Thursday, 21st December, 2017
By Tyler Hannigan
Local footballers Connor Washbrook, Jayden Sutton and Jacob Johnstone have returned from touring Ireland, England and France as part of the Wanderers AFL trip.
The tour included Gaelic football games against Irish and English teams and sightseeing along the way. The group visited famous sites such as the Lords Cricket Ground and the Tower of London as well as the Lourve, Arc de Triomphe and the Somme Battlefields in France just to name a few.
Their games, against Lucan Sarsfield, Monaleen, The Downs, The Mullingar Shamrocks, Skerries College and London GAA, were played with a round-ball for three quarters and an Australian Rules ball for the last.
While the Australian teams struggled to adjust early on, by the end of the tour they were handling the round ball with ease and winning comfortably.
“(It was) difficult for the first couple of games,” Washbrook said.
“But to the end of it (the trip) I wasn’t kicking too bad with it.”
Johnstone said that his soccer background gave him a head start but the Irish players were still way ahead with their skills.
“I grew up playing soccer,” he said.
“So I think I had more of an advantage than most boys, but I found that the accuracy of the Australian boys when kicking paled in comparison to the Irish lads.”
Apart from the football, Washbrook’s highlight of the trip was another round ball game.
“Seeing the soccer match (between Tottenham and Stoke City), that was amazing,” he said.
“And probably meeting all new people and making good friends.”
As for his football, Washbrook is confident that the trip will hold him in good stead.
“For sure (it will),” Washbrook said.
“The change I had to make was getting played in all positions and that will definitely make me a better player.”
Johnstone enjoyed the opportunity to learn how other people lived.
“The chance to meet and interact with the locals (was a highlight),” Johnstone said.
“I found it great to talk to them and learn about their culture and what everyday life is like on the other side of the world.”
Johnstone couldn’t help but endorse the trip, saying that the chance to see another part of the world and represent your country was priceless.
“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” he said.
“I’ve made friends with boys on the trip that will last a lifetime, all while being able to see some incredible sights, and represent my country whilst doing it.”