Ireland Tour 2024: SPC v St Aidan’s Match Report

April 7, 2024

Photos: OCA president Dr Charlie Flynn

By Jason Lappin, 1st XVIII coach

The lead up to first game of the tour was like a Grand Final for the Paddy Boys. The outrageously long flight meant the boys had a lot of built-up energy and tension. In an interesting plot twist, a lot of the players had already met each other over Instagram!

St Aidan’s of Dublin were our opponents, and unfortunately for them, we were ‘ready to go.’ The boys were so pumped the night before the game, everyone was prepared – some more meticulous than others, but regardless we were ready…Or so we thought.

The game started with a bang and the Irish boys smacked us right in the face with their super quick ball movement. Their kicking was on a completely different level to ours with the round ball providing a very tough challenge for the Paddy boys. The way that they picked the ball up off the ground with their feet was actually quite mesmerising to see live. However, our superior contest work meant that we were ‘only’ 15 points down at the first change. Whilst we failed to register a score in the first quarter, there were some positive signs, we just couldn’t capitalise on the scoreboard. We had 5-6 shots on goal that ended up being very wayward and not really close to registering.  Better players in the first quarter included Dean Harten, Linc Koliba, Lachie Martin and Ned Bennett who were all playing around the middle of the field.

Gaelic Scoring System:

Over the crossbar – 1 point, this is called an ‘over.’

Into the soccer goals – 3 points

It was decided by our coaches and the Irish coaches that we would play straight Gaelic rules in the first half, and then we would swap over to International Rules in the second half. The main difference between Gaelic rules and International rules is that there is no tackling in Gaelic, and that there are stoppages in the International game.

It was also decided that we would play 15 min quarters (with a three-minute break in between) and allow in-game rotations – these would prove very important rule changes for the Aussie lads with the lightning quick Irish boys leaving our boys extremely ‘gassed’ towards the end of quarters.

We started the second quarter by quickly going forward and registering our first score of the game, thanks to a clean centre clearance from Lachie Martin hitting the ball to Lincoln Koliba who broke a couple of tackles and kicked the ball towards Hamish McNamara who would prove to be a handful for his smaller Irish opponents. Cody Salmon came to life in quarter two and he would finish the game with at least six shots on goal to be the most dangerous small forward for the Paddy’s.

The defence that had struggled with the speed and agility of the Irish forwards was suddenly winning their one on one’s and consistently repelling the ball back towards our front end of the ground. Dean Harten was again solid at back/mid, with both he and Cooper Battye (who had been switched from attack to defence), providing great overlap through hard running – Nedd Bennett was doing the same at mid-forward. Cody Salmon finished the quarter with multiple scores – he was our best forward on the day. Just like that, the margin had been cut to single digits ahead of the switch to International Rules at half time.

The second half started with a flurry of collisions and big tackles from the SPC lads. Hamish McNamara was outstanding, laying multiple big tackles on the stunned St Aidan’s boys. However, rather than run away from the much more physical contest, the Irish boys embraced it. They were having the time of their lives hitting and getting hit!

The more physical contesting game saw the SPC boys overpower their Irish counterparts in the second half. Whilst there was no ‘official’ scoreboard, the Paddy boys won by a couple of goals. The game was played in great spirits with both teams coming together at the end of the game, sharing a laugh, some food and an exchange of guernseys. Also, and more importantly, they exchanged ‘Insta’ account information!

Best Players: Lincoln Koliba, Dean Harten, Lachie Martin, Cody Salmon, Hunter Tudbull and Kade Hilton.