Irish Gals play In Sydney Semi-final
Sunday, August 23 2009 @ 07:51 pm ACST
Contributed by: Lisa Roper
While we are still remembering the great efforts of Jim Stynes, wait for a return of Tadgh Kennelly, cheer the re-signing of Brendon Murphy, there is a team full of Irish ex-pats playing in the Sydney Womens AFL competition, and they have now qualified for playoffs in their rookie year.
The Bondi Shamrocks are a newly formed club who entered the Sydney Women’s AFL (SWAFL) competition for this season.
They are made up of primarily Irish ex-pats, with a Gaelic Football, Camogie or Rugby background, with a few native Aussies and the odd Kiwi thrown in.
In their inaugural season, they have already had Sports Bar and a cocktail named in their honour, five players were selected to represent NSW at the women’s AFL State Games in Perth, and had six play for Sydney in the rookie team against the touring USA Freedom team. Now the ladies have earned a place in the SWAFL playoffs after beating more experienced opponents during the season to finish in the top four and will contest for a place in the Grand Final .
Co-captain Cara Connaire from County Longford is thoroughly looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead of the rookie team. “Our biggest challenge is getting enough of the qualified players onto the pitch as we have been hit hard with injuries. Most girls play AFL on Saturdays, and then back it up for a game of Camogie and Gaelic footy on a Sunday, so we’ve had a few girls incur stress fractures amongst the usual football injuries”.
Due to the back-packing nature of many Irish nationals, the line out for the Shamrocks varies from game to game, meaning players become adaptable to playing in different positions and roles. While they have lost numerous talented players throughout the season, as they travel onwards or return home, others have just arrived and are heading into the finals footy matches with only four games under their belts, though none are daunted at the task of taking on these seasoned veterans.
The semi-final on Saturday is against Balmain Dockers, who do have a few rookies themselves, but also boast some of the most experienced players in the league. Balmain finished 3rd on the ladder though came within a whisker of the 2nd spot and well earnt 2nd chance match, so they are certainly out to cement their spot in the preliminary final. Shamrocks beat the Dockers earlier in the year, playing a Gaelic style of footy by using their unrivaled hand-passing skills to dominate the very open Drummoyne Oval. The 2nd match was at Mahoney Park, the same ground as this weekend’s game and went the way of the experienced Dockers.
The Shamrocks season kicked off at their Inaugural Guernsey Presentation, where Sydney Swans legend Jarrod Crouch was on hand to provide some inspirational words as well as present the Celtic branded jerseys. Since then the girls have spent many hours studying the way the Swans play and how Paul Roos plans out the matches, and hope to emulate the same result the Swans had in 2005. All players have been given a copy of that game and player numbers to study for their own roles in the lead up to this match, to help with their fast-track learning of the AFL game.
The Shamrock story is just beginning, stay posted for more news…