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.”