Team Ireland To Play Historic first International Game Against Dutch Lions

As announced by the Irish American Football Association last month, in an historic first, Ireland will be putting together a national team to play against the Dutch national team – the Dutch Lions – in their first ever international game on August 26.

This is the first time an Irish national American football side will take on another country’s national team and marks a significant forward step for the Ireland program.

The Ireland program is a country-wide and cross-border initiative that was started last year to develop competitive teams to represent Ireland at the international level. The program includes a senior and junior team full contact team and a flag football team, all with the goal of competing in friendly fixtures as well as European and international competitions.

Ireland general manager Orla McAleese is happy about this development:

“I am delighted that our senior team will be playing in their first friendly game against the Dutch Lions later this year.

“Our coaches and players have worked extremely hard over the past few months and they are really looking forward to putting that work into practice. The work and efforts to get the national team programme up and running by all involved is looking positive for the future and it is our hope that this will be the first of many games to come with our neighbours in Europe.

“Our senior players and coaches are looking forward to playing the Dutch Lions in August and I know our entire organisation is behind them. This is a great boost for the programme as it leads us closer to joining the leagues in Europe.”

At the signing of the agreement, Irish American Football Association President, Michael Smith, reinforced the importance of this game.

“We have a fantastic relationship with Holland’s AFBN, having competed in many European competitions with Dutch clubs, and we’re very much looking forward to playing against their national side. This game marks a significant step for us on the International stage and, combined with the significant increase in membership and followers we are experiencing, makes this a very exciting time for American football in Ireland”.

Ireland - Irish signing

IAFA President Michael Smith (left) and AFBN President Gian Zandoná

Players on the Ireland squad come from the 22 senior American football clubs currently active around the country. Players are scouted by the Ireland coaching staff, comprised of the most experienced coaches in the Irish league, and invited to a number of assessment and training sessions before being selected.

Dutch Lions a veteran team

Team Ireland will be facing a seasoned Dutch Lions squad that has played regularly and has qualified for the IFAF Europe Group B qualifications tournament on September 16. The Dutch will face the Czech Republic in London while Great Britain takes on Russia. Holland had defeated Team Belgium – the Belgian Barbarians – 17-3 to advance to the tournament.

Holland’s national team has been holding tryouts of its own in preparation for the coming season. The Dutch Lions have been playing two to three games a year recently as the program in the Netherlands has steadily improved.

Video impressie Dutch Lions Tryout 2016 from Dutch Lions on Vimeo.

 

AFI
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