Irishman, John “JR” Redmond reviews the Aussie Rules / Gaelic double last St Paddys weekend in Saigon…

As the spectators congregated around the RMIT playing ground, the Irish Australian Gaels and the Australian Irish Swans took to the field in the Second Annual Gaelic/Aussie Football match. The first two quarters saw both teams battling hard in the heat in a very interesting and well matched Aussie Rules game.

The game was end to end with a mixture of players excelling. Regular Swannie superstars Dukesy, Dave O’Shea, the Milner brothers and Phil Ghasseb all excelled in a tough and tight opening two quarters closely matched by Gaels’ Irish Brian, who few are now beginning to wonder whether he has dual nationality, Rowan Gill, Sam Morley and Glen Murphy.

Scores were low on the ground but there were some big hits on the pitch and some excellent football on show from both sides. An interesting duel developed in the ruck as Nick Hutton took the game to big Lukey Miller, the two titans clashed throughout the game with some extraordinary leaps and smart tips. If both players remain at the Club this season, the Swannies will have two of the strongest ruck men in South East Asian football.

Ryan Evans and Adam Corrall were causing trouble at opposite ends of the pitch and were both responsible for a lot of the scores and forward play in the first half.

On the ball Nathan Milner was making things happen for the Australian Irish Swans linking up well with Swannies captain Dukesy on a regular basis. Despite a few misses from the captain, he was inspirational in leading the Swans to a vital first half lead.

In the second half, Brian O’Reilly took the whistle from the excellent Dr. Rocket, who was almost anonymous in the first two quarters, a sign of excellent umpiring. The Gaelic football was no different from the Aussie Rules and was played at breakneck speed. Within seconds of the tip off, Nick Hutton won a free kick directly in front of goal but unfortunately the big man could not convert. The Gaels then took the game by the scruff of the neck and began to play some delightful football. At the base of it all was Longford man, Brian Farrell, whose marauding runs were causing the Swans all kinds of problems. The Gaels scored a goal and 4 points without answer in the third quarter.

In the final quarter, the Swans did their best to get back into the game but the Gaels quick passing and smart link up play dictated the pace of the game and left the Swans chasing shadows. There was a mini revival in the last few minutes sparked by a wonderful point from the energetic Daniel Ryan who struck the ball with the outside of his laces from a long way out. Both teams rallied hard for the last few minutes and despite some hard tackles and some off the ball challenges both teams celebrated and congratulated the Irish Australian Swans on a fantastic win.

The game was followed by a raffle, the awarding of the cup and man of the match, which deservedly went to Brian Farrell. Special mentions must go to the Swans for helping to organize such a fantastic day, the Alfresco’s Group for the catering and kind donations towards the raffle, Glenn Murphy, Ian Boz and Daniel Ryan for their generous donations and hard work, both umpires and all the players who took part. Roll on St. Paddy’s 2014!