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Irish eyes not smiling on Swedes

International Cup 2008

IC08 kicked off with former champions Ireland up against Sweden in their Cup debut. With the other two matches scheduled for the 11am time slot delayed slightly (presumably staggered start times to allow for the playing of national anthems etc), these two teams had the opportunity to score the first goal of the 2008 Cup - and perhaps surprisingly it was Sweden. Alas from that point on the Warrior defence proved impenetrable.

That first goal was kicked by the Gothenburg Beserkers' Janne Nilsson, who weaved through traffic and stabbed the ball low and hard into a light breeze (which picked up during the day). Much of the first quarter was an arm-wrestle with neither side getting clear passages and questions were being asked - is this a sign of an Irish slide down the ladder of international footy that some have predicted, or are the Swedish Elks a top contender themselves?

Elks big man Mats Wurmback, at 208 cm (about 6'10") was a presence in ruck, and a challenge for Ireland's returning 2005 ruckman Brian "Stretch" O'Connell who at around 200 cm (listed in the Record as 172 cm!) must surely have never faced a ruckman taller than himself in international footy. But O'Connell soon put his superior judgement to good use to control the position. The quarter time lead of Ireland 2.4 (16) to Sweden 1.0 (6) steadily blew out in the second quarter, with big Mick Finn dominating around the ground. Starting at centre-halfback he pretty much played off his man, backing his judgement and sweeping down the ground and booming 50 metre passes into the forward line (and slotting one goal himself) in clearly the best on ground performance. A top player for Ireland in 2005, the 27 year old has been tuning up his footy with Heidelberg in Victoria and is the sort of player who, if brought into the sport around 15 or 16, would probably have AFL scouts in signing him up to the new international scholarships (although as an Irishman he's ineligible in deference to the AFL-GAA relationship).

It was 5.7 (37) to 1.0 (6) at the half, and 8.9 (57) to 1.0 (6) at three quarter time, with the highlight being a strong pack mark to Leeside's Padraig Hannon. Daire O'hAodhagain's long goal no doubt frustrated the Swedish coaching staff with no player getting back on the line to touch a ball that only just had the legs. The Elks clearly have some reasonably experienced players in their side, and never gave up contesting the ball. Ireland's final score of 12.12 (84) to 1.0 (6) reflects the Swedes' inability to find a winning forward, through both a dominant display by defenders such as Finn and poor delivery from the midfield (under considerable pressure). Hans Andersson was best for Sweden and for Ireland Liam O'Connor and John "Dingo" Enright booted two goals, with Enright's goals either side of a trip to the massage table after a knock.

A solid hit out for Ireland who, if they can improve their running game and delivery skills, certainly have an impressive side with a tall and skilful spine running down the middle of the ground. They play Finland in Round 2 in a match that sadly has massacre written all over it (but all credit to the Finns for attending at such an early stage of their development). For Sweden, no disgrace on debut against a top quality opponent and certainly something to build on for their next hit-out which could be just as challenging, against the rising Canadians.

Details: McAlister Oval, 11am slot

Goal Kickers: L. O''Connor 2, J. Enright 2, P. Hannon, C. Keegan, S. Keegan, D. Ohaodhagain, M. Finn, P. Gibbs, J. Flavin, J. Cunnane
Best Players: M. Finn, D. Griffin, I. O''Sullivan, L. O''Connor, J. Flavin, C. Quigley

Goal Kickers: J. Nilsson
Best Players: H. Andersson, T. Persson, P. Hyberg, L. Hagberg, J. Nilsson, R. Nilsson

2.4 (16)1/41.0 (6)
5.7 (37)1/21.0 (6)
8.9 (57)3/41.0 (6)
12.12 (84)Full1.0 (6)

We're short on photos from this game, so any readers at the match who would like to send in some photos for this game are welcome to - send to temp {at} worldfootynews.com and we'll add a couple of the best ones here.

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Irish eyes not smiling on Swedes | 1 comments | Create New Account
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Irish eyes not smiling on Swedes
Authored by: Paul Moody on Thursday, August 28 2008 @ 10:56 am ACST

Despite the score it was still a great game to watch. The Swedes weren't coy about releasing a few expletives when the umpiring decisions didn't go their way. Must be great to play footy where you can't offend the umpire!