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.