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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!”

Oxford 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 Oxford University.

Oxford will be a real contender in Cork. They’ve always be around the top at the Fitz and 2017 could be the year they go all the way.

What has happened since the last Fitzpatrick Cup?

Since last year’s competition in Birmingham, the Blues have had a successful year on the field, beating Cambridge in the Varsity Match. Facing tough matches against Birmingham and the West London Wildcats following last year’s cup, we fought the entire match against Cambridge to ensure a 58-52 victory with a game-winning smother of the Tab’s last shot at goal.

Fitzpatrick Cup history

We had a great tournament last year in Birmingham for the Fitzpatrick Cup, finishing third.  We brought a huge Oxford squad with mixed fresh faces and grizzled old timers.  We lost a close Semi final to the University of Cork.

Players to watch 

We’re looking forward to see which players step up and surprise our anxious competitors in the Cup.  Practices and early matches this season have shown us that we have new vocal leaders on the team.  Certainly, watch veterans like Irishman Tommy Griffin and the ubiquitous Geoff Pascoe.

So, who’s in charge?

Oliver Bartlett, a Brit in his 4th year at the club.

Interview with Daniel Tracey – Men’s Captain of the Oxford Blues

Aims for the tournament?

“We undoubtedly will enjoy playing the match in Cork, and get to know our fellow Irish lads.  However, we aim to improve on our third place finish in 2016.  We fought hard last year, and intend to bring the same intensity to the pitch.”

Which players have the X-factor?

“This year we have an incredibly deep bench, and everyone has contributed to make the season a strong one so far.  It’s hard to name individual players, but Tommy Griffin, Geoff Pascoe, Alex Coccia, and Ewan Selkirk have a the tendency to make quick and strong plays for the score.”

How have the preparations been going?

“We’ve got a lot of new players on the team, some new to the sport entirely, and others who have played before internationally.  Of course it is always a big job to build up the team but after three solid matches this autumn, we have many guys showing up and contributing.  We are fielding a very diverse team who are ready to build up even more.”

What are the main attributes of your team?

“We have solid 1 on 1 contests, and great team communication.  The attitude this year has been that everybody gives it a good go and tries hard.  We’ve got a few experienced players and many new players who are learning quickly.”

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.

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

 

 

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.”

Match of the Round

Match of the Round 6/8/16

ARFLI Grand Final – Leeside Lions v Belfast Redbacks

Mardyke Arena, Cork plays host to two of the fiercest rivals in Irish Aussie rules. The Leeside Lions take on the Belfast Redbacks in tomorrow’s Grand Final blockbuster with the Lions playing in their first Grand Final since 2011. The Redbacks are ‘big dance’ specialists, having qualified for their fifth consecutive ARFLI Grand Final.

This past year has been a big one for the ARFLI as a focus on reformation of the structures of the league took to the forefront. The establishment of ‘carnival footy’ has been the major structural change to the league. This saw carnivals held in the home city of each of the four competing league teams with Galway, Cork, Belfast and Dublin hosting carnivals throughout the season.

The Leeside Lions were the first side to lock in their place for the Grand Final having done so on the back of a ‘clean sweep’ – winning 9 from 9 games, a first in Irish League history. The Lions squad has been boosted this year by the large number of players from the local university team, the UCC Bombers. Being the first to qualify gives the Lions a much deserved home advantage which could prove pivotal to the outcome of this game.

The boys from Belfast will be a formidable opponent and could shatter the Lions hopes of a perfect season. They’ve qualified for their fifth straight Grand Final and the experience of playing on that first Saturday in August gives them a massive advantage if the game goes down to the wire. They also have the largest proportion of players in the Irish Warriors squad contesting the AFL Europe Championships the following week so that’s not to be underestimated.

Will the ARFLI be crowning a new champion on Saturday in the form of the youthful Leeside Lions or will it be the experienced and battle-hardened Belfast Redbacks. This one is set to be a ‘corker’ and isn’t to be missed. With the ball up set for 3pm get down to Mardyke Arena for the culmination of the 2016 ARFLI season.

Coach’s thoughts – Leeside Lions, Chris O’Brien

“The game will be won by playing our fast, precise style of footy. Players to watch are our Aussie gun, Matty Moore, and experienced players like Eoin Sull, Ian Sull and Cian Quigley that have been here before with the Lions and the national team on many occasions.

A younger crop of guys who have experience players with the Irish Warriors in various tournaments over the last couple of years, most notably, Muiris Bartley and Conor O’Halloran in IC14. We also have a good crop of youth and experience heading to London representing the national team in a couple of weeks’ time for the AFL Europe Championships.

The feeder club, UCC Bombers, have given the Lions a boost this year not only with players but an exuberance for the game and a sense of freshness to the squad that will hopefully reap benefits in the Grand Final against a tough Redbacks team.

We wouldn’t be where we are without the help of Tadgh from our sponsor, Blockagebusters, his generous contribution has allowed us to book training fields, help with insurance and physio bills, especially in the lead up to the final”