David Stynes' Team out to defend AFL International Cup
Ireland's best amateur Aussie Rules footballers will attempt to defend their International Cup title in the Melbourne Cricket Ground this weekend.
The competition is essentially a World Cup featuring the best Aussie Rules-playing nations excluding Australia, and has been held every three years since 2002. David Stynes – brother of the late, great Jim – returns as player-coach along with a host of players who are based both here and Down Under. The tournament will be scouted by AFL clubs but an Irish player has yet to be drafted on this basis alone. Muiris Bartley (Cork) and Padraig Lucey (Kerry) are part of the AFL Europe Elite player pathway and are included in the side. Lucey is also part of an Australian TV programme called 'The Recruit' where the winner will pick up an AFL contract, though he has already attracted plenty of interest from other clubs. Ireland's women are also defending their title. Games will be streamed live on www.arfli.com.
Ireland – Antrim: Ryan McCloskey, Brendan Kelly,Gerard Johnston, David McElhone; Carlow: Paul O'Halloran; Cavan: Pauric Smith; Clare: Gerard Tubridy; Cork: Muiris Bartley, Conor O'Halloran; Derry: Sean Paul Henry; Dublin: David Stynes player/coach, Philip Bredin, Tom Browne; Galway: Dominic Joyce, Ronan Geraghty, Johnny O'Doherty; Kerry: Mick Finn Captain, Brendan Browne, Padraig Lucey; Longford: Peter Ross; Meath: Alan Farrell, Wayne Reilly, Terry Skelly; Sligo: John O' Regan (vice-captain); Tyrone: Kevin McSorley, Brendan McDevitt; Westmeath: Mark Leavy, Padraig Fanning
2 NO SUGAR-COATING IN CARNEY'S ASSESSMENT OF TRIBAL WOES
Galway football supporters who thought they saw signs of progress this year have been dealt a reality check by Jim Carney, 'Tuam Herald' sports editor, who is also a former county selector. Writing that it was ludicrous to talk of progress when the three championship wins were against Division 4 (London, Tipperary) and Division 3 (Sligo) opposition, he painted a depressing picture of Galway's defensive capabilities. "Anybody who knows anything about Gaelic football in this county knows there are no ready-made replacements – not one, I would say – for the defenders who conceded a total of 8-46 in their matches," he wrote. His overall view? "A bad, utterly depressing defeat."
3 MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING?
Tomorrow sees Sky broadcast their last exclusive matches of the summer with the All-Ireland football quarter-final double-header in Croke Park. From this point they'll continue to broadcast matches including the All-Ireland hurling and football finals but only as part of a simulcast which must be shown on a 'free to air' channel under law. Showing the Dublin footballers in action should help boost viewing figures but after one of the most controversial decisions in recent years, has the deal with Sky broadened horizons for the GAA or damaged relations with its grassroots? Perhaps only time will tell.
4 MOVING ON . . .
The last few weeks have seen some of the more established faces from around the inter-county scene move on. Longford goalkeeper Damien Sheridan has retired. Seamus Kenny, who was first drafted into the Meath set-up in 2000, has also hung up his boots, as did Westmeath's Dessie Dolan. Looking around the country, just three players that made their debuts in the 1990s remain. John Galvin of Limerick, Longford's Paul Barden and Tyrone's Stephen O'Neill were active this summer, though O'Neill has hinted he could be ready to move on. In hurling, JJ Delaney, who made his debut in 2001, is the longest serving after the retirements of veterans Tony Browne and Brendan Cummins in recent years.
5 ABU DHABI-DO AS THE GAA GOES ARABIAN
Croke Park will have a slightly different feel on Sunday as Etihad Airways host 'Abu Dhabi Day' at the stadium for the All-Ireland semi-final clash between Kilkenny and Limerick. Supporters can enjoy Arabian culture and will be handed the chance to win prizes including flights on the Etihad network. They will also be treated to a falconry display, Arabic Calligraphy and Henna Artists and get the chance to have their photo taken with the Liam MacCarthy Cup and will receive a free copy of their photo with 'Liam' to take home.
6 GAA GIRLS TAKING RUGBY WORLD BY STORM
The Ireland women's rugby team inflicted a first World Cup defeat in more than a decade on New Zealand – but in that game they boasted a couple of players already used to the big stage. Goal-kicker Niamh Briggs and Nora Stapleton are a crucial part of the squad at full-back and out-half but the pair went head-to-head in the 2010 All-Ireland Intermediate football final. Stapleton's Donegal beat Briggs' Waterford that day, while wing Alison Miller, daughter of the late, great Bobby, also played for Laois.
7 SCOTLAND GAELS MAKE HISTORY
It looked like a typo at first. Scotland are down to play Cavan in tomorrow's All-Ireland JFC semi-final but there's no mistake as they become the first team from the country to play at this stage in the competition. It's no fluke either as they beat Kilkenny and Yorkshire before they defeated Warwickshire to be crowned British champions to set up a date with the Breffni men. In all 17 counties are represented on the Scotland squad. They will enjoy home advantage tomorrow but the game will represent a significant step up in class. Throw-in tomorrow on Granton Road, Edinburgh is at 6.30.