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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!”

UCC Bombers 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. We’re kicking off the team previews with the host University men’s side, the University College Cork Bombers.

The Bombers will be looking to impress in front of a home crowd and regain the ‘Fitz’ after missing out at the past two tournaments.

What has happened since the last Fitzpatrick Cup?
Another season, another Fitzpatrick Cup. Since last year’s competition the Bombers have had a successful year on the field, winning their first Rebel Shield and having players in their ranks selected for National Teams. This year, the Bombers kicked off the year in typical fashion, with a BLAST, beating the current ARFLI Premiership winners, the Leeside Lions, in the first round of the Rebel Shield. The Bombers have drawn high numbers of players to training this year, pushing one another to improve week on week. This year the Bombers have had a high turnover of players, and a whole host of new players are eager to go one step further than last year.

Fitzpatrick Cup history
– Inaugural winners of the Fitzpatrick Cup 2013.
– Runners-Up 2015 & 2016

Players to watch
With the Leeside Lions being the current ARFLI Premiership winners it’s safe to say footy has taken off on Leeside. The Bombers provided a number of players who went on to play for the Lions, with the likes of James “Enzo” O’Callaghan and Jack Kelleher having gained valuable experience competing against footballers who have been playing the game for a number of years.

A number of Bombers have gone on to represent the Irish Warriors over the past 12 months, with the likes of Peter Traynor, Rory O’Donnell, Paul Murphy, Matt Bell, Oisín Collins and Ronan Sheehan all given the opportunity to represent their country.

While the Bombers have an exciting crop of new players, providing the team with new and fresh ideas, players like Shane O’Sullivan, James Galvin, and Conor Beasley are just a few of the new players the Bombers have on board this year. You mix this in with the Bombers that have Fitzpatrick Cup experience like Evan O’Connor, Dean Johnson and Joe Maguire, and I think it’s safe to say the Bombers go into this year’s Fitzpatrick Cup full of hope and expectation.

So who’s in charge?
Yet again the Bombers are led by the Lions double act of Eoin O Súilleabháin and Chris O’Brien. Eoin has represented the Irish Warriors over a number of years and has won it all as a player. Now he hopes to replicate that success as a manger. Chris O’Brien was the figurehead behind the Leeside Lions’ march to an undefeated ARFLI season and Premiership crown, all in his first year in charge. He too will be hoping continue this success going forward with the college.

Interview with Eoin O Súilleabháin – Head Coach of UCC Bombers

Aims for the tournament?

“Our aims are to win it. No point in beating around the bush, it’s what we’re all aiming for. To be European Inter-varsities Champions.

On top of that, we also want to host a great tournament. The Fitzpatrick Cup is fast becoming one of the biggest events on the AFL Europe calendar, and we want to push on and make this year’s installment the best yet.”

Which players have the X-factor?

“It’s always tough to pick out individual players from a list. In UCC we have a high turnover of players, through graduation, impact of other sports, etc. so we essentially have a new crop each September, boosted by a few players with a year or twos experience. It’s an exciting prospect, and when you see their natural talent on show, you just need to guide them along.

We have a few in our list that have had call ups to the National Team, and some GAA and rugby converts that have taken to the game well, so it’ll be interesting to see how they perform.”

How have the preparations been going?

“Preparations have been going well on the whole. ARFLI have introduced a Winter Championship that has us playing regular footy, and we had the first leg of The Rebel Shield recently which was another opportunity to get a run out. Although neither were a 9s format, we’ve been focusing on that at training. Numbers have been great, application and effort the same, so hopefully it will all come together.”

What are the main attributes of your team?

“It’s tough to pick specific attributes when we haven’t played fully as a team yet, but the intensity of some of our guys for the footy is amazing.  The boys go whole-heatedly for the ball, take knocks and bumps, and just get on with it.
That, coupled with a few good legs and big grabs, it helps to get a good footing in a game.”