IRELAND has won the 2013 AFL Europe Championship by kicking a goal with the last kick of the game to beat Great Britain by a point. In a tight contest throughout the last quarter, Great Britain seemed to have it won before Mark Leavy kicked a snap goal to put Ireland in front, seconds before the final siren sounded.
Heroes for the Irish included late goal kicker Bobby Byrne and Kevin McSorley in defence who was pivotal in keeping Ireland within striking distance throughout the last quarter. It was a heart breaking finale for the Great British team who went so close to winning their first major international trophy.
Man of the match was GB captain Ian Mitchell who was tireless on the ball and across half back for the Bulldogs, yet unable to drag his team across the line. Sam Boyd, David Saunders and Ollie Dilieto were also strong contributors to a team that had glory snatched from them at the very end.
In a hard and bruising match, John O’Regan was subdued after a heavy collision with Britain’s Chris James in the second quarter. The Irish captain had been dominating the match up to that point and it looked like that moment might have swung the match in favour of the Bulldogs. However it inspired a greater effort from the Irish team and players James Flavin, Ger Walls and Tom Browne started winning more of the ball.
The last quarter saw the lead change a number of times and when GB’s Luke Booth kicked a goal to put his team up by 5 points close to the end, it looked like it would be a fairy tale win for the visitors. With only seconds on the clock the ball swept down to the Irish forward line where it bounced off the hands of the pack and into the arms of the unlikely Irish defender Mark Leavy who snapped the goal and sent the Irish crowd into a frenzy as the final siren sounded.
Great Britain: 6.8.44
Ireland: Byrne 2, Bartley, Flavin, Manning, O’Connell, Leavy
Great Britain: Saunders 2, Kilheeny, Booth, Ryland, James
Ireland: McSorley, O’Regan, Roche
Great Britain: Mitchell, Boyd, Dilieto, Saunders
By Ben McCormack
Image: Irish Warriors’ Mark Leavy celebrates with teammates after 45-44 win over the Great Britain Bulldogs. ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan.