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.
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.
As the biggest league in UK Ultimate reaches its halfway point, we decided it would be useful to stop and reflect on how the season has gone so far. Teams are just starting to find their groove – new players have assimilated, freshers have now learnt forehands, and captains have learnt what tricks are needed to drag star players on five hour coach journeys on Wednesday afternoons.
We’d love to inspire some discussion for who you think will be making Nationals this year. But for now, I’ll leave it in the hands of my very capable writers to give you a region-by-region rundown of how things are shaping up this year.
A small reminder here that there are five regions (Scotland, North, Midlands, West, South-East), each with six teams (except Scotland, who have nine). The top three teams go to Division 1 Nationals, the next three to Division 2. The bottom two teams in North, Midlands, South-East and West will be relegated at the end of the year. There is no relegation in Scotland, and the 7th/8th placed teams go to Division 3.
Tadhg Bogan debuts on tSG with an in depth look into Ireland’s University Indoor championships.
As the fuzzy heads of fresher and final year students alike recover from University/College life to prepare for their inevitable exam-induced panic, there is one blissful source of escape for the University Ultimate players of Ireland. Thankfully, All-Ireland Open Indoor Inter-varsity (IVs) 2016 awaits to welcome the eager and determined players with open arms. At this year’s battleground, the Kingfisher Leisure Sports complex in the heart of Galway city, 24 teams representing nine Universities from across Ireland took to the hard-courts across the weekend of the 19th and 20th of November. With goals of development in mind for all the fresh-faced beginners embarking on their first true competitive IVs, but aspirations of total domination in the hearts of those more seasoned players, the weekend certainly provided action every minute across the three courts of the Kingfisher complex. So, with much to get through, let’s begin!
The Northern division is brought to us by Thomas Daly
We start with Division 1A’s new boys, Sheffield Hallam. They are a relatively unknown quality now due to the loss of a lot of quality players from last year and will be looking to current third years to lead the way and put their own spin on their team. Important wins over Central Lancashire and Bangor in more than blustery conditions show this team have enough resilience to not give up and be a constant threat from start to finish, a concept that seems to be engrained in the club’s DNA. It’s underpinned by their unpredictability and also by their willingness to adapt to different offences. The club have played down their chances this year of having any major impact in the league, but do not underestimate them.
Watch out for Rhys Walker who, despite just starting university this summer, has played for Junior powerhouses Arctic in Birmingham. He has shown signs of being a more than capable handler and in this division and can only get better.
Dynamic Loughborough duo George ‘Jungle’ Webb and Dan ‘Jess’ Hillman have teamed up to preview the Midland region this year, which features some of the best teams from last year facing off regularly. Here’s how the Haze boys see it shaking out.
With all three Men’s Outdoor titles being taken by teams from this region last year, it’s safe to say there is a buzz around the Midlands region this year. Division 1 champions Nottingham will be chased by third place finishers Birmingham, ninth placed Warwick 1, a Cambridge side who were one sudden death game away from the Division 2 final, a newly promoted Loughborough side with Division 3 gold medals fresh around their necks, and a Warwick 2 side that shows immense strength in depth. With many big names leaving the region after last year, it’s safe to say that the midlands title is up for grabs now.
The European Ultimate Championship Finals begin on Friday in Frankfurt. Once again the best 12 Mixed and Women’s teams and the best 24 Open teams in Europe will gather to crown a champion. The ShowGame will be running a series previewing the tournament from a UK perspective, with some additional pieces about how our Irish friends may fare and what to expect from European teams coming as well. Continuing the series, Sean Colfer looks at the final UK Open team, Glasgow.