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.

Ranelagh at EUCR-S

An Irish Eye, Bordeaux, Crazy Dogs, CUSB, EUCR-S, European Ultimate, Flying Angels Bern, Freespeed, Ireland, Irish Ultimate, Panthers, Ranelagh, Tchac, ultimate, xEUCF

Mark Earley returns with An Irish Eye looking back at Ranelagh’s performance at EUCR-S.

Two weeks ago Ranelagh travelled from Dublin to Bern in Switzerland for EUCR-S hoping to have a crack at a region renowned for its strength. It was only the second time an Irish team had attempted qualification for EUCF and was to prove more difficult than the last attempt (when a Dublin Ultimate team full of pick ups finished 1 spot away from qualifying in 2010 in Nantes). The team was nearly at full strength, but also had a lot of new young players as well the established core.


Day one saw Ranelagh (9) face Italian champions CUSB (3) in the first game of the day. It started well for the Dublin team as they took the lead having started on D and stayed ahead until midway through the first half. Bologna fought back with a couple of breaks of their own and lead for a while until another Ranelagh surge saw them take half 8-7. In the third quarter of the game a combination of increased defensive pressure and some Ranelagh miscues saw Bologna jump out to a 3 point lead which they held onto to see out the game 14-10.

The second game was against Crazy Dogs (6), a team from Stans who have been turning heads both this season and last. It was a tight game, ebbing one way and flowing the other with neither team ever further than 2 points ahead. At 10-10 Ranelagh scored a break to take the lead 11-10 when lightning struck, literally. (Not on our field but not too far either). The 3 second thunder clap rule was adhered to and all play was stopped by the TD. There remained 10 minutes on the game clock. Everyone went to the nearby stadium for lunch and all games were postponed until further notice. About 90mins later the teams warmed up and played the last 10 minutes. Again it was a very closely fought affair although the nature of the game was different. Both teams were a little more anxious, a little more physical and happier to take long shots that the weather had prevented earlier on. Ranelagh went 14-12 up in a game to 15 but Crazy Dogs came back to score 3 on the trot and win 15-14. A tough loss for the Irish team that saw them go into a more difficult crossover.

Ranelagh’s last game of the day was against Parisians Iznogood and it was approached much like the other two – a full warm up and knowing that a win was needed to stay alive in the competition. Unfortunately the start was unusually flat and Iznogood took full advantage. Despite a time out and some renewed energy, the 4 point gap proved too much for Ranelagh. The shortened game ended 11-6, a scoreline that reflected a strangely off performance by the team in black. While Iznogood progressed to a quarter-final against Freespeed, Ranelagh were left to lick their wounds and play out the next day in a bottom 3 pool with Solebang and Panthers.

Sunday morning and the rain was back again, but without the thunder and lightning of the previous day. A depleted Solebang squad (10 players) were up first and both teams started well with fast offense being the order of the day. Much like the opening pool games the teams were pretty evenly matched and until 10-10 it looked like anyone’s game. In that all important final quarter the Ranelagh D took charge and with it the Solebang legs began to tire. The game ended 15-11 to the Dubliners, both teams looking forward to future match ups with two full squads.
Ranelagh’s last game was against the less famous of the Bern teams, the Panthers. A strong start from the Irish resulted in a 4-0 lead but the Panthers regrouped and threw some unusual zone looks that got them back in the game. Another dogfight was brewing and both teams exchanged the lead as the game came to the final stretch. However, it was to be Ranelagh who ended up victorious, closing the game out 15-11 after a long hard battle to finish as seeded, in 9th place. A disappointing but interesting visit to the European qualifiers scene for a team that felt it didn’t perform quite as well as it could have.

Elsewhere, there were a few teams that stood out for me. FAB looked very strong (until the final), with a practically faultless & precise offence. Tchac were exciting to watch –  a young and athletic French team with power and pace to run with most teams. Freespeed didn’t look as good as previous years, with some odd mistakes, especially in big games but they dug deep and took 3rd so won’t be too worried. CUSB were the surprise – a team loaded with talent and youth with well thought out systems, a very strong running game and receivers to compliment the throwers’ range of throws.

The tournament itself was very well run and excellent value too. Two breakfasts, two lunches and a hot dinner all included in the fees as well as decent fields. The TDs faced a tricky situation and dealt with it quickly and openly. While the weather was a pain in the ass, the experience was one that Ranelagh will bank and learn from. The style of play, the pace of the games and the new systems made for a change from the UK Tour and something that might be useful going into next season with places at WUCC and EUCF soon up for grabs.
Finally, does it not strike anyone else as odd that qualification for a tournament taking place in 4 weeks time takes place so late on the season? If we had qualified – flights, accommodation and all other costs would have proved difficult for a large portion of our roster. Surely these competitions could be moved to earlier in the summer? Also, it seems a shame that not all countries can be represented at xEUCF. It is, of course, the pinnacle of club Ultimate for Europe and ideal for the best teams to be there so our elite can grow to challenge the elite clubs worldwide, but for clubs gearing up for WUCC it seems a shame for them to be unable to attend xEUCF (or in old money the much more open EUCC). Growth has to happen at the two ends of all spectrums.

Both images courtesy of Flying Angels Bern.

Sadly no Ranelagh in Bordeaux but some Irish players will be there for UK teams! More news, views and opinions to come … DP @ tSG.

The Grapevine U23 Special

GB, Ireland, The Grapevine, u23

This Saturday special edition of The Grapevine gives you the one stop shop for all the links and pages for the GB and Ireland U23 teams in Toronto.

For general tournament news and results on the official facebook, twitter and website.

NGN are streaming 15 games from the championship, the streaming schedule has not been released but all games on PITCH 3 (Show pitch) are highlighted below on the full schedule (times are BST).

Some more streaming will be shown on iamultimate.com … here. Keep an eye on that since they can only do what they are allowed to.

Ultiapps have made another schedule which is a bit easier to read see full version here. Also includes a great score reporter.

Great Britain  



Open 

Division info:
Two pools of 7 and 8 played until Thursday then crossovers for 4th and 5th in pools then QF/SF/F next Friday to Sunday. 
Squad twitter.

Schedule (Ultiapps): Sunday 21st

Canada 10pm (Show pitch) [14-17 L]

Monday 22nd 
Mexico 2pm [17-2 W]

Tuesday 23rd
France 4pm [17-7 W]
New Zealand 8pm [17-13 W]

Wednesday 24th
Dominican Republic 2pm [13-8 W]
Japan 8pm [12-17 L]

Thursday 25th
Austria 2pm [13-15 L]
Switzerland 8pm (show pitch) [13-10 W]

Friday 26th – Quarter Final
USA 4pm [7-17 L]

5v8 Austria 8pm [17-16 W]

Saturday 27th – 5v6 Placement game
Japan 6pm [17-16 W] – coming back from 13-16 down, finish 5th.

Mixed

Division info: Two pools of 5 and 6 (Pools A and B) played out until Wednesday, then 2 power pools (Pools C and D) consisting of top 3 from each prelim in one and remaining 5 teams in other played on Friday. Leading to QF/SF/F in top 8, bottom 3 round robin (Pool G) played next weekend. 
Squad facebook and twitter.

Schedule (Ultiapps): Monday 22nd

Colombia 5pm [14-11 W]
Australia midnight (Show pitch) [13-17 L]

Tuesday 23rd
Chinese Tapei 6pm [10-9 W]
USA 10pm [3-17 L]

Wednesday 24th
Venezuela 4pm [4-17 L]

Thursday 25th – Lower power pool
Austria 2pm [14-15 L]

Friday 26th
Germany 6pm [13-12 W]

Saturday 27th
5v8 Ireland 2pm [8-15 L] 
7v8 Australia 8pm [12-9 W] – taking 7th and a 4W:5L record is nothing to scoff at!

Women

Division info: One pool of 10 played out until Friday, then straight to SF/placement games on Saturday and final on Sunday.  
Squad twitter.

Schedule (Ultiapps)Monday 22nd
Japan 4pm [6-17 L]
Germany 8pm [13-14 L]

Tuesday 23rd
New Zealand (who they beat in a warm up yesterday) 2pm [17-2 W]
Colombia 8pm [8-16 L]

Wednesday 24th
Mexico 4pm [12-5 W]
Canada 8pm [9-17 L]

Thursday 25th
Australia 6pm [17-10 W]
Austria 10pm [17-11 W]

Friday 26th
USA 2pm (Show pitch) [2-17 L]

Saturday 27th
5v6 Germany 8pm [6-12 L] – finish in 6th and a 4W:6L record. Great work ladies! 

Ireland


Open

Squad facebook

Schedule: Monday 22nd
Switzerland 2pm [14-17 L]
Colombia 8pm [10-15 L]

Tuesday 23rd
Germany 4pm [11-16 L]
Australia 8pm [12-17 L]

Wednesday 24th
USA 6pm [4-17 L]
Italy 10pm [9-16 L]

Friday 26th – 9 to 13 bracket
New Zealand 2pm [8-14 L]
TBD 8pm [16-6 W]

Saturday – 13th placement game
Dominican Republic 10pm [12-14 L] – putting these lads in 14th, a fine performance in a division of amazing strength! 


Mixed

Squad facebook.

Schedule: Monday 22nd
Germany 4pm [17-5 W]

Tuesday 23rd
Canada 2pm (Show pitch) [10-15 L]

Wednesday 24th
Austria 6pm [17-4 W]
Japan 10pm [12-17 L]

Thursday 25th – Top power pool
Venezuela 6pm [11-16 L]

Friday 26th
USA 6pm [4-17 L]
Australia 10pm [16-8 W]

Saturday 27th
5v8 GB 2pm [15-8 W]
5v6 Austria 8pm [16-11 W] taking 5th and highest European Mixed team! 

Get behind your team on twitter and facebook! Let’s go GB! DP @ tSG.