After the excitement of the Festival of Football, the AFL Ireland Premiership got back under way on the last Saturday of August. Fresh from their tournament win, the Belfast Redbacks travelled to take on the Leeside Lions in Cork, while the rejuvenated Galway Magpies played host to the South Dublin Swans.
In the AFL Ireland Women’s Premiership, The Cork Vikings and Ulster Kookaburras met for a repeat of their opening round clash. Meanwhile the Round 3 game between the Vikings and the South Dublin Swans was rescheduled for the 4th of September in Tramore Valley Park.
Galway Magpies v South Dublin Swans
The Swans were back on the road, this time The Swamp in Claddagh was the venue for their Round 4 clash with the Galway Magpies. The Magpies would have gained encouragement from their first win of the season during the Festival of Football, and it just so happened to have come against the same opposition. For the Dublin outfit, they knew a win would cement a place in the Preliminary Final at least.
The Swans needed no more encouragement than the promise of Finals Footy. Ben Coughlan, playing in a more advanced role, set the tone for the afternoon early on. Presenting well on the lead, he managed a couple of early impressive contested marks, with matching accuracy in front of goal. Shaun Murphy was at his usual best early on, kicking 2 majors, including a goal from the boundary for the Magpies. With their pacey, hard working midfield, the Swans took control and added further goals through the impressive Frank O’Donnell and Connor Dunne. Seamus McSorley marked his first competitive start for Swans with a goal and also played his part in the Swans stubborn defence for part of the game.
The Maggies produced their beat footy in the second quarter. Once more Shaun ‘Smurf’ Murphy got on the scoresheet, along with Mark Kavanagh, as they matched their Dublin counterparts in the goal kicking stakes, each booting 3 for the second term. The Swans however, edged further in front even if it was through their inaccuracies in front of the big sticks. Noah Copping snapped a clever goal in the dying stages for the Swans.
A tactical shift in defence in the third, allowed the Swans to capitalise in the forwards. Connor McGrorty & Shane Faulkner did a great job in Marshalling the Magpies forward line, allowing only 1 goal against them through Darren Dennehy. Levi Kalms from the boundary and a trademark running goal from Connor Dunne responded for the Swans.
In the final term, early Galway goals from Murphy and Sean Madden highlighted their fighting spirit. The use of the interchange bench has been impressive from the Dublin side this season and they used that to great effect in the 4th quarter. Capitalising on a tired Galway defence, Stephen O’Sullivan kicked 3 final term goals, the first a fantastic team goal through impressive handling through the midfield with Frank O’Donnell finally releasing to the small forward for a simple finish. Ben Coughlan grabbed his third of the day, again through intelligent leading and unerring accuracy off the boot.
In the end the South Dublin Swans remained top of the ladder after their most complete team performance of the season. They even managed a few sociable drinks in the Claddagh sunshine with their Galway counterparts afterwards
Galway Magpies 8 – 4 – 52
South Dublin Swans 17 – 15 –117
Cork Vikings v Ulster Kookaburras
The top 2 teams did battle once more, this time the Vikings taking home advantage. After taking the Festival of Football title, the Cork women would have been confident of avenging their opening round defeat at the hands of the Kooks.
Once more, Amanda Brosnan was dominant for the Cork outfit. The Kerry woman was flawless in the middle and booted a goal to match her performance. The Vikings set the pace in the first quarter, racking up 6 goals 5, 41 points. The Ulster side remained within touching distance scoring 3 goals 1, 19.
Annie Walsh was once more on form for the Vikings. With an eye on the top scorers award she bagged 5 more goals to add to her tally on the day. The Vikings edged further in front with 3 more goals in quarter 2 to their opponents 1.
The final 2 quarters were a near carbon copy in terms of scores. The Cork Vikings outscoring their Ulster rivals by 5 goals to 2 in each of the final 2 terms. Eva Cafolla was fantastic for the Ulster Kookaburras. She remained on the scoring trail kicking 3 goals on the day, along with 2 from Elaine Maguire which ensured some pride for the hardworking Kooks.
Shannon Stevenson wasn’t to be left out. She added 4 goals to her season’s total, while Marie Keating and Rebecca Corbett grabbed hat tricks a piece. The returning Caroline Condon also got on the scoresheet with a goal of her own.
An emphatic victory for the ever improving Vikings was capped by memorable performances from their captain Maria Quirke and Amanda Brosnan in midfield.
It sets up a mouthwatering finish to the season as these 2 teams will surely do battle to the very end.
Cork Vikings 19 – 12 – 126
Ulster Kookaburras 8 – 9 – 57
Leeside Lions v Belfast Redbacks
A repeat of the opening round game, the Belfast Redbacks made the arduous journey south to Cork to take on the unbeaten Lions. The Redbacks themselves were impressive on the Festival of Football 2 weeks earlier. The cruised to the final and finally overcame the Leesiders in the final to claim the title.
With Premiership points on the line this time round, the Redbacks needed to keep pace with the top 2 sides to enhance their chances of a home Prelim.
This simple terms, this game was a cracker. Both sides cancelled each other out in pretty much every department, which is testament to the quality players on show. Kevin Jones and Dean Skinner battled hard in the midfield for their respective sides, while both forward lines fought hard against hardworking defences.
Darren O’Dwyer for the Lions was once more at his accurate best. The talisman kicked 3 goals in what was a relatively low scoring game in comparison to previous rounds. The Redbacks boasted a sharp shooter of their own, Kyle Devine wasn’t to be outdone and he kicked 3 majors of his own to share top scorer on the day with O’Dwyer. The Tyrone man ensures goals and has been a more than welcome addition back into the Redbacks squad since Round 2.
In the backline for the Lions, James O’Callaghan had a fantastic game. Along with his defensive team mates, they managed to keep the free scoring Redbacks to 8 goals on the day, which is an impressive start.
The Lions forward line kept ticking over in Round 4. Padraic O’Connell and James O’Shea added 2 goals a piece to the scoreline. Gerard Walls and Sean Paul Henry were solid for the Redbacks and managed to quench the Lions forwards thirst for goals.
In a see saw encounter it was the Leesiders who finally came out on top, outscoring the Redbacks by just 10 points. Both teams can take great encouragement from their battling performances and who knows, we may get another meeting between the 2 as we edge closer to finals footy.
Leeside Lions 9 – 12 – 66
Belfast Redbacks 7 – 14 – 56
Cork Vikings v South Dublin Swans
In this rescheduled Round 3 encounter, the Cork Vikongs showed why they were favourites for this seasons AFL Ireland Womens Premiership.
Playing in Tramore Valley Park, the freescoring Vikings were relentless. The first quarter was maybe their least impressive as their behinds outweighed their goals by 3:1, with 9 minor scores on total.
This was a sight setting exercise, as the Cork outfit soon found their feet. Amanda Brosnan once more starred in a fantastic performance by the whole Vikings side. Seeing plenty of the footy, Brosnan managed a game high 7 goals. The Swans to their credit dug deep and Angie Crispe reflected the spirit of the newly formed side through hard work and determination in the middle of the field.
The more experienced Vikings were in no mood to be generous however. They limited their opponents to just 3 points in total. The Swans certainly weren’t helped through the early injury to their own main goalscorer, Sorcha Nolan.
The Cork Women grew in confidence as the game progressed. Annie Walsh added 4 to her tally while Caroline Condon, Maria Quirke and CJ Murphy each claimed 2 majors a piece.
It was a whitewash for the Cork Vikings in truth. The South Dublin Swans can be encouraged by the fight shown by their players and will get better as they gain more experience with each game day.
Cork Vikings 19 – 24 – 138
South Dublin Swans 0 – 3 – 3
The action comes thick and fast once more as this weekend the Round 5 takes place. The Cork teams will travel to face the South Dublin Swans while the Magpies will play host to the Belfast Redbacks and Ulster Kookaburras in Galway.