The following article by Kevin O’Brien from the Irish sporting website, The 42, looks closely at the journey of Derry’s Gaelic star of the 80’s and 90’s, Dermot McNicholl. His time at the St Kilda football club in the VFL gives great insight to the early days of the movement to recruit Irish talent to the VFL/AFL system.
Following is an excerpt from the original story.
'Our pre-seasons were brutal. I’ve never gone through anything like it in my life'
Derry legend Dermot McNicholl discusses his stint in the AFL, the Oak Leafers’ All-Ireland victory 25 years ago and the rise in GAA stars heading Down Under.
“And St Kilda joined the international recruiting race, taking a punt on Dermot McNicholl, who has been brought to Australia by VFA club Prahran…St Kilda will bide its time with McNicholl, recognised as the best player in Gaelic football…St Kilda targeted McNicholl because of his pace and toughness and believes he could become a highly skilled player.”
The new AFL Switzerland competition was only completed back in November, but already the Basel Dragons have galloped headlong into 2019 with a new playing strip ready to go. Footy in Switzerland has seen a massive regeneration, heavily driven by the Winterthur Lions, and culminating in November’s first intra-national Swiss tournament.
Whilst the Geneva Jets won the event, it is the Basel Dragons working to ensure that 2019 is bigger, better and more successful for them.
Colombia’s Bogota Bulldogs have used Christmas Day wisely to announce another huge initiative in South American footy. Their gift is the announcement of the inaugural battle of the Bulldogs when the USAFL’s Denver Bulldogs from Colorado will travel to Bogota next year.
The scheduled match on May 18th will see the Bogota Bulldogs host the Denver Bulldogs in a genuine battle of the Americas. The Bogota team, and the greater Colombia AFL, have grown quickly over the past couple of years from a “kick in the park” entity to a three team national Colombian competition that is now attracting international teams.
The match will feature a full size competition – 18 per team – in an event that is quoted as a game that “will raise the quality of South American footy forever”.
The young girl positioned herself behind the goalposts as usual. She did this at every training session to watch her brothers. On the field the coach barked orders and the players continued another set of sprints, sweat pouring from their brows, but knowing this was the last training session before the Christmas break.
Hannah watched the players. She watched them complete their handpassing drills every training night. She watched the kicking drills. She watched the tackling, the marking, everything. Tonight a tear ran down her cheek when she wished that maybe Santa might one day grant her the chance to play her favourite game. Maybe this Christmas?
As she sat watching, her cheeks still red from her gentle weeping, the coach turned around and faced her. Hannah was unsure why or what had happened. Maybe something was going on behind her. But the coach started motioning for her to come out onto the field.
In a massive coup for AFL Middle East, the AFL club Greater Western Sydney Giants (GWS) have agreed to work together to help develop the Middle East’s competition. The following statement from AFL Middle East Operations manager, James Larkin, details the arrangement.
Statement GWS Giants Relationship
Introduction: On the morning of December 21st, the AFL Middle East (AFLME) announced it had come to an arrangement whereby it would develop a relationship with the AFL club – Greater Western Sydney Giants. This relationship was sought as a means to help expand Australian Football in the greater Middle East region at all levels including Auskick.
Just a few weeks ago, the Tiwi Bombers were on the crest of a wave. With three consecutive wins, the Bombers were cautiously looking at a surprise finals charge. But since then they have lost three games in a row, last weekend against the bottom placed Wanderers. The Bombers now face the prospect again of a wooden spoon unless they find form again. Wanderers, however, have won two of their past four matches and can justifiably claim their own march to finals.
In other matches on the weekend, the Darwin Buffaloes brought down the Southern Districts Crocs, Nightcliff comfortably dispatched St Mary’s and the Palmerston Magpies won a thriller after the siren against Waratah.
Wanderers seemingly threw away their golden chance to defeat the Bombers when they kicked just one goal from seven scoring shots in the opening quarter. They we made to pay, as the Bombers kicked five second quarter goals to lead at the main break. But the Muk Muks really did run amok in the second half. Wanderers hammered home ten goals in the second half to just four from the Bombers to win comfortably by 32 points.
Lost in the shuffle of Majak Daw’s recent injuries when falling from Melbourne’s Bolte Bridge is his impact on the game of Australian Rules football. Whilst there is some polarisation of people’s reaction to Daw’s latest misfortune – from sympathy to, sadly, discriminatory – Daw’s contribution to opportunity for young immigrants is profound.
Rohan Smith’s article at www.news.com.au sheds great light on his journey and achievements within the context of how hard daw has had to work through his life to achieve at all.
Majak Daw has survived it all, and continues to hang tough. It’s not just a tribute to his strength — it’s a result of where he’s come from.
When Majak Daw speaks, you’d never know English is his second language. He’s got the Australian twang.
When he kicks a footy, you’d never know he grew up a world away where the luxury of recreational sport isn’t afforded to kids like it is here.
Former Lion Kaitlyn Ashmore will now play for one of the new AFLW teams in the 2019 season, the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos.
“Family is a big thing for me, and being closer to them was one of the main reasons why I came home. When North were granted a license, I thought it would be the perfect fit for me," Ashmore said
"North has had an alliance with Melbourne Uni for years, where I have played for 6 years and over 130 games. I was also moving back and forth from QLD every 6 months over the 2 seasons I had there and it’s actually quite exhausting."
Image Source: North Media
For the Kangaroos, Ashmore will continue to wear the jumper number 10 in 2019 same as the number she wore at the Lions.
Round 10 of the NTFL Premier League saw the Palmerston Magpies make their biggest statement yet regarding their desire for the rest of this season. Their win over the Darwin Buffaloes has them and the league rethinking the rest of the season. St Mary’s also spoke loudly to the rest after downing Wanderers, the Crocs gave the Tiwi Bombers more to think about and Nightcliff’s shellacking of Waratah has asked some big questions.
The Magpies got away to a blinder against the Buffaloes, producing an exciting seven goal opening quarter. The Buffaloes came back hard and just three points was the half time margin in favour of the Pies. Palmerston had the better of the third quarter and held off a determined Buffaloes in the final term to hold on by 20 points. For Palmerston, the win see them equal on points with fifth-placed St Mary’s but more importantly, the win sees them having beaten the third and fourth placed teams this season.
Some believe that the AFL is offering a glittering opportunity to Irish players, but from the point of view of Irish clubs and leagues, it isn’t that black and white.
A GAELIC football powerhouse has developed a booklet called 'Stay, Play and Work in Kerry' as Irish clubs prepare to take up the fight to AFL counterparts luring their best talent.
Geelong signing Stefan Okunbor is the latest Kerry export to pursue a professional sports career in Australia and there will be a record-setting 14 Irishmen on AFL lists next year.
Okunbor, one of Kerry's brightest young Gaelic prospects, will bid to join Sean Wight, Tadhg Kennelly, Tommy Walsh and Cats teammate Mark O'Connor as footballers from 'The Kingdom' to play an AFL game.
Not to long ago AFL Canada released a pictorial summary, displayed at the end of this article. Now we have presidents report from AFL Canada which provides some explanation.
In summary, senior player numbers were flat .
AFL Ontario contributed to the lower number of men's player with the withdrawl of Broadview in Toronto bringimg the men's division down to nine teams, but with new prospects in in the regional cities of Barrie, London and especially Kingston.
AFL Quebec increased in both genders, with the introduction of the Montreal City Blues and Blue Belles bringing the league's teams up to five and three, respectively.
Juniors league players are split between the long established North Delta Junior AFL and Calgary. The vast majority of those junior players are non-Australians.
The fourth round of the Championnat de France Léo Lagrange 2018-2019 wrapped up this weekend ahead of the winter break. Round Five will commence in early March. To see out the round, three matches were played in Paris and Bordeaux – each shaping the ladder and making things interesting when footy returns.
In Bordeaux, the ALFA Lions took on the Bordeaux Bombers in a match that was vital for each team’s chances of seeing finals action. Each team went into the match with a win and the victor would get the jump on their opponent. The Lions got away to a good start, leading by 14 points at the first change and by 28 at half time.
The Bombers could make no inroads in the second half, down by 49 points at the final change before going down after a late rally by 39 points. The final score saw the ALFA Lions 106 defeat the Bordeaux Bombers 67.