Nick Armistead – @NickArmistead
The Big V Ireland squad kickstarted their 2017 campaign in emphatic fashion, defeating Bishopstown by 47 points under lights at their home stadium.
Led by a best-on-ground display from Tom Cameron (Old Melburnians) and two stunning unders from Louis Denton (Old Xaverians), the Big V proved too strong as they shot out to a 24-point first-term lead and held Bishopstown at an arm’s length for the remainder of the match.
Tom Jok (St Kevin’s) was the star of the first term as he nailed a Ronaldo-esque swinging six-pointer within the first five minutes, while Al Armstrong (Old Melburnians) kicked three of his four overs.
The Big V entered the match with more experience in the physical side of football and it was showcased in its entirety as players the ilk of Edyn Sibbald (St Bernard’s), George Burbury (Old Geelong) and Christian Carnovale (Hampton Rovers) continually avoided their Irish tacklers with broken tackles and savage fend-offs.
The Big V built upon their lead with three overs to one in the second before Bishopstown commenced a minor comeback, kicking two quick goals in the third. Denton soon ended any chance of an Irish fightback with an outstanding under magically timed to bounce over the opposition’s county-quality keeper.
Coach, Dave Murray, implored his chargers to continue their enthusiasm throughout the fourth and a greater emphasis on assisting teammates allowed the Big V to boot 21 points to three in a thrilling final term. Denis Symeopoulos (Old Xaverians) was unstoppable in front of goal during the last 18 minutes, while Xavs teammate Denton completed the double with his second under for match, striking with elite power and precision before bringing the house down and celebrating accordingly.
The Big V were skillful in several areas of the International Rules game, none more so than their ability to use quick hands and escape from defence with their elite run and carry. Tyrone Bean (Uni Blacks) and Mick Culliver (Westbourne Grammarians) gave fantastic delivery to the Big V forwards, while Liam Whelan (Aquinas) was outstanding in his first game as goal keeper. Bean set the game alight when he did what most defenders dreams of doing and nailed a drop kick for his first over of the tour.
The Big V will now travel to Galway and face the Tuam Stars on Saturday in the second of the four-match series.
VAFA: 3.12.11 (65)
Bishopstown: 0.5.3 (18)
Best: Cameron, Symeopoulos, Burbury, Armstrong, Whelan
Goals: (Unders) Denton 2, Jok 1, (Overs) Armstrong 4, Symeopoulos 4, Burbury 2, Bean, 1, Jok 1