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Aussie Rules Fever Hits Leeside

European and Australian sport mixes at UCC next weekend as the college gears up to host the 2017 Fitzpatrick Cup. The one day tournament, organised by the Australian Football League Europe, will bring together some of Europe’s top colleges for the one day tournament at The Farm sports grounds in Curraheen.

On the day UCC will be joined with fellow Irish university Maynooth, along with British institutions Oxford, Birmingham, Cambridge, as well as a selected Irish Universities Team. Women’s teams also include Maynooth and Oxford, along with UCC at the one day tournament.

It is a tournament where UCC have solidified their name as one of Europe’s top AFL clubs, ever since the inception of the competition in 2013. In the competition’s four year history UCC have enjoyed a variety of success, including taking home the Fitzpatrick Cup in 2013, as well as narrow losses in the 2014 and 2015 finals. Despite this, UCC have progressed in 2016/17, and won their first Rebel Shield in a campaign which saw the college defeating the current ARFLI Premiership winners, the Leeside Lions, on their way to lifting the cup.

UCC have been drawn in Group A where they will be taking on Cambridge University’s first team, as well as Oxford University’s second team and the Irish University selection.

It is a tournament which will display a number of emerging talent on the Irish Australian Rules scene, including Irish internationals Peter Traynor, Rory O’Donnell, Paul Murphy, Matt Bell, Oisín Collins and Ronan Sheehan, who have all played for UCC over the last twelve months.  Upcoming talent on display locally includes Shane O’Sullivan, James Galvin, and Conor Beasley, who have all been impressive throughout UCC’s maiden Rebel Shield victory.

Ahead of the events UCC Australian Football Club laid down the gauntlet to their players, commenting that “it’s our flagship event. We have other tournaments throughout the college year, but The Fitzpatrick Cup is the main one. To pull on the college colours and test yourself against the best the UK have to offer, it’s a great opportunity. Also, having travelled the last 3 years, having home advantage this year is huge. Hopefully it gives us the extra percent or two needed to get over the line.”

All over UCC campus the staff and students are counting down to the tournament. UCC Clubs Executive President Michael Hanrahan could not contain his excitement ahead of the tournament, “We’re very excited about the upcoming Fitzpatrick Cup. The UCC Bombers have grown substantially as club and have had an incredible year so far having won the Rebel Shield. I think the home advantage will definitely work in our favour especially since UCC was runner up in the last two Fitzpatrick Cups. The committee have been working hard to organise and promote the event and I’d like to congratulate them on putting it together and wish them the best of luck in the tournament.

All Fitzpatrick Cup games will take place in UCC’s sports grounds in Curraheen, commonly referred to as ‘The Farm’, on the 4th of February.