The European Lacrosse Club Championships just took place in Hamburg, Germany. We had a man on the ground with the up-and-coming University College Dublin (UCD) lacrosse team. Read along as Gerard Harris describes, in detail, how it went down.
It was a busy weekend for the UCD men’s lacrosse team, as they travelled to Hamburg, Germany, as champions of the Irish Lacrosse League (ILL) to participate in the European Lacrosse Club Championships. Playing against representatives from Germany, England and Sweden, UCD had a big task ahead of them, with the Irish league, starting its third season, being relatively inexperienced compared to other national leagues around Europe. The men put up three strong performances, but unfortunately lost their three games against experienced opposition to finish with a 0-3 record. However, the UCD lacrosse team has shown that they can readily compete with the elite of international lacrosse.
Follow how the UCD team got in the diary below by UCD defenceman and PRO, Ger Harris.
A big welcome to everyone from UCD Lacrosse, as you may not know UCD Lacrosse travelled to Hamburg last weekend to compete as the Irish Lacrosse League’s (ILL) representatives in the European Lacrosse Club Championships. UCD gained this honour as winners of the hotly contested ILL last year which they won on the last weekend of games by the narrow margin of one point. The squad was comprised of current students and alumni who had graduated from UCD in the last few years and, in the context of Irish Lacrosse, was a very strong team. The team included a number of players from the Ireland International senior team and the Ireland development team, both of which competed at the Lacrosse world championships last summer in Manchester.
The team departed Dublin airport at 1 o’ clock on Friday afternoon and touched down in Hamburg that evening around 5 o’clock. We went straight to our hostel, settled in and started going over our plays and tactics for the upcoming matches. That night the players also got a chance to get to know some of the older alumni players and other players that were with the team on Erasmus from American colleges. The next morning we woke up for a 7am breakfast and headed straight to the bus that would bring us to the fields for our first match at 9am. We arrived to the field at 8am and after getting our gear on we started warming up on a frozen pitch with the temperature around ().
Our first opponent was the Hamburg Warriors, a well drilled team with many skilful young players and one or two former German internationals. The compatibility of the home team was apparent right from the start with their speed of passing, quick counter attacking and high pressure defending leaving UCD starved of possession. At halftime Hamburg were cruising with a 7 goal advantage with the scores at 9-2, however as the game progressed UCD started finding its rhythm and improved on its passing and defence, and at the end of the 3rd quarter UCD set itself a goal of winning the quarter and did so with the game ending 14-7. This game showed us a lot on where we needed to improve if we wanted to stay in the competition. After the game we warmed down which was very important as we had a 6 and a half hour break until our next match against Farsta of Sweden.
Throughout the day we watched other matches including Hamburg vs. Blues (the English representative at the tournament) and Farsta vs Blues. By the time of our second match all other teams had one win each. The second game started much more brightly with UCD responding quickly to conceding an early goal by equalising straight way and then taking the lead in a matter of minutes in a very tight opening quarter.
However the movement and decision making of the Swedes proved to be far too tough for UCD to handle and along with a number of costly penalties by the UCD team including off-sides, cross checks and slashes we often found ourselves defending with a ‘man down’. In Lacrosse a foul can result in a player being sent off for 30 seconds, 1 minute, 2 minutes and up to 3 minutes depending on the seriousness of the foul. With these fouls making us have less control in defence and being more susceptible to quick counter attacks UCD found itself being penned into its own half more and more, leaving the defense increasingly unable to protect the goal. Taking all this into account our unflattering result of 16-2 is more understandable.
That night, bruised and extremely tired we headed back to our hostel looking at what we needed to improve on. We had another 7am start the next day and on an equally freezing morning as the first day headed to the pitch for our last game. Our opponents were Waulcountian Blues, the Southern England Premiership champions,, also the hosts of the annual lacrosse tournament Bluesfest just outside London.
This team was a mixture of senior and younger players, but also had a few quality English and Welsh internationals, and former American NCAA college players. This team had a large amount of strong shooters who were able to take shots from a far distance and were also very fast in taking shots from the crease (the area right in front of the goal) and so caused UCD a lot of problems in the early phase of the match throughout the match Blues made great use of possession and much like Farsta had great compatibility with each other as they consistently passed the ball without error to great effect. At the start of the last quarter the scores were 15-2, however as the game went on and the pitch thawed UCD were able to settle the ball on attack and make smart decisions which leaded to UCD winning the last quarter once again, with the scores at 16-7 by the last whistle.
Later that day the last match was played between Farsta and Hamburg, with Farsta proving too strong for a youthful Hamburg side and ultimately winning the European Club Championship. However the Irish team did receive some recognition for the efforts of Paddy O’ Leary, who won tournament MVP for his efforts in UCD’s attack. The European Club Championships proved to be a great learning experience for many of UCD’s current squad who will be able to take this experience into the Ireland national team trials which are happening on this coming weekend 28th-30th of October.
The results of the ECC can be understood as the Irish Lacrosse League is far smaller than the English, German and Swedish national leagues respectively.With this in mind Ireland Lacrosse are working round the clock to try and improve the level of lacrosse in the country by introducing the game to as many new players as possible. This effort is starting to reap dividends, as new clubs are taking off around the country at a rapid pace, thus making the ILL more competitive and providing the national team with more players to compete internationally.
This is why anybody who is interested in sport and wants to try something different and make new friends should definitely take a look at joining UCD’s Lacrosse team; the sport is also available in National University of Ireland Galway and there is a Dublin team that is available for anybody to join which trains in Sandymount every week Lastly I would like to thank Ireland Lacrosse and University College Dublin whose financial assistance proved to be an important factor in sending an Irish team to compete at this tournament.
To find more about lacrosse in UCD & Ireland, check out www.irelandlacrosse.ie and the respective Facebook pages, http://www.facebook.com/pages/UCD-Lacrosse/91134337138 and http://www.facebook.com/irelandlacrosse.
UCD Lacrosse Team
Top Row: L-R Matt Faubion, Kevin Quinn (Moffat), Gerard Harris, Richard Blanc (Dexter), Aidan Marshall, Dara Mc Creary, Tadhg Bolger, Andrew Murphy (Fez), Martin Scanlon (Bonagee) Michael Kennedy, Sean O’Shaughnessy, Sean Bodie (UCD Lacrosse Coach). Bottom Row: L-R John O’ Connor, Cillian Murphy, Paddy O’Leary, Mark Colgan, Andy Sloane, Chris O’Reilly.