Saturday the 27th of August marks a monumental event in the history of American Football in Ireland, as the Irish National Team take on the Dutch Lions in Holland. The squad have been training hard in the National Sports Campus in preparation for what is sure to be a hard hitting contest. The top players from around the country came together less than a month ago, and have been putting in the hours ahead of Saturday’s matchup. It’s been almost ten years since the last incarnation of Team Ireland and Head Coach Ciarán O’Sullivan, is aware of the prestige and hype surrounding the game. “This is the first full international game for team Ireland. It’s a remarkable event for football here. “Coach O Sullivan knows how steep the challenge presented is. “ It’s hard to gauge where we stand right now. It’s been a learning curve, it’s a different story altogether from club level football.”
Preparations for the big game have been taking place at the National Sports Campus, located in Abbotstown. The high performance centre has proved to be the perfect preparation zone for Team Ireland. “The national sports campus has been a great working environment” Coach O’Sullivan told us. “It’s an absolutely world class facility. We’ve had the likes of the Rep. of Ireland soccer team training beside us. “
Despite the quality training facilities, there has been a number of challenges in the run up to the game. The main issue – getting players together. Some members of the squad were still playing for their club up until only a week ago. “Having access to players only a few weeks prior to a game has been a challenge” O’Sullivan admitted. “Another couple of weeks could have made a difference. That’s the problem with international fixtures – club seasons in different countries don’t run concurrently.“ Logistical inconveniences aside, the progress being made for Irish American football on an international stage is fantastic and is vital for the sport to continue to grow here.
So are we ready to take on the Dutch? The 2016 Team Ireland can be thought of as a prototype, and the Dutch Lions as a test run. And a very important test run. “We’re really stepping into the great unknown” says Coach O’Sullivan. “This is not a one game project. This game allows us to judge here we are compared to other international programs. “Team Ireland’s performance will allow the coaches to evaluate and to prepare and develop for future international fixtures. While the Dutch are objectively the “favourites going into the game”, it doesn’t mean that Team Ireland won’t win. “We’re all working towards a good result. We’re going to play as hard as we can and be as competitive as we can be.” Coach O Sullivan asserted.
“We’d like to specially thank Orla McAleese, Team Ireland’s General Manager. This project has been a massive test logistically and it has been a huge accomplishment on her behalf.” O’Sullivan added.
The Irish American Football Association would like to wish Team Ireland Players, Coaches and Staff the very best of luck this weekend. Do us proud guys!