Women’s Indoor All-Irelands: Familiar foes meet again

Indoors, Ireland, Irish Ultimate, Rebel Ultimate, Womens

Aidan Kelly was there for the first standalone Women’s Indoor Nationals in Ireland recently, and he tells us what went on.

Dublin played host to the first ever standalone Women’s Indoor All-Irelands, packed within the iconic walls of Trinity College Dublin. Historically, the competition has usually taken place alongside the Men’s division, but now due to a typically high demand between the two divisions and few suitable venues that can feasibly contain so much high-octane, fast paced Frisbee, a decision was made to split the events by division.

Eleven teams from seven different clubs played across a single day in order to crown the winners and, for most, it was hard to see anything other than a Rebel vs Gravity final, which is typically the decider for most of our domestic Women’s competitions. In fact, other than last year at the same event, where Rebel dominated with two of their own teams playing in the gold medal game, Rebel and Gravity have squared off in pretty much every final across the country they’ve competed at since 2015. And, with the Cork ladies and the hometown heroines kept apart in the initial pools, it would seem likely that the two would be destined to meet in the final once again this time round.

With that said, you would be slightly ignorant to completely disregard the other challengers for the crown. Tribe, hailing from out west, were known to be a thorn in the side to most teams, as the perennial dark horses were known for being a formidable and tight knit unit, containing many players from the National University of Ireland Galway. Trinity College themselves, fresh off winning Women’s Indoor Intervarsities, had also thrown themselves into the ring with the idea of testing themselves at a bigger stage. It would have also been possible for history to repeat itself in some form as we could have seen one of the ‘big two’ fall to the other’s second team, as they both have proved historically to contain a wonderful amount of depth!

BOLT posing as a team. Photo by Conor Phelan.

However, the biggest potential usurper to the throne was quickly revealed to be BOLT, a team mostly made up of former/current University of Limerick players with a wealth of international experience. Having breezed through their first four group games with a goal difference of +56, heads were well and truly turned in the lead up to the pool decider with Rebel. From up in the viewing gallery, there were more than a few mumbles from supporters and players alike who believed that they could have the Champions’ number, and for awhile they just may have. In an early afternoon epic, Rebel edged out a universe point encounter by the skin of their teeth (11-10), to ensure they avoided their long-term rivals in the semis.

In the other end of the draw, Dublin Gravity made it through the group with little challenge as they bested a trio of second teams in the form of Rebel 2 (revenge!), Gravity 2 and Tribe 2 before flexing their bottle against the potential banana skin of Tribe’s first team. Despite the Galway girls managing to put home as many points as the three teams before them combined (six), Gravity were just much too strong and experienced for them and topped the group comfortably.

As the semis rolled around, we saw a reversal of the final group fixtures. BOLT would now have to face Gravity in a clash of the elements, while a clash between Galway and Cork would ensue in the form of Tribe and Rebel. In the end, the two more experienced favourites avoided any shocks despite valiant efforts from BOLT and Tribe, who provided tough competition throughout. Once again, Rebel vs Gravity was booked for the grand finale.

On paper, leading into the match one would have seen Gravity as slight favourites. Rebel were missing a number of their leading stars, while the Dubliners were on fire by the end of their semi and looked almost unstoppable. But, never the ones to shy away from a fight, it was the Munster women who started off the stronger. Going ahead early and following it up with a quick break, Rebel worked hard, refusing to easily allow the disc to be given away in order to maintain their lead as they matched and possibly even surpassed Gravity’s intensity with relative ease.

Pushed from the front by captain Emma Healy, who looked to inspire those round her with some insanely safe hands and inch perfect hammers, Rebel found themselves 5-4 up, but there was still a long way to go in the game. And from here, Gravity somehow found another gear as they slotted home their O and followed it up with two quick breaks out of nowhere to flip the game on its head. Suddenly it was 6-5 to Gravity, and Rebel had been completely sucker punched.

Indoors is a crazy game. In these tight games you can be on top and time would slow down to almost a complete halt. But when you’re losing, everything speeds up to the extent where you really need to show composure to avoid it getting the better of you. After another turn Rebel attempted to stop the rot by switching up their defence. With a passive endzone flood, they looked to force Gravity to pass it across their front endzone for what felt like 500 passes in the hopes of tiring out the offensive team and giving them a chance at potentially capitalising on any errors. But with the composure, wit and skill on display thanks to Gravity’s stars, such as Jane Linehan and Fiona Mernagh and punctuated by the unpredictable yet seemingly effortless nature of Ireland’s best talent (and eventual MVP of the final) Áine Gilheany, even a cohesive unit such as Rebel couldn’t contain what was to come, as they found their way through the defensive structure.

MVP of the final Aine Gilheany on the disc. Photo by Conor Phelan.

Rebel couldn’t get their break, and at this stage they needed several if they were to come back and break Gravity hearts. With time ticking away, both teams displayed wonderful offensive prowess which saw a number of points flow by without a single turn, and as they game died out, Gravity punched home the decisive final score to win their second Indoor All-Ireland title in three years, 14-9.

Overall, a successful event ran wonderfully by Dublin Women’s Ultimate. It was great to showcase the Women’s Division in Ireland and it was positive to see a number of different clubs putting out performances. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the 2018 season pans out, and if one thing is for sure, we can see Rebel regrouping and ready to try take back the top spot in Ireland. But will they be alone in striving to unseat Gravity?

Main photo also by Conor Phelan.

Irish Women’s Nationals: can Rebel be pulled back by Gravity?

Ireland, Irish Ultimate, Previews, Womens

Aidan Kelly previews this weekend’s Irish Women’s Nationals, and sees a potential upset brewing.

This weekend, Dublin’s fair city is due to welcome female Ultimate players from across the country as it plays host to only the second ever stand-alone Women’s All-Ireland Ultimate Championships.

Before 2016, the event had been packaged alongside its Open counterpart. However, in an effort to promote Women’s Ultimate in the country, as well as removing any conflicts around teams with male coaches having to pick between playing or coaching, the first ever WAIUC was hosted by Uproar in Maynooth last year. The event was a huge success and saw Rebel Ultimate claim their first ever title in the division, seeing off the heavy threat of Dublin Gravity in the final.

The Gravigals will be looking to go one better this season. Photo by Elizabeth O’Sullivan.

The scene has witnessed a number of changes in the last twelve months. Last year we saw seven teams from five clubs, while this time around there are six from three. While Dublin Youth Unicorns, Jabba the Huck and UPELT are out this year, we’ve been struck by a newcomer in the form of BOLT. While it’s obviously sad to see fewer teams in the division, the fact all three clubs entered are fielding two teams each shows the strength in depth that these sides are creating.

With days to go, all early signs point to a repeat of last year’s finale. Both Rebel and Gravity have had strong seasons so far, with the Cork ladies previously travelling over to Tour 2 and the Dubliners fighting it out with some of Europe’s best over at Windmill and Disc Days Cologne during the summer.

Rebel, captained by the current IFDA Female Player of the Year Rosie O’Mahony, will no doubt be hungry to repeat their successes from last season and with the ever-united core of players developed by the dominating varsity team, University College Cork, it will take massive performances from their rivals to steal the crown. The champions also currently hold an impressive record against Gravity, having already beaten them a few weeks back at Munster Munch, an invitational Women’s tournament hosted by the Ireland Junior Women. And, with EUCR also just around the corner, I feel that the girls from ‘The People’s Republic’ will look to use this weekend as a strong base for their preparations.

BOLT are looking to cause an upset in their first year as a club. Photo by Eva Normoyle.

However, it needs to be said that Gravity, led by the team of Sinead ‘Shinners’ O’Flemming and Kate Boylan, have had a very interesting shake-up this term. Since the collapse of former champions Jabba the Huck, the club has stepped forth as the only Women’s team in Dublin, allowing for many of Jabba’s top players and young college starlets to integrate into the ranks. This added depth, along with the addition of renowned coach Ian French, has meant that Gravigals are as serious a threat to Rebel’s title hopes as they have ever been. Should these two teams make the final, as many may predict, it’s going to be a hell of a showdown between Ireland’s finest. If Gravity can flawlessly execute their game plan when it counts, I can see them bringing the gold medals home to Doyle’s Pub come Saturday night.

Looking to provide a shock are newcomers to the division in the form of BOLT Ultimate. An amalgamation of ladies from PELT (Limerick) and Tribe Ultimate (Galway) in the west, this young club will need to pull out something big to conduct an upset on the big two. The brainchild of seasoned Ireland international Aine Ahern, this thunderous crew are hoping to surge through their opposition and make a name for themselves. While the potential goal of toppling their more established rivals might be out of their reach for year one, I forecast that this storm creeping in from the west will look to show what they’re made of as they descend upon Dublin.

Here come the Irish

IFDA, Ireland, Irish Ultimate, news, Open, Womens

Aidan Kelly outlines the strength and impending invasion from Irish Ultimate.

There’s an invasion coming. A red-hot fury is coming from the west of the UK and it’s heading straight for the Ultimate field. Board up your changing rooms, tie down your endzone lines and lock up your significant others because the Irish are running riot.

A few weeks ago, UKU announced the significant news that from 2017 onward, they would be inviting a number of Irish teams to UK Nationals. This is in line with Ireland switching region for the European Ultimate Championship Regionals (EUCR). Up until this year, we Irish had been part of the southern region, comically grouping us with our ‘neighbours’ Switzerland, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Israel. Historically, this arrangement has been a burden to teams who that qualified for EUCR, as they have found it tough to afford the surprisingly heavy and awkward journey to Italy.

All-Ireland Indoor Ultimate Championships 2017 Preview

Indoors, Ireland, Irish Ultimate, news, Open, Previews, Womens

Tadhg Bogan previews AIUC Indoors 2017.

Another year, another Indoor All-Irelands hosted by PELT Ultimate, who’d have thought it? Yes, back again on the University Of Limerick campus, the 2017 edition of the All-Ireland Indoor Ultimate Championships is set to take place on the 28th and 29th of January on Ireland’s Sporting Campus. 24 teams for the Open division and 10 teams in the Women’s division are set to take over the UL Arena to find this year’s champions. The AIUC Indoors titles in both the Open and Women’s division have bounced around the country over the past few years, but every tournament has been filled with big, athletic plays, spicy throws, and the intense, stylish, and well spirited brand of Irish Ultimate we have all come to know. With the addition of new up and coming teams (combined with the unpredictable nature of indoor Ultimate), this year’s tournament is sure to live up to its elite expectations.

EUCF 2016 – the Irish teams: PELT and Rebel

EUCF, EUCF2016, IFDA, Irish Ultimate, Mixed, Open, Pelt Ultimate, Previews, Rebel Ultimate

As part of our series previewing EUCF, certified Irishman Aidan Kelly looks into the condition of Ireland’s two representatives in Frankfurt; Rebel in the Mixed division, and PELT in the Open division.

There is a strange feeling of optimism in Irish Ultimate these days. Fresh from some fantastic international results at both WUGC and WJUC, as well as UKU Tour, our small nation feels like they really can take on the world when it comes to our fair sport. However, historically, no matter how successful a year we’ve had, there has always been one event that we couldn’t stamp our mark on, until 2016: Euros.

PELT overcome Ranelagh and weight of history to become Irish national champions

An Irish Eye, IFDA, Ireland, Irish Ultimate, Pelt Ultimate, Ranelagh

Lorcan Murray reviews the action last weekend in Limerick as PELT stormed to an unlikely, cathartic championship on home soil.

After several years of close calls and an uninvited moniker for stress-induced asphyxiation, PELT have claimed their first national title. The Limerick lads emerged victorious from a virile performance in the final on home turf against national bad guys (and actually fairly sound blokes) Ranelagh.

Irish Nationals preview: can anyone stop Ranelagh?

#IRL, An Irish Eye, IFDA, Ireland, Irish Ultimate

In his ShowGame debut, Lorcan Murray previews Irish Nationals this weekend.

Limerick, High Lady of the Shannon and the Celtic Tiger’s forgotten daughter will once again open her walls to welcome Ireland’s finest disc dancers onto her fertile fields. Though this intrusion will be borne on the opposite end of the club season to that which she is accustomed, rest assured precise execution and intense competition remain defining aspects of her Siege mentality.