Did you think we were going to leave out the Irish? Never! Aidan Kelly gives us some insight on how his club-mates will do in his (cagey) preview for Ranelagh.
How did they get here?
Four time Irish Nationals champions, the Lagh recaptured their All-Ireland title after a two-year dry spell in 2017, beating rivals PELT in the final, which also saw them qualify for WUCC for the second time.
Back in 2014, Ranelagh went to Lecco with a relatively young team, missing many of their heavy hitters and finished 43rd. They’ll be aiming higher this time.
How has this season been?
Positive. The club finished fourth at Tour 1, losing only to both Clapham O and D line and Chevron, but the big story of the season so far has been the team’s showing at Windmill.
After an impressive win over French champions Tchac (15-6) in the Swiss Draw, Ranelagh came inches from a semi-final spot after suffering an incredibly narrow 13-15 defeat to Ragnarok. The Danish powerhouses ended up winning the third-place game against Chevron, showing how close Ranelagh were to the teams at the top.
How do they play?
Without giving too much away – the club has changed a lot on pitch over the last year or two. While previously relying on structure and setting up opportunities to isolate their stronger players, the team now looks to push to be better individuals in order to create better depth. This is starting to pay dividends as they can now rotate through a deeper squad of players.
On D, one thing you can guarantee is that there’ll be screams of “Sag” and “Squeeze” coming from the sidelines in Ohio.
Can you give me three players to watch?
While the club aren’t bringing their full squad, there are still more than a few players to watch out for:
As one of the main handlers on the team, expect him to jump between lines. Armed with an unorthodox array of throws, he’ll be sure to frustrate even the most aggressive of forces as he manages to squeeze a throw into the tightest of gaps.
Currently spending his summer Stateside. When he’s not selling ice cream across Texas, Sam is enjoying a spell with AUDL side Austin Sol. Expect a lot of hard work, big bids and a trip to wang city as the 22-year-old workhorse looks to be one of stars downfield.
A known star for countless Irish D lines, Liam will look to take on his opponents’ biggest threat and task himself with nullifying it. With an almost inhuman reach and a natural ability to position himself perfectly on any deep shot, he had a headline performance in the Windmill quarter-finals against Ragnarok.
What do they say?
Captain Stephen Jones said:
“I’d say we’re excited more than anything. We’ve been working hard on our new systems, focusing on strengthening our depth as a squad. I can’t wait to see how all this prep will serve us when we face the world’s best. So far as our goals for the tournament however, I think we’ll be happy finishing better than we our last go in Lecco. Primary focus is to run our systems and learn from the different structures thrown at us.”
How are they going to do?
It’ll be hard to tell. The squad still haven’t got much experience against the giants of Europe, and almost none against other parts of the World so there’ll be a learning process for sure. Missing Matthew Feely, the club’s coach, will be a blow, too, as his quick thinking and tactical nous are irreplaceable. As clichéd as it might seem, the Laghds will look to take each game as it comes, learn from each point and hopefully come home haven taken a scalp or three…