IC17 Preview: Matchday 1

They've come from every corner of the globe to the Mecca of Australian Football.

The term "Mecca" is not used litely in ths respect.  Footy is, in its own right, a religion.  And like those of the Muslim faith make their pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca where their universe revolves, so too do those disciples of the great game of footy come to Melbourne.

On Saturday, the 18 participating clubs, after being welcomed by Victorian Premier, Her Excellency the Honorable Linda Dessau, marched from Government House to the holy land of Aussie Rules, the MCG.  There, they did a lap of honor, being greeted by Essendon and Carlton fans who had arrived early to the game, and then to watch one of the best games of the AFL season unfold between two original VFL-AFL sides.

But now it is Sunday, and the merriment and joy have switched onto determination; for national pride, for personal glory, and for the chance for teams to stand and walk together forever with their names chisled into the history books as champions.

This is Day 1 of the AFL International Cup.

2017 AFL INTERNATIONAL CUP DAY 1
ROYAL PARK, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
Saturday, August 6th
Men's Division 1: USA Revolution v Canada Northwind -- 1pm Melbourne time (Saturday 11pm USEDT/8pm USPDT)
Women's Division: USA Freedom v Ireland Banshees -- 2pm Melbourne time (Sunday Midnight USEDT/Saturday 9pm USPDT)
LIVE STREAMING on the AFL IC17 YouTube Page

USA REVOLUTION v CANADA NORTHWIND

The clubs went to the MCG on Saturday and saw two teams that just plain don't like each other.  Though the competition here is slightly more cordial, the Revos and Northwind go together like peanut butter and jalapenos.  Though the records on paper will show that the USA have taken 14 out of 15 matches contested since 1999, the games have been close, and Canada will have felt that these games could have gone one way or the other in some cases.  The last time these two teams squared off, it was two years ago this week when the Americans held off Cody Royle's wayward kicking Canadians by 17 points on a thick and soupy night in Ft. Lauderdale.

This is most assuredly a better Northwind side that will take to the ground in Royal Park, and one that is probably the most fit set of bodies to stretch inside those jumpers with the maple leaf.  Veteran Captain Jim Oetrel (Burnaby Eagles / Cararra Saints) is the team's talisman and still playing some of his best footy.  The Revos will be familiar with Quebec's Morgan Whyte and Kyle Graham, as well as Calgary's Trent Loosemore and Matthia Singh, from their exploits at the USAFL Nationals.  Toronto Rebels forward Robert Tersigni had a rough kicking night int he 49th Parallel Cup, and he'll look for redemtion with the boot.

For all intents and purposes, the Revos need to go 4-0 to get to the Grand Final at the 'G.  If they want to play there, they'll need a win against their biggest rivals.

USA FREEDOM v IRELAND BANSHEES

Pool play for the USA Freedom begins with their toughest opponent, the two time finalists from Ireland.  They fell to the Banshees in 2011, the last time they faced each other, and Leigh Barnes' charges will find their opponents to be just as tough as they remember them to be from six years ago, when they eventually went on to win the inaugural IC premiership.

Banshee coaches Pat Leavy and Brendan Kelly will be looking for a big tournament from Laura Corrigan-Duryea, who is the only AFLW player in the competition, splitting her time between the Melbourne Demons and Diamond Creek of the VWFL.  In fact, the Banshees sport no less than a dozen Australian based members, including Duryea's teamates from Diamond Creek, Maebh Moriarty and Clara Fitzpatrick.  Ginger-haired defender Carolann Cassidy is one of the toughest defenders to play against, and the key to racking up points on Ireland is to figure out how to neutralize her and allow the forwards to do their voodoo that they do so well.

A quick start here will go a long way to ensuring that the Freedom make it onto the semi-finals.  A loss wouldn't hurt, yet, but the ladies will not want to think about that.

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