Mayo’s Cora Staunton looks set to star for the Irish Banshees as the Australian Football League Europe’s Euro Cup comes to Cork IT on Saturday.
Cork will play host to 64 matches on the day as 15 countries as Europe’s premier national teams face off in the nine-a-side format chasing the title, and Banshees coach Michael Currane says Staunton will be vital as Ireland look to reclaim the title.
“It’s great to have Cora with the experience she has after playing in Sydney. She has been fully committed to us since the start and will play a huge part for us trying to win back to title.
“Saturday will be a long, physical battle, but we’ve been preparing for this event all year so we’re confident we’ll perform well.”
Staunton could be back in action for Mayo’s Carnacon just a day later, as they are set to face Moy Davitts in the Mayo County semi-final
Ireland’s Warriors and Banshees will target footy glory on Saturday when 15 nations descend on Cork for the Euro Cup.
England are current European champions in both men’s and women’s divisions after taking the spoils in Bordeaux last year, but Irish Warriors (men’s) manager Brian Currane believes his side are as prepared and stronger than ever. “This year, we have a great mix of experience and debutants in the squad. We’ve been pushing on the game in Ireland and with more players playing, we’ve been able to select a few fit and fast 19 and 20-year-olds that we can call upon. With Aussie Rules, there is inter-changing during the game so we have the option of using all 16 players in each game.
“From the Irish Warriors’ perspective, we’ve been having trials over the past 12 to 18 months and going to nearly all the ARFLI and college games. In February, we announced a squad of 55 players from Ireland and players we have playing in the UK, and eventually we cut that squad to 16.
“We’re always in and around it. We’ve lost the last two finals. England beat us well last year but in 2016 we were beaten by the last kick of the game. However, I feel this is the strongest side we’ve selected in several years, so we’re definitely confident.”
While the Irish Banshees (women’s) claimed the title two years ago in Lisbon, the Irish Warriors last won the tournament in Edinburgh in 2012, but after coming up just short in the past two years, Currane believes his side have taken the necessary measures to cope with a gruelling day’s programme.
“I’ve been involved in a few Euro Cups, it’s a very tough day physically. The first game starts at 9.30am and if you get to the final, which we hope to do, that’s at 6.30pm. It’s a real battle with fatigue and injuries,” the manager said.
“Last year, England beat us in the final and we lost a lot of players to injury during the day, so it really affected us. “This year, though, we’ve gone the extra step with physios to get the recovery we need in between games and have a full squad for the day.”
The challenge of organising 64 games in one day has fallen to Cian Quigley, former ARFLI president and AF International Cup-winning captain, but Quigley says everything is in place for Cork to host a memorable event.
“It’s going to be a huge tournament, it’s been in Dublin and Belfast but this is the first time for Cork so it’s great to have all Aussie Rules eyes on Cork for the weekend.
“It’ll be very full-on. The Irish Warriors and The Irish Banshees have been preparing all summer for the tournament so everything has built up to this weekend. The Cork side, Leeside Lions, have been helping out with the tournament and CIT have been brilliant in providing us with the facilities for the day.
“Another element to the event is to get people aware of the AFL in Ireland. All the elite GAA players know AFL is an option, but there’s also a huge chance for your normal GAA player to try out Aussie Rules and get involved.”