Haydn O’Connor – VAFAUA
Top o’ the morning to ya!
I last left you on the bus from the airport to Cork. Fast forward a couple of days and its Game Day! In that time, the group has come together with team dinners, social outings & training sessions a plenty.
Each day the boys have completed a training session at the Christian Brothers College rugby fields, over-looking the beautiful city of Cork, with photos not doing justice to the setting. With every session the players are becoming more adept to the round ball, along with formulating strategy and tactics to take into the First Game, against Bishoptown. Check out the VAFA site for all updates.
Being able to witness and participate in training sessions with the players gives me an appreciation of the levels these players get to in season, along with their willingness for a “team-first attitude”. They are certainly here to win and represent the Big V with the distinction it deserves. I am still learning all the nuisances of the International Rules games, but with limited footage on YouTube, I feel like I am back to one of my first games umpiring, and with all honesty the nerves are starting to kick in for tonight’s contest.
Outside the lead-up to the game, yesterday a small group was invited to the Coolmore Stud in Ferthard, to the world’s largest and richest horse breeding organisation. A once in a lifetime experience to tour the facility & museum. Even more remarkable was being able to be as up close and personal with the best sire in Horse Racing, Galileo, the father of a little horse known as Frankel along with other countless Group 1 champions.
As a horse racing fan and coming from a family with horse racing connections, I was unable to negotiate the $500,000 standing fee for Galileo’s services down. Sorry Jon & Luke!
The history & prestige of the Coolmore Stud, and its exclusivity is something that will stay with me a lifetime and on behalf of the group that went, a huge thank you to those that made it happen.
Last night the VAFA Touring Party participated in taking training for the UCC Bombers, an Irish University team who play and love the game of Australian Rules. It is invigorating to see the passion & enthusiasm for our sport, something that back home we take for granted as a part of weekly and yearly routine.
The skill level will only grow with more practice, and the training session was greatly welcomed by the young men who’s weekly hit out involves a rugby pitch, old footys & a game of “chaos ball” for 30 minutes. The boys get their AFL fix via online streaming and news reports, and hopefully they tune into VAFA TV in 2018.
Before I leave you until the next instalment, settling into hotel life can be frustrating, with the unpacking and re-packing of luggage leaving the constant fear of leaving something behind or bringing too much . Rumours are circulating throughout the Ambassador Hotel that a member of the touring party has brought some extra equipment, containing a bag full of Canned soup, condensed milk & Mexican beans. Sources close to the bag are tight lipped as to how this has come into possession of the Tour and who owns the bag, but with a small ARMI coming to Ireland, you’d rather be safe inSTEAD of sorry.
Until next time.