Rugby League’s All Ireland Grand Final
The McGettigans All Ireland Grand final will take place on Saturday 6th August at the Carlisle ground, Bray. The final will be contested between the best of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland with their respective grand final winners the Rabbitohs (NI) and the Galway Tribesmen (ROI) duelling to become the island’s champion team.
This year sees a changing of the guard in the competition with the Titans of Limerick, dominant for almost ten years ,not being finalists.
From Northern Ireland the Rabbitohs of Ballynahinch will be looking to win their first All-Ireland final. They have been the champion team in the northern competition for many years now but have been unable to translate their dominance up there into anything meaningful in the All Ireland environment. They qualified this year by beating the Pumas of Portadown in a free scoring Ulster final and will be desperate to finally win the trophy they covet so much.
The Rabbitohs (named after the Russell Crowe owned South Sydney Rabbitohs (and Crowe has been in contact with the team and follow’s their progress via twitter)) boasts full Ireland internationals such as Gareth Gill and Connor Phillips. They aim to be the first side from Northern Ireland to lift the trophy. In a team full of stars they have one player who is going the extra yard and that is Hugh Van Asbeck, a native of New Zealand who has delayed his return home to finish the season here. A try scoring full back or winger he added another notch to his belt with nine conversions in the NI regional finals.
Under the stewardship of Kenny Calladine the Rabbitohs are a team that is keen to keep the ball alive and have players in support at all times. With the Ulster league’s top try and points scorers and with the ability to create tries form anywhere on the pitch this is a team that will go into Saturday’s game full of confidence and full of belief.
The Tribesmen of Galway knocked out the league champions to qualify for the ROI grand final last Saturday. They dominated in a game where the defences were very much on top taking every opportunity to secure their points and this included three penalties and a drop goal.
The Tribesmen is a team that formed five seasons ago and have been finalists in their provincial competition twice but have not been able to get to the business end of the season due to the dominance of the Treaty City Titans over the last decade. They have a largely native element to their team but do have a smattering of Antipodeans, South Sea Islanders, an American and even an Italian!