Early Season Battles

An Irish Eye, Ireland, Irish Ultimate, Pelt Ultimate, Ranelagh, Rebel Ultimate, WUCC2014
Mark Earley continues An Irish Eye looking an exciting start to the 2014 season . . .

While most teams around Europe are slowly getting back into track work, playing indoors or perhaps holding trials for the long season ahead, three of the four strongest Open Division teams in Ireland are busy preparing for a winner takes all WUCC Qualifier mini-tournament. On the 16th of February Ranelagh (Dublin), Rebel Ultimate (Cork) and Pelt Ultimate (Limerick) are playing each other in Dublin for the chance to go to Lecco. (Jabba opted out despite their 2nd place finish in last year’s All-Ireland Championships). The one day event will be a round robin style affair with each team playing two games. (A similar event took place last season for qualification to EUCRs and Ranelagh won, subsequently travelling to Bern for EUCR-SW where they finished 9th). Speaking of EUC-R, the winner of this tournament will also get the opportunity to represent Ireland at European level next summer, so there are effectively two prizes on offer. Factoring in the costs of a Worlds campaign, it will be interesting to see if the winning club decides to attend both…




Unlike most countries, it has never been formally decided that the All-Ireland Ultimate Championships winner would automatically get the opportunity to represent Ireland the following summer at a club event, be it the European or the World Club Championships. Nor, indeed, has it ever been the case that a club has received such an honour. In 2013, the Irish Flying Disc Association (IFDA) met on a monthly basis and at some point relatively early in the year agreed to make this simple change. However, they failed to notify the teams involved until just weeks before the All-Ireland Championships, held in Cork last autumn. As a result, a number of teams protested for a variety of reasons and with no other option the three teams who wanted to go were instructed to face off in mid-February for the berth at WUCC.

We spoke to a captain or coach of each team to see what they made of the situation and found the different approaches interesting. They were asked the same three questions about the event and talked to us candidly about their thoughts. Needless to say there will be an exciting day of Ultimate nice and early for the Irish Open Division. We look forward to seeing the results and wish all three teams all the best.

Donal Murray (Captain, Rebel Ultimate)

What do you think of having such an important event so early in your season?
It’s always great to play some games against big clubs. Rebel Ultimate have lost the last two times we’ve played to both Pelt and Ranelagh, and we lost some big experience in the last year so we’re probably underdogs on paper but try telling that to some of our players. It’s good to see where we are currently and we always aim to go and win every game. 
It’s just after our indoor season, while it’s in the second half of college/school seasons, so is it early in our season?! I’m not sure. I do expect the weather to not be great though.

How has your club been disrupted by the planning?
Rebel Ultimate have a large proportion of members in college so having it on the same weekend as a one day college tournament makes sense. The weekend calendar for active players can get quite hectic, especially for our club as we like to compete in indoors and outdoors in mixed, women’s, and open divisions. Weekends are valuable to every single player, each with their own commitments. While it’s always great to plan early, there’s a time limit on how early one can plan.  There were other uni events on that took a while to get confirmation on their one or two day status. The main thing is to try and get official confirmation from the people running the events rather than hearsay. I don’t think our club has been disrupted by the planning, playing games and organising teams to go and play is the norm.

Why does your team want to go to WUCC?
I think the vibe in Rebel Ultimate has been pretty consistent throughout the years. Europe’s biggest grass tournament Windmill Windup has always been a huge tournament in our history which has maybe shaped many of our players attitudes, which is just wanting to go out and compete against the best players around and enjoy the people and the atmosphere along the way.

Sam Mehigan (Coach, Ranelagh)

What do you think of having such an important event so early in your season?
It’s something that was supposed to be decided by All-Irelands last year but due to some miscommunication it had to be delayed. So in that sense it’s frustrating that we have to wait so long to decide on who goes to Worlds.  It has its benefits being early in the year though as it’s a very good motivator coming out of the off season.


How has your club been disrupted by the planning?
We had to move our usual season forward by a month. Typically we hold tryouts over the course of January, but since we needed to have some time to practice before the qualifiers we had to move our trials to December so that we’d give the team some time to prepare.

Why does your team want to go to WUCC?
I can’t speak for everyone in the club as I imagine the motivations vary from person to person. For me it’s a no-brainer, these week long events are the pinnacles of our sport and you can never be sure you’ll be at another one so I always aim to play in the major championships when they happen to be so close to home. Having been to the previous WUCC I know they’re a lot of fun, despite the fact that we know we aren’t in contention, but getting to hang out with your team for a week while playing against top competition is one of the best ways you could spend a holiday.

Niall McCarney (Captain, Pelt Ultimate)

What do you think of having such an important event so early in your season?
It’s not ideal for sure. Trying to recuperate after a Christmas break is always a challenge. With the added factor of having to get our team up to a standard necessary to beat Ranelagh and Rebel is never easy, especially when our limited preparation time is hampered by illness and terrible training conditions, a hallmark of training at this time of year.

The smart thing to do is to make All-Irelands in September the qualifier for Worlds. Granted, there was a lot of objection to that at the time, but in hindsight, avoiding to train at this treacherous time of year for such an important event should be paramount.
How has your club been disrupted by the planning?
Our club has just had to start their season earlier. This has affected our college lads quite a bit. It’s tough having such an important event on during the peak of College season. Balancing the two is rough enough, speaking as a college student myself.

But to be frank, we are glad it’s on in February rather than later in March as was looking likely for a while. This way the qualifying team has enough time to book flights early and fundraise if necessary.

Why does your team want to go to WUCC?
Pelt have proven they can compete with the best clubs in Ireland. Pelt feel they can compete with the best clubs in Europe and why not the world? To be the best, we must play the best, learn from them and be quick to adapt under pressure.

World Clubs doesn’t come around too often, and certainly our individual players won’t have too many more opportunities to play at World Clubs. Us Pelt lads have bags of ambition, so why not give WUCC a shot?

Event Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/events/681401631891165

Share, comment and like! Watch out for the UK 2014 preview in the next few weeks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *