2016 Ireland Tour – Day 3

March 26, 2016

SPC v Dublin Invitational

Day 3 of the 2016 St Patrick’s College tour of Ireland and the UK welcomed the first competitive hit-out with a match against representative teams made up of the best Gaelic football players from Dublin and surrounds.

The 1sts and 2nds matches were played concurrently at the pristine surrounds of the Parnell Gaelic Athletics Association Club, watched over by an enthusiastic crowd of parents and supporters representing both countries.

The SPC boys were forced to overcome some unexpected obstacles with a number of the touring party waking in the morning with a stomach bug which rendered several members unavailable for selection.

Despite the illnesses, the boys from Ballarat were still desperate to represent the green, white and blue in the best fashion possible and we were able to field two competitive teams against the best Dublin has to offer.

In fact, the desperation and commitment displayed by the boys wearing the 1st XVIII jersey was a sight to behold as they stole the march on their Irish opponents in the first quarter.

Playing with the unfamiliar round ball, the like of Nick Stuhldreier, Tom Clark, Joel O’Connell, Tom Conlan, Harry Loader and Joe Dodd ensured the SPC boys were off to a flying start with their aggressive attack on the ball unsettling their Irish opponents.

When the second quarter commenced it welcomed the introduction of the more familiar AFL football ensuring our boys were able to take full toll of their dominance around the ground.

A half time score of 24-3 in favour of the boys from Ballarat was a true indication of the general play around the ground.

However, we knew the proud Irish lads would fight back so there was no surprise when they started to assert some control over the game following the resumption of the third quarter.

Kicking with a strong wind and making full use again of the round ball, the home team narrowed the margin considerably and started to assert control over the middle of the ground.

Heading into the final 15-minute stanza, the SPC boys remained in front on the scoreboard but knew they’d require another massive effort to maintain the lead.

The final term saw the return of the AFL footy, meaning our boys once again felt more comfortable with their disposal and their ability to move the ball along the full length of the long pitch.

Aiden Domic continued to be a forceful presence through the middle of the ground while Will Madden was virtually impenetrable in defence in the role as goal keeper.

Up forward, the likes of Jackson Brown and Sam Jackson were providing attacking targets while Seamus Hoffmann’s aggression at the ball ensured constant pressure was applied to the Dublin boys.

The SPC boys eventually recorded a comfortable winning margin, showing that the best from Ballarat can match it with the best from Dublin.

Meanwhile on an adjoining synthetic surface the 2nd XVIIII players found the going a little tougher.

Playing against the combined Dublin intermediate squad, our boys found the pace a little hard to handle and were comfortably beaten.

Following the games, our touring party was hosted at a luncheon provided in the first class clubrooms at Parnell before the students left for their first night of homestay with the families of opposition players.

Students will regather as a group early on Sunday morning before the touring party leaves Dublin and travels to the southern city of Cork.