2006 will see Sweden and Germany in a tri-series against Denmark for the first time. This year's Swedish national side will be the first to be composed fully of Swedes - and the German national side will be the first official side drawn from teams across the nation to ever take the field. The series will kick-off with Denmark facing Germany in Bielefeld in June.
It was reported that the AFL will change the regulations after the 2006 AFL draft with respect to the age of recruits from Ireland to appease the fears of the GAA that their game will be stripped of some of their best young talent. Another young Irish talent Martin Clarke is the latest name to be linked with an AFL club.
Sadly the Australian Rules Football League Ireland has announced that two of its six clubs have withdrawn from the main season. Not surprisingly it was regional clubs Clare and Mullingar (Midlands). We previously reported that a question mark hung over them (see South Dublin Swans are born), and unfortunately lack of numbers willing to travel and organise has ended their seasons.
On Saturday 22nd April of this year, five Czech Lions played a match in the AFL Germany, helping the Rheinland Lions to their first victory for the 2006 Season. Pavel Mikula, Chad Dixon, Kevan Lyons, Patrick Truss and Ashley Ball made the journey to Cologne to play against last years' AFLG Grand Finalists the Frankfurt Redbacks, the Rheinlanders coming away with a 69-24 victory.
The 2006 Scottish ARFL draw has been released, with two new clubs in the Middlesbrough Hawks and Glasgow Redbacks. Middlesbrough is located in far northern England, near Durham and Newscatle - the first footy side in the north east. The arrival of the Redbacks means that this weekend can see a derby played in both Glasgow (between the Redbacks and Sharks) and Edinburgh (Bloods vs Body Snatchers), reminiscent of the classic cross-town clashes in Scottish soccer.
With the snow melting and the sun slowly edging out in Eastern Europe, the Czech, Austrian and Croatian Aussie rules clubs are dusting off the footy for what hopefully may be their first structured season. The three relatively new sides are planning a three-way series this year, beginning when the Vienna Dingos host the Zagreb Giants and Czech Lions in May. While the Czech and Viennese sides have played a few games to date, the Zagreb Giants will (hopefully) make their debut this year, after a successful Australia Day party netted a number of new squad members. The Giants are to host the first Croatia Open in July (logo at left).
AFL club Carlton had a bad night at Telstra Dome, going down to the emerging Hawthorn team by 32 points. The Blues have struggled for several years but have been more competitive in 2006, as they were again on Friday night against their fellow Melbourne-based club, trailing 4.6 (30) to 6.4 (40) at half time. The match also saw Irishman Setanta O'hAilpin play his second senior game for the Blues and it was hoped he would show marked improvement from 2005, but in what may be a major setback for his AFL aspirations, the tall forward struggled throughout the match.
Ireland's young hurling champion turned AFL player, Setanta O'hAilpin is set to return to the Carlton line up on Friday night against Hawthorn at the Telstra Dome. "Carlos" made his debut in 2005 when he was lifted from the Blues' International Rookie list, but was used sparingly in his only game, though he did goal with his first kick in the AFL.
The Dublin Demons have won another pre-season tournament, this time the Irish leagues warm-up series the Woolshed Super 10s. The series was interrupted by poor weather this year, but that is something Ireland expects and organisers shuffled the draw to ensure all sides got a good spread of games and a winner was found. New club South Dublin weren't quite ready for the Super 10s but are set to go for the main season.