One of Essendon’s first off-season moves since being put out of the 2019 AFL Premiership race has been to secure another talented Irish footballer. The move to secure Ross McQuillan has been in motion for some time, but as the following story from the Essendon Football Club states, McQuillan has now been locked in.
Essendon will have a second Irishman donning the sash in 2020, following its signing of Ross McQuillan as an international rookie.
The new deal will see McQuillan join the red and black until at least the end of 2021, linking up with fellow countryman Conor McKenna.
Growing up playing Gaelic football for St Patrick’s in Northern Ireland, the 20-year-old will relocate to Australia to pursue his AFL career.
McQuillan’s impressive efforts in Gaelic football won him recognition as a forward in the 2018 EirGrid GAA Football U20 All Ireland team. The talented athlete also represented Northern Ireland in basketball.
In Finland, there is a new power back in town. The 2019 FAFL premiers, the Turku Dockers, have broken the four premiership streak of the Helsinki Heatseekers to be crowned Finnish premiers. It is the fifth flag for the Dockers, equalling the tally of the Heatseekers. The Waasa Wombats have a title, winning back in 2011.
The victory is even more joyous as the club has had some tough times in recent years, so to come back from those setbacks and take a premiership speaks volumes for the players, club, supporters and backers who had stayed the course and rebuilt the club.
Heading into their Grand Final, The Turku Dockers had met the Helsinki Heatseekers on three occasions across the season. Helsinki won their Round 1 clash by 18 points, and later in Round 3 by a narrow three points. But in between, the Dockers won their Round 2 encounter in Turku by 27 points, which in retrospect might have been a pointer to their premiership win.
For a club that was born in 2013, the Odense Lions have done remarkably well. Whilst they received the requisite hidings in their early days, the club was in raptures back in 2016 when they reached the DAFL finals for the first time. Just to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, they returned to finals action in 2017 as well.
In both campaigns, the club was unceremoniously dumped in their only finals outing. Their 2016 final against the Copenhagen Barracudas saw a 137-point whacking, and their exit at the hands of the Farum Cats in 2017 saw a 93-point deficit.
Sad ends to promising seasons, but it is no real surprise, in retrospect, that 2018 became a year of recalibration for the Lions. The club took the wooden spoon yet the stirrings of 2019’s efforts were there.
In just a little over two weeks’ time, the new NTFL season will get under way. The weekend of 5th and 6th October will see the eight Premier League teams back in action along with all other men’s, women’s and junior competitions.
It is arguably the most exciting time of the year for all fans as the beginning of a new season, where all teams start again at ground zero, and fans of all clubs can have their dreams and hopes for the next flag, next finals appearance, next win.
The opening round leaps straight into where last year’s story ended. The Grand Final replay between the Nightcliff Tigers and Southern Districts Crocs helps open the season as part of a TIO Stadium double-header on the Saturday night. The season opens with two of last season’s other finalists clashing with the Darwin Buffaloes up against the Tiwi Bombers.
The Hamburg Dockers Australian Football Club is the toast of the AFLG and German footy overall after both their men and women won their respective Grand Finals to claim two premierships on a great day for the club. Sadly, the Berlin Crocs were on the receiving end of both defeats and will lick their wounds over the off-season whilst the Dockers celebrate.
The men’s match, the Dockers set the tone of the match early, getting away to a two goal lead at the first break. By half-time, they had kicked away to a 21-point lead, keeping the Crocs goalless for the quarter.
By three quarter time, the Dockers had almost grabbed the premiership, despite a fightback from the Crocs. The lead at the final change was just 14 points, and if the Crocs could build on their third quarter momentum they could bridge the gap.
The AFL has today confirmed the fourth annual Shanghai match will be featured in Round 11 of the 2020 Toyota AFL Premiership Season. Since AFL’s expansion into China in 2017, three successful matches involving Port Adelaide, St Kilda and Gold Coast SUNS Football Clubs have been played at Jiangwan Stadium in Shanghai’s Yangpu District. The Port Adelaide Football Club’s vision in partnership with the AFL have led the way in unlocking the potential the Chinese market has on the growth of the game both on and off the field.
This Saturday, Meadowbank Sports Arena, Magherafelt, plays host to the Mid Ulster Men’s and Women’s 9 per side AFL tournament. The initiative continues to grow and is as much about a tactical tool to grow the game as it is about fun.
AFL Ireland President, Kevin McSorley detailed the tournament and its place within the framework of Australian Rules football in Ireland.
“The tournament will have four ladies teams – the West Lothian Eagles from Scotland, the Mid Ulster Suns Ladies, the Dublin Angels and a Donegal team, with any ad hoc players wishing to come as an exiles team or make up numbers for the others. The men’s draw will have three - the Galway Magpies, the Belfast Redbacks and Mid Ulster Suns.”
One of the fastest growing leagues across Europe, the AFL Switzerland competition, is closing in on the end of its 2019 season. However, rather than it being a time for slowing down, the league has announced that another club will debut for the 2020 season with the Zurich Giants officially joining.
After its recent Annual General Meeting, the club league's newest club voted to get underway as early as the 2020 season after having already put in the groundwork and hard yards to build numbers and stability on and off field.
According to the news on the club’s first official newsletter as part of AFL Switzerland:
“The Giants Are Here! Since today, Zurich has its own official club. The Zurich Giants will be playing Australian Rules Football within the Swiss league from 2020 onwards. We are very proud about this and can’t wait to host games around the beautiful city of Zurich.”
The new season of footy in France is getting closer and the draw has been released for the 2019/20 season. As well as key matches to watch out for, the biggest changes see a former grand finalist having a rest for a season and their place being taken by a new kid on the block.
It was only early last year that World Footy News reported on the formation of a new club in the southern suburbs of Paris – the Antony Blues. (See story Antony Blues Set To Grow In Paris). In a short space of time, the Blues have already performed well enough on and of the field to convince the CNFA that they are ready.
Their historic first match will be against the Cockerels in Paris. Their first home match will be in the second round when they host the Stade Toulousain 2 team. It marks a great reward for the many people who have worked so hard to get the fledgling team up and running and continues the changing face of the league clubs over recent years.
All the weekend action for AFL Asia’s showpiece was at the Thai Polo and Equestrian Centre in Chon Buri, Thailand with the 2019 AFL Asian Championships hitting town. The big winners on the day were the Papua New Guinea men’s team and the Malaysia Warriors women’s team
AFL Asia described the event as “Asia’s biggest AFL tournament, the AFL Asia Asian Championships, brings all the best teams from across Asia to play for Asia’s most coveted trophy. Men’s and women’s teams compete in four divisions comprising over 500 players from 14 countries.”
It has historically been a huge event, and this year was no different.
The results from the Men’s Division 1 final saw the Papua New Guinea Muruks defeat the Hong Kong Dragons 36 to 14. It was a huge win for the Muruks as they went back to back after taking the title last year in Kuala Lumpar.
Despite largely being a two-horse race, the SAFF (Stockholm Australian Football Federation) competition is heading for what could be a huge finish. Whilst the Solna Axeman would be pleased the 2019 season is now over and the Årsta Swans will be long-priced underdogs in their Qualifying Final, it is the Norrtälje Dockers and Södermalm Blues that will generate the most interest.
The final two rounds of the SAFF season showed both the distance between the top two teams and bottom two. It also showed just how close the top two teams are.
Round 9 saw the Dockers trounce the Axemen by 127 points, whilst the Blues hammered the Swans by 116 points in an afternoon of one-sided results in Norrtälje. Then last weekend, the Blues and Dockers faced off in a Grand Final preview.
In a massive first for Estonia, the city of Tallinn will be the venue for the 2019 Baltic Cup. AFL Estonia, which is still at a stage of developing off field as it grows the game, will receive a huge boost to develop the game in the country with the opportunity to market the game and work to attract some interest for fans, businesses and prospective players.
Coming to Tallinn for the event will be the St Petersburg Cats from Russia, the Helsinki Heatseekers from Finland, the Polish Devils and the Norrtälje Dockers. The invitation exists for more nations to teams to join. Estonia will not have their own team, though should a local want to join in with one of the teams they most likely could.
The event will be held at the Nike Arena in Tallinn, adjacent to the Estonian Football Federation (Soccer) headquarters and fields to the south of the city.