The Cork Vikings women’s AFL team has continued Ireland’s recent winning streak in AFL by taking home gold in the 2023 AFL Europe Champions League – making it back-to-back European victories for the Vikings.
The past 12 months have seen AFL in Ireland take off to unprecedented levels, with a record-breaking number of new sign-ups to the sport in the country and the many victories achieved by the Irish club and national teams - The Cork Vikings AFL team is one such successful group.
What a pleasure to meet teams from all over Europe playing Australian Rules Football today at the #AFLEurope Champions Cup🏆 in Paris. Congratulations to Cork Vikings 🏃♀️ and Belfast Redbacks 🏃♂️and to all who played in todays matches 👏👏 #AFL23 @AFLEurope @AusAmbFR @AusEmbIre https://t.co/5VHuxx4dG2 pic.twitter.com/79nXZoOFYv
— Megan Anderson, Ambassador of Australia to @UNESCO (@AusAmbUNESCO) April 1, 2023
The team has won the Irish Premiership twice in a row, beating tough opponents from across the country including the Belfast Kookaburras, South Dublin Swans, and the Galway Magpies. This success has secured the team with an invitation to the Champions League, where all the Premiership winners of different countries gather together to battle it in a day-long tournament out for the European crown.
The 2023 Champions League saw nine women’s teams take part – the most women’s teams this competition has seen so far.
The Vikings emerged victorious in 2022 as the undefeated European champions, and returned to Paris this year to defend their title. After four tough round games against teams, including those of France and Croatia, the Vikings progressed onto the semi-finals in which they came up against the English team, the West London Wildcats. After a shaky first half, the Vikings managed to settle into their usual rhythm and put enough scores on the board to secure them a spot in the final.
The Grand Final saw the Vikings facing off against the Scottish team, the Edinburgh Bloods, who had defeated the Cardiff team in the second semi-final. At this stage, the Vikings had found their rhythm and were completely in the zone for the last game of the day. Within the 12 minutes of the first half, the Vikings managed to score an unbelievable 8 goals (48 points) – one goal every 90 seconds.
The Bloods valiantly fought back in the second half, securing 3 of their own goals, but the damage had been done already and the Vikings matched every score the Edinburgh team made. With this outright win, the Vikings remain undefeated European champions for another year. The Irish men’s side, the Belfast Redbacks, also won the European title in the men’s competition as well.
Congratulations to Cork Vikings and Belfast Redbacks. Winners of the @AFLEurope 2023 Champions League!
Cork women pull off back to back wins defeating a strong Edinburgh Bloods side. Belfast men become first Irish mens team to win defeating the West London Wildcats.
— AFL Ireland (@afl_ireland) April 1, 2023
The team have many outstanding talents, including Cork County footballer Annie Walsh, Kerry footballers Maria Quirke and Amanda Brosnan, Tyrone footballer Shannon Stevenson, and AFL legend Marie Keating, who blend in seamlessly to the folds of the team to create a strong, unified front. Each and every player pulls their weight, as can be attested by the scores of the Champions League, where 10 of the 16 players scored at least one of the 48 goals scored in the tournament.
The upcoming Irish Nexventur Premiership will see the Vikings hoping to take another Irish title to return to the European Champions League once again to attempt a three-in-a-row victory. A three-in-a-row win has never been done before in the competition, but the Vikings are up for the challenge!
The Cork Vikings are sponsored by Badger & Dodo, O’Reilly’s Fish & Chips, and the Woolshed Baa & Grill, Cork.
Watch 3 of the Vikings games from the tournament, including the semi-final and grand final on AFL Europe’s Youtube page: