Last weekend saw the conclusion of the 2014 All Ireland Championships. Sixteen teams played in the Open division, and 6 teams in the Women’s division too. In the Womens there was a changing of the guard as LMS lost to both of their main rivals and so failed to make the final. Leaving Rebel Ultimate and Jabba to battle it out. Rebel looked good, but Jabba had too much for them, holding off a late charge to win 9 – 7. Even better you can watch it all here. With a sweet layout to score the final winning point!
Thanks to Conor Hogan, for videoing the women’s final
In the Open the depth in quality has really become apparent. The predicted finalists proved to be correct, Ranelagh versus Rebel. However Ranelagh only squeezed past Pelt 10 – 8, so it was not a processional stroll to the final. Having failed in the semi finals last year Ranelagh had a lot to prove. Rebel perhaps blitzed a more straight forward path to the final. Sometimes though this can be a disadvantage, not having been as closely tested, before the final.
Unlike last year the Ranelagh 2 team was not as closely matched with their first team, and after losing a quarter final, also proceeded to lost the 5 – 8 knock out game too. This set up a 7th / 8th play off game against Gravity. Gravity are what came out of OCS / Broccoli and some young up and coming talent too. Watching this game it was clear that even at the lower end of the top 8, there was still a lot of strong players, and nice worked moves going on. Similarly Pelt and Jabba were playing out a fiercely contested 3rd place play off as well. At a level of play which could have easily graced the final.
Even down to the plate final, 9th / 10th play off, Pelt 2 looked good and started strongly. However the young Route 66 team didn’t let their heads drop and pulled the game back to 8 – 10, with a series of brave aggressive upwind points. 66 had only squeaked through with a universe point win against Belfast in the previous match, so you could easily argue the strength in depth ran down to at least the top 12.
This is a great state of affairs for Irish Ultimate to be in. The level can always improve, but it was impressive to see a lot of young, fresh faces, whizzing round the pitch, pulling off awesome plays. Despite the suggestions of too much focus on the national teams, Irish club play seems to be reaping the benefit of more and more school and junior aged players going away and playing major international tournaments.
Rebel started strongly, looked good and pulled off aggressive strong attacking plays. Hammers into the endzone, successfully retrieved by confident receivers. Ranelagh settled themselves after an early break and made sure their O’s converted. However at 7 – 9 down with time called, it looked like it was Rebel’s to lose. Three impressive points later victory had been snatched from the jaws of defeat, and, improbably, Ranelagh had achieved the threepeat! Rebel will feel pretty gutted to have lost that one. Hopefully in the best traditions of such defeats they will go away and return stronger, focussed on regaining what they last won in 2011.
One thing, with my old man time hat on, I would say is, at 9 – 9, on O, to win the match. Rebel really should have been a little more patient and worked it a bit further up the pitch before launching it. These are those games of three that you play at the end of a long tiring practice, where it is next point takes all. It’s all about staying patient, working it up, and slotting it in. Which is then exactly what Ranelagh did.
You can see the last 3 points here.
Filmed by Richard Buggy
On a personal note I played my first (UK) nationals in ’91, winning the plate. Now in ’14, I was grateful to help a team short of a few handlers, and contest the plate final one more time. At 4 – 7 down, I was hurting. I took a few points out, came back, tried something different. I helped score a few more points, ultimately unsuccessfully, but it’s been fun trying to win every point. I never like to say never, but it’s been great fun, and I think I’m done.