DCU Aussie Rules Club help make European history

DCU captain Caoilte Ó Baoill in action against UCC Bombers in this year's Fitzpatrick Cup.

DCU Aussie Rules Football Club took part in the making of history recently as they participated in Europe’s first ever intervarsity Australian Rules competition, the Fitzpatrick Cup.

Joined by University College Cork Bombers, Northern Regional College Eagles and Oxford University Australian Rules Football Club, Civil Service GAA Grounds in Islandbridge played host to the inaugural Fitzpatrick Cup.

Having been handed a tough draw in the semi-final, DCU were massive underdogs heading in against UCC Bombers, whose squad more than doubled the numbers of DCU’s. However, it was DCU who got off to the better start, with forward Aidan McGarrity scoring the first goal of the game and, in turn, becoming the first goal-scorer in DCU ARFC history.

The tide then began to turn in UCC’s favour; aided by a strong wind, they built up an insatiable lead in the first quarter. DCU’s inexperience with the oval ball told in the second quarter, when they failed to score the goals that their hard work and smart play deserved, kicking several behinds along with three more goals, one from team captain Caoilte Ó Baoill and two from lively forward Michael Kitching. UCC’s experience and greater numbers prevailed in the second half with the Cork team running out winners on a scoreline of 8-6 (54) to 4-7 (31).

Having suffered defeat in the semi-final, DCU were placed in the third-place playoff against NRC Eagles, who had their semi-final against Oxford. Conditions worsened before the game, with a downpour of rain coming to join the strong wind that blew diagonally across the field.

The game itself was not a spectacle, owing mainly to the awful conditions in which it was played. Handling issues with the wet ball made the game almost impossible to play, but both teams battled hard, with NRC going in leading at the half-time break having benefitted from the direction of the wind.

DCU had cause for optimism entering the second half, but again, they failed to capitalise on their chances and kicked a large number of behinds instead of converting their chances into goals. Despite the courageous and battling displays of midfield men Adam Page and Anthony Waters, DCU were condemned to another double-digit defeat, due mainly to the superior footballing abilities of the Eagles.

Speaking to the team after the game, coach John ‘Toasty’ Enright was quick to praise his charges for the effort and endeavour. He also told the team how proud he was of them, having started training just two weeks ago, to be able to be competitive against a team full of Irish internationals in the form of UCC.

Enright was also quick to praise team captain and club chairman Ó Baoill for his part in the day, calling the Irish international a “credit to his club, his college and his family.” Speaking post match, Ó Baoill was disappointed but not downtrodden, saying all the team needed was “a few games to gel.”

DCU’s representation did not stop after the third-place playoff, with Ó Baoill, Page and Myles Traenor playing for Oxford in the final as the English side lacked the required number of players. Despite the best efforts of the DCU men, UCC ran out champions on a scoreline of 7-11 (53) to 3-4 (22) in the rain.

Although there was no collective success for DCU at the Fitzpatrick Cup, there was some individual success, with Ó Baoill given the competition’s Best & Fairest Award, Australian Rules’ equivalent of a player of the tournament award. The award was presented in the company of AFL chairman Mike Fitzpatrick.

Odrán de Bhaldraithe

Image Credit: Derek Clarke

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