Some of the best college teams in the country will gather at the Stanford Invite in California this weekend. Nearly 5,000 miles to the East, the largest Irish Club tournament will also be held this weekend in Limerick, Ireland. Both have one thing in common: big names. Siege of Limerick 2014 boasts four total WUCC2014 representatives in the Open and Women’s divisions, but the TDs typically boast more about The Siege of Limerick winning “Ireland’s Best Ultimate Tournament” award in 2013. At 32 teams, SoL 2014 is the largest outdoor tournament in Ireland. While Siege of Limerick does fall relatively early in the Irish Club season, with Worlds on the horizon, this year’s Siege looks to be more competitive than ever before.
The 2014 Siege of Limerick team list includes the recently-crowned Irish representatives at WUCC2014 on the Open side in #1 seeded Ranelagh, as well as Belgian national champions and Worlds representatives Gentle. While SoL 2014 will be used more to shake rust rather than fine tune for Ranelagh, the weather – shockingly predicted to be rain – could prove once again to be an equalizer. In similar conditions at the WUCC qualifiers only two weeks ago Ranelagh’s winning performance over third seed in ‘The Siege’ 2014 (#2 in Pool A) Rebel in the qualifying final was secure but far from dominant, winning 12-8. Rebel took down Ranelagh in Siege 2012 en route to the title, and with a strong showing could surprise their opponents during their “off” weekend this weekend as well.
Fourth seed (#2 in Pool B) Jabba the Huck has the team chemistry to be a possible upset candidate. Ireland’s top Club Mixed team in 2012 and 2013 split into Open and Women’s teams for Irelands largest, yet seasonally earliest, tournament. Current Irish and UK Outdoor Intervarsity title holders University College Cork (UCC) and tournament hosts University of Limerick (Current Indoor Intervarsity champs) hold the third seed in both power pools, and will be looking to make some noise against their Club brethren.
Outside the top two power pools, there are two additional teams with a lot on the line this weekend – with implications as far reaching as – you guessed it – Lecco, Italy. The Irish Junior teams are ranked #14 and #15 respectively as a split, try-out squad. A good performance at ‘The Siege’ could be a players’ ticket to Worlds on the Irish World Juniors team competing alongside the older guys (albeit two weeks prior) in Lecco. So look for the young’uns to play hard from first pull to final goal. It could also mean one or both sneaking into the top eight bracket on Sunday by breaking seed and earning a late Saturday (advantage juniors) crossover game win.
Pelt Ultimate is a rising program in Ireland, and could really solidify themselves as a permanent fixture in future top tournaments with solid results as the top seed in Pool D. Holding off the Irish Juniors to remain on seed, a Saturday crossover win, and ultimately finding themselves in the championship bracket on Sunday would do it. Wins for Pelt on Sunday would really make a statement. They do have wins over #2-seed Rebel as recently as last year’s All Ireland Ultimate Championships (AIUC), finishing one spot ahead of Rebel and only one spot behind #1-ranked Ranelagh in those final standings after a tough semifinal, universe point loss. In order to find that magic again, Pelt will have to look somewhere new, as the core from that Pelt team are on the opposing line, vying for a World Juniors spot or playing for hosts University of Limerick.
Speaking of the AIUC’s, an interesting point of note about Irish ultimate came to fruition at the 2013 tournament. In a decision many would consider unprecedented in US ultimate, Ranelagh decided – after training as one team for the entirety of the club season – to bring a split squad to the AIUC’s. Even more unprecedented is the fact that Ranelagh’s “second” team ended up taking the title, with the first team finishing a disappointing third. How’s that for a head-scratching result? Combine that with the unpredictable Irish weather, the prescence of try-out teams taking on up-and-comers taking on the top Club teams with “party” mentalities means any result is possible at Siege 2014.
The Women’s division contains a multinational field of WUCC2014 teams equal to the men.
While they are not going to WUCC2014, #1 overall seed Rebel will still be fired up and looking for revenge for last year’s finals loss against #4 seed UCC in Saturday pool play. Also, no team should sleep on Pool X #3-seed, Squaws. The three time defending UK Outdoor Women’s champions have enough experience and chemistry from playing together all these years to make a deep run in early season tourneys such as this one. If they hold seed, look for these ladies to make serious championship moves early on Sunday.
When the top two seeds in Pool X take each other on in the final round on Saturday for a first-round bye on Sunday, it’s sure to be a close, spirited affair. The exact same should be said about the international game occurring simultaneously in Pool Y. Second overall seed YAKA will represent France in Lecco later this year. Current Irish outdoor (and indoor) champs and WUCC2014 representatives Little Miss Sunshine find themselves seeded just behind YAKA in the same pool.
Like their male counterparts, the Women’s Club teams are still well in the offseason but the game should still be fast, and certainly will be intriguing as a potential early Worlds preview.
Be sure to check out all the fast paced action from the AIUC 2013 Outdoor Open tournament, AIUC 2013 Women’s Outdoor final and AIUC 2014 Women’s Indoor final between Rebel and Little Miss Sunshine, and AIUC 2014 Indoor Championships’ Open finals.