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Irish Press Release previewing their Cup ambitions

  • Monday, August 01 2005 @ 11:34 pm ACST
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International Cup 2005 The following is a press release contibuted by Sean Smith, Irish Team Media Officer. Note that the semi-final and Grand Final positions is obviously subject to them qualifying.

Events in Melbourne over the next two weeks will again demonstrate that world class Irish efforts are not limited to drowning shamrocks and U2.
The Irish National Australian Rules Football Team have arrived in the home of Aussie Rules and are set to defend their International Cup title. After bagging the championship trophy in 2002, the inaugural year of the competition, Ireland, along with 2002 runners-up Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, will be considered favourites this time around.

In the early 4 rounds the Irish lads can expect tough competition from vastly improved sides from Canada, USA, South Africa and Japan. PNG, NZ, Samoa, Great Britain and first time entrants Spain will also be competing, but will not meet Ireland prior to the semi-finals. Denmark and the Pacific island nation of Nauru withdrew from the event.

Ireland coach Kris Vekic, a Croatian-Australian living in Dublin says “No-one will be taken by surprise with the high standard of footy from the Irish after our win in 2002, however the boys are very focussed and keen for the Cup to be on the plane with them on their way home.”

Similarly Diarmuid O’Riain, the Ireland team manager states “These lads have travelled over all parts of Ireland to make a load of training events over the past few months. Now they have made it to the other side of the world to compete in the International Cup. The level of commitment in this team will be evident in their approach to every match.”

Brian ‘Stretch’ O’Connell, Irish captain and member of the recent ARFLI grand final winning club the Leeside Lions puts it more simply “We’re here to win”.

While Aussie Rules is still in its infancy in Ireland, the adapting of skills honed for GAA have previously provided a competitive advantage against nations where the sport is more established. The national team members are selected from the Irish nationals participating in the Australian Rules Football League of Ireland (ARFLI) as well as expat Irishmen playing in local competitions. However as participants in the Australian Football League (AFL) are in ineligible, Tadhg Kennelly and Setanta O’hAilpin will not be featured names in the national team list.

Venues for the Irish teams matches are:

Round 1, Wednesday 3/8/05, 1:00pm:
Murphy Reserve, Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne
Round 2, Friday 5/8/05, 11:45am:
Murphy Reserve, Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne
Round 3, Sunday 7/8/05, 10:00am:
Teac Oval (Port Melb Cricket Ground), Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne
Round 4, Tuesday 9/8/05, 11:15am:
City Oval, Wangaratta
Semi-finals, Thursday 11/8/05, from 11:00am:
Murphy Reserve, Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne
Grand Final, Saturday 13/8/05 4:30pm:
Melbourne Cricket Ground

The national team have gained a major sponsor in Taylors Three Rock restaurant in Dublin, however much of the finance for the tour has come from the fundraising activities of the players themselves. Messages of support for the lads can be posted on forums on the Irish League’s website www.arfli.com.