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Sunday, October 26 2014 @ 09:18 AM ACDT

North Regional College (NRC) Eagles – New Team in Northern Ireland

Europe

Magherafelt is almost as close as you can get to the very centre of Northern Ireland. With a population of around 8,000 people, it is also the largest town in the south of County Derry. But Machaire Fiolta (using the Irish name) is also the home of Europe’s, and Ireland’s, newest Australian Rules football team, The NRC Eagles.

According to Kevin McSorley, architect of the fledgling club and Development Officer for the Australian Rules Football League Ireland (ARFLI), “[The] NRC Eagles are the newly formed Australian rules football team for North Regional College based in Magherafelt. We welcome students from all sections of the college and all sporting ability, and will be training in Meadowbank sports complex regularly.”

In a growing trend across Europe, teams are growing from universities and colleges. Logically, with such a base for potential players, NRC Eagles have begun life as a practical extension of existing sport and curriculum options.

Kevin goes on to explain that, “Basically the college team will train periodically over the summer teaming up with the Belfast Redbacks and weekly during term time. It will consist of students from all schools but primarily our sport courses including the Derry GAA academy”

“I have incorporated aspects of the game into the curriculum such as practical team sports and technical and tactical skills in sport so the student can have a theoretical understanding of the game before or as they learn to play it, and its all part of their educational development.”

“It’s new, fresh and the students are taking well to it. Once we get the kits from our supplier S-Trend UK and hopefully a few balls (now that AFL Europe has a deal with Sherrin) the project will spiral (no pun intended) and move forward.”

“Incorporating it into the classroom will be hugely advantageous in the long run.”

“We will aim to play UCC [The UCC Bombers – University College Cork] over the summer and again early next term prior to AFL Europe’s UK Varsity Cup to coincide with the compromise rules series in October.”

This project has been in the pipeline for a while and will take a good while longer to reach the point where the team is strong enough to compete on a regular national level. But, like the UCC Bombers before them, the NRC Eagles have taken the first tentative steps towards what may one day become another permanent addition to the Australian Rules football landscape in Ireland.

Magherafelt is not a name that slips readily from the lips of football fanatics worldwide. But if Kevin and his NRC Eagles outfit have anything to do with it, that situation could change quite dramatically in coming years.

Welcome, the NRC Eagles.

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