UCC Bombers – Next Link in the Irish Chain
Thursday, March 07 2013 @ 04:47 pm ACDT
Contributed by: Wesley Hull
Last weekend a footy match was played under grey skies in Cork, Ireland. The event featured the Leeside Lions. That was nothing new or unexpected, though very welcome. It also, however, featured the UCC Bombers. That was something new…and a breath of fresh air for Australian Rules football as another new club took to the international stage.
The game marked the first ever match for the newest team on the Irish landscape, and no matter how it is viewed, the day was a success for the UCC crew.
Leeside Lions won the day on the scoreboard with the final score being 10.16 (76) to UCC Bombers 4.5 (29). But in every other way UCC just racked up victory after victory. Every box ticked in the lead up to the game culminated in the ultimate win when the team ran on to the field.
As Danny O’Brien recalls, “recently, the Bombers challenged the local footy team, the Leeside Lions to a game. This was the first time that the Bombers would field a team and it would also be the day that all of the players were presented with their jerseys and numbers. It was a remarkable occasion and one where all players rallied around one another in becoming a team.”
But what may have seemed easy and unexceptional to a casual viewer – a new team playing a first game – has a much more interesting and intriguing story.
When Danny and P.J O’Brien were at the University College Cork, presumably between lectures, they both arrived at the idea that the university lacked an AFL team. This thought was not as random as it might seem.
Both played for the Leeside Lions and Danny had also played a season with the Tracey Village Razorbacks in the Northern Territory Football League whilst living in Australia. P.J didn’t have a footy background as such, but converted his elite Handball skills to a new game. These were the first seeds planted for a new team. Danny is now the president of the new entity and P.J the treasurer.
As well as the passion of these two pioneers, and the efforts of the players to honour the jumper, another important cog was the recruiting on Eoin O’Sullivan as coach. The Irish international player and World Cup winner has bought his vast array of skills and knowledge to this club to build UCC into a future powerhouse of Irish Australian Rules footy.
It is also important that the club has developed with the assistance of both ARFLI (Australian Rules Football League Ireland) and a start-up grant from AFL Europe. The University College Cork (UCC) also provided funding from their sports department for the club to purchase equipment to get under way.
One of the most compelling features of this new club is the choice of colours and logo. The red and black, which have been the colours of the Essendon Football Club in Australia since 1872, have been donned by UCC. Danny points out that “the Bombers was a natural name choice for the club owing to the university’s colours being black and red, similar to that of the Essendon Bombers.”
What makes the jumper even more striking is the adoption of the skull and crossbones on the front of the jumper. Danny explains that “the clubs guernsey is similar to that of the Essendon Bombers in design but has one of the most stand-out features and probably the most identifiable logo in Irish Gaelic sport – the skull and cross bones. This symbol acts as a common bond which unites all those who have ever played for UCC and also ignites passion in the veins of those who are privileged enough to wear it.”
Danny continues. “The origin of the skull and cross bones is often disputed but according to many sources it has been there from the very beginning – when UCC was predominantly a medical college and the students felt the skull and cross bones would be an appropriate trademark when they were on the sports field representing the College. This symbol is a large feature of the Bombers new kit and it will be worn with pride.”
So the biggest hurdle has now been successfully cleared. The UCC Bombers have taken the field in genuine combat. Whilst not playing as part of the ARFLI competition roster in the immediate future, it is hoped, dreamt, foreseen and planned that this will happen soon. In the meantime, the UCC Bombers will get their chances to play other Irish clubs with some invitations already on the table. They also have a firm date with the Cambridge University team on April 20th.
The future certainly looks bright for the UCC Bombers. The final word rests again with Danny O’Brien. “The future looks very promising for the UCC Bombers and more time together on the playing field should yield some great results. The Republic of Ireland’s very first university Australian Rules football team will be a force to be reckoned with given the right amount of time and training.”
It is hoped that this latest link in the chain of Irish footy enjoys that success sooner rather than later.