The National University League got back into gear last weekend. The following report comes from the www.afl.england.org website, detailing the results and the implications ahead of the final round next month.
Birmingham turned up the heat on home soil as they won all four of their games to jump to the top of both the Men’s and Women’s division.
After a bye in Round 2, the two sides jumped straight back into the fray as the men’s team kept up their unbeaten record.
A total of seven individual goal-kickers saw them see of the Universities of South Wales (UoSW) team, and they followed that up by soundly beating Cambridge. Four goals from James Williams and three for Ciaran Jeanes across the round helping their side secure a spot in the inaugural NUL Men’s Grand Final with a round to spare.
This weekend in Birmingham, the National University league for men’s and women’s fixtures returns after their break. It will be the second last round in the competition’s inaugural season before a final round to be played in Wales (venue to be advised).
Going into the round, Oxford University has the bye. Their men’s team sits on top of the ladder, whilst their women’s team is second, but this round they can only watch as the other teams chase them. It is a huge opportunity for the host team, University of Birmingham, to seek two wins each in both men’s and women’s matches to chase top spot in both.
The following article by Kevin O’Brien from the Irish sporting website, The 42, looks closely at the journey of Derry’s Gaelic star of the 80’s and 90’s, Dermot McNicholl. His time at the St Kilda football club in the VFL gives great insight to the early days of the movement to recruit Irish talent to the VFL/AFL system.
Following is an excerpt from the original story.
'Our pre-seasons were brutal. I’ve never gone through anything like it in my life'
Derry legend Dermot McNicholl discusses his stint in the AFL, the Oak Leafers’ All-Ireland victory 25 years ago and the rise in GAA stars heading Down Under.
“And St Kilda joined the international recruiting race, taking a punt on Dermot McNicholl, who has been brought to Australia by VFA club Prahran…St Kilda will bide its time with McNicholl, recognised as the best player in Gaelic football…St Kilda targeted McNicholl because of his pace and toughness and believes he could become a highly skilled player.”
The new AFL Switzerland competition was only completed back in November, but already the Basel Dragons have galloped headlong into 2019 with a new playing strip ready to go. Footy in Switzerland has seen a massive regeneration, heavily driven by the Winterthur Lions, and culminating in November’s first intra-national Swiss tournament.
Whilst the Geneva Jets won the event, it is the Basel Dragons working to ensure that 2019 is bigger, better and more successful for them.
Some believe that the AFL is offering a glittering opportunity to Irish players, but from the point of view of Irish clubs and leagues, it isn’t that black and white.
A GAELIC football powerhouse has developed a booklet called 'Stay, Play and Work in Kerry' as Irish clubs prepare to take up the fight to AFL counterparts luring their best talent.
Geelong signing Stefan Okunbor is the latest Kerry export to pursue a professional sports career in Australia and there will be a record-setting 14 Irishmen on AFL lists next year.
Okunbor, one of Kerry's brightest young Gaelic prospects, will bid to join Sean Wight, Tadhg Kennelly, Tommy Walsh and Cats teammate Mark O'Connor as footballers from 'The Kingdom' to play an AFL game.
The fourth round of the Championnat de France Léo Lagrange 2018-2019 wrapped up this weekend ahead of the winter break. Round Five will commence in early March. To see out the round, three matches were played in Paris and Bordeaux – each shaping the ladder and making things interesting when footy returns.
In Bordeaux, the ALFA Lions took on the Bordeaux Bombers in a match that was vital for each team’s chances of seeing finals action. Each team went into the match with a win and the victor would get the jump on their opponent. The Lions got away to a good start, leading by 14 points at the first change and by 28 at half time.
The Bombers could make no inroads in the second half, down by 49 points at the final change before going down after a late rally by 39 points. The final score saw the ALFA Lions 106 defeat the Bordeaux Bombers 67.
You certainly don’t need to be telling me how difficult it is to put competitive teams on the field. Cairns, in northern Australia, is not an Australian Rules football stronghold. Whilst we have been able to procure AFL matches and a healthy local competition at senior and junior level, the fact remains that we are in a part of Australia that is Rugby League territory.
When we get a team on the field it comes from an enormous amount of recruiting work to convince kids especially to try the game. My own work since 2001 in getting school kids into the game has paid dividends, yet cancelled games still litter our code at junior levels. Too many, sadly.
So, I have some empathy with AFL England when they put out social media announcements to try and get past teams such as the Sheffield Thunder, Leeds Minotaurs and Birmingham Bears from the AFLCNE, or the Bournemouth Demons and Surrey Stags from the Southern England AFL to rebuild.
Over the past five years, the Manchester Mozzies have dominated the AFLCNE competition with five consecutive premierships. Yet, in that time they had not won the silverware for their end of season tournament – the Movember Cup. However, that all changed on November 25th when the Mozzies outlasted the Wandsworth Demons from London by a goal. In the women’s draw, the Nottingham Scorpions downed the Birmingham University united team.
The Movember Cup has been played since 2011 in honour of former Manchester Mozzies premiership player Nathan Blakely. Blakely played in the Mozzies maiden premiership in 2010, but passed away the following year. The Nathan Blakely Memorial Cup (Movember Cup) has been played in all but one year since with the aim of raising money for cancer. This year, more than 1000 pounds was raised on the day through donations and other fund-raising.
The second round of the National University League was played out yesterday at Oxford University, and the locals made every post a winner to head the league’s ladder after two completed rounds. The round featured the Universities Of South Wales teams for the first time, whilst the Birmingham University had the bye.
Arch rivals, Cambridge University, had a grand day out to win both men’s and women’s matches and go to the top of the women’s division ladder.
The following results and story are from the National University League Facebook page:
Round 2 Recap:
Oxford made it two wins from two on home soil to move to the top of the Men's Division. Cambridge got their first win of the NUL season as the Universities of South Wales made their debut in the competition.