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WIC11 Preview - The Banshees coming to represent Irish women's footy

  • Friday, July 29 2011 @ 05:58 am ACST
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International Cup 2011

There are almost 2 million people living in Australia who have Irish ancestry according to the 2001 Census, and approximately 250,000 Irish Citizens living in Australia. Australians with Irish ancestry form the second largest migrant group after the 6.3m people with English ancestry.

With strong ties like this, it is no wonder the Banshees will be right at home when they visit Australia for the IC2011, in fact just over half the team are making the long haul journey from Ireland with the rest of the squad already based in either Sydney or Melbourne. Having picked up most players through Australian Gaelic football connections the Banshees already have the building blocks for what will be an impressive line up.

Women’s Football in Ireland so far

Last year saw the Irish Banshees win the Euro Cup, their first international win at their first attempt at an international competition. The women’s team was put together by current Banshees coaches Andrew Hickey and Shaun Saurin. This team ran out with the win by 10 points after a gutsy match with the Italians. Once the news of this win in Italy spread, women’s footy in Ireland started to gain more momentum.

This year we have seen 4 lots of trials for the IC2011 squad as well as the creation of the women’s premiership league which now runs alongside the men’s league. The Dublin Angels training with the men’s team the Dublin Demons has meant greater participation and has strengthened the core of the club. The Banshees team will feature 10 players from the Dublin Angels and 4 from the Kilrea Kookaburras, who are the first women’s ARFLI club and are based in Co. Derry, Northern Ireland.

The Country and Australian football

Ireland is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island in the world. It lies to the northwest of continental Europe and is surrounded by hundreds of islands and islets. The island is divided between the Republic of Ireland, which covers just under five-sixths of the island, and Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom, which covers the remainder and is located in the northeast of the island.

Gaelic football is the most watched sport in Ireland, both girls and boys playing the game as they grow up. Ladies Gaelic football has some slight rules changes but the aim remains the same, to score goals through the H shaped goal posts. Many Australians see a variation of the game played every year as the International Cup Series takes place.

Since 1967 there have been many matches between Australian Rules football teams (mainly from Australia) and Gaelic football teams (mainly from Ireland), under various sets of hybrid, compromise rules known as International rules football. These were part of the official International Rules Series, which attracted large crowds and media interest in Ireland and Australia.

In 2007 the international rules series was abandoned because of the aggression and the severity of the Australian team in the previous year, but in 2008, under new rules to protect the player with the ball, it resumed in Australia.

AFL Irish players Jim Stynes, Setanta and Aisake O'hAilpin and Tadgh Kenelly all come from a Gaelic games background.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The squad will have the styling of a Gaelic football team, speed, agility and aggression all playing parts of Banshees code. It should also be noted that 7 of the Euro Cup champion side will feature in this squad, that experience proving beneficial when it comes down to playing big matches. We will also see a number of Irish players from clubs around Sydney and Melbourne who will be joining the squad and who have acclimatised to the game and picked up a far bit of skill.

Women have only been a part of ARFLI since September 2009 so will have played fewer matches than some of their opposition.

Players to watch

Emma Kelly – (GAA Co. Derry footballer) Emma is a strong contestant on the ball, finding form through dodging and making tackles.
Ciara McGurk – (GAA Co, Derry footballer and Derry City rugby player) Ciara is quick off the mark; her agility will test the opposition.
Aimee Hazley – (GAA Co. Dublin Footballer) Aimee has a big kick and provides excellent support down the middle feeding the ball with punishing accuracy.
Louise Loughlin – (GAA Co. Leitrim Footballer) Louise is a strong marker and a key player whose height will dominate in the ruck and forward line.

Form Guide and Bottom Line

This author's prediction: Banshees are a strong team and have a presence which will see them in the final.