On October the 1st I flew to Ireland for the 2017 Ireland Tour. I was given the opportunity through the generosity of the St Kevin’s Old Boys community to fly overseas to a country I have never been to and a place you only recognise by its Celtic cross and celebrations of St Patricks Day. The Trip included playing three International rules games and one AFL match in Reading, England. This was a trip I was very uncertain about but one I knew I would thoroughly enjoy.
We escaped the chaos that was Grand Final Day, with Richmond ending their 37 year AFL premiership draught and seemingly this was the end of the football season. It was only a week ago that I was in a similar situation to the Richmond players, celebrating an A Grade final, a first in our Old Boys Football Club 70 year History. This trip also gave me an opportunity to prolong those celebration whilst at the same time undertaking a completely different sport, one I have never played nor practiced for.
I we finally landed in Ireland at Dublin Airport, I quickly took in the chilling air and cold whilst walking to our bus which was scheduled to take us to our Hotel in Cork, a three hour bus trip this turned out to be. Before I knew it, we were at our hotel and in our rooms. With all the excitement of being in a new country with newfound mates, a training session was the ice-breaker we all needed. During our training session, I quickly found out who was comfortable with the round ball and who wasn’t. it was clear that I was not comfortable whatsoever. Every kick went wayward, every handball was either short or too long. Training concluded and the feeling around the trip quickly changed from a quite group to one that quickly galvanised in a short (maybe long) period.
We toured Cork around a city double decker bus where we were taken to see the city’s landmarks. I was amazed and at the same time bewildered at how green and scenery one country could be. Its something those who have seen Ireland can understand.
We spent five days in Cork and played our first match against Bishoptown. This was a night game which we were all eager to play. A chance to beat a Gaelic team at their own sport was enough to get us all motivated to play our best. The game ended in the VAFA’s favour, a successful start to what has already shaped to be an amazing trip.