The second edition of the EU Cup is just under seven weeks away, with eleven teams currently on the schedule to take part. The tournament will be held at the Hamburg Stadtpark on Saturday September 15th, with a conference of competing to be held the following day. The Czech Lions, Spain Bulls and Finland Ice Breakers will be making their EU Cup debut, with eight of the ten teams from the 2005 cup returning - Catalonia, Austria, Belgium, the England Dragonslayers, Germany, France, Sweden and the Flying Dutchmen.
The EU Cup is the largest event for the newer teams around Europe, some of whom are hping to be at a level of development where they can mount an IC side as early as next year. The EU Cup 2007 Organising Committee is currently working hard to ensure the tournament will be a fun, enjoyable experience and a great weekend of footy for all who attend. The Welsh Red Dragons were originally slated to take part as the twelfth side, but have been forced to withdraw, leaving one more spot available for any interested country.
It seems that as previously reported here Brendan Murphy will be coming out to check out the Brisbane Lion’s facilities (as Martin Clarke did at Collingwood 13 months ago) after a visit from Gabby Allen recently and confirmed by Brisbane’s Michael Bowers yesterday. Also yesterday it was confirmed in many Irish papers including the Mayo News (Hanley hits for Oz) that Pierce Hanley has been offered a two year contract to join the Brisbane Lions.
The Bournemouth Demons have defeated Sussex in Aussie Rules UK's first Southern Division grand final. The nine-a-side competition featured six teams competing over 10 rounds, with Sussex knocking over Southampton in the preliminary final to advance through to the decider where the Demons were too good, winning by a convincing 53 points.
We recently asked who would be the next Martin Clarke? Well it just might be Brendan Murphy. Murphy who plays Gaelic football for Carlow admitted this week that he had discussions with an AFL club representative, and described the talks as ‘very preliminary’. The 18 year old Murphy, like Clarke is another young star of the Gaelic game.
Coincidentally Brisbane Lion’s footy Manager Graeme Allan is in Ireland and Brisbane are believed to be the club involved. Recently Brisbane Lions Coach Leigh Matthew indicated that they were likely to look for more Irish players on the back of Colm Begley’s rapid transition to the game. Begley no doubt would aid the transition of any new Irish rookie to come on board.
What will be interesting to see this year, is whether any sort of recruiting battle ensues or even if clubs unexpectedly draft Irish youngsters from under the noses of other clubs that have been courting them. It has also been rumoured that Laois’ Conor Meredith and Meath’s Shane O’Rourke are high on Graeme Allan, Gerard Sholly and other club recruiters' lists.
Murphy, an electrician, by trade is pictured with this article, applying his kicking skills for his Carlow side.
The Finland AFL has recently released a new website, with pages for the national rep side the IceBreakers as well as the newly-formed domestic clubs. So far, Finns have two solid teams on the park with the Helsinki Heatseekers in the capital and a new all-Finnish side in the Halikko-Salo area of western Finland, as well as plans to found third and fourth clubs in the regional cities of Tampere and Turku.
As well as matches between Helsinki and Halikko-Salo, early August sees matches planned for the IceBreakers against Sweden and the London branch of the Convicts.
Fresh from back-to-back CEAFL Cup wins, the Finns will attend their first EU Cup this year and are making noises about being at next year's International Cup. Click on www.finlandafl.com for more information on footy in Finland.
The Melbourne Herald Sun has reported that the 2007 AFL exhibition match at The Oval in London is unlikely to go ahead due to a reluctance by AFL teams to play. This is consistent with WFN's information that the Western Bulldogs were keen to play in the annual fixture but that the AFL couldn't persuade any other clubs to take up the challenge. The timing is undeniably poor for AFL clubs as it immediately follows the end of the season and many players undergo minor surgery to fix up injuries that they carry through the year. With pre-season training starting just 10 weeks after the matches end, there's a very small window for surgery and recreation before work begins for the coming campaign. 2006 saw Port Adelaide take only a skeleton squad to London and the writing was on the wall then, despite good crowds regularly turning out.
It's a disappointing outcome given the match is the one chance each year for Australian Football to get significant exposure in England, though having said that, it has obviously been an expat event in the main. It's also unfortunate because the match has been preceded by an international between Britain and Ireland, and half-time has featured junior matches. Hopefully the event can be staged again in 2008 and perhaps a better time of the year can be found - something not too easy in the crowded AFL calendar.
In the story the AFL's general manager of football operations, Adrian Anderson, confirmed the AFL is looking at games in Dubai, Los Angeles and South Africa. Most of these have been reported as likely to be pre-season matches, rather than end of season as in the London case.
In a major upset, Germany have defeated Sweden in the first match of the Northern European Tri-Series in Berlin, to claim their first win in a test-level international. The Black Eagles led Sweden 9.8 (62) to 0.2 (2) at half time, before the Elks staged a major comeback to go down 11.11 (77) to 11.6 (72).
The annual Brit Cup has been run and won but not in the city it was intended. Just as floods have played havoc Down Under, with parts of south-east Victoria dealing with the deluge just months after suffering from bush fires, and some Australian Under 18 championships matches having to change venue, so too has the weather intervened in England. Each year the Brit Cup sees Britain's locally born and bred Australian Football players (along with other European born players living in the UK) take centre stage as the Aussies sit back and enjoy a weekend off. It's an important time for local players as they get the chance to represent their club by themselves (played as 12-a-side) and push for selection in the British Bulldogs squad, this year with the added incentive that the next International Cup is only a year away. The Manchester Mosquitoes were set to stage the Brit Cup on the weekend but major downpours flooded their fields resulting in a last minute scramble to find an alternative. Happily the tournament went ahead and it included a very encouraging new addition.
Setanta O'hAilpin has shown some good form in 2007 under difficult circumstances and is certainly developing a cult status amongst Blues supporters. The tall athlete has been forced into ruck due to a long list of injured or poorly performing Carlton big men. At this stage it's fair to say "Carlos" is struggling in ruck, rarely winning the tap, so against Melbourne on Sunday coach Denis Pagan used him somewhat differently. Setanta took the centre bounces then switched to playing as a lead-up forward while Anthony Koutoufides, more a ruckrover (to use old terminology) did the bullocking work at boundary throw ins and around the ground. Setanta did an admirable job in the absence of regular forward Brendan Fevola, kicking two goals (and missing another) from his 14 possessions including 8 marks. Originally starting the season as fullback, the big Irishmen has become Mr Fixit for Pagan, filling holes wherever needed. His centre bounce leap is certainly improving, and there's promise as a forward, but at this stage he's likely to move back to the key defensive post if Carlton has all hands on deck.
Meanwhile younger brother Aisake could well have stepped up from the rookie list to fill the rucking void if not for an ongoing groin injury. The Blues lost the hitouts 19 to 60 against the Demons and goes a long way to explaining their recent run of losses. But unfortunately Aisake is now listed as out for the remainder of the season and most likely has undergone surgery to fix the problem. Hopefully that will allow him a full pre-season and to push for a senior squad spot. It's believed there are restrictions on how long a player can be on the rookie list, so Carlton may have a major decision to make.
The Southampton Titans, a team formed at the start of the year for the ARUK's Southern England division, received some coverage in Southampton newspaper the Daily Echo last week. The article focused on the Titans taking top spot on the ladder for their division, with a background to club founder Michael Krischunas.