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.

ECBU Ireland Review

An Irish Eye, Beach Ultimate, ECBU, GB, Germany., Irish Ultimate, Mixed Ultimate, Portugal, Sweden
Mark Earley tells us of the Irish success at ECBU last month.

Irish Mixed team make history in Calafell


About a week ago now, the European Championships of Beach Ultimate took place in Calafell, Spain. The tournament was hosted by the local team Peixets, ably lead by the Tournament Director Juan Carlos (better known as ‘Mom’) and his team of staff and volunteers. Two Irish teams attended the event, both with contrasting results, as anticipated.

In the Open Division, a young and inexperienced Irish team made the journey and found the going tough. They were beaten well by most opponents, despite starting every game strongly and showing much potential throughout. Winning just one game during the week was frustrating for a group of players that will feel they should have beaten Hungary, a team that pipped them in a sudden death game on the Saturday and beat them by 4 on the Sunday. They did not face Portugal, who finished below them but would likely have beaten a nation whose focus was on the Mixed division, much like Ireland’s.


Leading in to the tournament the Irish Mixed team had done nothing but impress. They had won two warm up tournaments and had finished fourth at Paganello, narrowly losing to the finalists and in their bronze medal game. They came in confident but focused. Unfortunately for them the week started as badly as it could with Poland jumping to a 6-0 lead and closing out the biggest upset of day 1 by winning 10-8. Ireland regrouped though and ended top of their group having thumped Turkey and UEI, beaten the Netherlands in a tight 10-8 win and getting the better of a GB team who had already qualified by winning 4 group games. That put Ireland top of the group and allowed them maintain their seeding. 
Daragh Ó’ Céilleachair makes a bid against Turkey (Spirit winners) in pool stages.

The quarter-finals were the cause of a Captain’s Meeting and much discussion at the end of the days play on day 2 of the tournament. Due to various teams holding seed and a number of odd results the schedule saw teams who had already played each other in pool play meet in  the quarter-finals. Sweden, among others, objected but given that the schedule had been emailed to all captains and agreed upon they were left with little choice to stick by it. While this was undoubtedly fair, it gave the draw a somewhat lopsided look with Russia, Germany and a (very) under-seeded Sweden all on one side. However, as many people noted, you need to beat the best to be the best.

Ireland faced GB in their quarter-final and produced their most complete performance of the tournament in a repeat of the previous day’s pool game. Haring out of the blocks the Irish converted 3 quick turns and didn’t look back, taking half at 7-2. They never let their foot off the gas and won 13-4, sending a statement of intent to the rest of the competition. If ever a team needed to shake off a defeat, this team did it with this game. Suddenly the Polish loss seemed like a year a go, not a mere two days previous.
Seamus Murray sends another disc long against GB in their QF match up.

Portugal were the team in their way of a berth in the final. Another trip to the Arena for what promised to be a cracking match up. The teams had met twice previously, with Ireland having won both games in testing conditions and with Portugal missing some big players. This time the wind was a factor once more, but perhaps not as much as expected. Both teams began nervously, trading turnovers but it was David Pimenta who stood out, as he single-handedly tried to swing the game Portugal’s way with a number of big blocks and grabs. However, the strength of Ireland’s women, and indeed their offence, began to shine through. They went 3 points up late in the game and despite a Portuguese fightback, won out to ensure a place in the final, and a medal.

The final was the last of the games in the Arena on day four of ECBU 2013. The sun was shining, the wind blowing and the crowd in good voice. Ireland faced a Swedish team who had lost just one game, in pool play against the Germans – a game they avenged with a crushing victory in the semi-final, and who were playing extremely well. With years of international experience among their men and speed, agility and athleticism across the women, it was hard to see a weak link in the Swedish team. That said, it was a final and few teams are adverse to mistakes in front of a big crowd.
Sweden and Ireland after the Mixed division final.

The game began cagily. Both teams turned over in odd ways – misread discs, overthrown hucks and some drops. Eventually Sweden punched in the goal and were on the scoreboard. Point two saw them break the Irish offence again and so the theme for the game was set. Ireland could not get the space they were used to around their handler reset and their female players were facing their toughest battle yet. A slow start was unlike them and they appeared a little rattled, making mistakes where previously they hadn’t. A few dropped discs, a couple of marginal calls and all under sustained Swedish pressure left Ireland chasing the game and the more they chased the more the fight slipped away from them. It was a frustrating and disappointing end to a brilliant season and talking to the players after the game they felt like they’d under performed on the big stage. Sweden can take credit for a lot of the problems caused but Ireland will have to shoulder some of it too.

Ireland Mixed take Silver at ECBU.

Having watched from the sidelines it was easier to immediately understand how much their achievement means for them as players and indeed for Irish Ultimate as a whole. This is the first team to come home from any major championship with a medal and they won it in style, finishing the season with only a handful of losses. They played with swagger, aggression and Spirit. They won over opposition teams and impartial fans with their honesty and sense of team. What’s more they did it all with a legion of fans at home willing them on, cheering their every move and hoping they’d bring something back to Ireland once the sand settled in Spain.

Looking further down the line this result is an example to young players of what can be achieved with hard work, tactical nous and a focus on putting team chemistry ahead of all else. There are many Irish teams setting off this summer, all younger than most of this Mixed Beach team and no doubt keen to replicate their efforts. If they look at how the team applied themselves and how they behaved they will learn a lot. This Irish team is one for the Irish community to be proud of, one the three captains can look back on with pride and one which has set a high bar for teams to follow. Here’s hoping it’s just a start…


Yesterday was a massive day for the community making that $15,000 in a couple days for ulti.tv, looking forward to WG streaming! Like, share, comment and contribute! DP @ tSG.

A Tough Pill to Swallow

A Tour, An Irish Eye, Chevron, Fire of London, GB, Irish Ultimate, London's Calling, Ranelagh, Rebel Ultimate, Tournament Reports

Mark Earley kicks off our T1 review week with how the Irish lads did at London’s Calling.

Three Irish teams travelled to London for UKU Tour 1 at the start of June and all three returned to Ireland licking their wounds and eagerly counting the days until their next outing. Tour is a tough animal – you show a weakness and you get savaged. No team gives you anything and the higher you go up the ladder, the stiffer the competition gets. Irish teams know this and it appeals to their stubborn, physical and hard-working approach to the sport. Indeed, much of what Irish Ultimate has achieved over the past decade has been built on foundations picked up over freezing cold weekends in Mansfield, sun drenched days in Cardiff and at windblown Brit Opens. So, why the poor results this time around? Well before trying to answer that let’s look at how the three teams fared.


Ireland U-23 Open went into B Tour expected to challenge for the title and with the added bonus of a run out against their British counterparts in a show game. Saturday went to plan, with no team able to run with them and they coasted into the quarters not having conceded more than 6 points in any one the game. The show game saw the highly fancied GB team rattled until half, which they took by 1 point, and after which they powered on to win the game 15-9. Ireland fought hard and showed athleticism, a decent work ethic and a sense of team that will stand to them in Toronto. However, on Sunday morning it all came apart in spectacular fashion. Complacency set in and LeedsLeedsLeeds took full advantage, racing to a 4-0 lead and not looking back. Ireland went on to win their final two games, both by a single point.
Highlights of the show game between Ireland U-23 & GB U-23
Lorcan Murray, one of the team’s captains, explained that they had got a lot from what he called ‘a disappointing but necessary lesson in what it takes to succeed in Toronto’. Murray went on to say that collectively they ‘realised the potential of our squad and what it felt like when we played to the best of our potential. More importantly we realised the difference between confidence (Saturday morning) and complacency (Sunday morning)’. Furthermore he said team chemistry was improving, something that will have a big part to play come July – ‘Coming away from our first tournament as a full squad there was a collective awareness of the personality of our team. Positivity is the fuel that fires us. When we’re leading we’re happy, joking and boisterous when we take big deficits we turned on each other and fell into the trap of our own frustrations’. The Irish youngsters will be back for Tour 2 where Murray says their goals are straightforward – ‘to go undefeated and get a shot at some Tour A standard opposition, but more vitally than that is our aim to maintain the attitude and approach we take when we are winning’.

Some of the U-23s pose with the St Albans Mayor
Ranelagh went into the weekend confident of returning to the top 8 where they made their presence felt last season, finishing an Irish-team-high of 5th place. However, it just never quite clicked for the Dublin-based team. An opening day defeat to Chevvy was as heavy as it was hard to take. Unforced errors were punished by a smooth and confident Chevron O and suddenly the score was 5-0. Ranelagh regrouped but cough up that big a lead to any top 8 team and you won’t be let back in. Next up were Brighton, a team Ranelagh beat for the first time in 2012. This time the Dubliners controlled the game from the start but come 12-9 and with the cap set at 13, two huge Brighton Ds and two uncharacteristic errors saw them snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. A third flat display rounded out the day as Fire 1 ran Ranelagh ragged on the way to a 15-5 win. Vice-captain Sam Mehigan said of their day one opponents – ‘the standard in the top 8 was very high. Chevvy and Fire thoroughly outperformed us. They had strong defences and Chevvy especially had a very clinical offence’.

Peter Forde of Ranelagh holsters the throw to Sam Mehigan

Day two was a welcome improvement for a Ranelagh team missing a couple of players, but once again it began on the wrong foot with a sudden death loss to a wily Bear Cavalry team, lead by a virtuoso performance by Dave Tyler – capped off with a point block and layout grab in the final point. DED bore the brunt of Ranelagh’s frustrations and were beaten 15-6, a result Mehigan was pleased with. ‘DED beat us a few times last season in games we still carry with us but after four straight losses on the weekend, they got the wrong end of our frustration and we beat them by a large margin’. That left an all-Irish battle for 13thplace. Mehigan explained how the win went for his team – ‘The last game of the weekend was the 1st ever meeting of Ranelagh and Rebel on foreign shores. The first half saw lots of trading with each team having a few small runs and thus the lead changed hands a few times. The second half saw a Ranelagh run that got us a margin which we managed to hold onto to win by 6’.


Looking back on the weekend the team will be disappointed having been beaten badly by two top teams and losing closely to teams they would prefer to be beating. According to Mehigan they will be back with renewed focus come Tour 2 – ‘We didn’t do as well as we feel we could have, so it was a bit disappointing. After just two days for the dust to settle it’s too soon to have identified our goals, but for sure we’ll be looking to get our performance consistently to the level we showed in patches at Tour 1’.

Rebel Ultimate and Irish Mixed Beach team player Darragh Kelleher goes up

Rebel will arguably be the least concerned with their results this being their debut in the A Tour and only the start of their season. The Cork outfit are consistently raising the bar for others in Ireland, thrive on new challenges and have many of the UCC Ultimate team on their roster so it came as little surprise to see them competing in the top bracket of UK Ultimate. They approached the tournament looking to make 9th place their own but, much like Ranelagh, shipped a couple of heavy losses that disrupted their plans. With a somewhat depleted roster due to the Irish U-23s team presence, a certain team member sleeping in and a couple of late injuries the Corkonians struggled with numbers.


On Saturday the team in red made light work of both Devon 1 and Tooting Tigers but lost heavily to Bear Cavalry and as a result faced a tricky crossover against Brighton on Sunday morning. The southern English team beat the southern Irish team by a big margin meaning Fire 2 were their next opponents. Rebel regrouped and got involved in a dogfight with the London team. After a few tight calls and a turn by each team the sudden death point finished in Rebels favour and the ‘Irish Classico’, as detailed earlier, was on. A tight first half ended with an injury to leader Brian O’Callaghan and Ranelagh never looked back.
Rebel & Ranelagh team photo – a rarity! 

Speaking to Donal Murray, one of the team’s leadership, he was pleased with the weekend as a whole, specifically as a way of bedding in new players – ‘The weekend was all that we could have hoped for: a smoothly run tournament, beautiful weather, and tough long games against teams we knew well, not so well, or not at all. Some of our players got some knocks or had a few niggles, but nobody got badly injured during the tournament. As well as our regulars, some players were making their Rebel debut, some their Rebel comeback, while others just finished exams. We didn’t have strategies and systems drilled in, but we had a few talks before and during the weekend on team goals, individual goals, and the attitude we expected.  We were quite happy with how our teammates improved with these over the weekend’.


He added that there was work to do – ‘Our goal of 9th didn’t quite materialise, but a mixture of results ensured a thorough investigation of where we’re currently at as an open team and as a club’. Murray was impressed with the standard of the Tour – ‘Every team we played had some fantastic athleticism, great throws and clear systems. Some had lines, some had their own rotation system, some had clearly defined plays and defences while others had looser styles. It was great to play against some players who have become household names, to still see women compete in the open division at A tour, to see a very high standard of spirit with this year’s new rules, and to finally get a crack of A tour teams’. While Rebel wont be back for Tour 2 as it’s too close to their annual trip to Amsterdam for Windmill Windup, they hope to make Tour 3; ‘Our goal is the same as always, finish as high as possible and improve as individuals and as a team.  One or two more specific goals will be specified to the players in trainings and in the run up to the tournament’.

There’s no doubting the talent pool in Ireland, nor the enthusiasm but Tour 1 will surely have blunted some of the Irish confidence. In terms of the reasons, they are many – from injuries to complacency – but as each captain/leader has made clear, the teams will come back with renewed determination looking to get back on the horse, so to speak! It will be very interesting to see how the rest of the Tour pans out. 

Photos courtesy of Niall McCarney, Cynthia Lo & Andrew Moss
Video courtesy of Felix Shardlow at Push Pass Productions

Look forward to seeing Irish teams at T2 and hearing more from Mark! Like, share and more in the right hand pane, more T1 reviews coming up. DP @ tSG. 

Repeat Mixed Success for Jabba the Huck

An Irish Eye, Irish Ultimate, Mixed Ultimate

Mark Earley’s column ‘An Irish Eye’ continues with a look into Jabba the Hucks win at Irish Mixed Championships.

A few weeks ago Irish Ultimate held it’s annual Mixed Championships (as previewed in this article). The tournament took place in Maynooth, a town in Kildare, not far from the country’s capital. Hosted by the U-23 Mixed Team in an effort to raise some much needed funds for the trip to Toronto, the tournament ran very smoothly and perhaps more importantly was blessed with great weather.

Jabba the Huck’s 3 teams at the recent All-Ireland Mixed Championships
Going into the tournament it looked like only 4 teams would be vying for the semi-finals spots but a number of things changed this. Firstly, a few late dropouts for Binge?, a consistently strong Mixed team with a long history of success in domestic mixed events, forced them to add to their roster after the IFDA Roster Deadline. This made them ineligible and prevented them from finishing higher than 5th (which they duly did). Secondly was the underperformance of a Rebel team missing a host of it’s first team players. Shipping big defeats on day one and against teams they would usually beat, the weekend didn’t play out quite as they would have hoped. Finally, the emergence of Pelt, who, buoyed by a pick up or two and the power of their U-23 Open stars finished an impressive 3rd.

The real story however is that of Jabba the Huck. Jabba are a closely knit, well-drilled and welcoming club who for years have failed to match success in Mixed with the high numbers they consistently have at training. Last year they finally got the monkey off their back and this year they consolidated their reputation with an eventually facile victory in the final. Lead by coach and captain Ian French and with excellent strength and depth across their first team roster, the Jabba team are just that – a team. They work hard for each other, have simple and effective systems and they practice constantly.
Fiona Mernagh lets a flick fly during the final.
Over the past two years or so their attitude has appeared to shift from a team that parties hard and plays hard too to a team that can manage both, and more notably, know when to attempt both. A strong recruitment policy, based on an open arms approach, has allowed the club grow hugely. In turn, places on the first team are now something to fight for as the depth of talent increases. It is the ability to call on a much stronger team over the past two seasons that has seen them dominate the Mixed division.

Having cruised through the pools stages and their semi-final (against Jabba 2 no less!), the would-be champions started somewhat shakily against a fired up Mixed Veg side, looking for revenge following last year’s universe point loss. Slowly though Jabba grew into the game, using their fast offence and big receivers to convert their offence. As the game went on the Veg team started making more and more mistakes, a lot of them seemingly unforced but capitalized on repeatedly. Suddenly a traded game became a landslide victory with Jabba scoring 7 points in a row to win the game 11-5. It was a well deserved win by a team who earned it through grit, belief and team work.
Full game footage of the All Ireland Mixed Final.

Unfortunately for Jabba the Huck Ireland doesn’t have a spot in the WUCC Mixed Division at the moment. With at least 3 Open teams and 3 Women’s team likely to want to play in Italy it’s unlikely that one will become available soon, not to mention the fact that the division itself is likely over-subscribed already. It’s a shame because it would be interesting to see how the team would do against the best of European and world Ultimate. Trips to the UK have seen them compete well, but without a full Tour under their belt this year and following a low seeding it’s hard to tell how they match up against the top teams. Perhaps next year, when there is no U-23 team demanding most of their players’ focus we will see a full Jabba take on Tour. In the mean time they will split into Open and Women’s teams looking to win a unique treble…

Photos courtesy of Mary Dempsey & Alan Breathnach

Video courtesy of Richard Buggy

Mark will bring us the Irish Eyes viewpoint of T1 alongside our very own A/B/C/W tour reviews in our T1 review week: one review a day! Like, share and contribute! DP @ tSG.

All-Ireland Mixed Championships Preview

An Irish Eye, Irish Ultimate, Mixed Ultimate, Previews, Rebel Ultimate

With the Mixed season in the UK in full swing, Mark Earley tells us about the upcoming All-Ireland Mixed Champsionships.

Mixed Ultimate in Ireland is not something that the majority of Irish club teams focus on; in fact there is only one club that were set up with the aim of playing Mixed all year round – the Dublin-based Jabba the Huck. There are lots of reasons for this – perhaps the most obvious being a historically small playerbase and the way the sport grew in the country – through universities, where the number of male members always outnumbered the number of female sign ups. This has always been replicated at international level, where Mixed Ultimate wasn’t a preferred option until 2011 when a young and well-oiled Ireland Mixed squad surpassed the achievements of both the much-fancied Open and Women’s teams to make quarters of EUC.

Jabba the Huck, current Irish Mixed Champions
Despite Mixed being less popular, the competition for the All-Ireland Championships title each year is a heated one. In a fortnight’s time 9 teams from around the country will descend on Maynooth (Kildare) for the eagerly anticipated event. Jabba the Huck are current champions, having won their first title last year at the 5th time of asking, and will enter 3 teams into the tournament. Their first team have been training hard for a while now and recently took part in the UK Mixed Tour. They will be hoping to retain their trophy and will head in to the weekend quietly confident. Last year’s runner up was Mixed Veg, a team originally made up of Broccoli and LMS players. They lost the final last year in a very close game that many of them felt they should have won. Perhaps a lack of practice together will work against them, but with a lot of experience across the team expect Veg to challenge for a final spot. Similarly Binge? is a team full of talent but who rarely train. They travel a lot to Europe, recently attending Lake Como, and regularly making the trip to Monkey Foo’s tournament in the autumn. Their girls are traditionally very strong and the team will pose a threat to anyone they meet.
David Ferguson of Mixed Veg catches a trailing edge

Rebel Ultimate won back-to-back titles, and convincingly too, back in 2010 & 2011. Last year they split their squad into two even teams hoping for both to reach the final but it didn’t work out. This year a lot of their players are rumoured to be at a wedding so it’s hard to tell what type of team they will bring. Regardless of personnel they will be a well-trained, focused and intelligent outfit. Expect to see them in the semi-finals. Outside of those four teams, it’s hard to see another team capable of winning the title. Pelt are still a young team and their women will struggle against the depth of the other squads. Juice are very unpredictable and it’s hard to tell what type of team they will bring up to Dublin. Hammertime are the last team in the tournament and despite being enthusiastic and very well spirited, they don’t play at the same level as the top four teams discussed above.
Ireland Mixed U-23 Squad
The tournament will be run by the Ireland U23 Mixed Team who are gearing up for the big trip to Toronto in July. They will hope to raise some much needed funds to help with the many costs associated with a trans-Atlantic championships. Further details on the team can be found on their website: http://irelandmixedu23.blogspot.ie/

Tournament Website: http://aimc2013.blogspot.ie/

All-Ireland Mixed Championships Winners
2012 – Jabba the Huck
2011 – Rebel Ultimate
2010 – Rebel Ultimate
2009 – Throwin’ Shapes

2008 – Throwin’ Shapes

Photos courtesy of: Jabba the Huck, Martin Kelly, Ireland U23 Mixed Team

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A long road to Europe

EUCR-S, Great Britain, Irish Ultimate, Open, Open Tour, Outdoors, Ranelagh, Rebel Ultimate, xEUCF

Mark Earley tells us about Irish open teams and the challenges they face on the road to European Ultimate Championship Series.

Last Friday night saw the final game of a three team round robin take place in Dublin, Ireland. The Open teams involved were playing for a spot at EUCR-S in Bern this August with the long-term goal of securing a spot at xEUCF in Bordeaux. In effect they were qualifying for a qualifying tournament.


There are lots of reasons for this. Firstly, Ireland’s performance at previous European club competition is practically non-existent. Rarely has an Open team come from Ireland to compete at EUCC or xEUCF. Ally this to the fact that the national Open team has not improved on 2007’s 6thplace finish and it looks like the Open division teams merit little more than one spot at a qualifying tournament. Furthermore, Ireland has moved region. Irish teams used to be a part of the EUCR-W region, which uses the final standings of UK Nationals as qualification. However, the Irish Flying Disc Association decided that it would be in the clubs’ collective best interests to look to qualify elsewhere. At the time this was a wise move with teams rarely finishing higher than the 12-16 bracket at A Tour. Whats more, it was thought that the variety of European competition would stand to Ireland’s best players, not to mention the chance to play Ultimate in a warmer climate! As a result, Ireland’s clubs now play in the South region along with Italy, France and Switzerland.

Irish Ultimate Frisbee (IFDA)


Over the past few years it has become apparent that Irish teams can, and do, hold their own when competing against the top clubs in the UK. While no team has managed a win against the ‘big two’ of Clapham and Chevron, teams like Ranelagh, Paddy Murphy, Dublin Ultimate and Rebel Ultimate have picked off wins against most of the chasing pack at some point or another. With the strength of Irish university Ultimate proving itself (most recently courtesy of the ever-impressive UCC Ultimate) it will be interesting to see if this will translate up to club form this summer, which has brought people to wonder if the IFDA’s decision to change region was the correct one.

The UK has 6 places available to Open teams where the South region has but 4. Furthermore, the style of Ultimate played in the UK is one that Irish teams are both accustomed to playing against and to playing themselves. With UK Tour set to be as competitive as we have seen in a long time it’s hard to tell how Ranelagh and Rebel will fare. With Clapham sending two teams, Chevron building on European silver medals, and a host of teams impressing pre-season including Ka-Pow who have recruited strongly, Fire, always there or thereabouts and last year’s surprise package DED, there will be an intriguing power struggle in the top 8.

So how does that compare to the South? Well, the top Swiss teams are among the strongest in Europe with FAB and Freespeed consistently dangerous. Crazy Dogs are another excellent outfit, whose Juniors program is producing very tangible results and it would be hard to overlook Solebang, another Swiss powerhouse. Italian teams are traditionally temperamental and it’s hard to tell how they will perform but in CUSB Bologna and Cota Rica they have two teams full of athletic ability and skill. Finally, the French. French Ultimate has flattered to deceive for a while now, but as seen in 2011 when the Open team picked off some huge scalps, the produce of their successful Juniors teams is beginning to make it’s presence felt at Open level. Tchac are an example of this and Friselis, reigning French champions are another side with obvious pedigree. Ultimate Vibration might not be the force they once were but along with Iznogood, have ample experience to run with any strong team. All of these teams are competing for 4 spots in Bern.

Ranelagh FC

Which brings us back to Dublin last Friday. Going into the game there was little to separate the two teams involved. Rebel Ultimate have dominated Irish Ultimate for a few years now, winning most domestic tournaments in all divisions. Their Open team lost the finals of both the Indoor and the Outdoor All-Ireland Championships last year (one to Broc and one to Ranelagh) but would argue that they didn’t play their best, especially in the outdoor final. Ranelagh are their main rival and the Cork team currently has a 4-1 record against them, the most recent win coming in February’s Indoors final, albeit against a weakened Ranelagh squad. With the focus this season thus far on university Ultimate, both teams have only played one competitive game, against Pelt Ultimate from Limerick, which they both won with ease, so the stage was set for a good battle.


Despite the cold and windy conditions approximately 50 fans turned up to watch the game in Dublin and they were treated to a great battle. The game started in sunshine with a gentle crosswind (that by the end of the game was a strong, cold wind) and with Ranelagh on offence. Rebel came out fired up and broke to score the first point. The game settled a little and both offences took control, with the teams trading after Rebel’s early break. Ranelagh got a break back and after a few more scores took half 9-7. The second half proved a slightly more cagey affair with both teams able to go on runs both due to big Ds and some unforced turns. First was Ranelagh who courtesy of some huge plays from young guns Rob Holland and Robbie Brennan jumped out to a 4 point lead to go 12-8 up. The strong wind was having more of an effect and Rebel decided to introduce their zone. It was an inspired decision and some huge Ds from John Doc and Mark Fanning got them to within 1 score. At 12-11, in a game to 14 it was all to play for and Rebel had their tails up. Ranelagh were able to close the door though and despite more big bids from the Cork team Ranelagh veteran Dominck Smyth broke the force for the match winner to another young player Cillian Flynn. 14-11 to the Dublin team.

So, this August Ranelagh will travel south to Bern where they will face very stiff competition for the chance to represent Ireland at European clubs top table. With three UK Tour competitions to come it will be a battle-hardened team by the time August comes around and not one to be taken lightly. 

Watch out for Ranelagh at Open Tour 1 at the end of May in London.  Have something to say? Comment below or email showgameblog@gmail.com. Remember to like, share, tweet and contribute!