Irish News.....

Irish head coach inducted into AFL Hall of Fame

By Britton Ledingham, Airdrie Echo

Airdrie Irish head coach Sean Stewart was one of eight league alumni inducted into the Alberta Football League (AFL) Hall of Fame for his contributions as a player on Sept. 1.

Stewart played with the Calgary Thunder and most recently with the Calgary Wolfpack before retiring three years ago and picking up the bench boss role with the Irish for the 2016 season.

“To be honoured by my peers and guys I played with was great,” said Stewart, who was a safety, slot back, punter and occasionally a receiver during his time in the AFL.

“It means my peers respected what I did both on and off the field.”

Stewart was always a team captain with the Thunder or Wolfpack and was named to the league all-star team every year, except 2012, his last, due to injury.

He won three AFL and two national championships in a couple of stints in the AFL between the late 1990s and 2012.

He joined the Calgary Thunder when the team was added to the league.

“I always wanted to play against us [the Wolfpack],” said Stewart. “At the time we were the best of the best, and I wanted to see what it was like to play against that.”

The 42 year old has three decades of the sport under his belt. He played with three of the eight 2016 inductees with the Wolfpack and in high school and junior.

Stewart and Hugues Audet graduated high school together in Calgary. Stewart also played with inductees Brian Harrison and Tim Johnson while with the Calgary Colts.

Team president Matt Squires validated Stewart, a former teammate with

the Wolfpack.

“Sean was definitely a dynamic player, he was very involved,” said Squires, describing him as a player-coach before he hung up his cleats.

Squires said Stewart was always a positive force on the bench and the field, encouraging his teammates just as he now encourages his team.

Squires and Stewart also played on the Wolfpack together.

“He’s definitely seeing what the AFL could be and helping it grow and improve,” said Squires of Stewart.

The Hall of Fame was an initiative started in 2015 to recognize retired players’ contributions.

There were 30 players inducted last year to mark the 30th anniversary of the league, including Irish linebacker coach Jason Warnock.