On Thursday January 3 Mullingar Shamrocks played host to the twenty-six members of the Australian Wanderers girls Aussie Rules touring team.
The party included players from Brisbane, West Australia, Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne and had flown from airports in Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Dubai before touching down in Dublin Airport on January 1.
The girls, ranging in age from 14 to 18 all play Aussie Rules and the match with the girls of Mullingar Shamrocks was the first of seven that the team will play on what is a trip-of-a-lifetime European tour that also involves time in London and Paris.
The girls will play five matches in Ireland and two in London with the first against the Mullingar Shamrocks girls from a similar age group.
The twenty-one Mullingar Shamrocks LGF girls excelled in the mixed rules match that was played in four quarters in Aussie Rules fashion with the first half played using the round ball and under the rules of Ladies Gaelic Football but with two referees on duty. We thank Kenneth Gunning for taking charge of the whistle on behalf of Mullingar Shamrocks.
Our team showed the benefit of their training sessions over the Christmas period under the guidance of Kieran, Paul and Eric and had built up a substantial lead at the end of the LGF session.
Sarah Geoghegan enjoyed the distinction of scoring the first point in this international match and shortly afterwards Mia Gilligan had the first goal. Zara Gilligan, Jenna Kelly, Anna Jones, Katie Kelly, Susanna Buckley and Allison Bane added to the total before the interval.
Jasmine Haugh scored the first goal using the Aussie Rules ball and Zara Gilligan the first point; the last goal of the afternoon was scored by Máiread Newman.
The match was a wonderful experience for both sets of players as the Australian girls were playing together for the first time, were having their first outing with the round ball and were introduced to a pitch with grass and a bit of spring in the ground rather than their familiar rock-hard sun-baked surface.
Some of the players left their Australian homes when the temperature threatened to touch 40⁰C.
The Mullingar Shamrocks girls it must be said adjusted well to using the oval shaped ball as well as managing the mark and tackle and edged their Aussie opponents in this engagement also.
Overall it was a superb afternoon of sport and fun for all involved.
The Mullingar Shamrocks girls on duty were Isobel Clinton, Carla Gibney, Fathiya Abdelrahin, Anna Jones, Emily Bolger, Sadhbh O'Brien, Jenna Kelly, Eve Hynes, Allison Bane, Máiread Newman, Katie Kelly, Susanna Buckley, Zara Gilligan, Niamh Raeside, Abby Smith, Jasmine Haugh, Annemarie O'Reilly, Mia Gilligan, Sarah Geoghegan, Chloe Flood and Ellen Sleator. Nicola Groenewald, Ellen Corroon and Laura Culkin were present but unable to line out.