The Irish Gaelic Masters played the Australian AFL Masters on Saturday the 20th July 2019 in the Denn Gaelic Grounds, Cross Keys, County Cavan. The Irish squad consisted of two players from each of the sixteen Counties that play Gaelic Masters football. Kilmeena clubman Pat Mulchrone had the honour of representing Mayo along with Michael Moyles from the Crossmolina club.
The two teams competed for the “Paddy Gaffney Memorial Cup”. This trophy is named after a Denn Clubman who represented Ireland with distinction at Master’s level football and sadly was taken from us too soon.
The international rules are a mixture of Gaelic and AFL combined with the following key points;
A goal is worth 6 points, an over (a point in GAA terms) is worth 3 points and a behind (a close wide in GAA terms) is worth one point.
The game begins with a throw-in between a player from each side. Only one other player from each team is allowed inside the 45 meter lines for the throw -in.
The game consists of four 15-minute quarters. Two quarters are played with the Australian oval shaped ball and two with the round O Neill's GAA ball.
All kick outs are taken from the 20 meter line. The ball must travel over the 45 meter line or a free kick will be awarded to the opposing team from the 45 meter line.
A clean catch from a 15 meter kick or more results in a mark.
No mark is awarded for a backward kick.
A defending player can stand where the mark was made so the player taking the mark must retreat to kick over them. The player making the mark can also chose to play on.
Tackle between the shoulder and thighs. Must initially be tackled by both hands and can be from the front, side or back provided that a player held from behind is not pushed in the back.
Pick up from the ground as long as the player is not in a kneeling position or lying on the ground.
The ball must be bounced or soloed every 10 meter or 6 steps. Maximum of two bounces per possession but unlimited solos.
Restart the game in the middle of the pitch with a throw-in after each goal is scored.
6 consecutive hand passes are allowed after which the ball must be kicked or a free will result to the opposing team.
Shepherding is not allowed. Shepherding, from the Australian game, is the act of pushing, bumping or blocking an opposing player from gaining possession of the ball or reaching the contest.
Shoulder to shoulder is allowed if the ball is within 5 meter.
The game on Saturday was officiated by one of the best Gaelic Football referees of all time “Pat McEnaney” from County Monaghan.
The Irish side set out their stall in the first quarter taken early scores with the unfamiliar oval ball to go into a 12 – 0 lead. The Australians came back with 4 points to finish the first quarter 12 – 4. Surprisingly the AFL Masters managed to compete well with the round ball in the second quarter and were unlucky that a few one pointer’s didn’t count as overs.
Half time score Ireland 32 Australia 10.
The third quarter was the most competitive with every ball contested. Australia outscored the Irish by 16 point to 9 leaving the score going into the final quarter at 41 – 26 in favour of the home side.
With a larger panel of players, the Irish team pushed on to finish the final quarter in style racking up an additional 46 points. Australia faded in the final quarter. Their reduced panel of players through injury and some fatigue setting in after a tour which seen them play international test matches in England and France. The Australian captain “Mark Cornish” mentioned in his post-match speech, that the generous Irish hospitality over the past few nights may have taken its toll in the final quarter! The final score line read,
Irish Gaelic Masters 87 - Australia AFL Masters 29.
The Paddy Gaffney memorial Cup was presented to fellow Denn clubman “Jerome Kireran” captain of the Irish team. The Irish “player of the test” award was presented to “Con O Meara” who plays for Coolera / Strandhill club in Co Sligo. The Australian award went to “Gleen Mangan” who plays with the Woodend Hesket club.
As the Masters moto says “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing”.
Click HERE to see a large selection of photos capturing the wonderful skills on display in this unique encounter.