By Niamh Ennis
Editor’s Note: Niamh Ennis plays for the Dublin Draíochta Dragons.
At just over two years old, the Dublin Draíochta Dragons are relatively new to the quidditch scene. The Irish team attended the European Quidditch Cup (EQC) last year as an emerging region and their players have come on quite a bit since then. This time around, the qualifier match occurred in the inaugural Irish Quidditch Cup (IQC) and ended, after some venue problems, with a victory for the Dragons over the Northern Wyverns, 160*-10 .
Although there has been some changes in the lineup since last year, the core driving force of the team remains intact. Led once again by Austria’s Stefan Scheurer, the team still contains its most valuable chasers in Bláthnaid Cluskey, Alessio Laiso, Riccardo Jommi, and Laura Schäfer, who all work well together in the passing game and are the most experienced chasers on the roster. Keep an eye out for hero run and yellow card veteran Gleison Malheiros as he switches between chaser and beater with ease. The beater squad is a little lighter but is still held in the safe hands of Julia Fernández Pérez and Eamon O’Keeffe, whose aggressive and cooperative tactics will hold off some of the advanced experience of their competitors. A lot of these players have played at the national level and were central to two successes against Sweden at the last European Games and a middle of the road ranking at the Harry Potter Festival in Odense Denmark last year.
Joining the ranks are a few new players, some of which have been playing a good while. For example, UK and Ireland player Bex McLaughlin is joining the Dragons for the first time. Given their track record, McLaughlin is sure to give the beater game a much needed boost. Also with a background in quidditch are Dublin newbies Paige Hauke and Jordan Kubichek, chasers with a good tackle who have both played in the US for the Whomping Wellesleys and WWU Wyverns respectively. Players to watch in this incredibly international team are some of the newest to the sport, including Hugo Petit-Jean, who led the Dublin side to IQC victory as captain, and strong hoop stalkers Claudia Simoncelli and Camille Corbel.
Past EQC and Predictions
Although the hopes of the only qualifying Irish team are not much higher than last year, this is a team whose determination and team spirit will not be squashed. EQC 2017 saw a great deal of defeats, but no scoreless matches, even against the formidable Warwick QC and Rheinos Bonn. The first European victory for the Dragons was against the Prague Pegasus with a final score of 110-60*.
However, the Dublin team have been battling a huge drop in numbers able to attend the April competition. With students, and in particular, semester abroad students, the sport has been popular but exams and visa expirations have brought the number of players from 20-30 down to 15 competing. Despite this chaos, team coach and president Scheurer, who previously played for Austria and the Vienna Vanguards, is confident in his team’s “tactical skills and knowledge of the game.” The team have been working hard on cooperation and plays, making them a better all–round contender this year.
Cautious prediction suggests that although ODTÜ Hippogriffs will likely win Group A, the Dragons will at least get a bit lucky and frighten other teams such as the Dementors A Coruña Quidditch Team.