Contributed by: Brett Northey
As previously reported, Ireland's key defender Mike Finn (pictured left) was named the top player of the 2008 Australian Football International Cup. He squeezed past Sweden's Andreas Svensson and joint 2005 winner, Samoa's Fia Too-too, both on 7 votes. Below are all the players who received 4 or more votes, which were awarded on the 3-2-1 system by umpires after each match in the 5 round competition.
Remarkably, Finn scored votes in 4 of the 5 rounds, only missing out in Ireland's 98 to nil defeat of Finland in Round 2, a match in which he was rested given his heavy workload, playing in a final the next day for local club Heidelberg. A quick check of their website reveals Finn came 6th in their seniors best and fairest, a great effort at a quality club in a premiership year. Heidelberg play in the Northern Football League (formerly known as the Diamond Valley Football League) in Melbourne. He was also recently married, so it was a huge month for the Irishman.
It was was fitting that the winner of the IC08 best player award came from one of the top teams - with sides playing off against similar ranked sides in the last two rounds there was the possibility that a player from a lower team might jump into the lead (of course they may have been deserving, but the odds are that a dominant player in a top team is the better player). The leading vote-getters for nations not shown below were USA - a tie between David Walker, Paul Duncan and Dan Sarbacker (all on 3 votes, a best afield each), New Zealand - a four way tie between Andrew Buckethought, Richard Bradley, Liam Ackland and Andrew Congalton (3 votes each), Japan - Shoto Yokoyama, Michito Sakaki and Hiroyuk Tohyama (3 votes each) and Finland - Jani Saarinen, Leon Fernando and Juna Niemen (1 vote each).
|Mtutuzeli Hlomela||South Africa||6|
|Samuel Sethibe||South Africa||6|
|Yonatan Belik||Peace Team||6|
|Luke Matuas||Great Britain||4|
Mike Finn pictured centre as a member of the "World Team" awarded at the Cup Official Dinner. On the left of picture is South Africa's Julian Horn and on the right is Irish captain Cian Quigley.
The goalkicking award was shared between 26 year old New Zealand full forward Richard Bradley and 18 year old Canadian young gun Scott Fleming, both with 17 goals. They entered the last round neck and neck, and both booted 2 goals in their final match. It's encouraging to see so many younger players amongst the goals; third was Pirika at just 17 years, followed by Cunneen and Mori, both at 22.
|Richard Bradley||New Zealand||17||26|
|Amua Pirika||Papua New Guinea||14||17|
|Nic Cunneen||New Zealand||13||17|
Leading goalkickers Scott Fleming (far left) and Richard Bradley (far right), with fellow World Team players.
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