VAFA Ireland Tour: A Brief History

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The Victorian Amateur Football Association is proud to offer a number of opportunities to its members, with the biannual International Rules tour of Ireland a prime example. With the departure of the 2015 representative side earlier today, we thought it would be a good idea to reminisce on previous tours and their successes.

Commencing the first-ever tour in 2011, the VAFA sent an invitational side to play a five-match series against Irish county, club and university sides as well as a match against the All-Ireland team prior to their clash with the All-Australian team.

Led by captain, Matthew Torney, coach, Dean Anderson, and assistants, Luke Beveridge and Michael Blood, the Big V won three of their five matches for the series against five high class opponents.

Game one was less than an ideal opener for the Big V, as they went down to Na Pairsaigh by 22 points in Cork. However, the one-game winless streak ended soon after as the Big V reversed their shaky form and recorded successive 38-point victories against Salt Hill Knoknacarra and Ballyroan, respectively.

Brimming with the confidence attained from consecutive victories, the Big V were primed to face their biggest challenge for the tour, the All-Ireland team. With a playing group experienced in the round ball game, the All-Ireland team proved a cut above the Big V as they dominated possession and stormed home to a 74-point victory in Dublin.

Fortunately, the VAFA were able to regroup in the wake of the heavy All-Ireland loss and register their third win of the series in the final game against Donaghmore/Ashbourne when they held on to defeat the hometown favourites by two points in a thriller.

Game # Venue VAFA Opponent
1 Cork 0-7-8 (29) Na Pairsaigh 3-8-9 (51)
2 Galway 2-14-10 (64) Salt Hill Knoknacarra 2-6-2 (26)
3 Newtown, Co. Laois 0-15-16 (61) Ballyroan 3-1-2 (23)
4 Dublin, (Croke Park) 0-2-1 (7) All-Ireland 6-12-9 (81)
5 Ashbourne 0-6-10 (28) Donaghmore Ashbourne 1-5-5 (26)

Two years later, and with a tour’s worth of experience under their belt, the VAFA sent a fresh invitational side led by captain and 2015 joint Woodrow medallist, Ross Young, and under the guidance of coaching pair, John Kanis and Quentin Gleeson.

Partaking in one less match than 2011, the 2013 Big V side stood tall and claimed three of the four matches by an average winning margin of 60 points.

Game one against Na Pairsaigh was a reversal of the 2011 result as the Big V ran riot and claimed an 86-point victory to kick-start their campaign.

Combined Universities provided the Big V’s toughest challenge in their second tour, as they showcased their proficient use of the round ball to run out 18-point victors and claim the only Irish win for the series.

Reeling from the 74-point loss to the All-Ireland team two years earlier, the Big V came out firing on all cylinders in their rematch, taking their opponents on an 86-point demolition course in what proved to be the most impressive win in the history of the Ireland tour.

The final match, and the Big V’s most recent in Ireland, ended a supreme tour for the visitors as they defeated Donaghmore/Ashbourne by eight points in yet another thriller.

Game # Venue VAFA Opponent
1 Cork 7-18-6 (102) Na Pairsaigh 0-5-1 (16)
2 Dublin 0-10-9 (39) Combined Universities 4-10-3 (57)
3 Caven (Breffni Park) 10-12-6 (102) All-Ireland 0-4-4 (16)
4 Ashbourne 1-11-5 (44) Donaghmore Ashbourne 2-5-9 (36)

As the Big V side prepares to undergo another five-match tour against four Irish opponents and AFL Great Britain, rest assured it will be another sensational chapter in the history of the VAFA.

The VAFA will provide reports for all five matches, and you will be able to keep up with the boys’ travels via VAFA social media; @VAFA_HQ on Twitter, vafahq on Instagram and on the VAFA Facebook page.

Match Schedule:

Thursday, October 15: VAFA vs Nemo Rangers
Saturday, October 17: VAFA vs Tuam Stars, Galway
Wednesday, October 21: VAFA vs Combined Universities
Friday, October 23: VAFA vs Donaghmore/Ashbourne
Sunday, October 25: VAFA vs AFL Great Britain