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Lions bite Magpies on ARFLI's Opening Day

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Reader submitted story from Ireland's Australian Rules Football League season 2012 Round 1 contest between Leeside Lions and Midwest Magpies.

In their first game of the season, the Leeside Lions continued their excellent league form from last year, beating the Midwest Magpies by a score of 9.12 (65) to 4.9 (33).

The Leesiders brought up 12 men, and were missing a number of key players for a variety of reasons. Crucially though, the three Lions who represented the European Titans a mere days previous in Paris made the long trip back to the West in time. The match was the highlight of the week, contested between two teams with genuine Premiership title hopes for the coming year. After a narrow loss in the Grand Final last year, the Lions were out to set the record straight with a number of new recruits in their ranks, who played a major role in the win.

The Pies chose to avail of the stiff breeze coming in off the Atlantic, and took an early lead, pinning the Lions into their own half but unable to convert the full six on many occasions. Good defensive work and pressure from the Southern side gave the home team no inch, and although down 15 points, the gap was attainable in the strong wind.

The Lions got off to the best possible start, Colin Lawless dribbling one in from close range on the first possession, and the scores were unrelenting, Rob Armstrong picked up a couple to open his account after a yearlong absence, new recruit Denis Fahey also got on the score sheet as the away side opened up a 17 point advantage.

With the wind the Pies would have been forgiven for thinking the four points were still on offer, but a sublime performance shut down their aspirations. Crucial goals from Rob Armstrong broke the Magpie spirit, while constant pressure and a relentless work ethic was a constant cause for frustration. The Lions hustled and harried, making the Pies fight for every last possession and point, in a quarter where they expected to dominate. Fantastic work in the middle from Micheál Ó Scanláin and Lawless shut down the Pies midfield, Eoin O Súilleabháin never stopped running, while Cian Quigley, Fergal 'Mad Dog' Killoury and another new recruit Joe Ryan were tremendous in the back line. Dominic Joyce was a towering presence making crucial marks, while Kevin Galvin was doing good work in and around the middle.

With a 16 point advantage going into the final quarter, the theme of the team talk was to enjoy the final quarter, and goals from Chris O'Brien (Who played brilliantly in the unfamiliar position of half-back), one more for Armstrong and Ryan saw out the game. The game began to get a bit heated by the end and Lawless was sent off with about 10 minutes to go. That didn't phase the Lions though and they eventually eased to a well-deserved 32 point win. With his five-goal tally, Armstrong was named Best on Ground, a title that was well earned! After drinks in the Skeff with the Magpie boys, and Jason Hingston being awarded the pink socks for denying Dennis his second with a touch on the goal-line, the Lions returned home with a crucial four points earned in difficult circumstances.

Saturday week the Leeside Lions will be making the trip to Dublin, to play in the opening Super 9 carnival of the year, and will be hoping for a full team and another 4 points to go top of the league!

Leeside Lions: Cian Quigley, Eoin O Súilleabháin, Fergal 'Mad Dog' Killoury, Chris O'Brien, Micheál Ó Scanláin, Colin Lawless, Joe Ryan, Dominic Joyce, Kevin Galvin, Jason Hingston, Denis Fahey, Rob Armstrong.
Goalscorers: Rob Armstrong (5), Denis Fahey, Joe Ryan, Chris O'Brien, Colin Lawless

Details on leesidelions.ie

In other Round 1 results the South Dublin Swans 139 defeated Dublin Demons 19 and Belfast Redbacks 121 defeated new side North Leinster Kangaroos 24.

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