Page 17

23 June 2011 DUN LAOGHAIRE GAZETTE 29

in association with

Following Rules all the way to Oz Competing at the highest level in the sport, Ireland is sending a team to the International Aussie Rules cup in August, ROB HEIGH discovers

IRELAND is set to send a group of players to Australia later in the summer, who will compete for honours in the sport that the Australians themselves created — Aussie Rules Football. The fast-paced, hardhitting and stamina-sapping sport so beloved in the Antipodes has been popular in Ireland for many years, and has been a fixture here since around 2000. The links between the codes of Gaelic football and AFL are clearly defined, the clear connection being the compromise rules series that takes place between the two countries being very keenly contested. However, playing the pure version of Aussie Rules was so appealing that the game has

spawned clubs across the country, with three teams based in Dublin, the South Dublin Swans, based in Bushey Park, the Dublin Demons, who are based in Islandbridge, and the North Dublin Saints, who play their games at Coolock. Peter Ross, player with the South Dublin Swans and the Irish Warriors Aussie Rules Football team, spoke to Gazette Sport last week ahead of the serious preparation for the International Cup tournament, which takes place this year in Sydney from August 13 to 27. “This year, the team will probably be the strongest ever sent to represent Ireland in the competition. We have rising stars, such as Richmond Tigers’ inter-

A team talk for the Ireland AFL team in London recently

national rookie and Westmeath GAA senior, John Heslin, playing for the Warriors, as well as David Stynes, a former Ballyboden St

the competitions, having previously won the event on its debut in 2002, and reaching the semi-final of the event in 2005 and 2008. The

--------------------------------------------------------

‘A lot of young GAA players see Aussie Rules as an opportunity to become a professional player in a sport similar to the one they play already when they move there.’ --------------------------------------------------------

Enda’s man and brother of Dublin star, Jim, who has lived in Melbourne for a number of years.”

Fourth tournament This is the fourth running of the tournament, that brings together the biggest international teams in Aussie Rules outside of Australia. Ireland are among the top-seeded sides for

Irish side are on a roll following their victory in the European championships last year. “In Ireland, there is a lot of media attention as there are so many GAA players out there. A lot of young GAA players see Aussie Rules as an opportunity to become a professional player in a sport very similar to the one they play already when they move there. “The game is a huge professional sport in Australia, the players are well rewarded, not the same as you would get as a professional soccer player, but about the same as a professional r ugby player would receive.” Australia will be absent from the event, as Peter says: “It would be like Ireland taking part in a world series of GAA event.” However, the tournament will visit some of the most famous stadiums in the

world with games being played in Sydney’s ANZ Stadium (where the Sydney Olympics were held) and the most iconic ground of them all, the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Asked who the contenders for the crown would be in Sydney, Peter said: “There are some countries who are very strong in the sport, like New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and South Africa, which is seen as a big pool of talent for Aussie Rules. The AFL are looking to expand the game beyond Australia, and take it all over the world.” When asked about what’s involved in playing the sport, Peter said: “Aussie rules is for allround athletes, and these countries produce very strong rugby players, but not everyone is built for rugby. “Stamina is as important as strength, and there are a lot of players from these countries who are picked up by the Aussie Rules teams. “T he average AFL player does a lot of catching and kicking, and will run over 14km per game. If you come to AFL from rugby, it’s a big shock to the system.” To find out more about the sport in Ireland, see w w w.ar f li.com, and rishwarriorsaussierules. wordpress.com.

FastSport Touch squad heading for World Cup destiny LOCAL faces from around Dublin will be competing against the best in the world this week when they take the field in Edinburgh at the 2011 Touch Rugby World Cup. Cllr Neale Richmond of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council presented the players, managers, coaches and physios with their jerseys at Bewley’s Hotel, Ballsbridge last Saturday. President of the Ireland Touch Association, Michael Davies, has high hopes for the teams as they head over to Edinburgh this week. “Coming home from last year’s European Championships with titles in the Mixed Open and the Men’s Over-40 divisions has provided a great foundation going into the World Cup,” he said. “Handing the green jerseys to the players is recognition of their dedication to training and their ability in the sport.” Ireland will be competing in four categories: Mixed Open (men and women of any age), Men’s Open (men of any age), Men’s Over-35 and Men’s Over-40. For more, see irelandtouchassociation.com

Dun Laoghaire  

June 23, 2011 Exclusive: St Joseph’s sign deal with Liverpool FC Our guide to your big day estimated to take 14 weeks to com- plete. The pro...

Dun Laoghaire  

June 23, 2011 Exclusive: St Joseph’s sign deal with Liverpool FC Our guide to your big day estimated to take 14 weeks to com- plete. The pro...

Advertisement