Tadhg Bogan previews the up and coming Siege of Limerick tournament.
The Siege of Limerick is back for its ninth edition and is set to be bigger and better than ever. The reputation of Siege has grown year on year, becoming notorious for showcasing some of the finest, intense Ultimate Ireland and Europe has to offer, all with a chilled out party atmosphere.
Previous editions of the tournament have been the highlight of the Ultimate calendar for many, and have earned the Siege the status of IFDA Tournament of the Year for the second year in a row. Despite this already impressive track record, the Siege looks like it’s about to be taken to a whole new level. This year, the tournament will play host to a staggering 15 international teams, 11 from the UK, which likely is in part due to the changes that are happening in the Ultimate universe. With the addition of Irish teams to UK Nationals and EUCR-W, the top clubs from each country will be jumping at every opportunity to feel out the competition, even more so with World Club qualification on the line this year. As a result, there is now a myriad of talent making their journey to Limerick all looking to kick off their Outdoor season in style. You can keep up-to-date with how the tournament is going on Fanseat, where there’ll be 25 games streamed over the weekend.
Siege now offers the first chance on the calendar for the UK and Irish teams to match up. It is no coincidence that the UK clubs making the journey include most of last year’s EUCR-W qualifiers, namely Chevron Action Flash, Fire of London, and Ka-Pow!. They will be joined by Donald Duck (a cohort of Clapham players), Siege regulars SMOG and Manchester, and Siege debutants Brighton City. All of these teams are used to a high level, and will bring a lot of firepower to Limerick. Also making the trek from the UK are LeedsLeedsLeeds and Edinburgh Ultimate, who will be looking to establish themselves at the tournament. It’s hard not to imagine Chevy coming out on top in a UK battle (depending on how strong a squad Donald Duck brings), and in turn looking for the top spot at the tournament, with Fire coming in closely behind.
Waiting to warmly greet them in typical Irish style though, with an abundance of drink and craic, will be the three big boys of Irish club Ultimate; current All-Ireland Champions PELT, Ranelagh Ultimate and Rebel Ultimate. PELT won out most of their clashes against their fellow Irish clubs last season, and when it comes to Siege, they always try to put on a show, both on the pitches and at the party. With several of their friends from abroad likely to make the journey for the tournament, it’s hard not to see PELT coming out on top of the Irish teams again this year. Further down the line, Ireland’s Junior Open Team, Tribe and the newly formed Masterclass, who are making their club debut at Siege, will all be looking to claim a few scalps over the weekend.
Many of these UK and Irish teams have faced off against each other in the past year or two, be it at Tour or Euros, and are perfectly aware of what the other is capable of. Both PELT and Ranelagh have especially made their presence felt to the top UK teams, with PELT taking down Fire and Ka-Pow! at Euros, while also losing to Chevron in the tournament. Ranelagh in turn picked off Chevron and Fire in their Tour campaign, only losing to PELT at Tour 2 and Clapham at Tour 3. As a result, the impending arrival of PELT and possibly Ranelagh to UK Nats will heat up the competition between the Irish and the UK teams should they meet at Siege. With this meeting on Irish soil however, and plenty of pints in play, any intense rivalries and scouting ahead of the Outdoor season are sure to be left on the pitch when the time comes for the sesh.
Siege is not just for UK and Irish club teams, however. With the tournament placed towards the end of the University Ultimate calendar, it has always served as the final warm up for the Irish colleges in the lead up to Intervarsities. While this is still the case, the high level of Ultimate and party culture which has become the trademark of the Siege has attracted some UK Universities to the tournament, namely Sussex Mohawks and Glasgow Far Flung. Mohawks and Far Flung are both in the middle of their BUCS season, with Mohawks in first in the South East and Far Flung in second up in Scotland. With both teams heading to Division 1 Nationals this year, they’ll be looking to get themselves primed for the tournament against the clubs and Irish Unis.
Siege will mark the first time that some of the top University teams from the UK and Ireland could potentially square off since University College Cork’s domination of UKU University Outdoor Nationals in 2012. As a result a possible showdown between the University sides will give the chance to restore some long lost bragging rights to the Universities. With regards to the Irish colleges, the absence of Trinity College Dublin from Siege opens up the Irish University scene at Siege for who will come out on top. With UCC having won Intervarsities last year and coming in second to Trinity at Indoor IVs in November, they should be able to see their way past University College Dublin and an unpredictable Uni of Limerick should they face off. As a result, it’ll likely be down to them to do their alumni proud in tackling the UK unis.
Rest of Europe
Don’t be under the illusion that Siege is merely going to be a face-off between the UK and Ireland, as there is still an abundance of talent making its way over from Europe. The premier Belgian sides and long-time attendees of the tournament Gentle and JetSet will be making a return to Limerick. They will be looking to build on their respective second and third place finishes at Belgian Nationals last year and will both be looking to win the battle of the European teams, while hopefully knocking off a few of the UK and Ireland big boys on the way.
They will be joined by fellow Belgians Flying Penguins, and the returning European pick up team Christoph & Friends, led by (as the name suggests) the EUF’s Youth Coordinator Christoph Dehnhardt, whose welcome presence at Siege has been felt both on and off the pitches for several years. This injection of European Ultimate is what has set the vibe for Siege in the past and is sure to continue to do so this year, especially when it comes to the nights out.
Over in the Women’s division, some late drop outs have resulted in an All-Irish love affair, as the country’s top Women’s Universities and clubs are set to do battle. Similar to the Men’s Division, Siege has always been the final warm up for the Women’s University sides ahead of their Intervarsities. With the Universities making up over half of the division, all eyes will be on defending Siege and Intervarsity champions UCC to see if they can retain their title ahead of IVs. Having won Indoor IVs earlier this season, UCC are likely to stay on top or the varsity scene. However, strong displays from UL at Indoor Intervarsities and both Trinity suggest they may have enough to challenge the Cork outfit over the weekend. The Dublin sides UCD and Dublin City University, who were absent from Cork Open, will also be eager to establish themselves in the division and get some momentum heading into Outdoor IVs.
Pushing these Universities to their limits and providing the best preparation possible for the girls will be the Irish clubs of Rebel, Gravity and Tribe, who will all be looking to kick off their outdoor season in style. The Rebel girls will be looking to keep their dominating form going having won at AIUC Indoors in January, and the 2016 editions of Cork Open and AIUC Outdoors. However, much of their player base lost to the universities, which is a problem that should not hinder Gravity as much. NUIG Galway’s non-attendance will boost Tribe’s squad, possibly giving them a few wins against their fellow clubs. However, with the player base spread far and wide, don’t be surprised if the colleges have found victory against the big clubs by the time it’s all over on Sunday evening.
In order to make sure that the Siege lives up to expectations and its reputation goes untarnished, the faithful team of TDs from the UL Ninjas Ultimate Frisbee Club and PELT Ultimate have been working tirelessly to raise the bar yet again. This includes bringing on board some new sponsors and personnel such as E.R.I.C., Fanseat for a great livestream package and Nathan Kolakovic for some tasty footage of the tournament, designing new sexy gear for the teams coming, choosing only the finest of bands and bars for the famed Siege theme parties, but most importantly selecting the best teams from the 54 entries to ensure a phenomenal few days of craic and Ultimate for all those who come. With the myriad of talent coming together, the stage is set for Ireland’s premier tournament to do what it does best; give the Ultimate players of Ireland, the UK and Europe one of the best party weekends of the year!
So, with all the teams, TDs and volunteers making their final preparations for the tournament, The Siege of Limerick is ready and primed to give the Ultimate community making the trip to the Treaty City possibly the best weekend of party style ultimate Ireland has to offer. The questions still remain, who will come out on top when all is said and done? And equally as important, who will win the party? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see… See you all in Limerick!
Oh and if you’re not excited yet, here’s a taster of what’s to come:
- Chevron Action Flash
- PELT Ultimate
- Ranelagh Ultimate
- Fire of London
- Donald Duck