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Ireland ready to retain their IC titles

By Michael McCormick

The Australian Rules Football League of Ireland (ARFLI) is arguably the most successful league outside Australia, having produced players such as the late, great Jim Stynes, Tadhg Kennelly and more recently Pearce Hanley.

Heading the charge to retain their 2011 International Cup championship is ARFLI President, Paul Brogan.

Brogan, who initially became involved in coaching prior to the 2013 European Championships, was anointed President earlier this year and will be responsible for the Irish team in the International Cup.

“I will represent our league in Australia, and aid the rest of the management team in training and preparing the squad during the tournament,” stated Brogan.

As reigning premiers, the Irish will attempting a feat that has not previously been achieved in International Cup history.

“Our goals for the IC, are to retain both the mens and womens titles,” continued Brogan.

“We face an uphill task as no one has ever retained the trophy, but it is my belief that we have the quality in this squad to go all the way.”

Travelling with Brogan to Melbourne will be 14 players, including playing head coach, David Stynes. Stynes will replace Shaun McElhone who will not be attending the International Cup due to family reasons.

Once in Melbourne, the full twenty-eight man squad will resume training and preparations for the tournament.

“There are a lot of new faces notably among the Irish based contingent, none of whom have ever played in the IC before,” stated Brogan. “They can all draw from the experience of winning last years european championships however.”

Brogan is a big supporter of the International cup and the opportunities it provides for players all around the world.

“The IC is showcasing the worldwide talent, that exists in the sport, giving the opportunity for lads to aspire to play on the greatest stage of all, the MCG.”

The Irish squad was chosen via trials and on the back of scouting feedback in both Ireland and Australia.

The Australian based players play for clubs in Perth, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, and will all be making the trip down for the two week tournament.

“Its tough for players as they are making a huge commitment,” stated Brogan.

“We have secured sponsorship for both the mens and ladies teams, but that will only cover a small portion of the costs involved. The players will be contributing the remainder themselves.”

The men’s and women’s squads will be landing in Melbourne on the 6th of August and will have regular training and recovery sessions in the St Kilda area where they will be staying throughout the tournament.

They will need to be on top of their game however if they are to defeat the might of Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.

“They have a grassroots structure in place, so can develop players from a young age whereas we have to develop our lads from the skills they bring from sports like Gaelic Football and Rugby,” stated Brogan.

“History would dictate that PNG will be the main challengers for the title, considering that have been to every grand final since the inception of the tournament, however NZ had a very strong showing in nearly defeating the AIS Academy team in January.”

“We will certainly have to be at our best to beat these two sides.”

#warriorsweek #bansheesweek #IC14

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Paul Brogan, ARFLI President

2014 International Cup fixture released

The AFL released the 2014 International Cup fixture today.

The 2014 International Cup will be played in Melbourne from August 9 to 23. There will be 18 men’s and seven women’s teams competing.

Men’s teams: Canada, China, Fiji, Finland, France, Indonesia, Ireland, Great Britain, India, Japan, Nauru, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, South Africa, Sweden, Tonga, USA.

New teams for IC14: Finland, Indonesia and Pakistan.

Women’s teams: Canada – Northern Lights, Canada – Midnight Suns, Ireland, Fiji, Tonga, USA – Freedom, USA – Liberty.

The majority of matches will be played at Royal Park in Parkville and for the first time a community round will be played as curtain-raisers to suburban, amateur and country matches.

The women’s grand final will be played at Punt Road Oval and the men’s grand final will be the curtain-raiser to the Round 22 AFL match between Hawthorn and the Geelong Cats at the MCG.

The men’s fixture is divided into three pools. Each team will play three pool matches and will then be ranked from one to 18. Teams will then be split into three groups for finals; top four, Division One and Division Two.

 

2014 International Cup fixture **

Saturday Aug 9           Official Launch at Federation Square & Parade of Nations at the MCG

Sunday Aug 10           Round One matches – Royal Park

Wednesday Aug 13    Round Two matches – Royal Park

Saturday Aug 16         Round Three matches – Community Round

Tuesday Aug 19          Round Finals & Division matches – Royal Park

Friday Aug 22             Third place play off & Division matches – Royal Park

Saturday Aug 23         Women’s Grand Final – Punt Road Oval, Richmond

Men’s Grand Final – MCG

The full fixture can be viewed at www.aflic14.com.au

** Fixtures are subject change.

 

AFL Head of Development Grant Williams said the International Cup celebrates the passion those outside of Australia have for the game.

“There are 100,000 international participants throughout the world who share our love of Australian football,” he said.

“IC14 will bring together the best 900 players from 18 countries. I look forward to the colour and excitement that the carnival will bring.”

The IC14 twitter and Instagram accounts were also launched today. Follow IC14 on @AFLIC14 and #AFLIC14

Expatriate Australians are ineligible to play in the International Cup. Teams are comprised solely of amateurs who must be nationals of the country they represent.  All players must have lived the majority of the years aged between 10 and 16 as a citizen of their nation.

The International Cup is played every three years. Previous International Cup winners are; Ireland (2002 & 2011), New Zealand (2005) and Papua New Guinea (2008).

Swedish Elks ready to take on the world’s best

by Michael McCormick

One of the premier sides in Europe, the Swedish Elks, are preparing to test out a new look team in the upcoming International Cup in August.

The Elks will blood several young players after having gone through a year of transition. More than half the team made their representative debut in a friendly match against Denmark in March this year.

“We will be looking to use the International Cup to build our group and give experience to the up and coming AFL players of Sweden,” stated Swedish Elks Team Manager, Jeremy Darke.

Darke, a 27 year old Australian expat who also coaches local team the Norrtälje Dockers, revealed that although playing non-European teams is a draw card for the tournament, old rivalries die young.

“To go up against teams that we have never faced before is the excitement of the International Cup,” said Darke. “Although we would love to beat Finland on the world stage.”

Having finished in eleventh place in 2011, the Elks are striving for a top ten placing in this year’s competition.

“With a spread of players from all over the country and domestic competitions it has been difficult to have stand-alone training sessions.

To prepare we have scheduled 2 friendly matches against Denmark and the Stockholm Dynamites.”

Although it will be the first trip down under for most of the younger players, Darke expects them to step up and catch the eye of AFL fans the world over.

“Hampus Ollson, Jacob Nilsson, Buster Sund are all young, solid players with a lot of passion for the game,” revealed Darke. “I’d expect them to be among our best performers for the tournament.”

The Elks have been fortunate in securing sponsorship to lessen the financial burden associated with making the trip to Melbourne.

“We have be able to acquire 6 bronze sponsors, but fundraising is still coming along slowly.”

The challenges faced to get there will be outweighed by the rewards, and not just in the form of competing.

“It would be a dream to go and watch the Gold Coast play in Melbourne and watch Ablett Jr. work his magic.”

#elksweek #IC14

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