynes. I was always attracted to the more physical side and the skills side of the game.”

This led to Mike playing footy with his siblings, where he and his brother Brian would drag their sisters outside, find some fencing posts, set them up as goal posts and kick the footy around, taking big marks and kicking goals together.

Mike says, “Never in our wildest dreams during those kickabouts would we have thought that any of us would have the chance to go on and play.” Not only did they play, but all four brothers and sisters went on to win AFL Ireland Premierships and three went on to represent their country.

Mike joined some Aussies and had his first Australian football training session in Phoenix Park, where he started to play the game. Wanting to grow the game, Mike was a founder of the Dublin Demons. After building the game up in their area, the club were able to combine with the Belfast Redbacks for the first ever official game on Irish soil 20 years ago.

Mike helped build an Irish championship tournament not long after which gained attention, before laying the building blocks of AFL Ireland which today is one of the most flourishing leagues in all of AFL Europe.

When younger, Mike was an extremely successful player, winning three premierships with the Dublin Demons and representing Ireland in the International Cup in Melbourne twice, where his Irish side took out the tournament in 2002.

As well as being an on-field success, Mike was able to help grow the game in Ireland and even across Europe, founding the EARFC (European Australian Rules Football Council). This was able to kick start a huge growth of the game across the continent and formed the foundation of what we now know as AFL Europe.

After playing and managing large parts of the Irish league for many years, Mike took another huge step, managing the Irish men’s team at the 2017 International Cup, where the idea of AFL Ireland Women’s also started to take shape.

With the vision of having a local domestic league for Irish women to compete in regularly, Mike along with Olivia McCann grew the women’s league massively within 18 months.  Off the back of this, the Banshees national team have gone on to win recent Euro Cup events as well of having plenty of Irish representation competing professionally in the AFLW.

Currently in his third year of being a large part of the AFL Europe Commission, Mike is also the head of AFL Ireland Women’s, the head Coach of the Ireland National Teams (Irish Banshees & Irish Universities) and the Ireland Ambassador with Crosscoders.

His countless efforts to help the growth of the game is a major reason to why Ireland is a major AFL hub worldwide and his work helps AFL Europe immensely.

Picking up so many jobs at once and being so selfless with volunteering his time in so many areas, Mike urges others to do the same, “I have always taken a very active role off the pitch even when playing. I think it’s very important for players to do so. The success of clubs and leagues across Europe and the global footy community is hugely dependent on volunteers. More often than not that means players doubling up with admin roles.”

From wanting his own opportunity to play the game and having many dreams come true, to being so selfless with efforts to involve everyone in the game, Mike has done some amazing work over many years and will continue to do so. Without him the AFL Europe community wouldn’t be where it is thriving today, and he expects the the international growth of the game to continue to succeed.

“I’m very excited to see where AFL in Europe goes over the next few years. Footy has continued to grow across the continent, it’s getting bigger year on year. Aussie Rules is growing across all countries and still new clubs and leagues are being formed. There has never been better support and governance structures in place with AFL Europe – amazing people are doing amazing work across the continent.” 

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

Belushi’s Presents: Player Spotlight – Jennifer Englisch

Each week, AFL Europe in combination with Belushi’s will take a look at one of our star players competing in fixtures across the continent in Player Spotlight. 

Something that is shining through the AFLW competition in Australia are dual sport athletes, and just like those athletes, Jennifer Englisch has already shown her ability to adapt to many different sports having made a smooth transition to footy in Germany.

The AFLG Women’s league is continuing to grow and Jennifer is a large part of this growth, joining the sport for the Hamburg Dockers earlier this year.

Jennifer is not new at facing challenges, after competing in Judo professionally and also playing European Handball, she believes she can take many of her attributes into AFL and loves how versatile the sport is.

“I was looking for a new team sport where I could combine ball skills, physical strength and coordination. Spending time in Australia, I loved what I saw in the sport and wanted to get involved,” Englisch said.

Within one week of training, her teammates had convinced her to join the Hamburg Dockers at the Champions League tournament where she was able to improve each game.

Within a few months, she had improved her footballing skills at an incredible rate, and German Eagles Coach Emily McKie wanted her in their national side.

Coach Emily explains how vital Jennifer is for their team after recent success at the 2019 Euro Cup where the German Eagles won the Bronze medal. “Having a player of Jen’s calibre has been a big confidence boost for the girls. She really leads by example and has such a strong, physical presence on the field. The girls know that they can rely on her to not only win the ball and make something of it, but they also know that she will be there to support, shepherd and tackle the opposition,” McKie said.

Within only months of playing the game Jennifer has taken her sporting strengths and found even more in this sport as she looks ahead to getting even better.

“I enjoy body contact and breaking tackles. I play in the ruck and I can also jump high and tap the ball to my rovers. However, my biggest strength is my passion for the sport and my desire to continuously improve.”

Jennifer’s passion for being involved at every opportunity when playing is evident from the sidelines, and is a key attribute to Jennifer’s game that Emily values highly.

“For Euro Cup,  I asked her to alternate between ruck and a loose half-back position and she did it, without question, because she just wanted to do what was best for the team,” McKie said.

Jennifer aspires to win the AFLG with the Hamburg Dockers, and would love the opportunity to play AFL in Australia. Her continued improvement and love of the game will take her a long way to achieving both of those goals in the near future.

 

 

Liam McAllion – AFL Europe

Special thanks to Belushi’s for helping grow the game in Europe

PSS Presents: Around the Grounds

Each week AFL Europe will take a look around the continent at the Australian Football highlights and thrilling matches. This Around the Grounds article delves into the standout performances from the weekend’s action and is presented by PSS International Removals.

WEST LONDON WILDCATS WIN LONDON PREMIERSHIP

After 11 weeks of football, the AFL London Men’s Premiership concluded on Saturday as the West London Wildcats played the Wandsworth Demons in the Grand Final at Hackney Marshes. With the rivalry between the two clubs going back to the start of the AFL London competition, this was always going to be a physical, fast contest but after quarter time, the Wildcats started to dominate by playing the football that saw them go through the whole season undefeated. While the battle for the contested footy was reasonably even, the Demons couldn’t match the Wildcat’s clearance work and ability to move the ball quickly through the middle as the lead extended to 36 points at half time. The Demon’s got back on the scoreboard in the third quarter, with a goal and a behind, but the Wildcats kicked further away, scoring a further three goals to lead by 51 points at the final change. As both teams started to tire in the humid conditions, the game opened up in the final quarter but the Demon’s couldn’t close the gap as the Wildcats ran away with the game to win by 70-points and take home the 2019 Men’s Premiership. The Men’s Premiership rounded off an action-packed day of Grand Finals, as the Wandsworth Demons won their fifth social premiership in a row, defeating the Ealing Emu’s by eight points. In the Men’s Conference, the Shepherds Bush Raiders finished off their season in style with yet another Grand Final win as they defeated a gallant Wimbledon Hawks by 26 points.

Final Scores (AFL London)

Men’s Premiership: West London Wildcats (14. 8. 92) defeated Wandsworth Demons (3. 4. 22).
Men’s Conference: Shepherds Bush Raiders (10. 9. 69) defeated Wimbledon Hawks (6. 7. 43).
Men’s Socials: Wandsworth Demons (2. 12. 24) defeated Ealing Emus (1. 10. 16).

 

THRID TIME’S A CHARM FOR NORTH LONDON LIONS

After finishing as runners-up in both 2016 and 2018, the North London Lions have won their first-ever AFL London Women’s Premiership by defeating the Wandsworth Demons in a nail-biter on Saturday. The Demon’s had gone through the regular season undefeated and were looking to win their third flag win a row, but the Lions had other ideas. After a tight opening quarter, where both teams dominated in defence, the scores were tied and it wasn’t until the second quarter that either side managed to gain a slender lead with the Lions up by a point at half-time. The Lions had more of the play in the third quarter, as they extended their lead to four points at the last break. In the final quarter, the Lions kicked a crucial goal to lead by 10 points late in the game, but a quick reply from the Demon’s meant the margin was back to just four points with a couple of minutes remaining. The Demon’s gave it everything, but the Lions held strong to win their first-ever women’s premiership by four points in a thrilling conclusion to the match. While the Lions won their first women’s premiership this weekend, last weekend saw the London Swans also win their first-ever premiership as a club as they won by 56 points against the Wandsworth Demon’s in the Women’s Conference.

Final Scores (AFL London Women’s)

Women’s Premiership: North London Lions (1. 4. 10) defeated Wandsworth Demons (1. 0. 6).
Women’s Conference: London Swans (6. 20. 56) defeated Wandsworth Demons (0. 0. 0).

 

SHARKS WIN BATTLE FOR GRAND FINAL SPOT

After last week’s battle between the Glasgow Sharks and Edinburgh Bloods secured top spot for the Sharks, this weeks rematch had a Grand Final place and two weeks off for the winner. Both sides have been evenly matched and hard to separate from the start of the season when Edinburgh won the opening fixture by 11 points. The Sharks turned that around as they won the final game of the home-and-away season by 19 points, and it was the Sharks who continued their form into this week in the qualifying final. This game was played in a typical style for finals, with the intensity, physicality and pace going up more than the regular season, and that intensity showed on the scoreboard as both defences enjoyed more dominance compared to their previous fixtures. It was an even game throughout, but the Sharks managed to get ahead at key stages of the match and hold on to that lead as their endurance helped them maintain a healthy margin as they went on to record a 25 point victory and a spot in the Grand Final on the 24th of August. For the Bloods, this result means they will get another chance to reach the Grand Final, as they will play the Tyne Tees Tigers in the Preliminary Final in two weeks time on the 17th of August.

Final Scores (AFL Scotland)

Men’s: Glasgow Sharks (96) defeated Edinburgh Bloods (71).

 

TYNE TEES TIGERS TARGET GRAND FINAL PLACE

In the other AFL Scotland finals game, the Tyne Tees Tigers played the Glasgow Giants in the Elimination Final. In comparison, this match was more free-flowing as a total of 33 goals were kicked. However, the majority of those goals were scored by the Tigers as they controlled most of the game as they went on to win their first ever finals match. Earlier in the season, these two sides played out a close thriller as the Giants won by nine points, but this game was a massive reversal of that result as the Giants struggled to deal with the Tigers midfield and attack in their forward-50. The Tigers scored 26 goals for the match, with six players kicking majors, while the Giants struggled to get the ball into their forward line as they kicked seven goals.  For the Tigers, Connor Robinson kicked nine goals, while teammate Anthony Roy Brannigan kicked seven and David Hodgson kicked five on the way to a commanding 120 point win for the Tigers, who will now face the Edinburgh Bloods in the Preliminary Final on the 17th of August. For the Giants, that concludes their season as they just couldn’t match their opponents on the day as they will regroup and will look ahead to what next season may bring for the club.

Final Scores (AFL Scotland)

Men’s: Tyne Tees Tigers (26. 17. 173) defeated Glasgow Giants (7. 11. 53).

 

GIANTS SHOW THAT GOOD KICKING IS GOOD FOOTBALL

As the Australian Football cliché goes, good kicking is good football, and on the weekend the Copenhagen Giants showed just that as the DAFL returned from it’s summer break. Up against the Odense Lions in a key battle for finals places, the Giants were impressive with their accuracy in front of goal, kicking 10 goals from their 16 scoring shots. Meanwhile, the Lions also had 16 scoring shots, but could only manage six goals as they kicked 10 behinds. The game had been tight from the start, with the Giants up at half-time by just two points  before scores were tied at three-quarter time. With both teams still battling it out in the fourth quarter in a tough contest, it was the Giants who created more opportunities in their forward half as they then converted those chances as they kicked four late goals to run away with a 20 point win. This result sees the Giants stay in fourth on the ladder, but they draw level with the Lions and Port Malmo. With such a close fight for finals positions, percentage could very well be a key factor for both the Lions and Giants as there are five rounds left before finals.

Final Scores (DAFL)

Men’s: Odense Lions (6. 10. 46) defeated by Copenhagen Giants (10. 6. 66).

 

 

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Angus Boyle – AFL Europe

Irish Watch – AFL Round 20 review

Injuries would unfortunately take their toll on a couple of the AFL’s Irish players in round 20, with mainstays Mark O’Connor and Colin O’Riordan failing to feature for their sides in what was an enthralling weekend of football.

We would still see a number of players take the field at both AFL and state league level, with McKenna’s return from his brothers wedding in Ireland providing a boost for the Bombers.

However, it would not be enough to lift them over a resurgent Port Adelaide outfit, who after three straight losses hit back at their critics with a complete performance on Saturday afternoon at Marvel Stadium.

With Essendon missing a number of key contributors, Port would put them to the sword dominating from start to finish as they push towards a finals berth over the final three rounds.

As for McKenna, he would pick up where he left off a fortnight ago with another solid performance across half back for the Bombers.

In what was predominantly a fast paced and free flowing game, McKenna was crucial to the Bombers chances with his drive from defence a major threat to the under fire Power.

His efforts would not be good enough though, as the Bombers were simply out worked, out hunted and out played by a more desperate Port team.

McKenna however would be buoyed by his performance, as he again used the ball brilliantly going at 76% and consistently got himself into dangerous positions.

He would also gather a good amount of the ball, picking up 21 disposals, three marks and a tackle to be a bright spot on what was a tough day for Essendon. 

With a big three weeks now coming up for his team, McKenna’s performance will be critical as they hope to lock up a finals spot.

McKenna wasn’t the only returning Irishman this weekend with Geelong veteran Zach Tuohy returning after a week off for the Cats pivotal clash with Fremantle at Optus Stadium.

With the Cats players spending the week over in Perth heading into the game, they were always going to be a curious watch with critics almost certainly going to circle if they were unable to produce.

As the Dockers faced immense pressure of the own, Ross Lyon’s men would stand up to perfection as they backed up their coach by completely outplaying the Cats in a desperate and tough brand of footy.

Now well and truly back with the pack, Geelong will need to get over their form slump quickly if they are to lock away top spot.

As for Tuohy, he along with a vast majority were below their best at Optus Stadium, as the Cats simply couldn’t withstand the pressure bought by the youth of the Dockers.  

Playing in a defence that was under siege from quarter time onwards, Tuohy would only manage 12 disposals, two marks and four tackles in one of his quieter games of the season.

Although he wasn’t able to find the ball on many occasion, his ball use was flawless, going at 100% with his calmness under pressure proving to be extremely valuable on a number of occasions.  

After a season best performance last week, Conor Nash would enter the Friday night stage full of confidence as the Hawks faced North Melbourne in a must win clash for their fading finals aspirations.

It would be a fast start for Hawthorn who piled on the first four goals inside 15 minutes to send a shock through newly appointed North Melbourne coach Rhyce Shaw and his Kangaroo’s.  

However the tide would turn quickly, as a dominant display after quarter time would see North Melbourne celebrate their 150th anniversary in style with a gritty 22 point win.

With Hawthorn’s forward 50 entries being extremely average all night, Nash would struggle as one of the key pillars.

Clearly still developing his craft as a forward, he just couldn’t get involved for the majority of the night only claiming six touches and a mark.

He still managed to make his presence felt in the forward half however, as he exhibited elite forward pressure with five tackles and constantly made life difficult for the North Melbourne defenders.

Very much a work in progress, its important for the Hawks to persist with the Irishman as they look to build a young and dangerous forward line.

The Gold Coast would take their first trip to the MCG this season as they faced an under fire Collingwood in a crucial Sunday afternoon clash.

Having fallen agonisingly short of upsetting the in form Bombers last week, the confidence of the Suns was high as they looked create a major boil over and create a media storm at Collingwood.

Unfortunately, the class of the Magpies would see them bounce back with vigour as they put the young Suns to the sword in a clinical confidence building display.

After a prolific game last week, veteran Irish defender Pearce Hanley could not repeat those same heroics as Collingwood did an excellent job in negating his run and carry off half back. 

On a tough day for his team, Hanley would only manage 14 disposals, four marks and a tackle with his lack of impact on the game a major influence on the Sun’s inability to move the ball successfully.

In the VFL, irishman Conor Glass did his hopes of a late season recall no harm with an outstanding 19 disposal performance for Box Hill in their two point loss to North Melbourne’s reserves.

For Collingwood, Anton Tohill continued his development with a strong outing against the Northern Blues at Marvel Stadium on Sunday afternoon.  

Playing up forward, he was able to hit the scoreboard with two majors and apply some excellent pressure which, without a doubt, would have pleased the higher powers at the Magpies.

Zac Standish – AFL Europe.