Nick Armistead – @NickArmistead
The Big V were unable to go two from two to start the 2017 VAFA Ireland Tour as they narrowly went down to Tuam Stars by 13 points in County Galway.
The Stars, who are one of the most successful clubs in Galway Football’s history, recently completed their Senior Football Championships season in fourth spot, giving the Big V side a challenge on par with the standard of William Buck Premier.
As soon as the first siren sounded, the Stars used their elite foot skills and agility to get on top of the Australians, kicking six unanswered overs in the first 14 minutes. Team leader and University Blacks star, Lochy Dornauf, helped stem the flow of Stars goals with an under in the latter stages of the quarter to bring the margin to within 12 points at the first break.
Coached by All-Ireland Medal Winner and Gaelic star, Jarlath Fallon, the Stars continued to pressure the Big V in the early stages of the second before Power House goal kicking maestro, Nick Nagel, produced the goal of the match when he took advantage of the opposition goal keeper running off his line and unloaded from 40m, hitting the back of the net for the Big V’s second under of the game.
Captain George Burbury (Old Geelong) led an all-out assault in the third term as the Big V dominated with five overs to one under to come within three points. Burbury finished the game with two overs but it was his aggression and gut-running which helped lead his side back into the match alongside standout defensive displays and brutal tackling from Luke Dilizio (St Bernard’s) and Spirit of the Big V recipient, Christian Carnovale (Hampton Rovers).
The Stars changed tactics in the fourth term and, when they kicked away to more than two goals in front, played a match-saving quarter of slower possession football while the Big V were unable to make the most of their opportunities in front of goal.
Chris Hughes (St Bernard’s) and Dornauf found plenty of the ball for the Big V, while Nick Reeves-Smyth (Old Ivanhoe) continually repelled the Stars’ forward thrusts from half back. Reeves-Smyth battled illness earlier in the tour but his ability to bounce back and play a leading hand in the Big V’s valiant display was outstanding.
Dornauf and Nagel finished with one under and two overs each, while Tom Cameron (Old Melburnians) continued his impressive form from the first game and Liam Whelan provided a host of highlights as goal keeper.
The Big V will now travel to Dublin for the third match of the series against Donaghmore/Ashbourne. They currently hold a 2-1 record against Ashbourne from their three meetings over the past six years.
Spirit of the Big V Award: Christian Carnovale (Hampton Rovers)
Best: Burbury, Dornauf, Hughes, Carnovale, Reeves-Smyth
Goals: (Unders) Dornauf 1, Nagel 1, (Overs) Dornauf 2, Nagel 2, Burbury 2, Armstrong 1, Denton 1, Cameron 1