Swans and Redbacks line up for AFRLI Grand final
Friday, September 17 2010 @ 11:55 am ACST
Contributed by: John Corrigan
The two sides were only separated by percentage in the ladder this season but the Swans will go into the final as favourites as they have beaten the Redbacks in both their meetings this year. They are the only two defeats that the Belfast side has suffered this year. They have been a breath of fresh air to the comp as they rejoined the league this year having dropped out a few years ago due to a lack of player numbers. However they have had no such problems this year as they have 33 players eligible for the final.
The Swans have been the team to beat this year, firstly winning the pre-season competition and then by backing it up with some thumping victories. They will be looking to make up for losing the final last year to the Dublin Demons by winning their first flag since 2006. Swans player coach David Scott knows exactly how tough Belfast will be and he is expecting a titanic struggle. “Belfast are the best team we've come up against this year and we have had to pull out our best footy of the season to beat them on both occasions. Very athletic, strong, big, skilled & quick. A tough ask!”
Despite this Scott is confident in the ability of his team, several of whom played with the Irish Warriors in their recent European Championship victory. “We're really looking forward to the final, especially after going down last year. Our recruiting has gone well and have picked up a few handy players to add to the strong core group of the past couple of seasons,” he said. The Swans will also be relying on their many Australian players to add experience including back-line gun Andrew Mack and midfield wrecking ball Ryan Seroki. Also 6 foot 9 inch ruckman Paul O’Halloran will look to be at his dominating best.
Redbacks club president Neil McFlynn is obviously very proud of his team as they have surprised many in reaching the final. “We are absolutely thrilled to be playing in the Grand Final on Saturday especially given that it is our first year back in the ARFLI premiership after several years without a team and also because it’s the first year that the Redbacks will have contested the Grand Final,” said McFlynn. “We knew when we decided to re-establish the team that we had some great players and that with some new faces about the club we could be a force to be reckoned with.”
When the two teams met in the regular season the Swans prevailed on both occasions, first by winning in Dublin by 98 to 40 and then by travelling north to win a tense game by 70 to 51. McFlynn admires the Swans side but he believes that his side are more than capable of taking the title. “The Swans really have been the form team this season and they definitely seem to raise their game against us. Although they beat us twice this season, we did bridge the gap with them in the second game so we feel it’s all to play for on Saturday.”
The Redbacks are currently flying high after their 54 to 24 victory away to Cork in the Semi-final and are full of confidence. “Our semi final win over the Lions last Saturday was unbelievable. From a personnal point it was probably the best game I have been involved in since I started playing Aussie Rules in Ireland. It was not pretty to watch at times but it was definitely the hardest game we have ever been involved in and I think the result of that game will have given each and every one of our players a greater level of confidence going into the final,” said McFlynn.
The match appears to be on a knife edge with the Swans going in as slight favourites. This has been possibly the most successful season in the history of the AFRLI with a record eight teams taking part as well as the national team being crowned European Champions. The final looks like providing a suitable climax to showcasing the league.