The VAFA are two thirds of the way through their tour of Ireland playing three International Rules format matches. In their first match in County Cork they easily defeated Na Piarsaigh by 86 points and in the second match they went down by 18 points to the combined Dublin Universities team.
Later tonight local time they will play the All Ireland Gaelic football team in the final match of the tour in Cavan.
Ireland have named a 29 man squad ahead of the upcoming International Rules Series Tests against Australia in Ireland. This squad is expected to be shortened to 23 closer to the first Test.
Among the named squad Australian football followers will recognise Carlton’s Zach Tuohy and former Brisbane/St Kilda player Colm Begley. Chrissy McKaigue played with the Sydney Swans reserves, and Michael Shields lasted half a season with the Carlton Football Club before deciding to go back to Ireland.
Others that had short stints in Australia are John Heslin at Richmond (he also played in the winning Irish team at IC11) and Ciaran Kilkenny who left Hawthorn before the season started this year.
Ciaran Byrne has signed with Carlton to be on the club’s list as an International Rookie in 2014.
Narrowed down from a squad of 33 a little over a month ago the Australian team of 21 players for the International Rules series in Ireland has been named. The AFL chose to make up this year's team from players of Indigenous Australian heritage. They depart for Ireland on Saturday.
Ireland International Rules manager Paul Earley today confirmed Michael Murphy as team captain for the upcoming Test series against Australia.
Murphy is the 2012 Donegal All-Ireland winning captain will lead Ireland’s campaign in both Cavan and at Croke Park as Ireland look to retain the Cormac McAnallen Cup won in Australia two years ago.
Murphy said: “It is a massive honour to be involved with the Irish team, never mind accepting the accolade to lead my country as team captain. “I have enjoyed immensely the experience of pulling on the Irish jersey in the past and I am especially looking forward to playing with the best footballers from our game against the visiting Australian team over the course of the two upcoming tests.”
Paul Earley was this week named as the new manager of the Irish team for the 2013 International rules series against Australia. The two match series will be played in Ireland in October this year at a yet to be named venue in Ulster and at Croke Park.
Earley was the first Irishman recruited from Ireland to play in the VFL. Earley played for Melbourne in the VFL in the last match of 1984 after being recruited from gaelic football where he played for Roscommon. He then returned to Ireland and continued his GAA football career and played in the 1987 International Rules series for Ireland.
Our thanks to Columbus Jackaroos VP Kyle Jamison for this report.
Columbus, OH The Aussie Rules and Gaelic clubs of Columbus, the Jackaroos and Naghten Street, respectively, faced off at Whetstone Park the morning of Saturday, May 5, for a rematch of last fall’s Ohio International Rules Football Challenge.
This was the first of a series of International Rules matches between the two clubs this year, which will climax with a curtain-raiser game for the 49th Parallel Cup, the annual Aussie Rules match-up between men’s, women’s, and U23 all-stars from Canada and the USA, on August 4 in Dublin, OH.
The TV promos before the second International Rules Test at Carrara on the Gold Coast were about ‘intensity’, an Australian team needing to ‘settle the score’. They would do it by pressure, tackling and hitting harder, within the rules.
They also tagged key players, including Tadhg Kennelly who was tagged by Sydney Swans teammate Ben McGlynn.
That reality led to numerous spot fires in the third quarter with three Australians and two Irish yellow carded and off the bench for a time.
In fact, it was Irish skill which still trumped the Australians - better high marking! (as when Kieran Donaghy outmarked Ben Griggs near the Irish goal), astonishing evasive skills, lay-offs of the ball under pressure with the speed of the Harlem Globetrotters, and precise kicking.
Although the Irish did not race away in a scoreless first few minutes, they inched towards a slight lead at the time. Steven McDonnell, the highest scorer in the history of the series, kicked an Over (above the cross bar) from the boundary line in the last minute of the quarter, Ireland taking a 12-8 lead into the break.
As an Irish commentator said, the Irish were handling the tackle better than in the past, particularly important for players who normally play a non-tackling game. In contrast, from early in the game Australia’s Mitch Robinson looked like he was angling for a prize fight next year with Barry Hall.
Ireland won the football, Australia narrowly won the niggle, but depite plenty of the latter there were no real fireworks.
After a fairly listless performance by Australia in the first International Rules test before a small crowd in Melbourne the main talking points going into the second match were whether the Aussies would lift their intensity in general but including at the man, whether they could regain some respect, whether anyone would turn up to watch, and whether the series has a future.
Certainly the intensity was there, with a match under their belts helping the Australians, many of whom were returning from holidays for the series. Their skills with the round ball were improved, even managing to take a few good marks, although as always none of the high flying sort seen in the AFL.
For Ireland, who were reportedly banned by management from visiting the Gold Coast's beaches, it was all about winning game two to sweep the series, not just winning on aggregate.
International Rules has always been a clash of cultures, which I wrote about regarding the sporting exchange's first three decades (later republished on WFN). Old and new versions of cultural differences were on display at Docklands Stadium on Friday night.
Some past and present events might explain why the first of the two Tests (the second is at Carrara on the Gold Coast, aka Metricon Stadium, on Friday 4 November) resulted in a 44 point victory to Ireland in a one sided game and three Mexican waves from a crowd in search of entertainment.
In this opinion piece, I want to begin by considering the past. Australians have three misunderstandings about the series and its history over a quarter century since 1984 and over four decades since 1967.
First, they tend to assume the professional VFL/AFL players will be superior to the Irish amateurs, which is not true. In fact, most series have been won by the away team due to greater team bonding, team skill and application. The matches have often been exciting and passionate as when 1980s VFL President Allen Aylett was excited by this ‘space age football’.