AIUC 2017 – Division 2

news, Open, Previews, Tournament Reports

Here we share Aidan’s thoughts on the second division of AIUC 2017. 

Alongside the All-Ireland Ultimate Championship Division 1, there is a second division taking place this weekend in the same venue. This is for any club that didn’t qualify out of their region, or didn’t participate in the first place.

This year, we have nine teams fighting for the Division 2 title. Not only does this accolade tend to act as a precursor to a future at the top of the ladder*, but finishing position plays a massive part in bids for next year’s events. Depending on how teams finish at the bottom of Div 1 and the top of Div 2, one of our two regions (East and West) can potentially lose a bid to the other. This hasn’t occurred yet, so at the moment each region gets 4 a piece.

So for example: If Division 1 ends up with 6: W 7: E 8:W and Division 2 finishes 1: E 2: W 3: E, East gains a bid for the following year due to having two of the top three in division 2 and only one of the bottom three in division. Confused/don’t care? I’ll move on quickly…

1 – Uproar (Kildare)

The fifth place team in Div 1 last season, the club from just outside Dublin have had a massive amount of roster turnover since then. They have suffered with a bit of a transitional year and found themselves missing even more key players for the weekend of Regionals as they missed out on the top four spots.

The club will look to consolidate themselves by winning the division and doing all they can to help strengthen the East next year.

2 – Tribe 1 (Galway)

Another side who will be frustrated to see themselves down in the second tier this weekend. Tribe have a good, young team full of athletic talent but missed out on Div 1 due to a really strong showing for the West division this season.

Like Uproar, they will expect to work their way past their opponents and attempt to show that they don’t deserve to be thought of as a second division side.

3 – XVI 2 (Dublin)

Just like their first team, expect to see a young, plucky side who are out to garner experience. Expect several U17 internationals to feature and attempt to run the legs off everyone that they face.

Interestingly, they are grouped with Uproar, who they hold one giant upset victory over from earlier in the season. If they can do it again, they might be an outside bet for the final.

4 – Gravity 2 (Dublin)

A team that is hard to predict. Looks like a side full of players who gave a lot at training but just aren’t ready for first team action, along with some experienced internationals in the form of Emer Staunton and Sinead O’Sheil Fleming. While not as strong on paper as previous Gravity 2 sides, would expect them to finish somewhere in the middle of the pack this year.

5 – Tribe 2 (Galway)

Complete unknown to be honest. At a guess, will feature a number of young college players and pick ups as I expect Tribe will stack their first team as much as they can. It seems they are currently ineligible to finish above 5th due to roster regulations.

6 – Ballincolig 2 (Cork)

As I explained in the Div 1 preview, this is a club that prides itself on developing young talent. I expect this second team to display lots of it! I’m unsure if they will challenge the first teams above them, but can see them battling it out for a semi-final spot.

7 – Rebel 2 (Cork)

I expect this side to fly up the seedings this weekend as they are possibly the strongest second team in the division. Rebel just seem to have that bit more depth than those around them. Like Collig above, they will feature several school-level players with big futures as well as a number of older, established talents that might not have trained enough to make the first team this year.

8 – Gravity 3 (Dublin)

An interesting one. Probably as strong as their second team on paper, featuring a lot of older players who don’t really train but have the clear ability. Also ineligible for a top four finish due to rostering issues.

9 – PELT 3 (Limerick)

After establishing a Junior team earlier in the season, I expect a number of them to make their debuts for this side. It’s hard to guess who else will be featuring, but if any club know how to call in old faces and get them to don the jersey, it’s PELT. Like Tribe 2, a complete unknown but much more unpredictable. They could finish dead last or they could win the bloody thing.

Aidan’s predictions:

1 – Tribe 1

2 – Uproar

3 – Rebel 2

4 – XVI 2

5 – Ballincolig 2

6 – Gravity 2

7 – Gravity 3

8 – PELT 3

9 – Tribe 2

*PELT 2 and XVI have previously won and both are now in Division 1

AIUC 2017 Division 1

news, Open, Previews, Tournament Reports

Our favourite Irish reporter Aidan Kelly gives his views on All Ireland Ultimate Champs.

 

The 2017 Irish domestic club season prepares to come to a head, we are warmly welcomed by the pinnacle of Men’s Ultimate in the country. The All-Ireland Ultimate Championships.

With three* different winners in as many years, (or four if you count a club’s second team as ‘different’**) there is set to be a massive tug of war over the title of national champions, and with qualification for both next year’s EUCR-W (three spots) and WUCC (one spot) on the line, the stakes are that little bit higher.

The participants in this battle royale have been known since our regional qualifiers took place last month. Travelling from the East are Ranelagh 1 and 2, XVI and Dublin Gravity, while in the West we have hosts PELT 1 and 2, Rebel and Ballincollig. A betting man would stick their house on a PELT vs Ranelagh final and a rematch of last year, but the other six challengers will look to upset the status quo and cause a shock.

Here’s our rundown of the division based off seed:

1 – PELT (Limerick)

Last year those messers from Munster shocked the WORLD (or, Irish Ultimate) by taking down a stacked Ranelagh side that boasted almost half the Ireland Men’s WUGC team to win their first All-Ireland. And they didn’t just beat them, they did it comfortably, finally managing to shake off their ‘bottlers’ tag and announcing themselves as top dogs in the country.

Since that day, they’ve gone on to compete at EUCF, win bronze at Windmill and battle it out with the UK’s best at EUCR-W, finishing third. The club, made up of an extremely tight knit group of players who have battled with one another since they were freshers in Uni will no doubt be hungry to repeat their win from last year and show they’re still number one.

With club talisman and captain Padraig Sweeney pulling the strings as the axis-handler combining with the work-horse ethic from players like Eoghan Lawlor, Dave Smyth and Jamie Chambers along with the unpredictable nature of Niall McCarthy. They could be considered almost unstoppable on their day. Add John Doherty, fresh from a stint with the AUDL into the equation and things really get interesting.

2 – Ranelagh (Dublin)

A wounded animal. This is a team that is hurting. After the bitter disappointment of missing out on EUCF qualification last month, the Lagh are looking to take their frustrations out on all who stand against them come AIUC.

Last year, as heavy favourites, Ranelagh walked past every team that faced them on the way to the finals, conceding only 12 points all weekend in the lead up before falling to their Limerick rivals. This year, they club are smarter, more aware and prepared for what lies ahead. With already one scalp over their counterparts in the AIUL, there is a sense of belief that they can take the trophy back to Diceys Sunday evening.

Under the tutelage of Cork bai Matthew Feely, this rather new-look Ranelagh side boasts many talents like the cohesive combo of Keith Mernagh and Liam Fletcher, the powerful Ross Andreucetti and the reserved yet uncontrollable Ronan Callaghan. Expect them to act as the fire to PELT’s ice.

3 – PELT 2 (Limerick)

In what may surprise some, PELT’s second team secured a top 3 seed by finishing second at regionals, besting a number of first team clubs. How this team will actually look, I do not know, but expect a number of athletic young talents and future first teamers combined with some calm headed experience to back them up.

I can see this going two ways, PELT 2 will either sink like a stone, finishing 7/8th or like their first team before them, rise up to the challenge and shock all. I do think a semi-final place is out of their reach however.

Not just an Ultimate journalist Aidan Kelly gets up for Ranelagh at UKU Tour 3 this year. Photo by Claire Baker.

4 – Rebel 1 (Cork)

Are they a fallen giant or simply a sleeping one? Rebel have had a rather odd few years, losing a number of their younger talents to other clubs has meant that they’ve had to focus on farming more in order to keep their club’s ethos alive.

Despite this, they have still been able to fight for themselves, finishing third last year. This season, we haven’t really gotten a chance to see the best of this Cork outfit, and this could be their biggest weapon. Underestimate the tricky reds at your peril, as they are equipped with enough experience and clever players to punish you.

Captained by stalwart Brian T O’Callaghan and American import Drew Moore, the side will no doubt be backed up by ever-presents Donal Murray, Michael ‘Fada’ McGrath and Lee Griffin.

5 – XVI 1 (Dublin)

The young guns’ first foray with Div 1 after winning Division 2 last year will be an interesting one. A wild-card of sorts, it’s hard to know where they will end up. A semi-final could easily beckon if they play to their potential, and after a long season where they’ve managed to get many competitive games under the belt as a club, there’s no reason why they can’t.

With a gung-ho, nothing to lose attitude, combined with youthful exuberance. If they was ever a team that would cause an upset to the top two, it would be XVI.

Featuring an abundance of underage and u24 internationals, with at least 5 European Junior silver medalists including Paul McDonough, Conor O’Doherty and James O’Donovan. These kids have nothing to lose. With senior international Ian French also kitting out to play for the side at AIUC, there’s some major scope for the boys to turn heads this weekend.

6 – Ballincollig (Cork)

Rebel’s little brother (Although I doubt they want me calling them that…) up until now have never quite reached the heights they seemed destined for when they came together three years ago. Much like their fellow Corkians (Corkites? Corkies?) the club always seems to have an eye on two or three years down the road, rather than now.

Sustainability is rare in Ultimate, as players tend to have quite short-sighted goals. Instead Ballincollig tend to look to embed younger players like Eanan Cronin, Killian Leahy and Adam Purcell and combine them with their experienced leaders such as Ben Noonan and Donnchadh Mc Auliffe.

7 – Ranelagh 2 (Dublin)

Another former champion hoping to upset everyone (including their own club mates) and take the crown. A rougher diamond than their first team, expect Ranelagh 2 to be well-drilled and hard working. Whether they can compete with the top end of the division is tough to say, as they narrowly lost to XVI at regionals last month after leading for most of the game.

Armed with seasoned battlers in the form of Alan Kelly, Brian Boyle and Cormac Bourke, experience will play a massive part in how the side performs over the weekend.

8 – Gravity 1 (Dublin)

Qualifying thanks to a massive universe point win against the veterans of Masterclass, Gravity will look to test themselves against the best the country has to offer. With a massive roster turnover from last season, I count only four members of the previous year’s first team playing this time round.

With an ethos that looks to play with joy and combines it with positive spirit, I feel Gravity will need to keep their heads up in order to compete at AIUC. Their pool is a tough one and I must admit it’s hard to see where the wins will come from on day one, however if they go in with the right mindset, learn from any mistakes and adjust to their opponents, they could make a big push for wins on day two. A semi final spot is a lot to ask, but fifth isn’t an unreachable target for them.

Led by Gearóid Ó Fearghaíl and Matthew Colfer, expect to see big performances out of their rookie players Shane Corcoran and Dean McCreary, who are both capable of making big plays despite only playing a number of months.

Aidan’s predicted finish:

1 – Ranelagh 1

2 – PELT 1

3 – XVI

4 – Ballincollig 1

5 – Ranelagh 2

6 – Rebel 1

7 – PELT 2

8 – Gravity 1

*Ranelagh 2014, Jabba 2015, PELT 2016

**Ranelagh 2 won in 2013″

Feature photo by Claire Baker.

UKU Nationals 2017 – A Review

Mixed, Nationals, Open, Review, Tournament Reports, Uncategorized, womens

Another season is in the books and, for most sides, the off-season is now underway. Sean Colfer takes a look at what happened in Birmingham this weekend, and what it might mean for the European Championships and moving forward for UK Ultimate.

UKU Nationals 2017 – Predictions

Mixed, Open, Previews, Tournament Reports, womens

Now that we’ve published all three previews, here’s what our ShowGame team think will happen at Nationals. We’ll give you a projected top four in every division with some discussion afterwards, and a collection of things to watch as well. Hopefully we don’t look too ridiculous come Monday evening…

MIXED

    DP

1. Black Eagles
2. Reading
3. JR
4. Glasgow

    Sean

1. Reading
2. Black Eagles
3. SMOG
4. Deep Space

    Hani

1. Black Eagles
2. Reading
3. SMOG
4. JR

    Aidan

1. Reading
2. Black Eagles
3. Deep Space
4. Mighty Hucks

    Harry

1. Reading
2. Black Eagles
3. SMOG
4. Deep Space

So Sean and Harry see the division shaking out the same way – they actually predicted the whole eight the same way, so either great minds think alike or small minds rarely differ on that. No one sees a final other than Reading vs Black Eagles, and for good reason; they look like the class of the division.

After that, there’s a pretty diverse opinion base. All seven UK teams are mentioned by someone, which really just goes to show how good and how unpredictable the division is. It’s the most exciting one by a distance, given the dominance of Iceni and Clapham. Gravity are the unknown quantity so it’s understandable that no one has included them, but they’ll surely still be a tough challenge for whoever they’re playing.

WOMEN’S

    DP

1. Iceni
2. SYC
3. Rebel
4. Bristol

    Sean

1. Iceni
2. Bristol
3. SYC
4. Brighton

    Hani

1. Iceni
2. Bristol
3. SYC
4. Brighton

    Aidan

1. Iceni
2. Bristol
3. Rebel
4. SYC

    Harry

1. Iceni
2. Bristol
3. SYC
4. Brighton

This is rather more uniform. Hani, Sean and Harry all see the tournament going to seed, while DP and Aidan fancy Rebel to break into the top four at Brighton’s expense. Only DP has backed a final other than Iceni vs Bristol, as he believes that SYC will ride their superb regular season to a UKU Nationals final. While there doesn’t seem to be scope for many upsets here, all that means is that they’ll be even bigger if and when they do happen!

OPEN

    DP

1. Clapham
2. Fire
3. Chevron
4. Ranelagh

    Sean

1. Clapham
2. Chevron
3. Ranelagh
4. EMO

    Hani

1. Clapham
2. Chevron
3. PELT
4. Ranelagh

    Aidan

1. Clapham
2. Ranelagh
3. Chevron
4. PELT

    Harry

1. Clapham
2. Chevron
3. EMO
4. PELT

Only DP and Aidan see Clapham playing anyone other than Chevron, and it should be noted that they’ve picked the teams they play with. Be that as it may, no one sees Clapham having their streak broken, even the most partisan or prognosticator. PELT and Ranelagh are strongly fancied to throw a spanner into the works of UK Ultimate with a number of appearances in top fours, and EMO are backed to continue a strong season by reaching the semi-finals by both Sean and Harry (who, in the interests of full disclosure, have both played with EMO before). Surprisingly few appearances for Fire, who usually close strongly. It’ll be interesting to see if they can overcome their customary slow start and finish in the top four as usual.

WHAT TO WATCH

    DP

Chevron have changed their lines this season, and are bringing a larger squad than usual. They played both Fire and Kapow recently and their offence in particular is looking very refined. This could be their best chance in a while to take down Clapham.

    Sean

SMOG have been building for a few seasons. This season all three of their teams looked great throughout the season, and the Mixed team is the jewel in the crown. Their men are almost universally tall, a very useful attribute in Mixed Ultimate, and their women are all confident, good with the disc and comfortable playing with each other. They have all the attributes you’d want in a Mixed Nationals-winning team; their challenge is overcoming two other such teams in the favourites, Black Eagles, and the reigning champs, Reading.

    Aidan

Ranelagh and PELT are both going to be looking to qualify for Euros here, and they’re both good enough to do it. What happens if they face off in the game to go? We promised an Irish invasion, and these lads (and Rebel and Gravity) are here to back that up.

    Harry

It’s been a few years since we’ve had a Brighton team in the Women’s division. This year, they’ve come back, and have had an incredibly strong Tour season, a whole new kit and a new identity with no Brighton Pretty pun; just Brighton. They were second only to Iceni at Tour 1. They’ve been playing with small squads all Tour, meaning they’re made up of a small number of very good, gelled players. If I were to put money on a big upset, it would be on Brighton causing it. Regardless, with players like Hannah Brew, they’ll be really exciting.

UKU Nationals 2017 – Open

news, Open, Previews, Tournament Reports

David “DP” Pryce returns from a successful EuroStars Tour to give his, and some of the team captains’, views on UKU Nationals from the Open division in Birmingham. 

With the regular season over and Regionals decided, we move to the business end of the post season. There was a little controversy ahead of Nationals; the EUF announced, after some confusion, that the EUCR-W would only have four bids in the Men’s division. 

This decision seems a little odd considering the Irish (who sent a team to Frankfurt last year) have been moved into the UK region. To take two bids away seems excessive even with the poor performances from the lower UK teams. 

But it is what it is and, with two Irish Open teams coming to Birmingham, the competition for the four EUCF spots is sure to be intense. Add to this that the exact number of WUCC bids is still unknown, and it becomes apparent that much is on the line this coming weekend.

When talking to Alex Cragg, Fire of London Captain, he remarked that: “It was frustrating to get the change in bid allocation so late and I feel our region is stronger than the four bids suggest. However, nothing has changed about our approach to Nationals, just beat the team in front of you.”

This sentiment was shared by every team captain I spoke to.

It does, however, mean that there is potential for a team to not make EUCF but get to WUCC. In the event that the UK has three WUCC spots and both Irish team finish in top four at Nationals, then the third WUCC spot would most likely be the next UK team at Nationals. That means that every game in this new format matters – from pools, to power pools, and then on to elimination games. So, let’s have a look at those pools and potential power pools.

As is fairly standard, the top two in the primary pools will go into top power pools to reseed the top eight. But teams coming out of the power pools in third or fourth will run the risk of losing out in a crossover. I think these power pools will mostly go to seed (with the only change being a possible top two swap in some pools) with the exception of pool D with favourites Pelt lining up against Devon, Alba and giant killers Reading. Reading having demonstrated they can go toe to toe with the big guns this season, though will be missing some players who have gone to the Mixed team, and Devon are ever-present near the top of Open Tour. Alba are a new, young side from Scotland who feature a number of GB under-24 players and while they’re inexperienced you can bet they’ll also be fearless. This pool could end up very differently to how it started.

One other early match up that is definitely worth watching is the standard UKU Nationals Northern derby between Chevron Action Flash and Manchester in pool C. Both captains brought this game up as their big match up in the pools. Sion Regan, the leader for Manchester, told us that regardless of the opposition “our approach will be to remain focused throughout those matches and make sure we play through our structure and style”. 
And Chevron? “We usually enter the game with a shorter squad than the fellow northerners,” said Mark Penny. “But with numbers looking higher than usual for us we will be looking to really take the game to them with some high intensity defence.”

Power pools onwards is hard to predict with so many potential outcomes clouding things. But, having talked with a few of the captains, we can delve into some common themes.

Who will win overall?
In an ongoing attempt to not make predictions myself I put this question to the captains. Or, rather, I asked whether anyone can beat Clapham. Most captains, including Ranelagh’s Stephen Jones, were brutally honest and pointed out that Reading already have done just that. Jones said that they will “treat it like any other game but are looking forward to showing Hogi what he’s missing back home”. And, banter aside, that is how many teams will be looking to take on the 16-time UK champions. They are not infallible, with a small handful of losses in the past few seasons, but after a trip out to the US Open and another Windmill title in the bag they are undoubtedly strong and deep. This new format might give them some headaches but I would expect their athleticism and robotic structures to win out in the long run. 

Sam Luxa (GB Coach and long term Devon player) will be looking to take Nationals by storm. Photo by Claire Baker for the ShowGame.

A word from the reigning champs?
Ashley Yeo didn’t mince his words, saying “our aim is to win”. But he also showed his experience and mental toughness in noting that they have “certainly been pushed by teams this year at Tour.” And when asked about their recent trip to the US, he remarked that the team is “re-energised towards our push to improve and perform to our best so we’ve certainly improved since we last played most of the UK teams”. Watch out anyone who gets in their way!

Fantasy?
I did bring this up with the captains but most didn’t care so much for it, however Ash did provide a very in depth personal outlook on it:
“In previous years you wouldn’t pick anyone from a team you’d expect to make the top two because of getting four games as opposed to a possible seven out of your player. You’d also expect those teams to get plenty of D line stats in the first two games and O line stats in the last two meaning the points are way too spread around. With the change in schedule this year it does open it up a little more to picking someone from a top team, but I would try to pick solely offensive players from a group of teams that I expect to have competitive games. This is probably in the third to eighth range of teams. Outside of that I’d just go back to high usage rate players on other teams.”

However, no one has of yet stepped up to fill the gap left by the change in TD and website.

Not willing to give much else away …
As a Fire player myself, the captains were a little apprehensive to share much more but I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all for answering as much as they did and encourage everyone reading to make sure to watch the two-field coverage from Fanseat of all three divisions here.

Feature photo by Claire Baker by the ShowGame

UKU Regionals: the Open division

Open, Previews

With DP away doing Eurostars things and the rest of our editors and contributors being slightly tied up, we didn’t have an opportunity to get a preview for Open ready before the tournaments. However! Today will be the big qualification day in both the North and the South, so let’s take a look at where we stand.

NORTH

There are semi-finals and a power pool going on today in Salford. The semis will pit Chevron against Leeds while EMO take on Manchester. Those games should really be a formality if everyone has brought a full squad, and EMO vs Chevron will very likely be the Regional final. All four teams, though, have qualified for Nationals. There are six spots in the North, so the power pool is the really interesting bit.

Alba and The Brown have each carried through unbeaten records against their pool opponents. The Brown have victories over Vision and BAF, while Alba won a squeaker in sudden death against SMOG. Alba play Vision first thing this morning while The Brown get a break. The key game is likely to be The Brown against local rivals SMOG.

If The Brown beat SMOG, they have the inside line to Nationals and their final game against Alba will simply be for seedings in Birmingham. SMOG need to win in order to finish second, too, so the game is a de-facto knockout game (if SMOG can beat BAF this morning, as expected). It should be a spicy one at 11am.

PREDICTION
Chevron
EMO
Manchester
Leeds
Alba
SMOG
The Brown
Vision
BAF

SOUTH

The South division also features semi-finals today with Clapham playing Devon and an all-London game in Fire vs Kapow. All four are through to Nationals and can finish no lower than sixth.

The South has eight spots for Nationals, so the route there is a little more complicated. Reading 1 play Fire 2, and Flump play Brighton Legends, at 9.20am this morning. The winners of those games are guaranteed a spot at Nationals and will make up the final two in the 3-6 playoff bracket with the losing semi-finallists. The losers of those two games go into the brutal 7-10 bracket, where only two teams will qualify. They’ll be joined by the winners of two more games; Brighton City vs Reading 2 and Bristol vs Camden.

Predicting this group is a tough one after the first few games. Realistically, Reading 1 will beat Fire 2. Brighton City should beat Reading 2 and you’d fancy Bristol over Camden. Brighton Legends against Flump is the really close one, with Legends defeating City (who have beaten Flump twice this season) in sudden death yesterday. I’m going to pick Flump despite the accusations of bias that could be pitched my way.

That would leave both Brighton teams, Bristol (who game Clapham a decent game yesterday) and Fire 2 in a bracket with only two qualifiers. It’s a brutal region this year. Brighton City vs Fire 2 would be a fiery game, but I’d see Brighton coming out on top, while Bristol vs Brighton Legends is almost too close to call. I’ll back the experience and give it to Legends, giving us a rematch of the all-Brighton pool game.

Despite their loss yesterday, I’d back City here. That would mean Legends would have to play the winner of a Fire 2 vs Bristol game where I’d favour Fire 2. A game-to-go between Brighton Legends and Fire 2 is another very closely matched encounter. Legends have quite a tight squad and by this point they’ll have played six games in the weekend and three today. I think that would slow them down sufficiently that Fire 2 would take it, but it would likely be very close.

PREDICTION
Clapham
Fire 1
Kapow
Devon
Reading 1
Flump
Brighton City
Fire 2
Brighton Legends
Bristol
Camden
Reading 2
Kent
Bristol 2

CONCLUSION

This would make for some tasty pools at Nationals. Clapham would face Ranelagh, SMOG and Devon. Chevron would have Reading, Fire 2 and Manchester. Fire 1 would play EMO, Leeds and Brighton City. PELT would face off against Kapow, Flump and Alba. Clapham’s pool looks to be quite tough in these circumstances, but they’d surely be confident of winning through yet again.

We’ll post something more comprehensive once the results are final and not based on my notoriously terrible predictions. Good luck to everyone today!

All-Irelands Regionals: a preview

Open, Previews

UK Ultimate isn’t the only body having regionals this weekend – our Irish friends are also getting ready for their Nationals. Aidan Kelly and Tadhg Brogan walk us through the teams to watch in Ireland.

As we wave goodbye to both the month of July and the Tour season, here in the Emerald Isle the club season is ready to kick it up a gear (or five) as the All-Irelands Regionals events take place in two locations this weekend.

How our All-Ireland Ultimate Championships (Nationals) format works is fairly simple. Each regional event takes place a few weeks as a qualifier for Division One, which is comprised of eight teams. At the moment there are four spots in the East (Leinster/Ulster) and four in the West (Munster/Connaught). This can vary each year depending on finishing spots. Any team that doesn’t qualify is free to play Division Two, which usually takes place alongside its premier counterpart.

This year, we have ten teams squaring off in the East and six in the West. Here’s a round-up of who we’ll be seeing, and our bold* predictions of how they may fare.

*probably wrong

AIUC East – Aidan Kelly

Ranelagh 1&2 (Last year: 1st and N/A)
Top dogs in Dublin, and indeed the region, Ranelagh are back to playing with two teams this year, after having one, larger panel in 2016. Unbeaten at Regionals in the two previous years it’s run, I don’t expect the first team to fall to anyone this time around either.

Expect the second team to feature a mixture of some younger, developing talent combined with a few veterans of the Lagh to help drag them over the line. With both teams well drilled by the coaching team of Sam Mehigan and Matthew Feely, and with the valuable positive performances at Windmill and Tour 3 already under their belts this season, there is no reason why we can’t see both Ranelagh teams finish in the top four spots come Sunday evening.

Uproar (Last year: 2nd)
After finishing runners up at last year’s event up in Belfast, the Kildare side have experienced a massive amount of turnover in their squad. Pulled apart by immigration, travelling, players joining other clubs (sorry lads) and long-term injuries there are as many as seven of last year’s first team no longer on the roster.

However, expect a number of their younger players, mostly blooded from the local Maynooth University, to attempt to step up to the plate this year and embrace the chance at taking on bigger roles within the team. Regionals will be a massive test, especially with possibly their most important game of the weekend first thing Saturday against Masterclass. But, as previous battles throughout the season with their rivals have proved, they won’t be surrendering a spot in Division One without putting up a real fight.

Dublin Gravity 1&2 (Last year 3rd and 5th)
As possibly the biggest club in the region (roster size-wise), Gravity have typically been comfortably blessed with depth that has seen both teams in honest contention for qualification. Last season Gravity 2 (or Anti-Gravity as they oddly like to be called) narrowly missed out on the top bracket thanks to a bitter and contentious loss to Jabba in the game to go.

This year they’ve also been met with a lot of roster turnover, however some of that has been in their favour. With the additions of Ireland regulars Enda Kelleher and Daniel Purdy, expect the well-drilled side to have an extra layer of unpredictability as they now have that all-important Plan B that they lacked last season (i.e. huck it to the stupidly tall lad).

Jabba the Huck (Last year 4th)
Despite “retiring” their Men’s team, the former champions and current Mixed gold medallists have made the rather surprising decision to give Regionals a go this year. Rumour has it that this is just to give some extra playing time to their Mixed players and for a chance to just play some more competitive Ultimate and sure, why not?

After causing huge controversy last year for giving opponents Ranelagh a 15-0 walkover in an attempt to keep the legs fresh for the tighter games later on in the day last year (hey, it worked I suppose), I don’t expect the club to have the same mindset this time around. I do however expect Jabba to make things hard for their opponents by playing with little pressure and nothing to lose.

Belfast Ultimate (Last year 6th)
A fallen giant of Irish Ultimate, Belfast have found things tough over the last few seasons. A victim of a lack of foresight in the past as many of their older, seasoned leaders began to retire years back without enough younger players to take up the mantle, this year it looks like the ship has started to be steadied somewhat.

With a new, fresh leadership combining Ireland Masters’ player Wesley Fraser and former Junior international Richard Sayers, things are starting to look brighter up North as massive attempts to redevelop the Ultimate scene in Belfast have been made this year. However, with the region being so competitive, it may come as a season too soon if they want to be taken seriously as contenders for Division One. However, I expect BU to look to take at least one scalp this weekend, while playing with great spirit as they look to do Belfast proud.

XVI 1&2 (Last year N/A)
After giving regionals a miss and dominating Division Two last season, the young guns, comprised mainly of both former and current Gonzaga students, come with huge pedigree despite the average player age. Containing more Ireland underage caps than I dare try count, XVI will look to use this tournament as the platform to announce themselves as All-Ireland contenders. Whether they can actually do it is another question entirely.

When on-form, it’s near impossible to stop this side, but the problem is that we have really gotten a chance to see that so far. It’s easy to forget that this is a club still in its infancy and it takes a lot more to run a successful side at this level than to train in a park twice a week. However, they have shown signs that they don’t fear the early learning curve with big wins against Masterclass and Uproar already under their belt this term. If they can keep composure and use their heads I see them finishing comfortably in the top four.

As far as their second team (…XVII?) goes, I would wager it’ll contain an even younger, developing group of future first teamers that will use the weekend as great experience for the future.

Masterclass (Last year N/A)
The bloody wildcard. A bunch of old, semi-retired vets who are just here to have fun and fuck with everyone else (and let’s face it, nothing is more fun than that…)

If this was a one day tournament, I’d put a lot of money on Masterclass to qualify, but it’s not. The schedule will play a massive part in how this side ends up. Despite the fact they hold a generation of experience under their belts and know how to conserve their energy (lazy, lazy zones), it’s a massive question as to whether their bodies will last up to seven games over the weekend.

Aidan’s predictions:
1 – Ranelagh 1
2 – XVI
3 – Ranelagh 2
4 – Dublin Gravity
——————–
5 – Uproar
6 – Masterclass
7 – Jabba
8 – Belfast
9 – Gravity 2
10 – XVI 2

AIUC West – Tadhg Brogan

In contrast to the east, out wesht we have just 6 teams venturing up to Galway to fight for a spot in the Top 4. With such few teams, here’s a look ahead for what to expect.

PELT Ultimate 1&2 (Last Year: 1st & 5th)
The powerhouse of the west, PELT claimed their first All-Ireland title last year, and they have continued building since. This season has seen them go unbeaten domestically in the All-Ultimate Ireland League (AIUL) and abroad they have only suffered losses to Clapham, Chevron and Freespeed, resulting in third-place finishes at Windmill and Tour 3. With an almost full squad (despite the noticeable absence of Andrew Meade) it’s hard to imagine them being dethroned at Regionals as they look set to continue to another All-Ireland final, with the WUCC qualifying spot firmly in their sights.

PELT 2, on the other hand, have come up short the past two years in terms of qualifying for Division One. While the team has had success at Division Two All-Irelands, the club’s goal for regionals is to have both teams qualify for Division One. As a result, you’ll find that some of the talent has been spread across the squads to ensure this, so it won’t be too surprising if the club manage to have both teams crack the top four.

Rebel Ultimate (Last Year: 2nd)
Rather surprisingly, the Cork giants are only sending one team to this year’s Regionals, in contrast to the three teams they managed to muster up last year. These short numbers are stretching all the way up to the first-team squad with only 13 players making the trip to Galway. Despite the short numbers and probable absence of one or two of their bigger players, Rebel can never be counted out. Already having competed at Tom’s Tourney (taking ninth), Tour 2 and Tour 3, the team will be ready for battle and with hordes of experience under their belt, odds are they’ll hold onto their Division One spot. Short numbers could see them fall down the seedings when all is said and done, though.

Ballingcollig Ultimate (Last Year: 3rd)
Collig have put in a pretty decent performance so far this year at home, fairly comfortably dispatching Rebel and Tribe in the AIUL, only suffering a loss to PELT, which will most likely see them come second in the league. Further afield, they have taken the time to develop younger side of the squad at Tour 1, where they put in a relatively decent performance at C Tour. This could prove crucial as Collig are likely to be missing some of their bigger players in the form of John “the Boy” Hallisey, Donnacha McAuillfe and Dave Forde. However, what I imagine will be the main worry for the side is how they will fair in close games without Matthew Feely, who they lost to Ranelagh earlier in the year. In a similar situation to their Cork brethren, Collig are only sending one team due to short numbers. As a result, it would be asking a lot for the team to take down PELT 1, but I would still have them tipped to possibly get the better of Rebel.

Tribe Ultimate 1&2 (Last Year: 4th & N/A (Formerly Snatch))
And finally our hosts for the weekend: Tribe. In contrast to the Cork sides, the Tribe lads are managing to send two teams to Regionals. With a large portion of Tribe 2 being more inexperienced players looking to build experience, the focus will be on getting Tribe 1 into the top four. Tribe has been a team that has been constantly improving thanks to the University team in NUIG. So far this year however, the Tribe Men’s team have only been seen during the AIUL where they suffered losses to both Collig and Rebel. Some added talent over the season may provide Tribe with the boost they need to get past these teams come Saturday. However, with the major threat of PELT 2 vying for at least that fourth spot, the pressure is on the Galway boys to climb the seeds or hold their spot.

So with five teams really looking for the top four spots, and a bit of a wildcard in the form of PELT 2 thrown in for good measure, here are my predictions for the weekend:

Tadhg’s Predictions
1 – PELT 1
2 – Ballincollig 1
3 – Rebel
4 – PELT 2
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5 – Tribe 1
6 – Tribe 2