Swans soar to take fifth title

by Gazette Reporter

THE SOUTH Dublin Swans, based in Bushy Park in Terenure, won the 2015 Australian Rules Football League of Ireland (ARFLI) Grand Final after a nail biting final against last year’s champions, the Belfast Redbacks, on Saturday last in Belfast.
With less than a minute remaining in the final quarter, the Redbacks had one last chance to retain their crown but a close in mark from a tight angle by Redbacks’ Australian full forward Andrew Hickey yielded just a behind rather than the goal required.
If they had goaled, it would have been tough on the Swans who led for the majority of the game.
The Belfast Redbacks had been the dominant Irish team throughout most of the season but, on the day that mattered most, it was the Swans that triumphed.
The Redbacks started the game the better and had a one goal advantage at the end of the first quarter. By half-time the Swans had recovered and went into the main break with a 11-point lead, 3-7 (25) to 2-2 (14). The Redbacks knew they had a challenge on their hands and came back hard in the second half, but the stoic Swans held out for a thrilling two-point victory, winning 6-9 (45) to 6-7 (43).
Swans 200cm tall ruckman Paul O’Halloran set the platform for victory winning the majority of hit outs and he was well supported in midfield by Cork man Michael Hurley who ran tirelessly throughout the game and at full back by James O’Byrne.
The Redbacks never stopped trying with Irish international David McElhone and Kyle Devine their most impressive players on the day. Devine who previously played in Australia scored two goals and was awarded best on ground.
Swans’ goals on the day came from Mayo man Kevin Brennan with two, and one each for former Dublin GAA star Manus Breathnach, Perrystown based Martin Ryan, Aussie Bryce Fraser and Trinity College researcher Omar Mamad, the first Moroccan to win an Irish premiership.
For the Swans, it is their fifth premiership (also 2006, 2010, 2011, 2013) and the result makes up for last year’s defeat at the hands of the Redbacks, also by just two points at the semi-final stage.
The two teams have split the premierships between them since 2010 with the Redbacks taking the titles in 2012 (their maiden premiership) and 2014.
For the Swans, the result makes them the most successful Irish club in terms of premierships. Their fifth flag sees them go past the Leeside Lions and Dublin Demons who have four each.

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