Ireland's O'hAilpin brothers have continued their rocky rise to AFL ranks in 2007, with mixed results for both of them. Setanta has played both fullback and ruck at Carlton with promising signs but hasn't yet managed to hold down either position. He did hit the headlines again with a brief and relatively mild "punch-up" with fellow Blues ruckman Cain Ackland at training last week, though both players and coaching staff laughed it off as one of those things that can happen in competitive workouts. Younger brother Aisake has moved up from the Northern Bullants' reserves to league side and would be hoping to make the Blues' senior squad in 2008. In the following story we have a look at the form of both players, and have a very recent update with talk that Aisake might be moved to Carlton's senior list well ahead of schedule - maybe even this week.
Followers of the local Australian Football clubs in the United Kingdom will be well aware of recent turmoil in the game with a second organisation, Aussie Rules UK, starting up senior nine-a-side competitions in 2007. The main controversy has been ARUK not working within the BARFL system (whether it should have is a debate within itself) and deciding to run matches in areas with active BARFL clubs. The result has been small but significant ARUK affiliated leagues starting in Wales, Northern England and Southern England and the loss of several BARFL clubs and effectively the demise of their Regional League. None of this is black and white such as in the case of Sussex which has continued in the BARFL as The Swans but also expanded to support ARUK's southern zone, so there is some cross-over. It's fair to say that if everything was running perfectly in England then ARUK would not have managed to get a foot in the door. Of course it's easy to be critical of the BARFL without truly understanding the hard work done to keep a league running week in week out as a volunteer. In many respects the BARFL has a proven track record of being one of the most stable and successful Australian Rules leagues around the world, but with a few simmering problems within and pressure from outside through ARUK and the carrot of junior development it seems change could be in the wind. After the tumultuous off season and plenty of frustration by those involved it seems that there might be a mood for a major paradigm shift in the way footy is organised in the United Kingdom.
The 2007 Central European AFL Championship will be held in Vienna, Austria next Saturday, 9 June 2007. Teams representing Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Finland will take the park, with the event starting at 10am and the grand final to be played at 5pm.
This week, the Reading Kangaroos were looking to bounce back from their first defeat of the season by the Regents Park Lions last week. Welcoming the Balham Hawks to Fortress King's Meadow, the Roos gave an awesome performance of accurate kicking, great support and hard running to get the right side of the footy for the whole match, winning 180-21. The full report can be found here.
A very encouraging element to the game was the presence on the sidelines of Ollie Williams from local station, BBC Radio Berkshire. Getting his introduction to the fantastic sport of Aussie Rules Football, Ollie gave live commentary on the match, interviewed some players and coaching staff and took some great photos - the audio and photos can be found on the BBC Radio Berkshire site.
The first (and so far only) footy team in Holland, the Flying Dutchmen played their first match in almost two years on May 19th, teaming up with the Strasbourg Kangaroos for a friendly against German club the Rheinland Lions in Cologne. Seven players from the Netherlands and eight from Strasbourg made the trip across, going down to the Lions 52-34 in a curtain-raiser to the AFLG match between Rheinland and Hamburg.
Martin Clarke’s rapid rise to senior AFL ranks continues at an unprecedented rate as far as Irish imports are concerned. Collingwood yesterday confirmed on their website that the 19 year old rookie has been promoted from the rookie list to the senior list.
It is thought that he will not play this week against Fremantle, but now he is on the senior list can be selected at anytime. He continues to work closely with Nathan Buckley and was working on fast leading and kicking drills with him while the media’s eyes were on Buckley at training yesterday, as Buckley continues to edge closer to his own senior debut for the year (returning from injury). It may turn out that they run out together the following weekend for the Queen’s Birthday clash on June 11th.
The short history of the Australian Rules Football League Ireland (ARFLI) is an interesting one with a mixture of extreme highs but also a few low points in what is a unique country for Aussie Rules. On the upside the national side went several years undefeated and claimed the inaugural International Cup back in 2002, and remained very competitive to finish fourth in 2005. The number of clubs also grew quickly from the first beginnings around the turn of the century, but the numbers have ebbed and flowed in the country which has both the advantages and disadvantages of the similarity between Australian and Gaelic Football. With the 2007 season getting underway with five clubs we chat to new ARFLI President Ciarán O' Hara about where he intends focussing the League's efforts.
World Footy News has covered the journey of Irish import Martin Clarke since his transition was first rumoured last year. It was today speculated in a Real Footy article that he could become the fastest of the Gaelic converts to a senior list and to a fully fledged AFL match.
The Scottish Australian Rules Football League (SARFL), in partnership with Culture and Sport
Glasgow, Community Club Programme is to launch Scotland's first junior Aussie Rules football
program in Glasgow in June 2007 and to be run throughout the summer. The program will introduce
the game through free-to-attend Glasgow youth clinics held at Bellahouston Park on a weekly basis,
with the SARFL providing free coaching and tuition.
The Italian team of the century will be announced soon. The initiative sees the great players of the VFL/AFL of recent Italian heritage being selected from to produce the best Italian footy side. The team will be announced at a dinner at Crown Casino on Thursday 31 May 2007. Proceeds from the dinner go to the Victorian Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation. More details follow.
To be eligible for the team, a player had to have played at least one VFL/AFL senior game and been either born in Italy or had at least one parent or grandparent born there. From the wider Australian point of view the VFL/AFL criteria is a little disappointing, as before the AFL era there would have been many great players with Italian background playing in the other major leagues around Australia, so it's a little Melbourne-centric. Other than that, it's a fun initiative and it would be great to see some of the influential people involved turn their attention afterwards to seeding the great Australian game back in their ancestral home, where Italy appears to be a notable absentee amongst the ever growing number of European nations with grass-roots Aussie Rules sides (there was some development in Italy but this appears to have lapsed - let's hope not).
Italian Team of Century nominees: Steve Alessio, Mark Arceri, Ron Barassi snr (deceased), Adrian Battiston, John Benetti, Mario Bortolotto, Scott Camporeale, Domenic Cassisi, Vin Catoggio, Frank Curcio (deceased), Nick Dal Santo, Ron De Iulio, Paul DiMattina, Robert DiPierdomenico, Alec Epis, Brendan Fevola, Silvio Foschini, Cyril Gambetta (deceased), Daniel Giansiracusa, Len Incigneri (deceased), Alan Johnson, John Kennedy jnr, Anthony Koutoufides, Andrew Leoncelli, Tony Liberatore, Paul Licuria, Stan Magro, Gary Malarkey, Albert Mantello, Gerald Marchesi (deceased), Alan Martello, Peter Matera, Phillip Matera, Mark Mercuri, Joe Misiti, Tony Ongarello, Peter Pianto, Tony Polinelli, Simon Prestigiacomo, Adam Ramanauskas, Peter Riccardi, Mark Ricciuto, Guy Rigoni, Anthony Rocca, Saverio Rocca, Peter Russo, Laurie Serafini, Sergio Silvagni, Stephen Silvagni, Ian Stewart.