Big V hold strong to win Ireland opener

Posted on - Latest News, Featured, Rep Footy

The Big V commenced their tour of Ireland with a sensational four-point victory against the best of Cork U21’s at the home of the Nemo Rangers in Trabeg.

Led by Spirit of the Big V recipient, Sam Barnett, and skipper, Sam Williams, the Big V eliminated a three-point quarter time deficit to run over the top of their courageous Irish opponents in a hard-fought and highly entertaining affair.

The Big V’s chances of victory reduced significantly in the opening minutes of the match when St Bernard’s premiership star, Tom Sullivan, received a heavy hit and injured his ankle, causing him to watch the rest of the match from the sidelines.

Despite the disappointment of losing a player built for the International Rules style of football, the Big V were able to recover via a Cork own goal. Matt Handley was going to work up forward as he created a bevy of opportunities with his unrivalled pressure resulting in his first of the day and reducing the Big V’s deficit to just three points at the first break.

Tom O’Donnell, Harry Whitty, Marshall Rippon, Jeremy Mugavin and Josh Cowan came into their own in the second, opening the game up through quick and instinctive run from the backline and through the Trabeg midfield. With help from Michael Barnes, the Caven brothers and Ash Viney, they Big V running unit fed forwards Luke Stubbs, Stu Grigg, Jack Hunt and Handley, with precision delivery of the round ball helping claim a five-point lead at the main break.

The second half played similarly to the second quarter with the free-flowing game of both sides helping to open up space and create opportunities for both sides. Fortunately, the Big V backs were up to the challenge of defending the round ball in the face of numerous forward entries, with the Caven brothers standing tall and repelling a number Cork attacks.

When the game looked likely to go the way of the Big V late in the fourth, Cork changed their tactics and flooded their backline to try and put a halt to the scoring power of the Australian forwards. Despite their efforts, Cork were unable to disarm the heavy artillery possessed by the Big V and eventually went down by four points, 46 – 42.

Big V supporter, Russell Barnes, said the combined coaching prowess of Cam Roberts and John Kanis played a big role in the Big V’s victory.

“The chemistry of the coach’s Roberts and Kanis was as if they had been working together for four years rather than the four sessions,” he said.

The Nemo Rangers were outstanding as hosts of the Big V playing group and staff as they went out of their way to make everyone as comfortable as possible.

“President Des and the ladies committee and everybody performed above and beyond in their efforts to entertain and please,” Barnes said.

“Big V captain, Sam Williams, did his state and country proud with a terrific speech thanking and congratulating everyone involved.”

The severity of Sullivan’s ankle injury is currently unknown but updates will be provided when they come through.

The VAFA would like to thank Russell Barnes for providing feedback on Game One.

Game Two will take place later today when the Big V go head to head with the Tuam Stars in Galway.

Goals: Unders: Handley 1 Own goal 1 Overs: Handley 2 Stubbs 2 Barnes Mugavin Whitty Stan Din

Best: Barnett, Whitty, Rippon, Mugavin, Barnes S. Caven