Ready to rule in Ireland: Bede Mahon
The Victorian Amateur Football Association (VAFA) International Rules representative side has landed in Ireland to take on the best Gaelic footballers the Emerald Isle has to offer.
Bede Mahon, a 24-year old Central Murray Football League export is one of the player’s who has been given the chance to rub shoulders with the Gaelic Athletic Association’s best.
The University Blacks captain was among a squad of 22 picked from almost 10,000 players, and is primed to take on the Irish before the home side plays the Australian AFL Indigenous team.
“It is exciting that we will be able to experience the Emerald Isle in a different light. Rather than just travelling and seeing the country, we get to see what it is like from the point of view of their Gaelic football clubs,” Mahon said.
The team departed on Monday and will play four matches in Cork, Galway, Caven and Dublin, before taking on the All-Ireland team preparing to take on the All-Australian Indigenous team, including Buddy Franklin, Eddie Betts and Shaun Burgoyne.
“We are there just before the Australian Indigenous team arrives and we play the All-Ireland team in their last warm up game. It should be a fantastic encounter playing against the best players Ireland have to offer.”
Mahon, who originally resides from Swan Hill played alongside fellow Central Murray past players this year at the University Blacks including; Scott Weekley, Jake Matthews (Tyntynder), Josh Gaylor (Swan Hill) and Hugh Lahy (Koondrook Barham) and has attacked the challenge head on.
“My first few attempts at kicking the round ball were pretty challenging, but we have all worked hard and we seem to have a good handle on it.”
Since moving to Melbourne at the beginning of 2012, Mahon has continued to thrive in the footballing landscape. He won the University Blacks best and fairest medal last year, the same season in which the Blacks secured the B-grade premiership and were subsequently promoted to the Premier division for the first time in 26-years.
Last week, he was joint winner of the 2013 Brendan Keilar Medal, a commemorative honour voted by his teammates and the tour of Ireland is another feather in his footballing cap.
The hard-nosed midfielder was also named the Vice-Captain of the VAFA representative side.
“There are some top quality players and really good blokes. So I am looking forward to getting over there and getting to know them and testing myself with the best.”
“It will definitely be a tough contest but it will be a really good experience, because a lot of the Irish are trying to get a Rookie contract in the AFL.”
His first time in Ireland, Mahon remembers all too well the years of the fiery International Rules contests between the AFL and the Irish.
Instead of embroiling himself in controversy, Mahon will instead try and focus on dealing with the modifications required for the game.
“I still remember the Chris Johnson fiasco at Etihad stadium where I happened to be there to see the double coat hanger. I won’t be inheriting those tactics.”
“It is a continuous type of game and obviously with the round ball, it might be a bit of an issue, skills wise. But physically we will be strong enough.”
Mahon has flourished since standing out in the VAFA’s representative game against Vic Country earlier this year.
VAFA coach Quinton Gleeson has been impressed with Mahon’s dedication.
“I didn’t have much exposure to Bede, because we come from opposing clubs, but I couldn’t speak more highly of Bede,” Gleeson said.
“He is one of those guys you love to be around, and the players respond well to him. He has always got a smile on his face and trying to make a connection with someone.”
“He is a fantastic guy and one of the guys I will turn to during the tough periods of the games.”
Off-the field, Mahon is also excited about new experiences.
“I have never had a Guinness before, but I am looking forward to getting to the Guinness factory and pouring my first Guinness and knocking the top off it.”
“But I think our off field exploits will be a bit different to what Brendan Fevola got up to during his time in Ireland. “
Mahon will be well supported in his Big V Guernsey during the international trip.
“There is a bit of a travelling party coming over, so it is good to have the support from the family. The parents and aunties often do the long trek down to watch the Uni Blacks play, but they will be upping the millage to get over to Ireland and watch the games over there. “
“It is a different way to experience Ireland and I’m really excited for everything that is installed.”