Scott is an aspiring sports writer and has previous publications with Double Coverage, Touchdown Europe and American Football International. He has played football for both the Belfast Trojans and Dundee Hurricanes and currently lives in Scotland. He is also a fan of the Green Bay Packers!
The road to Shamrock Bowl XXIX stops off in Belfast on July 26th, as the defending champions the Belfast Trojans host the semi-final double header at Deramore Park.
The Trojans won the right to host the semi-finals due to their #1 ranking during the regular season. The fixtures will see the Belfast Trojans, UL Vikings, Trinity College and Dublin Rebels lock horns for the right to headline the final at Dalymount Park on August 9th. Belfast Trojans vs. UL Vikings – 4pm
The reigning champion Belfast Trojans face familiar foes in the UL Vikings, who have now met at the semi-final stages in the last three consecutive years.
The Trojans proved throughout the regular season that they are the team to beat as they went unbeaten for a third time in four years, finishing with an 8-0 record. The men in green dominated from start to finish, outgunning and outplaying every opponent they came up against.
The Belfast side averaged 43.6 points per game, racking up 349 in total whilst only conceding 30 all season. Quarterback, James McKelvey topped the division with 23 all-purpose touchdowns, throwing 11 to David Richardson who topped the receiving charts.
The current holders have won the Shamrock Bowl the last three seasons, proving throughout the 2015 campaign so far that they have no intention of relinquishing their crown. Dominant performances against rivals the Carrickfergus Knights and Dublin Rebels have displayed their superiority as they clinched the North Division title with considerable ease.
Their opponents on Sunday will be none other than the UL Vikings. The Vikings booked their place in the semi-final courtesy of a 20-12 victory over University College Dublin in the wildcard round. Limerick finished the regular season with a solid (6-2) effort, falling just behind rivals Trinity College into second.
UL had a very strong start to the year, defeating the aforementioned UCD and Trinity College on their way to a 5 game win streak. However back-to-back defeats against Trinity in the return leg and the Dublin Rebels cost the Vikings in the race for the SBC South division.
The Vikes have been solid performers all season, finishing second to the Trojans in much of the scoring statistics. They amounted 24 touchdowns during the regular season, whilst allowing only 67 points in 8 games. The transition of defensive pairing, Ian Cahill and Shane Gleeson to offence proved hugely successful for the Limerick side. The strong duo contributed to a powerful run-game that had opposing defences struggling to cope, as Gleeson finished the Shamrock Bowl Conferences leading rusher with 8 touchdowns.
The battle between these two juggernauts has always provided a tough, physical affair. The Trojans may have won the last three outings, but each game has been decided late in the 4th quarter. These two are both incredibly strong sides that pride themselves on shutdown defences and are both highly capable of putting up big scores as well.
The Vikings arguably have a much better squad than in recent years, so this could be their best opportunity to de-throne the champions. Belfast on the other hand will know they are in for a war on Sunday, but their preparation, quality and home-field advantage could be key in the outcome. The Trojans took the spoils in a 28-6 score-line last season, so the Vikings will be focused on enacting some revenge this weekend.
Semi Final Preview: Dublin Rebels @ Trinity College
Dublin Rebels @ Trinity College – 1pm.
The first game in the double header is a replay of last years showdown between Trinity College and the Dublin Rebels, that saw the students reach their first ever final with a 47-8 victory over their Dublin foes.
Trinity College started the 2015 campaign in unusually sluggish fashion, as they fell victim to a 14-0 defeat against the Vikings in the opening game. It appeared the after-effect of last seasons Shamrock Bowl loss threatened to derail the student’s season, however it only sparked the finalists into life, as they won their last 7 games to finish (7-1) and defend their South Division title.
Their defining victory of the season came in their league encounter with the Rebels, when the students came back from from 3 scores down and win 29-28!
Once they found their feet, Trinity’s performances proved irresistible. Converting 202 points, 28 touchdowns and surrendering only 92, they quickly began to show signs of their unbeaten 2014 form. Dynamic duo, Dan Finnamore and Rob McDowell couldn’t quite reach the dizzying standards they set last term, however their offence is still brimming with quality, with Running-Back Ola Bademosi have a particularly good year as he finished the teams top scorer with 7 touchdowns.
The Dublin Rebels will occupy the other sideline this weekend as they clinched second spot in the SBC North, before defeating the Craigavon Cowboys in the resulting wildcard bout. The 7 time champions put in their best performance of the year in the playoff game, as they showed why they are the most successful team in Irish American Football, winning 62-19 against a spirited Cowboys outfit.
The Rebels endured a mixed season, finishing (5-3) and losing to two of the other semi-finalists during the campaign. However solid victories against the South Dublin Panthers and fellow divisional rivals put them in commanding position to secure their playoff spot.
On paper, the Rebels rank lowest out of the four playoff sides but never underestimate the quality that they posses. Veteran Quarterback, Andrew Dennehy was effective as ever, connecting for 10 touchdowns this year whilst the backfield tandem of Sean Leamy and Kevin Finnegan combined for a total of 12 rushing scores. Offensive production was fluent as always, as the Dubliners scored 168 points over 8 games, however defensive struggles saw them leak 132 during that period.
The Rebels have one of the most experienced sides in the league and have been contesting for the Shamrock Bowl since they formed in 1995. They set themselves high standards every year, so expect them to do whatever it takes to reach the final this August.
Last season’s result was a blowout victory for Trinity, however the match-up earlier in the campaign would suggest that this semi-final will be more closely contested. Both sides won their recent games in convincing fashion and will enter the fixture in promising form. The Rebels and Trinity have never been short on quality and their squads will give them plenty to be confident about. Starting quickly could be the difference in this match as neither can afford to go too far behind early on. This will be an interesting fixture to spectate, but who will come out on top? Will it be the experienced Dublin Rebels, or the speed and quickness of Trinity College?
Paul Grogan: ‘This is why we play football!’
The Dublin Rebels are Ireland’s most successful American Football team. Founded in 1995, the Rebels have gone on to win 7 National Champions and several European accolades on their way to greatness.
This Sunday at Seapoint Rugby Club, they will be hoping to take one step closer to a record 8th Shamrock Bowl win when they take on the Craigavon Cowboys in the wildcard round.
We have already spoken to Cowboy’s star man, Peter Loughran about how he feels heading into the game. Now we will hear from Rebels Tight-End, Paul Grogan who will be lining up on the opposite sideline in this crucial divisional knockout game.
The Dublin outfit started the season off in similar fashion to the Cowboys, as they suffered narrow defeats to University pair, Trinity College and UCD. However victories against the Cowboys, Panthers and Vikings helped propel the Rebels into the post-season with a respectable (5-3) finish.
Their opening losses to the year effectively saw the Dubliners lose touch of the Trojans in the race for the division title, but the Rebels set themselves high expectations and we will expect better of themselves come the playoff’s.
‘On the face of it we’ve had a mixed season. Going 5-3 during the regular season suggests that. We have a young squad with a large influx of rookies, who are now all contributing greatly across the squad. When it comes down to it we were two individual plays away from being 7-1 on the season.’
‘As it is with every season, the Rebels making the playoffs is the absolute minimum. That has been achieved so I would say a lot done, a lot more to do’.
The playoff’s offer a fresh start for many teams. It allows for the opportunity to evaluate previous performances and make necessary adjustments that will prove crucial in the long run. Paul knows exactly what the Rebels need to improve on going forward.
‘Execution! We were two plays off being 7-1 this season and that came down to execution. A lot of football has been played since then, a lot work put in, fine tuning. If we can execute to the level we are capable of, we are a match-up nightmare!’
Paul has seen a lot of success during his playing career. He has played a part in two of the Rebels championship wins since he joined in 2007, whilst also winning a state championship in Australia with the Perth Blitz. Despite his own personal accolades, he’s always happy to see his team succeed.
‘Well, obviously I think I’ve been spectacular all year, as I’m sure I will attest to. I’m sure anyone that’s watched our games would give you a less biased, more accurate summation. Really for me it’s all about the team first and if I’m doing my job well, it means that the plethora of other weapons we have can shine, as they have done! I’ve seen a lot of extra coverages on me or teams putting their best player on me and I take that as a huge compliment, but like I said, team first’.
The Rebels lost a number of key players during the off-season, particularly offensive weapons like Chris Purdy and Simon Mackey. However players like Sean Leamy, Sean Douglas and Kevin Finnegan have all stepped up to fill the void and have performed exceptionally over the course of the season. With that in mind, Paul is adamant that the Rebels will be in strong contention for the Shamrock Bowl this summer.
‘As I mentioned before, making the playoff’s is an absolute minimum. This squad is not only capable of making the Bowl game, but more than capable of winning it all. We have absolute ballers on both sides of the football and between Andrew Dennehy and Ross McCooey, we have two of the best football minds Ireland has produced. They’re not bad players either’.
Before they can think about appearing in the final, the Rebels have the small task of two games to win, starting with the Craigavon Cowboys on Sunday. Two of oldest sides in Ireland have clashed hundreds of times over the course of their clubs lifespan, and Paul knows exactly what to expect from his opponents this weekend.
‘In short, it won’t be different. With the Cowboys, you know exactly what you’re going to get. A tough, physical, old-school slug fest! They’re going to run the football right at you, and tell you “try to stop us”. More recently they’ve added a very good passing game to their playbook, with a number of good pass-catchers.
‘Of course you guys have talked about Peter Loughran several times, I think everyone in the league knows how good he is, and in order to beat the Cowboys, you have to stop him!’
Two very physical and experienced sides that know everything there is to know about each other will go head-to-head this Sunday, with the definite goal to progress to the semi-finals. It’s a simple case of do or die now and for either the Cowboy’s or the Rebels, one teams season will live to fight another day, whilst the others hopes will be crushed.
‘It’s going to take four full quarters of punishing football that could go right to the final whistle. As the Cowboys proved, they are capable of making late comebacks, with their late showing against the Knights. Couple that with the fact we dropped two games that we were controlling in similar fashion, means that this game could come down to the wire’.
‘ However, this is why we play football! We’re prepared and ready, and I can’t wait!’
Peter Loughran: ‘I believe we are capable of challenging for the Shamrock Bowl’
We have now reached the business end of the 2015 IAFL season. Whatever has happened over the course of the last eighteen weeks no longer matters, it’s a fresh start as teams prepare for their quest to headline Shamrock Bowl 29
This weekend will see the first set of playoff fixtures, as the wildcard round prepares to take center stage. The first of three matches this Sunday will take place at Seapoint RFC, as the Criagavon Cowboys head South to take on hosts, the Dublin Rebels.
Both sides have had a strong season up to this point. The Dublin Rebels were able to clinch automatic qualification to the playoff’s as they finished second in the SBC North, despite a slow start to the campaign. The Cowboys clinched post-season football courtesy of their superior points difference and although the inclusion may have been fortuitous and controversial, their end of season run more than deserved playoff football.
In order to get a taste of what’s to come, we were able to chat with two players who will be on opposite sidelines prior to kickoff and whom have aspirations of keeping their Shamrock Bowl dreams alive; first up, it’s Peter Loughran of the Craigavon Cowboys.
The Cowboys proved that quality outweighs quantity as their small squad conquered the odds and booked a place in this years wildcard round. Key victories against the Rhino’s, Panthers and a late comeback against the Knights were enough to see the men from Portadown steal the remaining slot away from the Reapers and finish with a (3-5) record.
The Cowboys have been Shamrock Bowl champions twice in their history, in 1986 and 1992. However their last appearance in the playoff’s came in 2011, when they defeated the Belfast Trojans 17-14 at the same stage. Since then it’s been a period of rebuilding for the ‘Boy’s’, but with playoff football on the horizon, its an exciting period in the Craigavon camp.
‘It feels great!’ explained Peter, ‘I’ve been struggling to sleep with the excitement. I’m finally happy that my ankle is back up to scratch and we can take part in the playoff’s.’
Despite losing their opening two games and back to back defeats against the Trojans, the Cowboys fought their way back into playoff contention and finished the season in solid fashion.
‘We had a nervous start to the season, but after improving the offensive line and moving Conrad Smith to Tight-End, the offence began to flourish. Defensively we were shaky in places but I have seen big improvements as the season went on.’
‘Jonny Martin and Joe Buchanan stepped up and led the defence, providing some much needed organization. There were a few games I felt we should have won, but we have developed well on the fly and hopefully it will carry on into the post-season’.
The playoff’s often occupy the best teams in the country and in order to be considered a genuine title contender, you need to play your best football. Peter knows the Cowboys still have plenty to improve on, but is adamant the quality in the squad is there to compete.
‘Simply, we need to improve our consistency. We have the weapons and the plays to do very well in the playoffs but we need to execute on every play. Our comeback against the Knights for example, that final 5 minutes wasn’t luck or anything special, it was simply each player on the field doing their job to perfection.’
Peter is the epitome of a coaches dream. He can play every down and at every position. Although he can play as both receiver and linebacker, Loughran had a tremendous season as the Cowboy’s signal-caller. He tallied 10 passing touchdowns whilst adding 5 rushing scores, making him the second highest scoring Quarterback in the Shamrock Bowl Conference.
For a man who can do it all, Peter still feels there is a lot he can improve on.
‘I would like to decrease the number of interceptions although I’m fairly happy with this year. My O-Line stepped up hugely to protect me when I was injured, only allowing 2 sacks that allowed me to develop as a pocket-passer.’
For a current squad that has little playoff experience, Sunday’s game will not be a typical encounter against the Dublin Rebels. The Cowboys will have to play to the best of their ability to overturn what must be considered a losing spell against their opponents. This will be a big occasion, but Loughran spoke highly of his team and believes they are capable of battling the best.
We might not have played our best football and it will take something special to win, but I think we shown this season that we have that something. We just need to execute and get a full roster available on the day. I believe we are capable of challenging for the Shamrock Bowl, I really do!’
The IAFL regular season has now come to an end and unfortunately, so too has our ‘Team of the Week’ rundown. We have had the pleasure of witnessing some fantastic performances this year from the leagues most promising players and quite simply, this was our way of showing them some appreciation!
After a few weeks of rest, the offseason will soon commence for many players and teams in preparation for 2016. However if you are one of the few sides that have made it into the postseason, we congratulate you!
This is the last taste of ‘Team of the Week’ for 2015; that is of course until our ‘Team of the Year’ segment!! Week 19 everybody!!
Quarterback: Steve Hayes Cork Admirals
Hats off to Quarterback, Steve Hayes as he finishes the regular season’s top scorer with a magnificent 25 touchdowns! Hayes has been a constant presence in our TOTW articles, but credit must be given where it’s due. Steve completed his scoring with 3 passing touchdowns in the Admirals 40-6 win over the Mavericks, making him the top scoring QB in the country. His quality has helped guide his Cork side to a (7-1) record and a place in the IAFL-1 Bowl Final.
Running Back: Pete McMahon Meath Bulldogs
McMahon’s two touchdowns in Sunday’s win over the Tyrone Titans proved enough to secure Meath’s passage into the IAFL-1 semi-finals. Pete had one receiving and one rushing touchdown in the 20-6 win at Navan RFC clinching him the overall top spot in the rushing charts with 5 scores. The tough running-back has been instrumental in the Bulldog’s progress this season and will look to continue his fine form into the playoff’s.
Wide Receiver: Simon O’Keefe Cork Admirals
O’Keefe’s 3 receiving TDs against the Dundalk Mavericks have seen him secure top spot in the receiving charts pipping teammate, Nick Coffi, to the title by one score. O’Keefe finishes the regular season on 10 touchdowns. The trio of Hayes, Coffi and O’Keefe have been devastated opposition defences all year long, making them arguably the lands most threatening aerial unit. O’Keefe will be hoping to add more scores to his collection when the Ad’s face either the Bulldogs or Wolves in the IAFL-1 Bowl on the 2nd of August.
Offensive-Line: Meath Bulldogs
The Bulldogs headed into Sunday’s game knowing nothing less than victory would secure them playoff football. The tie-breaker system needed some deciphering but none of this effected the Bulldogs men in the trenches getting the job done in their 20-6 win against their playoff rivals. The offensive-line aware of the job they faced performed expertly in setting up scores for the offence, contributing to 1 passing and 2 rushing touchdowns whilst also preventing a single sack.
Defence: Donegal/Derry Vipers
Many around the league have been impressed with just out how well the Vipers have been improving game after game. To come into a new season and suffer big losses against experienced sides is a steep learning curve for anyone, but the men from the North battled on and showed great determination and character. Their hard work this season paid off on Sunday as they earned their first ever win in the IAFL, dispatching the Galway Warrior 17-6. The Vipers only conceding late on and showed great composure on defence to hold onto their lead. They have made huge strides this year and look like a changed outfit from Week 1.
Tyrone Titans – To lose only three games in your opening two years is unheard of. Not long ago winning three games in that period would have been seen as a great success. The Titans have set a new bar for young teams and with a strong recruitment push will see them knocking on the door of the SBC very soon.
Alan Harvey FB Meath Bulldogs – The Rookie Full back capped off a strong close to the regular season with a score on Sunday. Harvey is tied with Mathew Hagan of the Mavericks and Daniel Mullan of the Titans for 2nd place in the IAFL1 scoring charts. An impressive outing in his debut season and bringing much need balance to the Bulldogs using attack.
Declan Mulvihill Dundalk Mavericks – One of the founders of the club and an ever present on both offence and defence for the Mavs, there is little Mulvihill doesn’t do in Dundalk. Another impressive outing on Sunday brought him high praise and despite the loss carried the Mavs into the off season with a solid platform to launch their 2016 campaign from.
Cork Admirals Defence – The focus of most has been on Corks impressive passing attack this season but their no name defence has gone about an fine season with little fuss. A league leading 78 points allowed. Couple this with the pressure of spending more time on the field than most defences in what still is a run first league the Admirals defence has been all the more impressive.
Finally, a tremendous thank you to all the players, coaches and club officials for indulging us this season as we put together this series. Every single player that straps on a helmet, every coach that is working well before and well after practice ends and club officials who spend more time on football than at work we thank you. We hope we have highlighted the very best and brightest performers this year and if we missed anyone let us know. The overwhelmingly positive response to this series is something we are extremely proud of. Well done to all who featured and we’ll see you all in 2016, for now it’s on to Playoff, Team of the Year and the MVP race.
…..and that’s all she wrote! The final weekend of the SBC regular season has officially finished and we now have a firm (albeit confusing!) look at the six sides left standing for a place in the Shamrock Bowl Final in August.
Congratulations to the Belfast Trojans and Trinity College for winning their respective divisions, the Dublin Rebels and UL Vikings for clinching second and the Craigavon Cowboys and UCD for sealing the remaining wildcard spots. Commiserations must also be said for the North Kildare Reapers who narrowly missed out on the playoff’s and to the West Dublin Rhino’s who will now make home in the IAFL-1 next season.
The IAFL-1 and 2 still has a further week remaining, but we had a huge helping of 6 games on Sunday where many fates were decided. Let’s see who stood out in the most pivotal week of the IAFL season to date!
Quarterback: James McKelvey Belfast Trojans
The veteran Quarterback finished the regular season as the top passer in the Shamrock Bowl Conference with 20 touchdowns, as he guided the Trojans to yet another (8-0) season with a convincing 56-8 win over the Cowboys. McKelvey connected for 4 touchdowns in the rout, 3 to his number one target (who we will get to shortly!) whist also adding a trademark QB sneak to his collection. James is in strong contention for MVP honors this season, as he finished 10 passing touchdowns ahead of his nearest challenger in the scoring charts whilst also notching 4 rushing TD’s.
Running Back: Gareth Millar Carrickfergus Knights
Gareth Millar was the standout running back on Sunday as he spearheaded the Knights offence, racking in 4 rushing touchdowns and a 100+ yard game in their quest for survival. In the defining encounter of the season, Millar stepped up to the plate and caused countless problems for the Reapers defence that couldn’t contain him all game. In what has been a roller-coaster ride for the Carrickfergus Knights this season, The ‘Black and Gold’ won in dominating fashion with a 39-0 victory over the North Kildare Reapers, sealing not only their SBC safety but ending the Reapers hopes of playoff football in the process. When backs are against the wall, that’s when true character shows and the Knights produced easily their best performance of the season when it mattered most.
Wide Receiver: David Richardson Belfast Trojans
Last season’s top scoring receiver maintains his crown, as David Richardson reeled in a hat-trick of touchdowns in the Trojans win at the weekend. The leagues top receiver has made a habit of being the go-to guy in the passing game for the Trojans offence and is proving increasingly difficult to stop every year. His connection with QB James McKelvey has brought endless success on the field as they hope their partnership will guide them to another Shamrock Bowl triumph this summer. Richardson finishes the regular season with 11 receptions and another consecutive year as the best receiver in the IAFL.
Offensive Line: Dublin Rebels
Word from a spectator at the Rebels versus Panthers game mentioned that the 7 time champions were quite simply superb to watch, as they marched to a 38-6 win over their Dublin rivals. The offence led by Andrew Dennehy made 9 trips to the endzone, scoring 4 rushing, 1 passing touchdown and several rushing 2PAT’s on their way to a (5-3) season. The Rebels O-Line is one of the most disciplined units in the league and their experience contributed to 168 points and 19 touchdowns this year.
Defence: Belfast Trojans
The Trojan juggernaut continues to set the standards in the IAFL as for the majority of Sunday’s game, they were able to stop a strong Cowboys side that have tallied 16 touchdowns this year and rank 4th in that category. The Defence will be disappointed they didn’t shut-out the ‘Boys’, but they did capitalize on several Craigavon errors. Safety, Scott Fischaber claimed an interception and there were fumble recoveries for both Andrew Wright and Andrew McGorman. The defending champions secured themselves the best defensive record within the country, only conceding 30 points throughout the regular season.
– Meath Bulldogs Defence The Bulldogs posted a shutout this weekend on defence (Mullingars score was a recovered fumble) the Bulldogs have now scored 4 pick-6’s in 2 games after Paul Clarke took one to the house Sunday. They’re the highest scoring defence in the IAFL1
-Mark Dunphy Waterford Wolves in tight games it’s often the team who keeps their nerve is the team that triumphs. Along with everything else he does for the Wolves Dunphy held his nerve and put the only score of the game on the board by way of field goal and put the Wolves in the playoffs
-Tom Donovan QB UCD put up 3 scores Sunday in the loss to Trinity. Donovan has scored 10 passing tochdowns and 5 rushing this season, as he led UCD to the playoffs.
-Carrickfegus Knights knew that a loss meant relegation and posted their highest total points of the year and a shutout on defence. There’s showing up when it matters and there is this, congratulations to them.
Five games to concentrate on this Sunday with the season grinding down to a halt. There is still an extra week of IAFL-1 and 2 action beyond Week 18, but more implications on how the post-season will pan out could be decided this weekend.
Trinity College and the Cork Admirals could confirm their spots as the top ranked teams in their respective division as the Wolves, Bulldogs and Warriors continue their hunt for a taste of life in the playoffs. Meanwhile we could find out the future of the Rhino’s position within the SBC and more… Shamrock Bowl Conference
Trinity College (5-1) @ West Dublin Rhinos (1-6) – Castleknock College, 2pm.
The biggest game of the weekend will take place in Castleknock College in this all SBC South encounter. TCD can march their way to the top of the division as the Rhinos need to win at all costs in order to salvage their season.
The Rhino’s have only mustered one win all season, but it came against the Carrickfergus Knights who have been dragged into the relegation dog fight in recent weeks. As the West Dubliners hold the crucial victory over their rivals, the Rhinos could still survive the drop even if they suffer defeat against Trinity, providing the Knights lose to the Reapers. It’s hard to believe that a potential (1-7) team could avoid relegation, but victory on Sunday would guarantee them safety for another season at the expense of the Knights. It will be a tough ask for the Castleknock side, but they overcame the odds last year and need to do so again.
Trinity College on the other hand have no such issues. Their opening defeat of the season against the Vikings feels like a distant memory as the students have now gone on an impressive 5 game win streak. Some of the games they have scraped through, but if anything it has showed grit and determination that has proven necessary in their quest to make another Shamrock Bowl Final appearance. Trinity’s H2H advantage over the Vikings means victory against the Rhinos this weekend will claim them another South division title, with a game to spare no less.
Trinity are the next best in-form side in the SBC, second only to the Trojans. Running-Back Ola Bademosi has been influential in recent weeks and with Dan Finnamore and Rob McDowell in the backfield, it will be difficult for the Rhino’s defence to contain them. Since the Knights win, the Rhinos have suffered a heavy loss to the reigning champions and now must face another equally impressive offence. It will require a real team effort and their best performance of the year on Sunday if they are to achieve the ‘great escape’.
The Bulldogs make the dreaded trip down south to take on the league leaders in the Cork Admirals. The Admirals can take one step closer to the title and eventual bowl game with victory at Dolphin RFC, as the Bulldogs start the first of three straight weekends of football.
Meath will be feeling frustrated that their game with the Tyrone Titans a few weeks ago was postponed. The formalities surrounding the game being called-off are still clouded, with the pitch being deemed unplayable and player safety concerns the main talking points. Regardless of that, Meath must now contend with back to back games to finish off 2015, very much similar to their end of season run last year. Tricky games still await them and fatigue could prove troublesome but a loss here will leave the gate open for the Wolves to pounce on 3rd spot.
There’s not much that can be mentioned about the Admirals that hasn’t already been said. They top the rankings in every imaginable way from the scoring charts to the IAFL-1 leaderboard. Their offence has been exceptional with Steve Hayes at the helm as he and his receiving corp go from strength to strength. To justify how well they are doing; they’ve totalled 28 touchdowns this year, the 3rd most in the entire IAFL only behind the Trojans. Six wins, division supremacy, a sure-fire Bowl appearance and a potential unbeaten season? What’s it going to take to stop them!
The Bulldogs will have their work cut out in Cork as their hard as nails defence try to prevent an onslaught on their end-zone. The Admirals ran out 28-13 winners last time these sides met as Meath proved arguably their toughest opponents this season. However since then Cork has put up 91 points in 3 games, numbers the men from Navan simply can’t compete with. The Bulldogs have only scored 5 touchdowns all year so trying to stop the Admirals offence as well scoring themselves will be enough to think about.
One of the longest road games in the country. The Titans must make the long journey south to take on the Waterford Wolves in a bid to secure 2nd in the IAFL-1 with the Wolves hoping to make their trip a forgettable one.
Waterford find themselves in the thick of the action as they bid to make an immediate return to the Shamrock Bowl Conference. So far things are looking good for the ‘Wolf Pack’ as they currently sit 3rd in the division with only a few games to go, but they can’t afford to slip up with Meath and Dundalk hot on their tail. The Wolves form has been inconsistent to say the least, good performances one week are met with slip-ups the next and with season defining games against the Mavericks coming up and the Titans visit this weekend, they need to maintain consistency in what is a crucial remaining few weeks of their campaign.
The Titans most recent fixture came against arch-rivals the Dundalk Mavericks in a 10-6 win, however that was 3 weeks ago. Since then, as we previously mentioned their travels to Meath were short-lived with the game being postponed and many of the players still itching to make a statement when their unbeaten streak went up in smoke at the hands of the Admirals. They face the challenging task of tackling two away games to finish off the regular season and with their away form questionable, this will be a true test of character with the semi-finals looming.
These sides could well meet in the post-season come July 19th, so this may be an early taster of what’s to come in the summer; that is ofcourse if both Tyrone and Waterford can secure their respective positions. The Titans have been solid this year although they haven’t displayed as much conviction in putting teams away that they showed in the IAFL-2. The Wolves on the other hand have struggled in regards to points, having the second lowest on points scored and the second highest on points against. So there is still plenty of work be done before either get to have a pop at the Admirals again.
Belfast Trojans 2nd’s (4-0) @ South Kildare Soldiers (3-2) – Cill Dara RFC, 2pm.
It will be first versus second in the IAFL-2 as the Belfast Trojans make the return journey to face the South Kildare Soldiers. The Kildare outfit has been improving considerably from last year and have picked up decisive wins against the Vipers and UL Vikings. Offensively they have progressed well scoring 84 points in their 5 games, of which 54 of those came against Donegal/Derry.
The Trojans have dominated the IAFL-2 and already qualify for the Bowl game, where they will be much fancied to take the crown. The division hasn’t really posed a threat to the rookies, but I guess if your training week in week out with players who represent the national team and receiving top coaching from the Irish champions, you wouldn’t expect anything less. 255 points scored and 27 against in only 4 games is just insane!
This game mathematically won’t concern the Trojans too much with top spot sewn up, but don’t expect them to consider it that way. The match could have a huge bearing on how SKS finish up however as defeat to the Trojans could see Galway steal 2nd from the Soldiers if they were to win out. We don’t like to be drawn into pre-game assumptions, but it looks rather perilous for South Kildare and they could well be holding their breath in the hope the Warriors slip up.
UL Vikings 2nd’s (0-1) @ Galway Warriors (2-1) – St. Mary’s College, 2pm.
We have hardly spoken at all about the Vikings 2nd’s this year, considering they have only played one game. They have however played a vital part in the resurgence of the first team, so although they’ve been quiet in the IAFL-2 they have been playing regularly against SBC calibre opposition. The Vikings and Rhino’s 2nds were never going to be competing for a Bowl game with the limited games they’d be playing, but any opportunity to play football will provide valuable experience for these future players.
The Warriors have more realistic goals and similar to their division veterans the South Kildare Soldiers, they have improved greatly as the seasons worn on. Galway recently held onto a 21-15 win against the Vipers to keep their momentum pushing forward and with two games left on their schedule, the bowl game is certainly a possibility.
At this stage of the season it’s hard to judge how competitive the Vikings 2nd’s will be seeing as we haven’t seen much of them and there is little to play for but pride, but they will be excited to return to the field again! The Warriors have been playing all season and won’t take the Vikings lightly with a lot riding on this match. Two teams, notorious for hard-hitting defences, I would anticipate a low scoring game in this one.
We had a range of results this weekend as Week 16 has now came and gone. The UL Vikings and UCD put on a show in their respective games, coming out convincing winners as the SBC South took another twist. The Rebels edged out the Knights in a hard-fought game in Dublin that guarantees them 2nd spot in the North division.
Whilst around the IAFL-1 and 2, the Mavericks clung on to a 9-0 win against the Minotaurs as the Vipers late comeback wasn’t enough as Galway added another scalp to the league newcomers.
Here’s the best of Week 16 in the IAFL!
Quarterback: Ian Cahill UL Vikings
The former Defensive End now turned Quarterback had an excellent day at the office as he helped his side to a resounding 55-0 win over the South Dublin Panthers. Cahill passed for 5 touchdowns, more than any other QB on Sunday, as the Vikings finished off their regular season in style! Whether it will be enough to clinch the South division title remains to be seen but Cahill has fitted seamlessly into his new role and will be a key asset to UL’s Shamrock Bowl hopes.
Running Back: Conor Hanrahan University College Dublin
The students clinched a decisive victory in Kildare last weekend in the race for the wildcard spots. They ran out comfortable winners by a 48-0 scoreline against the Reapers that gives them the crucial head-to-head advantage over their division counterparts. Running-Back, Conor Hanrahan was one of a few scorers on the day but his one reception, one rushing and 2PT conversion was enough for him to get the nod this week.
Wide Receiver: Sean Goldrick UL Vikings
The Vikings are blessed to have a number of seriously talented players on their roster and Sean Goldrick is one of them. The receiver scored a hattrick of touchdowns against the Panthers, reeling in 3 receptions from partner in crime, Ian Cahill. UL’s aerial attack was in full flight on Sunday as the Panthers secondary struggled to contain an irresistible Vikings offence. Goldrick now jumps up the scoring rankings to second with 5 touchdowns.
Offensive Line: University College Dublin
UCD overturned three straight defeats to get back to winning ways in a pivotal point in their season. They were able to fire 48 points past the Reapers with the O-Line having a particularly good day. Two different QB’s and two different RB’s all got on the scoreboard and naturally the plaudits will go to them. However the O-Line consisting of RT Eoin Feely, RG Larry Doyle, (both Feely and Doyle are the starting Linebackers!) C Harry Maguire, LG Dylan Carrig and LT Ben McLarney should all get great satisfaction from contributing to UCD’s highest scoring game of the season.
Defence: UL Vikings
Not only did the Vikings register 55 points but they earned a shut-out in the process. The Vikings and Panthers have been two of the in-form defences this season, but the Vikes were the better on Sunday. They were able to create turnovers from forced fumbles and interceptions on their way to victory in an all-round dominating performance from the Limerick outfit.
– Rebels Quarterback, Andrew Dennehy threw for 2 touchdowns against the Carrickfergus Knights in their 28-13 home win. Dennehy has now scored 9 touchdowns so far, hitting 6 different receivers.
– Running Back, Shane Gleeson of the Vikings has now regained top spot of the rushing charts with his single touchdown against the Panthers.
– Two of the top performances of the week goes to UCD’s, Dave Bennet and Tom Donovan. Bennet had a 100 yard rushing game and 2 picks on defence, while Donovan passed for 4 Touchdowns before coming out of the game then calling the plays for Back-Up Kevin Duffy (who also got one)
– Vipers signal-caller, Nic Young proves once again to be the main outlet on the Vipers Offence. Young passed for a touchdown and scored a 2pt attempt in a heroic second half performance against Galway.
– We mentioned the capabilities of Dundalks, Matty Hagan in the game previews as he scored the only touchdown that aided the Mavericks to a 9-0 win over Mullingar.
– Praise must given where it’s due, especially when a team with limited numbers must play iron man football for 4 quarters. That’s what the Mullingar Minotaurs did. It wasn’t the result they were hoping for but their effort should not go unrecognised. Credit to them!
The countdown begins! Three weeks for teams to secure their future whether it be to clinch a playoff berth, a division title or simply to avoid the dreaded fate of relegation. From here on out; it’s do or die in the quest for post-season football.
Winning is everything, but even that may not be enough as we enter the stage of the season when complicated head-to-head tie-breakers come into effect. We will do our best to keep you in the loop as things progress but there is plenty to be determined over the coming weeks as the end to the regular season draws ever closer!
UL Vikings (5-2) @ South Dublin Panthers (2-4) – Garda RFC, 2pm.
The Vikings will be heading to South Dublin the face the Panthers this Sunday looking to improve on their recent defeat to the Rebels, whilst the Dubliners need a victory to keep their own ambitions alive!
After a strong start to the season, the Vikings ship has started to capsize after suffering back-to-back defeats to both Trinity College and more recently, the Dublin Rebels. They looked odd’s on to clinch their first division title since 2012 but those defeats have left the title wide open for Trinity to grasp. TCD hold the tie-breaker advantage over UL with a superior points difference over the two games, so victory for the Vikings in Dublin would merely put pressure on the students to win all their remaining games.
The South Dublin Panthers defeated UCD 15-8 two weeks ago, which now looks to be a crucial outcome in the wildcard standings. Both sides rest on a (2-4) record, but the Panthers now hold the all-important H2H over the students. We’ve mentioned in the past the difficulty of the Panthers schedule, and their end of season run couldn’t be much tougher. The men from Westmanstown need to beat both the Vikings and the Rebels in their last two games and hope other results go their way in order to reach the playoff’s.
The Vikings will be heading into Sunday looking to overturn their disappointing defeats. They have welcomed back dynamic duo Alvaro Martinez and Marc Ashworth in recent weeks that will add great quality to the squad as the look to head into the post-season on winning form. The Panthers need two massive performances to improve their playoff chances and with UL on a downward slope, this could be their chance to steal a crucial win.
University College Dublin (2-4) @ North Kildare Reapers (3-3) – North Kildare Sports Club, 2pm.
Few weeks ago it seemed these two sides were better situated to reach the wildcard round, but considering recent results it looks more likely that victory for one team could have damaging consequences on the other.
UCD’s tremendous IAFL-1 form last season has failed materialize to life back in the Shamrock Bowl Conference. Home wins, including the giant killing against the Dublin Rebels and the 13-0 point swing over the struggling West Dublin Rhinos, has been met with three defeats on the trot that now leaves their playoff chances hanging in the balance. University rivals Trinity College await them in Week 18 with their own goals in mind so last years Shamrock Bowl finalists won’t be doing them any favours. That makes this Sunday’s game in Kildare pivotal as once again the H2H tie-breaker will become important.
Out of all the sides within touching distance of the wildcard spots, you’d have to say the North Kildare outfit are in the most advantageous position. The Reapers could book their place in the playoffs this weekend if they win against UCD, no questions asked. Alternative methods include; (1) losing to UCD, but defeating the Knights, or (2) fail to win both games, so long as the Cowboys don’t beat the Trojans and the Panthers fail to win both of their remaining games. Of course, aiming to win on Sunday would be a much simpler approach.
Overturning defeats so late in the season is a tricky task with so much at stake. There is a strong possibility that two South division sides could take both wildcard spots, but that will be dependant on the outcome of this game. Whoever takes home the ‘W’ will be in a much better place to make that final jump into the promise land, however the losing side will have an agonising wait on the final day.
Hard to believe that two teams predicted to compete for at least 2nd place in the North division are siting uncertain in their current positions. The Rebels are yet to seal the automatic playoff spot whilst the Knights will be praying they can seal their SBC status.
It has been a long a 12 weeks since the Knights picked up their only win against the Cowboys in an impressive 34-12 performance back in March. On the contrary, last Sunday was a sight to behold as the ‘Black and Gold’ surrendered a 22 point lead within the final 5 mins against the aforementioned Cowboys. That win would have given Carrickfergus some breathing room over the Rhinos; now the chances of slipping into IAFL-1 have greatly increased. The only way to stop the rot is to win, starting with the road trip down south to face fierce rivals, the Dublin Rebels.
As mentioned, the Rebels currently reside in 2nd place but their position is not yet confirmed. Defeating the Carrickfergus Knights would secure that spot without any doubt, but defeat would leave them looking over their shoulder. Mathematically, only the South Dublin Panthers could steal second away from them on the H2H rule, but they would need to beat UL first and then defeat the Rebels by 10 points or better. The Rebels recently defeated their historic counterparts the Vikings 21-14 two weeks ago and will be feeling confident ahead of the Knights visit.
The opposing sidelines will be feeling very different levels of pressure on Sunday. The Rebels will know that a win will see them make yet another playoff appearance, but they will still be cautious of a Knights side fighting for survival. Carrick on the other hand will need to go for it! They MUST win against either the Rebels or Reapers if not both to remain in the top tier, as the Rhino’s hold the H2H stakes. It really is all or nothing for the Carrickfergus Knights.
It’s a case of 5th versus 6th in the IAFL-1 as the Mavericks host the Minotaurs in the only match in the division this weekend. Dundalk will be looking to clinch a victory that will just about keep them in contention for third. Mullingar will be aiming to end their chances.
The Minotaurs have had a tough time of it this year. They have struggled with numbers and have lost several players to injury and other commitments throughout the course of the campaign. Their goals for the season crumbled a long time ago, but with two games left in their schedule there is still time to earn a consolation victory. The Minotaurs have been steadily improving game after game, so maybe this is the weekend they put a win on the board.
The Mavericks have a flurry of games on the horizon, as they play 3 matches over the next 4 weeks. The Wolves and Admirals will provide tough challenges, but if they can get the better of Mullingar at DIT then they will set themselves up for a showdown with the Waterford Wolves in their last opportunity to make a 3rd place finish. Matty Hagan has been an explosive weapon for Dundalk this season and their defence has been fairly sound, but it’s the physical battles that have got the better of them recently with their last two games being decided by 4 points or less.
This game on paper should be closely contested, but the talent that both teams possess could also make it a high scoring encounter. The Mavericks home form this season has been stagnant whilst the Minotaurs have had similar struggles on the road, but something has got to give. Both teams are in desperate need of wins for one reason or another so this match is just as important as any they have faced this season.
Londonderry is the site for the only IAFL-2 game this weekend as Galway make the journey north to face the Vipers for the first time.
The Warriors have had mixed fortunes in their first 3 games. They overcame challengers the South Kildare Soldiers before going toe-to-toe in a 0-0 tie with the West Dublin Rhino’s 2nds. Their most recent contest took place in Belfast, when the Trojan 2nd’s put on a masterclass showing as the Warriors suffered an uncomfortable 60-7 defeat to the division leaders. Minus the heavy scoreline and the Warriors should feel content with their progress. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done on both sides of the ball, but they have half of their fixture still to play so plenty of time to keep improving.
The Vipers have come a long way since their first game of the season. They have improved at a tremendous rate and are starting to show the IAFL-2 what they are capable of. Their performances have shown grit and determination and the only thing that is missing now is the first win in the books. Quarterback, Nic Young is having a terrific debut season as he leads the team in offensive production. They may have conceded 198 points in 4 games, but 125 of those came against the all-conquering Belfast Trojans 2nd’s. Everyone else in the division has suffered the same fate so it is nothing to be ashamed of. The plus side however is the Vipers are scoring plenty of points of there own, totalling 53.
Both teams have a few games between them to make one last push towards a strong end to the year. When you take the Belfast Trojans out of the equation, as well as the much improved South Kildare Soldiers a third place finish for either side is a distinct possibility and should be considered an achievement in a tough division. These sides are very evenly matched on paper and should provide a more balanced outcome, rather than the typical blowout we’ve come to expect. The return leg takes place in July so this will be a great opportunity for this pair to improve their ‘W’ columns.
Unfortunately last weeks ‘Team of the Week’ article had to be delayed, as the world of work got the better of us. Thankfully, we don’t have such problems this week and in return for your patience we have brought you a double dosing of TOTW for both Week 14 and Week 15! Yay!
Hopefully you’ll be able to jog your memories back to just over a week ago, but if you’ve forgotten some of the performances from Week 14, we have you covered! The standout players from Sunday are also included as we picked the best from what proved to be an exciting and pinnacle week on the IAFL calendar. Week 14:
Quarterback: Andrew Dennehy Dublin Rebels
Andy is one of the most experienced Quarterbacks in the country and arguably the best pure passer of a football in the league. The Rebels form has dipped in and out this year, but the quality of the Dublin offence is hard to ignore. The signal-caller connected with both Kevin Finnegan and Peter Keely as the Rebels overcame the always tough UL Vikings 21-14 at St. Muchens College. The Vikings D currently tops the SBC South and only conceded 46 points before Sunday, so the Rebels win was all the more important as they look to seal up 2nd in the North Conference.
Running-Back: John Buckley Cork Admirals
Talk about making an entrance! John competed in his first ever taste of American Football on Sunday as he kitted up for the Cork Admirals in their 27-7 victory away to Mullingar. John had a stellar debut in the red and white of Cork as he broke numerous tackles on his way to his first touchdown of his career, whilst also totalling 116 rushing yards throughout the game. Cork’s offence is brimming with talent and now they can add John to the ranks.
Wide-Receiver: Nick Coffi Cork Admirals
This was a difficult position to choose this week with a number of receivers tallying 1 touchdown apiece last weekend. However we decided to go with Nick Coffi of the Admirals for this weeks award, with the Admirals win swinging it in his favour. The Frenchman bagged another touchdown to take his total to 5 on the season as he continues to prove himself to be a favourite target of QB Steve Hayes. With the IAFL-1 Bowl appearance all the more likely, Coffi could well be the key asset to Cork’s potential success.
Offence: Dublin Rebels
Cork scored the most points of any team in the IAFL with 27, but the magnitude of the Rebels/Vikings clash made the Rebels performance so impressive. The 7 time champions were able to find balance across their offence with two passing scores to the previously mentioned duo of Finnegan and Keely as well as adding a rushing touchdown courtesy of Sean Leamy, who also added a 2pt try to seal the game. The Rebels move to 3-3 as the Offence now holds the third most points scored in the SBC.
Defence: Tyrone Titans
The Titans were able to close out a 10-6 win over their bitter rivals the Dundalk Mavericks, who they’ve now defeated 5 times on the trot. However the dual between the two sides this year has become increasingly close unlike the high scoring games in the IAFL-2. Only one score has separated the last two fixtures with the Titans defence stepping up when it needed too most. Excluding the Admirals scoreline, Tyrone have only surrendered 3 scores after Sunday, earning two shut-outs in the process. They also conceded the least amount of points last weekend too.
Quarterback: Steve Hayes Cork Admirals
Steve has proven week after week that he is a fantastic talent in the IAFL and he’s becoming a regular in our TOTW’s too. Hayes has led the scoring charts for much of the season as he and the Cork Admirals storm their way through the IAFL-1 Conference. He put up dominant numbers against the Waterford Wolves, throwing for 5 touchdowns amounting 247 yards in the process. The signal-caller has now reached the 20 touchdown mark on the season and is a serious contender for MVP honours.
Running Back: Ola Bademosi Trinity College
It’s been consecutive appearances for Ola Bademosi in our TOTW column as his performances continue to standout amongst those in his position. He’s arguably been the most in form player in recent weeks as his two rushing touchdowns were enough to help Trinity oversee rivals UCD 23-14. His recent surge of form now lifts him to top spot in the rushing charts with 7 touchdowns, as his blend of speed and strength is proving difficult to contain.
Wide Receiver: Luis Alberto Craigavon Cowboys
This game will live long in the memory! Suffering from a 22 point deficit, the Cowboys miraculously pull the game back with 5.04 left on the clock, to somehow win 23-22 on the last play of the game. There have been a number of comebacks over the years, but perhaps this is the best of them? Receiver, Luis Alberto was the savior of the game as he reeled in 2 clinical touchdowns and a 2 PT conversion to put Craigavon within touching distance. It was then Luis who stepped up to take the pressure kick that ultimately won the game for the ‘Boys’ with seconds to spare. Incredible scenes were met at the full time whistle and much of the credit should be given to Luis’ heroic performance.
Offensive Line: Belfast Trojans
The North division champions continue to dominate the IAFL and the West Dublin Rhino’s were the latest victims in the Trojan onslaught. The offence tallied 30 of Belfast’s 49 points on Sunday as the O-Line consisting of Matthew Vance, Mark Davidson, Michael Bradford, Chris Harte and Mohammed Ramadan helped contribute to 2 passing and 3 rushing touchdowns. The Trojans still have one game left of the regular season, but they’ve scored 293 total points so far; 210 of which have been scored by the offence.
Defence: Cork Admirals
We’ve talked in past about the teams that rank amongst the leagues best defences; the Belfast Trojans, UL Vikings, Trinity College to name a few. How about adding the Cork Admirals to that list? Sundays comfortable 43-0 win against the Waterford Wolves maintained how good the Cork offence is, but what about the defence? 6 forced fumbles (4 recovered) 3 sacks, 2 interceptions, 2 lateral passes, 1 defensive touchdowns and a shut-out. Impressive numbers! The DMVP performance came courtesy of Chris Allen who had 13 tackles, 4 TFL’s, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble and he scored the touchdown. That’s as good a defensive performance as any in the league this season.
– Peter Loughran is a phenominal all-round player in this league, but that’s probably the best 5mins of football he’s ever played! 2 passing touchdowns and 1 rushing TD of his own were enough to give the Craigavon Cowboys the greatest of comebacks in IAFL history; 3 touchdowns in 5 mins? #clutchgenes
– Many teams in the IAFL have a star receiver, the target man, the go-to guy. The Cork Admirals have a number of them. It’s hard to mention Nick Coffi (2) without naming partner in crime Simon O’Keefe (3) as the pairing totaled 5 touchdowns between them against the Wolves. Luis Alberto was our top receiver this week, but O’Keefe’s 3 Td’s and 160 yard game could have taken the spoils on another day.