St. Joseph's v West London Wildcats

March 04, 2013

Two teams from entirely different codes, once again, met as strangers and left as friends.
St. Joseph's v West London Wildcats Challenge Match
2nd March 2013

For the second consecutive year, St. Joseph's played the West London Wildcats in a challenge match. Last Saturday, 2nd March, saw this much-anticipated annual mixed-rules match take place in a chilly Perivale. Two teams from entirely different codes, once again, met as strangers and left as friends. The Wildcats, the 2011 AFL London Premier Champions and the biggest and most successful Aussie Rules Football club outside Australia, made the journey from Fulham to Perivale. The order of the day comprised of four twenty-minute quarters; the first half with a round ball and the second half with an oval ball, with a few small compromises on the rules thrown in for good measure.

The 'Cats started off well with the round ball, with only the upright denying them a goal in the opening minutes. The Joes soon stamped their authority in their home code, with wave after wave of attack and quick ball. With no mark to call, the 'Cats were struggling with the fast pace. The mid-half interval saw Wildcats' coach, Dan Prigmore, highlight how the wave of attack with the quick ball was the one thing that the 'Cats were struggling with, and encouraged the boys to get closer to their Irish counterparts to slow them down. Dan explained that, once they had the round ball in hand, they had to move it on quickly. This seemed to work for the Aussies, as they notched up a couple of quick scores early in the second quarter. However, the speed of movement and accuracy of ball from the Joes cut through the Wildcats' defence, as they notched up score after score to leave them in a strong position coming up to the change of ball and code.

Half-time saw Wildcats' coach, Nathan Costley, deliver a few of the basic AFL rules to the Joes, before they came back onto the pitch to deal with the oval ball. This quarter saw the Aussies stamp their authority and show-off their accuracy with kicking the 'pill' and calling the 'mark'. They were deadly in the air, and their positional play and mark calling saw them move their way, methodically and clinically, up the pitch with goal after goal the end result. Mesmerised, the Joes were at pains to contain them and struggled to slow their own game down when they had the ball in hand. The natural instincts of the Gaelic footballer to move the ball fast, invited crunching tackles from, and turnovers by, the 'Cats. During the mid-half interval, the Joes were upbeat and encouraged to use the foot-pass more, find their men, call the mark and slow the game down. They had to replicate what the Aussies were doing and, in doing so, restored some parity in the final quarter. A couple of good moves, with a mix of hand and kicking skills, saw the Joes move up the pitch and notch a couple of goals of their own.

Both teams did themselves proud in the respective codes and, ultimately, this was a well-contested, competitive affair with hard, but fair, hits and good spirits. The good spirits spilled over to Tír Chonaill Gaels' clubhouse in Greenford, where the Aussies introduced the Irish to the 'Foster's boat race', which was won by the Joes in the dying seconds; there are some things that the Aussies don't need to teach the Irish!!

Well done to all involved. Special mention must go to the new players who togged out for both teams; the future looks bright. Many thanks to Shane McCauley, Dan Prigmore and Nathan Costley for organising the match; Beano for refereeing Q1 and Q2; Nathan Costley for refereeing Q3 and Q4; and to Tír Chonaill Gaels for the kind use of their facilities and for their hospitality after the game, particularly, to JP O'Donnell and the band for the brilliant entertainment in the clubhouse. Commiserations to the Gaels who narrowly lost their challenge match against Ballylanders from Limerick by two points on the day.

'Mon the Joes, 'mon the 'Cats!!

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