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Fitzpatrick Cup 2017 – Review

A last-minute pitch change and some early rain didn’t deter participants at the weekends annual Fitzpatrick Cup hosted by the University College Cork (UCC).

With 8 men’s and 3 women’s teams in action it was always going to be a great day of Aussie Rules action.

Despite the muddy pitches, Group A got off to a flying start with UCC 1 and Irish Uni’s claiming early victories. Group B started in similar fashion with Oxford 1 and Mixed ARFLI showing their class.

Mixed ARFLI went through the Group stages undefeated but were unable to progress as they were acting as a top-up team after a disappointing late withdrawal from reigning champions, University of Birmingham.

The standings following the Group stages:

Group A
Team PlayedWinLossDrawPointsForAgainstPercentage
UCC 133001215218844.44
Irish Uni’s321088459142.37
Cambridge31204378344.58
Oxford 23030091227.38
Group B
Team PlayedWinLossDrawPointsForAgainstPercentage
Mixed ARFLI33001212937348.65
UCC 2321087973108.22
Oxford 131204478257.32
Maynooth30300349735.05

 

The women’s competition was hotly contested with Maynooth claiming two early victories to sit atop of the table following the Group stages. They were closing matched-up with UCC and were scheduled to play in the grand final later in the afternoon after finishing second.

The standings following the Group stages:

Women
Team PlayedWinLossDrawPointsForAgainstPercentage
Maynooth220084614328.57
UCC21100161984.21
Oxford20200154434.09

The Men’s semi-finals pitted UCC 1 against Oxford 1 and Mixed Uni’s against UCC 2 to determine who would be playing off in the Grand Final.

UCC 1 lifted another level to easily account for a valiant Oxford 1 outfit with the final score reading 77 to 12.

The other semi-final went down to the wire with UCC 2 eventually getting over the line in a 1-point thriller. Final score in that game read 24 to 23.

The women’s final was between Maynooth and UCC after they finished in the top 2 of the division. Only 4-points separated these two teams in the Group stages and with Irish Banshees Head Coach, Pat Leavy watching from the side-lines it was always going to be a tight contest.

The first half proved just that with possession hotly contested and the scoreboard reflecting accordingly. UCC got the better of the second half and overran the previously undefeated Maynooth women claiming the Fitzpatrick Cup with a score line of 30 to 8.

It was destined to be a UCC clean sweep of the Fitzpatrick Cup but it was yet to be decided which men’s team was going to take the spoils. UCC 2 were the obvious underdogs but the chance to knock off their older rivals in UCC 1 meant that they were primed and ready to go.

The first half was a thriller with both teams putting it all on the line. A couple of quick goals got UCC 1 out to a 3-goal lead going into half-time. UCC 2 scored the first goal of the second half and the crowd was calling for an upset.

The more experienced heads of the UCC 1 boys proved too much to overcome for the 2s with some late goals blowing out the score line, 50 to 14. A well-deserved clean sweep for all involved at the UCC Aussie Rules program.

Special congratulation to John Enright who came away with the Golden Whistle for his excellent performance both on the pitch but also off it for arranging the umpire squad and formalizing the umpiring appointments.

Player of the Tournament for the men went to Paul Murphy of UCC 1 which topped of a great week for him after being named in the first five Irish Warriors to be selected for the International Cup in August.

Best on Ground in the final for the women went to UCC’s Eimear Sexton for her ferocity around the contest throughout the entire game.

Extra special thanks to all the volunteers who assisted in putting on a fantastic day of football along with the organising committee at UCC for making sure the day ran smoothly.

The countdown to the Fitzpatrick Cup 2018 is on!

Women’s Champions – UCC Crusaders

Men’s Champions – UCC 1 

For more event photos jump click through the following links

https://www.facebook.com/pg/AFL.Europe.Ltd/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1393565570663928

https://www.facebook.com/pg/AFL.Europe.Ltd/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1393598833993935

 

Fitzpatrick Cup – Tournament Preview

The Fitzpatrick Cup is upon us. Tomorrow is the day a new universities champion will be crowned for both the men’s and women’s divisions.

Heavy rainfall wreaked havoc on the UCC grounds earlier in the week but with sunshine and a balmy 6 degrees forecast for tomorrow we’ll be expecting fast-paced action from the get go.

The day kicks off at 11am with three pitches in action throughout the day. The men’s division will be played off amongst 8 teams in 2 Groups.  The top two teams in each Group will progress to the semi-finals while the bottom two in each will battle it out for the minor placings. The Groups are as follows:

Group A:

  1. UCC 1
  2. Oxford 2
  3. Irish Uni’s
  4. Cambridge

Group B:

  1. Oxford 1
  2. Maynooth
  3. UCC 2
  4. Mixed ARFLI

The women’s division will consist of 3 teams, UCC, Maynooth and Oxford, with the top two progressing straight into the Grand Final at 3:30pm.

The full tournament fixture along with the live streaming link can be found on the AFL Europe website (afleurope.org).

On the eve of the Fitzpatrick Cup we caught up with tournament organiser, UCC Head Coach and all-round good bloke, Eoin O’Sullivan, for a quick chat.

How’s the tournament preparation coming together?

“Everything is looking good at this stage, a few hiccups here and there along the way, but it’s coming together well. Pitches are ready, players and umpires en route, it’s shaping up to be a great day’s footy. Just hope we get the weather to match!”

How are the teams shaping up?

“Well, I suppose we have home advantage so we’d hope to be strong around the ground. Our difficulty has been picking 16, our second squad is as strong as the first! But looking through the lists, the Mixed Uni team are very strong in every line, and Oxford have recently beaten Birmingham too, and are travelling strong, so they’ll be a serious outfit. I know the Maynooth lads have put in serious prep, and have a few tidy players in their list. Also, I’ve played against one or 2 of the Cambridge boys, they don’t miss, and in short games like this, accuracy is vital. So, it’s wide open really.”

Any players to keep an eye on?

“Singling out players is always difficult, giving them a tag is added pressure. I never had it when I played, and sure was class, but nobody knew! I’m sure these boys will love the limelight though, so I’ll drop a few names. UCC have 3 Jacks, 2 Oisin’s, 2 James’, and 2 Kev’s, they’ll surely produce something between them. Maynooth have Darragh O Morain, he’s bound to play well someday. Mixed Uni’s have Hally. That’s all that needs to be said on that. Cambridge have Mossy Harrington up top, the closest thing there is to a Buddy Franklin in Europe. And Oxford have Geoff Pascoe, a man that knows all the rules, and will surely push them to the limit for their cause.”

Who’s going to come away from Fitzpatrick Cup in 2017?

“Ah c’mon, you can’t ask me that! Having 2 dogs in the fight, I’d like to think that UCC can make it an all Cork Grand Final. No doubt the other boys will be out to stop that, but our boys are boasting a mix of youth, experience, National Team players and hardy b*****ds in both squads!”

Maynooth University Team Preview – Fitzpatrick Cup 2017

In the lead up to the 2017 Fitzpatrick Cup to be held in Cork, Ireland on the 4th February we’ll be taking a look at each side attending the annual universities tournament. Next up in the previews is Maynooth University, more affectionately known as the MU Power.

MU Power competed in their first Fitz last year and have experienced huge numbers on the track for both their men and women. They could be a real dark horse in this years Fitzpatrick Cup.

Fitzpatrick Cup History

MU Power located in Maynooth University participated in its first Fitzpatrick Cup last year in Birmingham.

Players to watch?

With a lot of the team being of equal standard there isn’t one stand out player to watch but a number of things that can been seen on the day is the influential Daragh Moran arriving late and jogging around the place doing stretches and listening to the latest playlist his girlfriend made for him. Lochlainn Garvey can be seen sporting a special extra small MU Power top, as a law student of Maynooth University it is a CRIME that a fully grown man fits into a top that small.

For the ladies the players to watch are every single member. They all raring to go and have been spotted on campus practicing kicking goals and celebrating with a cheeky “dab”.

So, who’s in charge?

In charge for the men’s team we have Ciaran O’Hara with last years injured captain Conor Dunne. This combination of a lost Mayo man and a former promising Laois Under 14 hurling prodigy has all the INGREDIENTS to cause a STIR in this competition.

For the ladies we have the main man Pat Leavy and his trusted side-kick, Dermot Ward. This combination of good cop, bad cop has made these girls into formidable opposition.

Aims for the tournament

For the men’s team the aim is to win this competition. Nothing can stop us only ourselves.

For the ladies team, it is lurking into the unknown. These girls are fired up and raring to go and won’t stop for anything in their way. Tough as nails and highly competitive the main aim for the tournament is to not hospitalize any opponents.

Who has the x-factor?

Dylan Lacey has the X-factor. He watches it every Saturday night with his girlfriend. If he hasn’t got the x-factor I don’t know who has.

How is the preparation going?

Preparation for the competition has been underway since September with the targets being crowned winners of this competition. With the resources of Ciaran O’Hara and Pat Leavy and their 80 years of AFL experience, the MU Power men and women have been tested to the max. Preparations have been hampered slightly with the January exam period but players have been under a strict program of watching inspirational movies and lifting random objects around the house in the air just so we don’t injure ourselves when we win.

What are the main attributes of your team?

The main attributes of our MU Power is that we are a complete team. We are tough in the back, in the centre we have the ultimate fielders and up front we have the flair to rip apart any team.

The most important attribute of our team is our ability to support our team mates. If a player is running up the touchline we will be there to shepherd him, if someone can’t tie their shoelaces we will be there and if someone can’t drink that last shot in Cork at the end of the bar we will be there at the end of the bar laughing because that’s not a MU Power player. More than likely to be an English University player who can’t drink like us Maynoothians.

Cambridge Team Preview – Fitzpatrick Cup 2017

In the lead up to the 2017 Fitzpatrick Cup to be held in Cork, Ireland on the 4th February we’ll be taking a look at each side attending the annual universities tournament. Next up in the previews are the boys from Cambridge University.

Cambridge have been off the pace in the past two Fitzpatrick Cup’s and will be hoping to improve on past results come February 4.

Fitzpatrick Cup history

Struggled in 2016, looking to improve on that in 2017.

Players to watch?

Mossy Harrington (Old but wily as a fox), Alex Westin Hardy (He’ll snap you in half if he catches you) and Mike D’Angelo (never gives up).

So, who’s in charge?

Chris Jacob – Club President – American – Beard – All Round nice guy.

Aims for the tournament?

Winning a match (or half of one).

Who’s got the X factor?

Nick Walpole, a gun forward with good hands and a solid right boot.

How’s the preparation going?

Good, solid training sessions over the last couple of months, combination of skills sessions and PT have really seen the team gel on and off the field. A couple of the newer guys have really developed well and it will be exciting to see how the team performs. Also, full English breakfast following team training.

What are your teams main attributes?

Cohesion, effort and discipline.

Mixed Universities Team Preview – Fitzpatrick Cup 2017

In the lead up to the 2017 Fitzpatrick Cup to be held in Cork, Ireland on the 4th February we’ll be taking a look at each side attending the annual universities tournament. Next up in the previews is the mixed universities side.

Mixed Uni’s have been involved in each year of the Fitz and gives players without a full university squad the chance to strap on the boots at the tournament.

Fitzpatrick Cup history

The Mixed Uni’s team itself, have always been present since the competition started. Sometimes bolstered by extra players from competing universities, sometimes even their management!

However, this year with several of the UCC Bombers alumni completing further education across the countries universities as well as several of the players in the league itself in colleges without a team, a proper effort has been taken to enter a well organised strong team.

Players to watch?

Quite hard to single out one individual player as a key player to watch as there are numerous players on their day are well able to stand up and be counted. With numerous premiership winners and players with international experience in the squad we can’t pick just one standout.

So, who’s in charge?

The legendary IC winning captain, Cian Quigley, has offered his services for the day to assist and offer his wealth of knowledge.

Aims for the Tournament

There’s no point entering something if you’re not aiming on winning and I’m pretty sure all other teams will be coming to Cork with the same attitude. As well as that we want to give any new lads and lads with no football in college a chance to play.

Who has the X-factor?

Our sexy Buckfast sponsored jerseys are definitely going to go down a treat. John O’Heney himself will look the bomb in it (word has it he’s been flat in the gym all winter and has ordered a size small player fit jersey to impress the young women in Cork). Other than that, Dapper Dan (Former Player of the week), is known to possess the X-factor with his dance moves on the floors of Reardon’s on a Saturday night. Ladies beware!!!!

How is the preparation going?

Collectively we’ve nothing done, it’s hard due to us being a combination team but a lot of lads have been playing away in the ARFLI winter leagues as well as those training away with the Warriors squad. Other lads have been playing GAA/Rugby etc. over the winter.

What are the main attributes of your team?

Our sexy Jerseys, Dapper Dan’s Hand of God and Colin Lordan’s Booming Left Leg.
Mixed Unis photo

 

 

Fitzpatrick Cup 2017

The 2017 AFL Europe calendar kicks off with a bang on Saturday 4th of February with the 4th edition of the Fitzpatrick Cup being hosted by University College Cork (UCC).

The ‘Fitz’ is a relatively new addition to the AFL Europe schedule with it first being run in 2013 to tie in with the International Rules Series held in Dublin between Australia and Ireland.

Four teams took to the field that day with Oxford, Dublin City University (DCU), UCC and Magherfelt College competing in the inaugural competition. The Chairman of the AFL Commission, Mike Fitzpatrick, was in Dublin for the event and attended the tournament named after him.

Since then the competition has boomed with each tournament growing stronger and stronger. The following year saw five teams compete in Birmingham, with six facing off the year after that. 2016 saw further growth with the introduction of the women’s competition enhancing the tournament profile.

This year sees the competition move to Cork, Ireland, and has eight men’s and three women’s teams pulling on the boots and competing to become the Intervarsity Champions of Europe.

Head organiser, Eoin O’Sullivan, along with the rest of the UCC organising committee have worked tirelessly putting together this year’s premier universities competition and are expecting it to be the biggest and most successful tournament yet.

In the men’s competition, it’ll be the University of Birmingham who’ll be looking to claim their third straight ‘Fitz’. They’ll be coming up against home side and runners up from 2016, the UCC Bombers, who’ll be looking to impress and go one better in front of a home crowd.

For the women, it’ll be a very close field with UCC, Maynooth and Oxford locked in to compete in the women’s second instalment of the competition. It’ll be the home-side, UCC, who’ll have the home crowd advantage and could prove the clincher in tight games.

The 2017 ‘Fitz’ is shaping up to a the biggest and best yet with the standard of football from the youthful university students sky rocketing each year.

Be sure to stay tuned into the AFL Europe website and social media for more details and previews over the next month.

https://www.facebook.com/events/369288496783296/

Teams:

UCC 1

UCC 2

University of Birmingham

Oxford University

Cambridge University

Maynooth 1

Maynooth 2

Irish Mixed Universities

Honour Roll:

2013/14 – UCC

2014/15 – University of Birmingham

2015/16 – University of Birmingham

Details:

Saturday 4th February 11am to 4pm

UCC Farm sports grounds, Curaheen, Cork City

After-Party at the Mardyke Complex

 

Match of the Round

Rebel Shield – 1st Leg – Leeside Lions v UCC Bombers

Leeside Lions hoping students don’t rebel, for the second year in a row…

Article by Richard MacSweeney

You ask some in Cork, Ireland about “Football” and for the most part they will refer to Gaelic Football, a game that’s over 100 years old, rich in local tradition, passion and identity. It’s a game that see’s best friends becomes bitter rivals come championship season. Then there are others who refer to “Football” predominantly as supporters of the English premiership or the odd few that support the domestic league.

Nowadays “Football” or “Footy” has a new meaning in Cork. The growth of Australian Rules football in the city and county has steadily increased year on year.  This is primarily due to the growth of the University College Cork AFL team, the UCC Bombers. Founded from humble beginnings in 2013, backboned by Leeside Lions player Eoin O’Sullivan and UCC student Danny O’Brien, the club garnered some interest and the willing new faces could see and kick a Sherrin for the first time. Thankfully there was enough interest to build on and guys kept coming back week after week, with that the Bombers were formed.

picture1Picture: The very first Rebel Shield game in 2013, a very inexperienced bombers team suffered at the hands of the established Leeside Lions

Nowadays, the UCC Bombers club attire is a common site around the college campus, the session are well run, focusing on the cores skills and rules of Aussie Rules , tailoring the innate established Gaelic Football and Rugby skills, primarily where most new participants come from, those that try it tend to buy into the ethos of Aussie Rules. No politics, no tradition no pre disposition, just pure and raw exposure to an exciting new game. There can be as many as thirty new faces turning up to training sessions at the moment.

In 2013, it was unknown territory for teams beyond those already established in the Irish league, there was no Fitzpatrick Cup, like there is now for University teams. The Bombers had to make do with the pinnacle of their year being a one-off game against Cork based ARFLI team the Leeside Lions, both teams coming up with a perpetual competition that’s aptly named the “Rebel Shield”. Cork people and sports teams are affectionately known as “The Rebels”, there is something rebellious about thirty or forty guys, the majority of whom have never been to Australia, and playing their indigenous game thousands of miles away .

picture5Picture: Eoin O’Sullivan taking the combined Leeside Lions & UCC Bombers training session, this allows younger players to learn from experienced players and perhaps future teammates.

The first ever Rebel Shield game left a lot to be desired from a spectators’ perspective, but from humble beginnings, a team of 12 or so wearing colours inspired by the Essendon Bombers jumper included Rob & Phil, two American exchange students took on the might of the vastly established Leeside Lions, who were awesome on the day and showed the students how to play the game. An ever constant since day one, was Eoin O’Sullivan, the work he has put in and still does is nothing short of remarkable. A winner at the IC11 as well as many more 9’s & EC medals, Eoin still has the enthusiasm to grow the game and drives the club each cold and wet October, when new students could take the easy option and go to the college bar for a beer.

Fast forward three years since that first Rebel Shield, the UCC Bombers have grown from strength to strength winning the inaugural Fitzpatrick Cup in 2014 in Dublin and a testament to the club’s growth that two separate Bomber’s teams took part in last year’s competition in Birmingham. On the back of a successful year the Bombers came into the Rebel Shield and beat the Lions over two legs for the first time in their history, so this year the Lions will want payback as the students outplayed the teachers.

picture2Picture: UCC Bombers Aussie Rules Club – 2014 Fitzpatrick Cup Winners

Every year at the beginning of the academic season, the Bombers training’s and Lions training’s are mixed so all new guys get to know and learn from the experienced players who may even become their future Lions teammates, but for the next couple of weeks they’re the opposition. Experienced Irish Internationals like Eoin O’Sullivan and Padraic O’Connell take the drills and are joined in the coaching ranks by Lions stalwart and head coach, Chris O’Brien. The emphasis is on skills, skills, skills as these early year sessions move towards a platform to be used on, namely the Rebel Shield first leg and preparation for the Fitzpatrick cup, which is held in UCC in 2017.

November 18th next will see this year’s installment, which has been extended to two legs since 2015.   The first leg of the “Rebel Shield” will take place in Cork’s Mardyke Arena with ball up at 6.30pm. Reigning ARFLI premiers, the Leeside Lions, will return to the same venue which saw a demolition of the Belfast Redbacks in the grand final last August, the Lions will hope that history will repeat itself, pride and reputation are on the line.

On the night, the Bombers will be looking to experienced players like Oisin Collins, Peter Traynor, who have tasted international experience with the Irish Warriors with club players like Evan O’Connor, James Duffy, Kevin Sullivan and James O’Callaghan driving the team onward against their more experienced counterparts. The Lions will be looking towards Irish Warriors Luke Hickey, Padraic O’Connell, Colin Lordan, Paul Murphy, Dom Joyce, Conor O’Halloran as well as club stalwarts Mike Scanlan and Ian O’Sullivan to put one over on the students. The game bodes well as they prepare for their participation at the AFL Europe Champions League in April as Ireland’s representatives.

picture4Picture: Leeside Lions 2016 squad which included 17 past/current UCC Bomber’s players 

The UCC Bombers players who are interested in playing footy beyond the academic year actually transition to join the Leeside Lions in the summer months. It is no coincidence that the onslaught of Bombers into the Lions squad helped the Leeside Lions win the ARFLI Flag for the first time in 11 years this year, and even more impressive is they were the first team in history to go through an unbeaten season.

Current and former Bombers have gone on to receive great team and personal accolades, there have been more than 10 players play for the national team over the last couple of years with Bombers origins. Then there are the likes of Paul Murphy (Team of the tournament EC 16) Luke Hickey (Team of the tournament Euro Cup 16), Oisin Collins , Rory O’Donnell, Matt Bell gaining international experience this year on the back of their ARFLI winning campaign with the Lions.  A key member of last year’s Bombers set up who has transitioned to a fully-fledged Lion and Irish Warrior is Luke Hickey who in his first full year as a Lion, was in fact named Leeside Lions Best & Fairest.

The skill and passion of youth could compliment the experience of the Lions stalwarts, who needed that injection. IC winning captain, Cian Quigley, Ian O’Sullivan, Jason Hingston and Vincent Manning as well as many more who kept the club going through lean times are now enjoying the fruits of a large squad. The Lions win huge testament to the number of years invested in the bombers that eventually yielded the crossover of players the ranks last year

picture3Picture: Some of the 2016 UCC Bombers team that beat a Galway Magpies selection last week, as warm up for the Rebel Shield on Nov. 18th.

It’s a testament to the hard work by the Lions and UCC coaching staff to the hard work they have put in over the years that these games are not solely for exhibition purposes but they’re extremely competitive and a great brand of footy has been played in the past and hopefully it will do so again. There is that rivalry that needs to be present on the oval but there is that camaraderie off the field that is a testament to AFL ethos and culture.

So if you’re in the Cork area pop down to the Mardyke for what promises to be a great exhibition of footy, can the Lions avenge last year’s defeat? Will the Bombers make it two in a row?

If you can’t make it, it would be great as an AFL Europe community for other clubs and college teams to wish both teams all the best on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

 

Rebel Shield (First leg)

Leeside Lions vs UCC Bombers

Mardyke Arena

Friday 18th November, Ball up 6.30pm

All Welcome, Free Entry