Just two weeks after many feared that Conor McKenna had opted to leave Essendon and answer the call of homesickness by returning permanently to Ireland, Mitch Cleary reports on the www.afl.com.au website that things are not what they seem.
Cleary states in a section of his review of the Bombers’ injury list that, “Conor McKenna could return to Tullamarine as soon as next week with Essendon confident the dashing defender can play round one without a pre-season hitout.”
“McKenna has been home in Ireland for more than a fortnight but has continued to maintain his fitness as he battles homesickness.”
Not really a tourism slogan (though it COULD be), most of Europe will come to life over the next few weeks after a winter slumber for most leagues and teams. Whilst the French CNFA competition and the National Universities League have kept going over winter, more sleeping dragons are awakening.
Setting that tone, next weekend sees the inaugural Dragon Cup in Wales on February 29th. Hosted by the Cardiff Panthers, the tournament will also feature the West London Wildcats and other teams as the Panthers hope to build the cup into an annual event.
The same day, the North London Lions will play Cambridge University in a practice match. A week later the Lions will follow up with a clash against Birmingham University.
Last season, the South Wales Universities women’s and men’s teams struggled on field in the inaugural National Universities Cup. Both finished on the bottom of their respective ladders, some distance behind the rest. The teams enjoyed just one win between them for the season.
Fast forward to 2020, and the South Wales women’s team has just completed a wonderful second season. They lost just one match for the season and will play in the grand final. The men’s team did not improve quite so dramatically, yet a quick look at their improved percentage via for and against results proves they have bridged the gaps.
According to the National Universities Cup Facebook page:
It has been a big day for the Amsterdam Devils, travelling from the Netherlands to participate in a series of friendlies against the Paris Cocks and Antony Blues at the home of the Blues, the Parc de Grenouillère, Antony. On the day, the Devils were far too good across all games for the French teams.
According to the Paris Cocks Facebook page, "A fantastic afternoon of footy yesterday at Antony!"
"Thank you to Amsterdam Devils and Antony Blues for your involvement, organisation, and spirit in what we hope will become an annual event."
With two weekends of footy since the end of the winter break, the CNFA competition has seen three games completed, all of which have enhanced the finals hopes of the victors. The Bayonne Toreadors, Bordeaux Bombers and ALFA Lions each had important wins and are in box seats to book finals appearances.
The ALFA Lions hosted the Paris Cockerels in Lyon and grafted out a tough 27-point win. It was the Lions’ first win for the season and keeps their hopes alive after two early losses. Conversely, the loss was harsh for the Cockerels. With just one win from four matches, they cannot drop a game from here if they want to defend their title.
The Bayonne Toreadors were merciless in their clash against the Stade Toulousain team, winning by an enormous 198 points at home. The win sees the Toreadors sitting atop the ladder with two wins from two games and a good chance to consolidate a finals berth. Stade Toulousain sit winless at the base of the table. They will struggle to repeat last year’s efforts of reaching the grand-final.
Star Essendon defender, Irishman Conor McKenna, has returned to his homeland on the eve of the 2020 AFL Premiership season. Whilst the move is by no means permanent, the club will monitor progress closely over coming days and weeks.
The Essendon Football Club issued the following statement:
"Essendon defender Conor McKenna has returned to his homeland of Ireland due to homesickness and family-related reasons."
"General manager of football Dan Richardson said the 23-year-old had the club’s full support to return to his native country."
The UCC Bombers and UCC Crusaders have come away from Oxford University with thrilling results at the AFL Europe Fitzpatrick Cup. One winner and a runner-up marked another very good weekend for the Cork-based club.
The event saw the UCC Men’s retain their title, whilst the UCC Crusaders were unluckily defeated by a solitary point. It was a huge day for the Cambridge University women, taking the title. The event also saw teams from four countries compete – Ireland, England, Wales and Denmark – with the Southern Denmark University team making history with their first international team.
In the Men’s Division, the UCC Bombers pinched the game from Birmingham University in the dying moments. The club’s website described the result as follows:
In an article by Emma Duffy at THE 42, the argument about whether elite sportswomen in Ireland should be free to choose to play in both Australia for the AFLW and back home in Ireland gathers momentum.
The following article looks at the different sides to an emotive argument. It is also an argument that does not have a definitive answer, as individual women will want to choose their own directions rather than a “one size fits all” approach.
'Telling players they have to choose isn't fair' - Aussie Rules agent hits back at Mayo ladies boss' comments
12 of the 18 Irishwomen preparing for AFLW action are managed by CrossCoders – and its co-founder Jason Hill has responded to Peter Leahy’s claims.
The third round of the National University League was played last weekend in Cardiff, hosted by the South wales Universities team. By the end of the day, the South Wales women had booked their place in the grand final. They will not play in the final round, enjoying the bye.
In the men’s competition, University of Birmingham have almost certainly achieved the same, undefeated with two games to play. They can still lose top spot should things turn pear shaped in the final round, but that is not a high likelihood.
According to the National University League Facebook page:
Another round of the 2019/20 NUL season is in the books and it's set up an exciting Round 4 in Cambridge.
The winter break for footy is almost over in France with premiership matches set to return as well as some key “friendlies” and tournaments to see out the season. The back end of the season will also get busy with any rescheduled matches to be slotted in where there are gaps available.
Round 4 will be played across the weekends of 8th February and 15th February, with matches scheduled in Toulouse, Lyon and Bordeaux. As it stands, all team are still in the finals race with four rounds remaining, meaning upcoming matches have a great deal riding on them.
At the end of the third round, many teams had not played all scheduled matches. The Paris Cockatoos lead the ladder with eight points from their two wins. The Paris Cockerels (6) and ALFA Lions (5) follow behind. However, some teams have played only once to date and have some extra points to potentially bank in coming weeks.