The city of Limerick, Ireland is no stranger to being under attack. The city walls were besieged 5 times in the 17th century alone. It was again walled up in the 1920’s. Now, Limerick has brought their history to the 21st century.
2013 marks the first year of The Siege of Limerick ultimate tournament in its current capacity and the fifth year of the tournament as a whole, the largest in Ireland to date (save World Juniors 2012). Brainchild of Jim Heneghan, University of Limerick (UL) students Andrew Meade and Barry Walsh have taken charge this year, and sponsored by Five Ultimate and Ulticards, The Siege of Limerick hosted 24 Open and 6 Women’s teams at the largest all-weather sports complex in Europe at the University of Limerick’s University Arena Park in hopes to raise money for the college team from the University of Limerick, UL Ninjas.
The weekend was a smashing success (especially for first-time TD’s Meade and Walsh) with international competition from Belgium, Glasgow, UK and Holland bringing the level of play higher than a Curtain Wall (look it up). The 2-day takeover of UL’s brand new, state-of-the-art “3G” synthetic grass fields also included amazing comebacks, even more amazing weather (yes, the stereotype of Ireland having traditionally terrible weather is actually true), and a once-in-a-lifetime achievement for one of the TD’s.
Saturday morning of the tournament began predictably crisp but soon gave way to surprisingly bright, sunny skies in the afternoon with no wind. And that’s all I will say about Saturday. That’s all I really need to say. Any day with good weather in Ireland is chalked up as a win.
“I think the standout factor of the weekend was the weather,” recalled TD Barry Walsh.“Possibly the best ultimate conditions we have ever played in. Saturday was…cloudy, but the sun came out in the afternoon. Sunday was an amazing day. It started as a frosty morning which turned to clear skies and sunshine throughout the day.”
The real meaty portions of this potluck party occurred, as usual, on Sunday.
We’ll jump ahead to the semi-finals of the Open division with the Ireland U23 team taking on Belgian National Champions Gentle and, on the other side of the bracket, U.K University Games 2011 and 2012 back-to-back Champions Mohawks clashing with Ireland Club team Jabba the Huck.
Both semi-final games came down to universe point. I’m going to say it again, BOTH semifinal games came down to UNIVERSE POINT. The Ireland U23 team squeaked by Gentle 10-9, and Mohawks outlasted Jabba the Huck 13-12. Not a bad way to ramp up the excitement for the final. A final which pitted the U.K.’s reigning best two years in a row against Ireland’s up-and-coming stars under the age of 23, a classic rivalry.
The pace of the game was high, and the turnovers minimal thanks to beautiful sunny skies and no wind. As the hundreds of years of history between their countries would suggest, the two teams knew each other well and attempted to capitalize on one another’s weaknesses while playing to their own strengths. In the end, the Ireland U23 team came out on top the Mohawks 14-9. This created a situation in the post-tournament awards ceremony the likes of which this “seasoned” ultimate player has never seen, nor undoubtedly will ever see.
Tournament director Barry Walsh was awarded the MVP of the final game. His experience on the pitch gave him the tools needed to lead his Ireland U23 team to tournament victory over the U.K champs.
“Running the tournament, winning the tournament and getting MVP of the final is a pretty good trifecta,” Walsh humbly beamed.
I’ll say. Running a successful tournament as a first-time TD (an achievement on its own) while playing on the winning team AND receiving the Finals MVP award? How, pray tell, do you expect to top that?
The excitement didn’t stop there. There was a “pretty good trifecta” on the women’s side, too.
University College Cork (UCC) from Cork, Ireland took the championship honors over Cork area club team Rebel in ANOTHER universe point game, 10-9 on Sunday after a 6 team round robin style bracket play on Saturday. Becoming the first ever champions of a tournament, as a college team playing club teams, and beating your city club team on universe in the finals sounds like a trifecta I could get into.
Despite all the individual and team achievements in their respective finals, the game to watch on Sunday was, astonishingly, for 9th/10th place.
UCC’s open team Skulltimate took on southern Ireland club team, Juice. When the hard cap horn sounded, UCC had a comfortable 12-3 lead. With the game to 13, Skulltimate had the “Plate Trophy” (aka nine-als) all but wrapped up. Or so they thought. Because of a slight rule variation between European and American ultimate, hard cap isn’t as “hard” as us Americans know it to be. The hard cap horn in Europe signals “game to +1 of highest total scored” rather than “next point wins” (paraphrasing, obviously). So in this case it was a race to 13, rather than Game Over like it would be here in the States. As you have probably guessed due to the fact that I’m even mentioning this game, Juice went on a 10 point streak to steal the Plate Trophy away from UCC, 13-12. A strong argument for 12th edition, eh USAU?
Great weather alone can nearly be enough to consider a tournament a success. Add incredible personal achievements, underdogs getting W’s and one unthinkable comeback and you have what I like to call on EPIC weekend.