IAFL Week 14: Game Previews

IAFL Week 14: Game Previews

Not long left until the regular season comes to an end and teams across the country will be eyeing the finishing line, just over the horizon. Much of the final rankings were already decided by this stage in 2014 but with only a number of games left there are division titles, playoff spots and the dreaded relegation battle still to be decided.

Only the Belfast Trojans have made it to the promise land after clinching the North Division title last Sunday, but there are a number of sides looking to join them this weekend.

‘Game of the Week’

thumb_DRlogo  Dublin Rebels (2-3) @ UL Vikings (5-1) thumb_ULlogo  – St. Munchins College, 2pm.

Two of Irelands most historic sides will clash heads in Limerick this weekend as we expect a physical game of football between two juggernauts of the IAFL. Many important games in the past have been decided by these two, but this could be the biggest match both teams have faced-off in since the 2011 Shamrock Bowl.

It’s unusual to see the Rebels with a negative record this late into the season, but after two opening defeats to TCD and UCD, they briefly turned their fortunes around before the heavy defeat suffered at the hands of the Trojans. It’s been a long three weeks for the Dubliners to get their chance of making amends, but they will have the opportunity of unleashing all their frustrations on arguably their fiercest rival in the clubs history.

The Vikings were cruising atop of the SBC South before they suffered a 22-3 defeat to Trinity College in Week 12. The loss is a setback, but the title is still far from decided and victory against the Rebels would set them back on the right course.

The last time these two met was at the beginning of last season, when the Rebels scored with seconds left on the clock to win 14-13. The Dublin outfit were on the receiving end of a late comeback by Trinity early in the campaign, but Limerick will be looking to inflict a bigger blow by putting the Rebels playoff hopes in serious danger. Two major losses for both sides as Quarterback, Andrew Dennehy is unavailable whilst Running-Back, Adrian Garvey underwent ACL surgery on Friday. With so much at stake and the significant history between these sides, I’d expect nothing less than a ferocious game of football that could go down to the wire once again

Fun Fact: Both last seasons match-up and Shamrock Bowl 2011 were decided by 14-13 score-lines in the Rebels favour. Who would bet money on it happening again?

thumb_CAlogo  Cork Admirals (4-0) @  Mullingar Minotaurs (0-5) thumb_mullingarlogo – Harbour Field, 2pm.

Two sides on opposite ends of the IAFL-1 spectrum, one unbeaten and the other winless. Victory for Cork would increase their lead at the top, whilst Mullingar are still searching for their first win of the year.

Cork took top spot of the IAFL-1 with a 22-7 victory over title challengers the Tyrone Titans. They now hold the advantage and as the final flurry of games arrive, it’s difficult to see who will be able to stop them from going unbeaten. Steve Hayes and his receiving corp have had a fantastic season so far and although their run game hasn’t been as effective, they’ve still scored 118 points in 4 games, averaging 30 points a game against some of the divisions best defences.

In comparison, Mullingar have struggled to live up to their performances of last season as with only 5 touchdowns to their name, with Niall Folan the leading scorer, the Minotaurs have only mustered 34 points whilst conceding 128. That statistic won’t fair well in keeping up with the free scoring exploits of the Cork offence. With three games left to play, it will be a daunting end of season stretch for the Mullingar boys with two tough road games against Dundalk and Meath yet to come. They have surrendered the most points by a considerable distance so it will need to miraculous turnaround if they hope to avoid the dreaded 0-8.

Cork defeated the Minotaurs 35-13 in the previous outing and since have laid waste to every opponent they’ve come up against. This is Mullingar’s last home game of the season so improvement on previous performances is greatly needed, but worryingly they’ve scored more points in away games than they have at home this season. The Admirals have rarely been challenged this year, but the Minotaurs do posses a talented team and the visitors must be wary of a good performance that Mullingar are capable of producing.

Fun Fact: In the previous 3 games between these clubs, the Cork Admirals have won 2 and lost 1 against the Minotaurs, including the 16-9 win in last years IAFL-1 semi final.

thumb_DMlogo1  Dundalk Mavericks (1-3) @ Tyrone Titans (4-1) thumb_TTlogo – Omagh RFC, 2pm.

Both Dundalk and Tyrone must be getting sick at the sight of each other. Both teams have suffered losses of late in their pursuit of playoff football, so which one will be able to overturn their recent fortune?

Dundalk, despite back to back defeats against the Wolves and Bulldogs can still mathematically catch the pairing in the race for third. It will ultimately come down to the head to head victories between the three, but the Mavericks still have their game in hand against the Admirals to play and then host both Mullingar and the Wolves at DKIT in a few weeks time; so all is not lost! Although they currently sit inferior in the W/L column, they do have the 3rd highest points difference with +12 and are tied on 3rd most touchdowns with the Wolves, so defeats aren’t damaging their performances.

The Titans suffered their first loss in 11 games at the hands of league leaders the Cork Admirals 2 weeks ago and will be looking to get back on track to securing 2nd spot in the division. They can still claim 1st, but they would need a major slip-up from the Admirals in order to sneak ahead of them in the rankings. Any loss is hard to take especially when a long winning streak has been broken, but the Titans put up a good performance against Cork and should take the positives into this weekends game.

The last outing was a much closer game than the previous fixtures that these teams have faced. The Titans took away a narrow 8-0 win back up North in what proved to be an incredibly defensive battle. Tyrone have been clinical through the air this season with QB Daniel Mullan and WR Ryan Brolly striking up a potent partnership. Meanwhile the majority of Dundalks offensive production has came courtesy of dangerous QB Mathew Hagan, the divisions leading rusher. So plenty of talented players on show in this clash and as Omagh RFC is a hot spot for high scoring games; lets hope for better than a 8-0 scoreline.

Fun Fact: The Dundalk Mavericks and Tyrone Titans have played 4 times in the last two years including in the IAFL-2 Bowl game; The Titans have won all of them. 

SKS  South Kildare Soldiers (2-2) @ Donegal/Derry Vipers (0-3)  Vip – Londonderry YMCA, 2pm.

SKS and the Vipers are still very early in their tenures as clubs, but even a years extra experience can prove crucial when it comes down to it. The Soldiers experience overcame the spirited Vipers two weeks ago, will it be a similar outcome this weekend?

South Kildare have already improved dramatically from their debut season in the IAFL-2 in which they finished 1-5. One year later and they are sitting 2nd in the table, only behind the resplendent Trojans 2nd’s and their points difference is looking much much healthier. The Trojans are a big task for anybody, but wins against a talented Vikings team as well as the Vipers have shown that the Soldiers are a match for everyone else in the division. QB Eoin Whelan and RB Dara Moran are having solid seasons and are a huge part of the teams success of late and with two games to go, the Soldiers have a great chance of finishing with a 0.500 record or better this year.

Three losses might not look too promising in the table, but the Vipers are a new outfit to this league so it will take time for them to reach their full potential. On the plus side, they have improved tremendously since their ‘induction’ back in April. Two games against the Trojans isn’t going to do wonders for your points difference, but they did tally 20 against Belfast and then a further 26 against the Soldiers, so the league minnows are starting to go places. There is still plenty of opportunities for the Vipers to increase their scoring tally, and with the Soldiers on Sunday and a Galway Warriors double header too look forward to, they could improve their W/L record too.

For those who attended Cill Dara two weeks ago will have been blessed with a scoring extravaganza! and no doubt those making the journey up North will be praying for a similar experience. The Soldiers could go positive at (3-2) for the first time in their clubs history, whilst the Vipers will do anything to earn their first win of the season.

Fun Fact: The Soldiers 54-26 victory over the Donegal/Derry Vipers is the highest scoring game in the IAFL this season!

NFL-Ireland’s Week 13: ‘Team of the Week’

NFL-Ireland’s Week 13: ‘Team of the Week’

Week 13 is done and dusted as another helping of IAFL games end up in the history books. 5 games took place this weekend and what a weekend of football it was! The Belfast Trojans became the first side to win a domestic honour on Sunday as they defeated the Craigavon Cowboys to clinch the SBC North division title.

There were also important wins for the South Dublin Panthers and Trinity College, whilst the Wolves leapfrogged Meath into third with victory at Navan RFC. The biggest shock of the weekend however came at Castleknock as the Rhinos ground out their first win of the season against the Knights, lifting the Rhinos off the bottom of the combined table for the first time this season.

Only 5 weeks remain in the IAFL regular season, but as the year winds down there is still time for a number of performances to catch the eyes of us here at NFL-Ireland. Plenty to go through in this weeks TOTW article, so lets get to it!

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Photography by Dave Bradshaw

Quarterback:

James McKelvey
thumb_BTlogo Belfast Trojans

The leagues leading signal-caller once again proved his worth on Sunday with another masterful performace at the helm of the Trojan juggernaut. McKelvey threw 2 touchdowns in the 48-0 rout against the Cowboys, with both of those touchdowns reaching favourite target, David Richardson. He also scored on a QB sneak from 2 yards out. The Quarterback’s form has improved as the season wears on and he has now surpassed his tally from last season, with 14 touchdowns on the year so far. Still plenty of games left to reach the 20 mark!

Photo by Charisse Mae Ducao
Photo by Charisse Mae Ducao

Running Back:

Ola Bademosi
thumb_TCDlogo Trinity College

Second week running that Ola Bademosi has been the star back in the league, as he added 3 touchdowns against the Reapers to help the students to a 37-3 win. After a solid performance against the Vikings, Ola was able to move the ball in impressive fashion against North Kildare’s defence as they couldn’t find an answer for his fast, physical running. So often the back-up to star player Rob McDowell, Ola’s run atop the depth chart has paid dividends and he’s becoming a real threat for the Trinity Offence, with 5 TD’s in 2 games. Trinity look like they may be forging a new talisman in the backfield.

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Photo by Ariane Boudias

Wide Receiver:

Alex Gurnee
thumb_TCDlogo Trinity College

Two touchdowns for the big receiver as he spearheaded Trinity’s dissection of the Reapers secondary. Most of TCD’s touchdowns this season has been on the ground, but Gurnee showed why they are just as dangerous in the air, connecting with QB Dan Finnamore for some big plays. Alex is now tied for second in the SBC reception chart with 3 scores this year.

Photography by Charisse Mae Ducao
Photography by Charisse Mae Ducao

Offensive Line:

Trinity College thumb_TCDlogo

Trinity’s o-line had a commanding day Sunday, moving the ball with balance and confidence as they closed the gap on the Vikings in the SBC South. The students rushed for 3 touchdowns and passed for 2 against the Reapers as Finnamore, Bademosi and Gurnee took control of the game. Trinity are beginning to hit their stride again at the perfect time and with plenty of games still to play, there is time for them to make an impression on the title race as well as in our ‘TOTW’ column.

Photography by Dave Bradshaw
Photography by Dave Bradshaw

Defence:

Belfast Trojans thumb_BTlogo

Best defence in the league? It would take a lot to disagree with a such a statement! The reigning champions bagged yet another shut-out, their third of the season as the Cowboys were the latest victims to fall to the dominant Trojans D. Defensive Tackle, Christophe Perret had a fumble recovery whilst middle linebacker, Connor Whitla had a pick 6 and a fumble recovery of his own. The victory clinched Belfast their 4th consecutive division title with two games to spare, whilst also holding Peter Loughran and the leagues third highest scoring offence to nothing.


Honourable Mentions:

thumb_BTlogo – Jonathan, Jonah, Cheat Codes, Chico?! Doesn’t matter what you call him he is still going to score ridiculous touchdowns! Yet another punt return score to add to his collection, this time from 60 yards out. Jonah Siri is the only player in the SBC to have currently scored a touchdown on Special Teams.

thumb_waterfordlogo  30 – An honourable mention to the defences of both the Waterford Wolves and Meath Bulldogs who demonstrated what defensive football is all about on Sunday. Only a pick-6 from Ryan Byrne of the Wolves(1 of 3 INTS on the day for him) and safety from Bulldog, Stephen Power made it onto the scoreboard in a incredibly close contest that finished 7-2 in Waterford’s favour. Defence! Defence!

thumb_panthers – The Panthers defence had an impressive day Sunday. Arguably one of the most exciting players in the IAFL at the moment is UCD QB Tom Donovan. Contained for the most part by the South Dublin outfit and picked off on two occasions by Panthers LB Conrad Cook and once by DB Eoin Neville, to ice the game as UCD attempted a comeback.

thumb_RHlogo – Things are still very tough for the Rhinos but with their backs against the wall they finally mustered an offensive performance. A switch at QB brought Stephen Mooney under centre and gave the Rhinos offence the spark it needed to get a result here. They’ll still need help elsewhere but their is life in Castleknock yet.

thumb_BTlogo– Technically we mentioned his exploits earlier but he deserves an individual mention also. Short of Neil Graham, The Trojans defence could have been considered slightly weaker than normal. Not so as Conor Whitla put in the performance of two men. Scoring on a pick six and creating….hell just have a watch of this video by Media 401 Productions

IAFL Week 13: Game Previews

IAFL Week 13: Game Previews

The countdown is on as the end to the regular season begins to draw ever closer. With a lot of teams futures hanging in the balance, each and every game becomes all the more important as a simple win or loss could dictate the outcome of the entire year. Five exceptional games to feast upon across Ireland with a number of teams battling to keep their playoff hopes alive, while others simply want to avoid the drop and we could have our first division champion of the year. Theres a lot at stake on Sunday, so who will take their chances?

Shamrock Bowl Conference

thumb_reapersLogo2North Kildare Reapers (3-2) @ Trinity College (3-1) thumb_TCDlogo  –  ALSAA, 2pm.

As the race for automatic promotion in the SBC South heats up, one of these sides could strengthen their grip on second spot whilst the other could be pinning all their hopes on clinching a wildcard berth come July. It will be all to play for at Santry on Sunday.

Outside of the Trojans, the Reapers and TCD are the next best sides in the form books. The Reapers have overcome two closely contested games against the Cowboys and Rhinos to put them in excellent position to steal second place. The Reapers have defied the odds once again up to this point and whilst they sit at -36 in points difference, they’ve managed to grind out victories. It’s all about the W at the end of the day. This game however could be the real test in determining whether North Kildare will be capable of competing in playoff football.

Despite the six week layoff before they faced UL, it appeared the lack of game day practice failed to affect Trinity’s performance on Sunday. An excellent 22-3 win over the division leaders has put Trinity on a purple patch and given them an excellent shot at catching the Vikings at the top. Some may have questioned if the students were capable of a repeat year, but Sunday’s outcome was reminiscent of their unbeaten path to the Shamrock Bowl in 2014. The positive news for last years finalists is that they sit in a great position in the playoff race, with still half of their season yet to play.

The intensity of the SBC South is there for all to see, with 3 teams looking to battle their way into second and the division title still yet to be claimed. It looks certain that this race could go right down to the wire. There is no better time for the Reapers and Trinity College to lock horns with both on such good form and with the playoff’s at stake, this game has that extra edge that not many would have saw coming when the schedule was published.

thumb_CKlogo Carrickfergus Knights (1-3) @ West Dublin Rhinos (0-5) thumb_RHlogo  – Castleknock College, 2pm.

It’s been a disappointing season for both sides it must be said. There would have been a lot of promise heading into the campaign that playoff football was a distinct goal, now it’s a case of overturning poor form into wins and trying to salvage their seasons.

The Knights started off the season with a bang against the Cowboys, but now that opening game feels like a distant memory. It was always going to be a tough task to contend with the SBC North powerhouses of the Trojans and Rebels, but the Knights squad is filled with depth and quality and they are more than capable of challenging the very best in Ireland. So far things haven’t gone smoothly for the ‘Black and Gold’, they have lost 3 on the bounce and they have shipped in 117 points, 18 more than this weekends opponents who are yet to win a game.

The odd’s might be unrealistic, but there is still a ‘slim’ chance that the Rhino’s could avoid demotion! If we take a look back to last season, the Rhinos defeated the Knights 8-0 that helped grant them the last remaining wildcard spot against the odds and if there is a team you shouldn’t bet against, it’s the men from Castleknock. The Rhino’s have really struggled on offence all season, thats apparent; but coming up against the lowest ranked defence in the SBC on home soil, there’s no better opportunity to start putting points on the board.

With a number of playoff teams competing this weekend, the Knights cannot afford to be left behind. If they can take victory against the Rhinos, they will set themselves up nicely for the must win double headers against rival challengers the Craigavon Cowboys and Dublin Rebels. They need to regain their form in this match and the defence must prevent a potential Rhino’s breakout performance. For the West Dubliners the options are simple; win or bust!

thumb_BTlogo Belfast Trojans (5-0) @ Craigavon Cowboys (2-3) thumb_CClogo  – Chambers Park, 2pm.

The SBC’s last remaining unbeaten team will look to seal up the North Division title this Sunday. The Trojans travel to Portadown to face rivals the Craigavon Cowboys who have intentions of not only ruining the party, but to maintain their own path to the playoff’s.

Belfast are sitting comfortably atop of the IAFL rankings, both on points and on record. The current champions have scored 196 points in 5 games, tallying 27 touchdowns in total. The defence has performed as expected, only conceding 22 thus far so once again the Trojans have dominated every opposition they have faced in the league. The resounding wins against the Rebels and Knights has all but secured Belfast the title already, but victory against the Cowboys will confirm it in writing.

The Cowboys last gasp defeat away to the Reapers would have left a sour taste in the mouth, but the recent home win against the Panthers has now placed them into the current wildcard vacancy. All they need to do now is stay there; easier said than done of course. It now looks that the Cowboys have found a winning remedy to reward their efforts, as they are now attributing good performances with wins. They currently score as much as they concede with a +2 points difference, but they have tallied the third most touchdowns in the SBC. So with the offence in good form, it’s up to the defence to follow suit.

It will be a tricky end of season run for the Cowboys as they face Belfast in the return leg to close out the regular season, but the Knights game mere weeks away will be the key fixture. Peter Loughran and co. will be hoping to stay in contention this weekend as the Trojans scored 84 points against the Cowboys in the last two outings. However the Cowboys have been impressive at home, but a Trojans victory in Portadown would clinch them another consecutive division title.

‘Game of the Week’
thumb_UCDlogo University College Dublin (2-2) @ South Dublin Panthers (1-4) thumb_panthers  – Garda RFC, 2pm.

This game is our chosen ‘Game of the Week’ candidate as both sides are evenly matched on paper and added with the extra incentive of potential playoff football, a loss to either side could be damaging with difficult fixtures still to come.

The Panthers and UCD have suffered losses in recent weeks, as the students fell short against the Vikings by a 12-13 scoreline over a month ago. Their high-octane offence is yet to reach the dizzying heights that they achieved in the IAFL-1 as they currently lie in the bottom half of the division in points scored. The defence however has been tough to breakdown only surrendering 42 points, the lowest amount in the SBC South. UCD do have an incredibly talented squad, with Tom Donovan and Paul Geraghty consistent threats in every game. It will only be a matter of time before the O gets clicking like normal.

The South Dubliners have proven that they can battle with the best in the country, with impressive performances against the Carrickfergus Knights and Trinity College. Unfortunately those performances haven’t transpired of late, losing to both the Dublin Rebels and Craigavon Cowboys that has set them on a two game losing streak. The Westmanstowns outfit have by far and away the toughest schedule of all teams in the SBC and UCD will pose another stern test for the Panthers. Still to face the Vikings and Rebels, the Panthers have done well to stay in playoff contention up to this point.

This is an even match-up and it’s too close to call how it could turn out. The Panthers have currently scored more points than UCD, however the students have conceded less and have played a game less too. The stats show that both teams have had success running the ball, but its Quarterback duo Tom Donovan and Mick Duncan that lead the team in rushing scores. The Panthers are yet to register a single passing touchdown so far, whilst receiver Paul Geraghty will be a target on Sunday for UCD, as he looks to exploit the Panthers pass defence. So what we know is that both teams like to run the ball, the Quarterbacks have the potential to go mobile and we should expect a very close contest.

IAFL-1

thumb_waterfordlogo Waterford Wolves (2-2) @ Meath Bulldogs (2-2) 30  – Navan RFC, 2pm.

The Wolves make the trip up to Meath this weekend as only one team will be left in 3rd place as both sides look to close the gap on the Tyrone Titans in second. Meath defeated Waterford 13-0 three weeks ago and will be looking to complete the double over their fierce rivals.

The Wolves performances have been rather mixed so far but one thing is for sure; they have won games. Recovering from a winless season in the SBC takes a lot of mental toughness, but securing wins against Mullingar and Dundalk has left a sense of confidence in the ‘Wolf Pack’. Now with those victories under the belts, the Wolves have the opportunity to make the Bowl game after an off-season of rebuilding and reflection. In order to do that however they need to improve their offensive production and become more consistent performers on the field. The defence however are good at creating turnovers and they will be pivotal to a good Waterford performance

The Bulldogs have always been a very physical team to play against and sides know they are in for tough game of football. Meath are usually a very difficult side to contend with at home, however Navan RFC hasn’t been same fortress that it’s been in recent years. Both of the Bulldogs victories have come away from home against Dundalk and the Wolves, and they have conceded the more points at home this season. The combination of brothers, Pete and Eddie McMahon will look to be the difference again, similar to the previous fixture.

Out of the three teams chasing for third, the Bulldogs currently hold the advantage. They have defeated both the Mavericks and Wolves already and winning on Sunday would give them the tie-breaker over the Wolves should it be needed. Neither side has a high scoring offence so it looks set to be another defensive battle this weekend. This game will be crucial for both sides, as with the Admirals and Titans steaming ahead, there will only be one place available in the Bowl for those chasing it. It’s now about who wants it more.

NFL-Ireland’s Week 12: ‘Team of the Week’

NFL-Ireland’s Week 12: ‘Team of the Week’

Prior to Week 12 there was 4 teams with unbeaten records in the IAFL, now only two remain. Both the UL Vikings and Tyrone Titans suffered their first defeats of the season, as the Vikes fell to a 22-3 scoreline at the hands of Trinity College in Santry ensuring the SBC South goes right down to the wire. The Tyrone Titans 11 game win streak came to an end courtesy of IAFL-1 leaders the Cork Admirals, as the longest trip in the IAFL earned them a 22-7 win at Omagh RFC.

Meanwhile there were scoring fests in the IAFL-2 as the Trojans won their 4th in a row with a 60-7 victory over the Galway Warriors and the highest scoring game came at in Kildare as the Soldiers defeated the Vipers 54-26 to take move up to 2nd spot in the table.

There was 201 points scored on Sunday, so we shouldn’t have too much trouble finding quality performances from this weekend!

team of the week
Photo by Dean Cullen

Quarterback: Eoin Whelan
South Kildare Soldiers

Eoin becomes the first member of the South Kildare Soldiers to make it into the ‘Team of the Week’ and what a week he had too! He tallied 3 passing and 1 rushing touchdown, as well as a 2 point attempt success, as the Kildare outfit defeated the Donegal/Derry Vipers 54-26 at Cill Dara. Eoin was one of a number of players who stood out during the game but more on that later. The victory places the Soldiers ahead of rivals Galway and in 2nd in the IAFL-2, and they will be hoping that Eoin can continue to perform well at QB as the season draws to an end.

team of the week
Photo by Jason Toher

Running Back: Ola Bademosi
Trinity College

It’s been a very stop start season for TCD, but the victory over UL with restore belief and confidence that they can claw their way back to a potential 7-1 campaign. Furthermore, Ola Bademosi had an exceptional game against a very tough UL defence that has only conceded 24 points until Sunday. Perhaps the standout moment was not either of his jaunts into the end-zone but the dominating series of stiff arms as he drove Trinity off their own Goal line into safer field position. The Vikings posses one of the best run defences in the league which makes Bademosi’s two rushing scores even more impressive!

team of the week
Photo by Ariane Boudias

Wide Receiver: Cork Admirals trio

We don’t usually go with more than one player for this award, but the Admirals passing game continues to grow from strength to strength. Receivers Simon O’Keefe, Ben Jenkins and Paul O’Driscoll proved the difference makers as their receptions granted them a 22-7 win over a resolute Titans defence. The Admirals offence is proving increasingly troublesome to contain, and with Steve Hayes and Nick Coffi already flying high in the rankings, these 3 are adding an extra dimension to an already impressive Cork aerial attack.

team of the week
Photo by Dean Cullen

Offensive Line: South Kildare Soldiers

The Belfast Trojans registered the most points this weekend with 60, but the Soldiers weren’t far behind with 54. They proved to be very balanced on offence as they scored 3 passing and 4 rushing touchdowns, with Eoin Whelan causing damage from the pocket with excellent protection from the O-Line. They also donated in the run-game with Dara Moran adding a three scores from goal to go positions. That performance will give the offence confidence ahead of the return match against the Vipers in 2 weeks.

team of the week
Photo by Jason Toher

Defence: Trinity College

To beat your fiercest rivals is one thing, but to close them down for pretty much the entire game is an achievement in itself. TCD produced a defensive display that merited the award as they prevented, an up to now, dominant Vikings run-game from establishing any hold on the game, keeping them to only a field goal all game. It’s the first time we’ve seen the Vikings offence struggle and Trinity’s performance looked reminiscent of their fine form in 2014. The victory caused UL their first loss of the year and gives Trinity an excellent chance to catch and overtake them them.

 


Honourable Mentions:

– Special Teams can make all the difference in games, and the return pairing of Matt Armstrong and Jonah Siri (he prefers the name Chico!) had another great day at the office. Jonah scored 4 TD’s against Galway, 2 from Punt returns whilst Armstrong scored on a home run 100 yard kickoff return and added a further rushing touchdown to his collection.

-Running Back Nathan Purcell may feel little unlucky to not have registered scores for the Soldiers on Sunday as he three times put the Kildare men in Goal Line situations and allowing his full back Dara Moran to get the last few yards. Purcell had 266 yards on the day.

-A name we haven’t mentioned too much this year has been Rob McDowell. McDowell cameoed at Quarterback against UL setting up two scoring drives and taking a punt return 60 yards to the UL 5 yard line to set up the first score of the day. McDowell has been plagued by injuries this campaign but is still a threat to turn any broken play into a game changer.

-Beginning to detect a trend here as Vipers QB Nic Young had himself another very fine day against the Soldiers. Young passed for a touchdown and ran for 2 more in an ever improving Vipers offence.

 

IAFL Week 12: Game Previews

Game Previews

IAFL Week 12: Game Previews

The SBC heads for another quiet week, but there are three other games in the lower divisions to look forward too on Sunday. The SBC tie is a clash between two familiar foes in Dublin, the two top teams in the IAFL-1 will battle it out as someones ‘0’ has got to go and the IAFL-2 rumbles towards the half way point. Here’s the run down of fixtures for Week 12.

UL Vikings (5-0) @ Trinity College (2-1) – ALSAA, Dublin 2pm. 

The Vikings are riding high at the top of the SBC South and victory on Sunday would clinch their first division title since 2012. TCD are playing catch up for that automatic playoff spot however with plenty of games in hand, a win would throw this division wide open again.

It has been a long wait for both sides to return to the football field and been an age since we last mentioned either of them in a game preview. Trinity College haven’t played since March and while their competitors have been picking up wins, the students have been consigned to the the sidelines. Sunday will give them their chance to make up for lost time, as well as the opportunity to overturn the 14-0 defeat to UL the earlier this year.

It’s beginning to increasingly unlikely that the Vikings will be caught as they surge towards the SBC South crown and although they haven’t played since Week 8, their form and momentum should carry over to game day. The transition of Ian Cahill from Defensive-End to Quarterback has worked seamlessly so far, as the Vikings have scored 103 points in 5 games, 27 short from the same stage last year whilst still only conceding 24. The balance of their side plus their unbeaten stature is looking reminiscent of their 2012 season with a number of their performers still to return.

No matter what stage of the season, you can always expect an exciting game of football when these sides meet. The lack of game time may well affect the quality of TCD’s performance, but you can guarantee they have been training hard to ensure they are prepared for the Vikings visit. Losing won’t be on their minds and with 4 games still to play after this their destiny is still in their own hands, for the moment.

‘Game of the Week’

Cork Admirals (3-0) @ Tyrone Titans (4-0) – Omagh RFC, 2pm.

Certainly our ‘Game of the Week’ as the two top sides in the IAFL-1 battle for supremacy. This game has huge implications for a number of reasons; unbeaten streaks, top spot, scoring charts as well as bragging rights will all come in to play on Sunday. This is arguably the most balanced game of football that will take place this year, but only one will leave with all still intact.

Despite the postponement of their last game against Dundalk, the Admirals have been nothing short of magnificent this year. Steve Hayes and co have scored 96 points in 3 appearances, averaging 32 points per game. The defence isn’t too bad either only conceding 34 points thus far, stats that would rival many teams in the SBC. With production like that, the Titans will have a hard time containing an explosive Admirals offence. It’s going to be a long, long trip up North for the Admirals so fatigue could play a factor, but the quality and experience within the side should overcome that.

We knew the Titans would be a perfect fit for the IAFL-1 at the start of the season, but even we couldn’t predict that they would overcome many of the more experienced sides in the division. Victories against Meath and Mullingar have propelled the Titans into top spot, for now, and they look every bit as good as they did last season. The dominant win against the Minotaurs will deliver a great deal of confidence to a team that faces their biggest challenge to date. On top of that, with the match being held in Tyrone, the Titans will have the added home field advantage, and they are very strong at home.

So much to talk about in this one, it’s hard to know where to start. The Admirals possess the divisions best offence and the Titans the best defence. They are currently tied in terms of points difference and the scoring charts suggest there is little between the team also. Both Quarterbacks Steve Hayes and Daniel Mullan have passed for 10 touchdowns apiece whilst Nick Coffi and Ryan Brolly have lead the receiving charts with 5 touchdowns each. Those match-ups will be key in deciding this one. This is the only regular season encounter between these two so a victory all the more important in securing the bye week and a potential automatic IAFL1 bowl appearance. Too close to call!

Galway Warriors (1-0-1) @ Belfast Trojans 2nd’s (3-0) – Deramore Park, 2pm

First versus second in the IAFL-2, as the Galway Warriors head North to face the Trojans 2nd’s. The Warriors opened well against fellow division sophomores, the Soldiers, before they drew 0-0 in a torpor inducing game against the Rhinos. The Trojans on the other hand have brushed aside the Vipers on both occasions as well as the Soldiers, scoring 188 points in total!

Warriors struggles on offence last season appeared to be corrected against SKS, however those problems resurfaced when they failed to register against the Rhinos. It’s going to take a incredible performance from the Warriors to simply stay in contention in Belfast and as much as we don’t like ruling teams out, it’s hard to see this one going any other way than victory for the Trojans. Galway should seize up the opportunities in this game for experience and prepare for the more winnable games against the Vipers and UL 2nd’s down the line.

The Trojans have flooded the scoring charts and it’s not hard to see why. Kris Donaghy, Matt Armstrong, Jonah Siri and Chris McKeown have all been excellent in the IAFL-2, and thats just to name a few. A lot of these players will return to the first team as the season progresses so the first’s squad will have great potential heading into the playoff’s. The Warriors can pack a punch, so the Trojans should be cautious, but their quality will be too much for a committed Galway outfit.

Donegal/Derry Vipers (0-2) @ South Kildare Soliders (1-2) – Cill Dara RFC, 2pm.

Intriguing game this one. Similar to Galway, both teams have had ups and downs this campaign. The Viper’s were sacrificed on the alter of the IAFL2 schedule in their opening 2 games as they were decimated by the Belfast Trojans 2nds(and a few 1sts) in both game. The defeat against Trojans by a 72-0 scoreline could have proved disastrous for morale but rather than cowering the Vipers landed a few blows in the second encounter with Belfast putting up 20 points. This will give them a huge boost for the remainder of the season when they face teams of a less established stature.

The Soldiers surprised many when they won against a strong UL 2nd’s team and plenty would have assumed that South Kildare were a much improved outfit from last season. That opening performance hasn’t transferred so far, as they lost to close rivals, the Warriors, the following week. Not the best lead in to before taking a hit against the Trojans 2nd’s on their home turf. They face the Vipers in back to back games before facing the Trojans again, so if they have hopes of a bowl game, they need to start winning and Sunday will be the time to start.

The Soldiers and Vipers schedules are a little bit more appealing now and they can focus on picking up wins against more manageable opponents. Aside from the Trojans, it’s very much an even playing field so there is a lot of to play for with plenty of games still to come. The Soldiers are capable of beating the majority of this division and the Vipers are still an unknown element until they face similar sides, so we should learn how each team fairs come Sunday.

NFL-Ireland’s Week 11: ‘Team of the Week’

Team of the Week

NFL-Irelands Week 11: ‘Team of the Week’

Six good games took place in the IAFL this past weekend, all with varying ranges of importance. Belfast Trojans made a huge statement on Sunday, disposing of the Carrickfergus Knights 57-0, scoring 7 more points than they did in the same match-up last season. The 2nd’s also defeated the Donegal/Derry Vipers 60-20 in the double header, however the Vipers showed signs of improvement since their season opener.

Meanwhile there was also wins for the Craigavon Cowboys and North Kildare Reapers in the SBC, whilst the Waterford Wolves and Meath Bulldogs won very close contests in the IAFL-1. Another good week of football and another batch of good performances! Who made it into the best of Week 11?

 

Team of the Week
Photo by Ariane Boudias

Quarterback: Peter Loughran 
Craigavon Cowboys

Another appearance in our ‘Team of the Week’ column in recent weeks for Peter. The Quarterback/Linebacker/Receiver helped contribute massively to the Cowboys narrow 20-14 victory over division rivals, the South Dublin Panthers. Despite being under constant pressure at signal-caller, Peter was able to pass for 3 touchdowns that guided the ‘Boys’ to victory. His strong arm and ability to run causes opposing defences many problems, but despite playing various positions, he has proven more than capable of leading the Cowboys offence this season.

 

Team of the Week
Photo by Dave Bradshaw

Running-Back: Matt Armstrong
Belfast Trojans

Yet again, the Belfast Trojan backfield occupy our running-back slot, proving that the men in green possess arguably the most feared core of backs in the league. Neil Montgomery, Peter Roberts and Jonah Siri have been selected in the past, this time its Matt Armstrong’s turn. The former Safety rushed for another hat-trick of touchdowns against the Knights, bringing his overall total for the season to 10 (including IAFL-2) The Trojan backfield has now scored a ridiculous 26 touchdowns combined.

 

Team of the Week
Photo by Ariane Boudias

Tight-End: Conrad Smith
Craigavon Cowboys

Conrad Smith becomes our first tight-end to be selected as part of the ‘Team of the Week’. His 2 receptions against the Panthers were pivotal, making very good catches on both counts. His connection with QB Peter Loughran was the key to unlocking the Panthers secondary and showed himself to be a solid player throughout the game. He could be a crucial weapon to the Cowboys offence down the final stretch of the season. He now jumps up to second in the SBC receiving charts with 3 touchdowns.

 

Team of the Week
Photo by Dave Bradshaw

Offensive Line: Belfast Trojans

There was a number of closely contested games this weekend, with minimal points scored. However the game at Deramore Park was nothing short of a blowout. The Trojans registered 57 points over rivals the Knights, scoring 6 rushing and 2 passing touchdowns. They also tallied 60 against the Vipers in the IAFL-2. Belfast’s balance on offence is a big factor in their recent success, they are strong in the trenches, the backs run hard and aggressive and the receivers make plays. Stopping the Trojans this year will take some doing.

 

Team of the Week
Photo by Dave Bradshaw

Defence: Belfast Trojans

Only the Trojans and Reapers registered shut-outs this weekend, but keeping your bitterest rivals off the scoreboard and putting 57 in the other end takes a complete performance on defence, something the Trojans have been showing all year. Not only did they force 2 fumbles and an interception, but they also managed a safety! The Trojans have now scored the most points and conceded the least points in the SBC.

Honourable Mention:

– Quarterback, Nic Young of the Donegal/Derry Vipers made history by connecting with receiver Mark Gray for the Vipers first ever official touchdown. The Vipers scored a further 2 touchdowns in a much improved performance against the Belfast Trojans 2nd’s. The Minnesota born QB could be a huge player this season for the Vipers!

– Speaking of Quarterbacks, the Trojans have a very good one in James McKelvey. Although he didn’t receive the TOTW award this time, he now has 12 touchdowns in 5 games this season, 1 shy off his tally from last year.

– We mentioned Running-Back Jonah Siri earlier and he had another impressive game on Sunday. He returned a 50 yard punt to start the first offensive drive, and also made a vital interception inside the Trojans own 10 yard line. He also scored a 30 yard rushing touchdown against the Knights before scoring against the Vipers also. Good day all round!

Ryan Byrne of the Waterford Wolves also had a good day, helping his team take victory over the Minotaurs by a score of 13-7. Ryan made an interception and also scored the Wolves opener, via a 60-yard bootleg run.

Want to find out how your players compare to the rest of the league? Here’s a link to all the scorers you need!

Shamrock Bowl Conference Scoring Charts
IAFL-1 Scoring Charts
IAFL-2 Scoring Charts

SBC Week 11: Game Previews

American Football Ireland

IAFL Week 11: Game Previews

Our Game Previews and American Football returns to its full compliment as we once again have an action packed weekend of games, with 6 fixtures across 3 tiers to sink our teeth into. We have 3 interdivisional SBC games on hand, 2 very important IAFL-1 games and a double header at Deramore Park. Every game in the league is important, but it’s even more so with only a number of games left on each teams calendar, and there’s still so much to play for!

Carrickfergus Knights(1-2) @ Belfast Trojans (4-0) – Deramore Park, 1pm

The return leg of this heated derby game takes place at Deramore Park this weekend, with the Trojans looking to extend their unbeaten streak in the league and the Knights seeking to close the gap to the Dublin Rebels.

After a solid start to the campaign, the Knights have faltered over the last few games, suffering defeats to both the Panthers and this weekends opposition. Fate is still in their hands however as with winnable games down the line and the all important division game against the Rebels, the Knights are still very capable of clinching 2nd spot in the SBC North, and they believe they have the squad to do it.

The Belfast boys a surging ahead in 2015 as they look on course to claim another division title. They comprehensively defeated the Dublin Rebels 43-8 last Saturday to likely secure top spot, with 4 games yet to play. Slowing down however is not in their nature and with 3 of their remaining games at home, it looks increasingly unlikely that anyone will be able to stop the Trojans from going 8-0 again.

The Knights will be extremely cautious not to succumb to another 50-0 hammering they suffered last season, but at the same time will need to take risks if they are to overcome the Champions. Centre, Joel Neill returns to lineup after recovering from concussion, which will be a big boost on offence. The Trojans will be looking to continue their impressive form by increasing the lead over their rivals, with the McKelvey/Richardson combination aiming to be as effective as ever on Sunday.

North Kildare Reapers (2-2) @ West Dublin Rhinos (0-4) – Castleknock College, 2pm

Two different teams on very different ends of the spectrum, one team improving and rising up the ranks, the other in free-fall. Could the end be in sight for the Rhinos?

At the beginning of the year, we predicted that the Reapers would finish 5th in our SBC South rankings, claiming that victories against the Rhinos and Cowboys would be pivotal in securing safety. Thus far they have defeated both those sides and have proven us wrong with our prediction, so kudos to them! What’s more impressive from a Reapers perspective, is that victory on Sunday would leap them ahead of both UCD and Trinity College in the rankings and our predictions may be off but nobody predicted that.

The Rhino’s presence in the SBC is hanging by a thread. No wins and 4 loses doesn’t make for good reading, especially when the West Dubliners were looking to surpass last seasons heroics and seemed to have to potential to do so. Loss on Sunday would all but condemn the Rhinos to IAFL-1 status as with the lowest points scored and most points points conceded and losses to the Reapers and Cowboys giving up the advantage in head to head. Their closing three games come against the Trojans, Trinity and Knights, it’s hard to see the Rhino’s overcoming the odds this time round.

The Reapers currently hold the head-to-head over the Rhinos with the 12-0 win on the opening day of the season, meaning the Rhinos would need to better that points difference to have any chance of securing safety. The Rhino’s offence have gradually been improving, creating chances in the redzone but they need that extra bit of composure and quality to punch it in. The Reapers will be heading into Castleknock full of confidence after a huge win against the Cowboys, but they must be wary of a potential Rhino’s backlash.

South Dublin Panthers (1-3) @ Craigavon Cowboys (1-3) – Chambers Park, 2pm

Two sides lingering precariously at the bottom, but still have aspirations for playoff football. This game could determine who will still be hunting for that wildcard spot come the end of the season, and who may miss out.

The Panthers have made impressive strides from their tenure as the Dragons, picking up a solid 21-0 win against Carrickfergus and running Trinity College very close. They have far and away the toughest schedule in the SBC, but are handling it well so far. Still, a lot of tough fixtures remain but if they can grab a win in Craigavon, and pull off a potential scalping in their remaining games, their playoff intentions in their rebuilding season will look all the more possible.

The Cowboys performances arguably deserved more than what they’ve achieved. Similar to last season, the performances are there but the end product has been lacking. The narrow defeat at away to the Reapers was a winnable game, and the last thing they need is a potential set-back with the Knights and Trojans on the horizon. Craigavon are still on course to achieve a wildcard spot and a good performance against the Panthers could see them hit stride at the perfect time.

If this match plays out anything similar to last years game, then spectators are in for a real treat! Both sides have the potential to score plenty of points so this could turn out to be another high scoring affair. Each team lacks a real rushing threat at this stage, highlighted by the main rushing scores coming courtesy of Quarterbacks Mick Duncan and Peter Loughran, so expect a lot of aerial movement and QB runs throughout the game. Last seasons encounter came to a nail biting conclusion, would it be too much to expect the same?

NFL-Irelands Week 10: ‘Team of the Week’

NFL-Irelands Week 10: ‘Team of the Week’

Only two games to talk about this week as two entertaining encounters took place North of the border. Each game had huge significance as the Tyrone Titans and Belfast Trojans comprehensively won their ties this weekend with very similar score lines, 44-8 and 43-8 respectively. With those victories, the Titans and Trojans now sit top their divisions, whilst also maintaining their unbeaten start to the season.

I’m sure if you have seen the stats, you’ll know who to expect in this weeks lineup.

Photography by Ariane Boudias
Photography by Ariane Boudias

Quarterback: Daniel Mullan
thumb_TTlogo  Tyrone Titans

Mullan had a record setting day at the office as he guided the Titans to a 44-8 pounding of the Mullingar Minotaurs. He threw for 7 touchdowns, potentially an IAFL record and definitely a Titans record, as the home side dominated from start to finish. Daniel is a consistent threat to any defence both through the air and on the ground and he now ties Stephen Hayes at the top of the IAFL-1 passing charts. The home win at Omagh RFC now see Tyrone’s unbeaten streak stretch to 11 games and see’s their offence shake off the unsteady form they’d been in of late.


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Photo by Dave Bradshaw Photography

Running-Back: Neil Montgomery 
thumb_BTlogo  Belfast Trojans

A number of names could have cropped up here, but considering the scintillating form the Trojans have been in of late, it’s only fair to give the accolade to the workhorse of the backfield in Neil ‘Pocket’ Montgomery. Neil had a blinder against the Rebels as his powerful downhill running helped establish positive possession in Belfast’s 43-8 win. He was unfortunate to only score a single touchdown on Saturday, as he steamrolled in from 35 yards out. He also contributed to a 60 yard run, stiff arming several would be tacklers to the ground before being somewhat controversially ruled down at the half yard line. Back field counterpart Dave Colvin, who had a very fine day himself, strolled into the end zone untouched on the ensuing play. Excellent all round performance from the Full-Back.


Titans Team of the Week
Photo by Ariane Boudias

Wide Receiver: Ryan Brolly
thumb_TTlogo  Tyrone Titans

With Daniel Mullan having such an impressive game, it’s no surprise that we would see a Titans receiver in our ‘Team of the Week’. Ryan Brolly has been a consistent performer and continual threat for Tyrone’s offence this season and he bagged himself 3 touchdowns in Sunday’s victory. He now occupies top spot of the receiving charts along with Nick Coffi on 5 touchdowns. The Titans are still in search of answers in the run game following an injury to Lee McLaughlin, but until they find them Brolly will continue to be the go-to guy.


Titans Team of the Week
Photo by Ariane Boudias

Offensive-Line: thumb_TTlogo  Tyrone Titans

Scoring 44 points in a game is always a special feeling, after weeks of questions about your offence, it’s all the more satisfying. The Titans O-Line were able to create a clean pocket for Daniel Mullan to connect for 7 passing touchdowns, as the offence got back to the high-scoring performances that saw them dominate the IAFL-2 last year. If the Titans can turn this game into a run of form, they will be a sure fire call for clinching ‘at least’ a top 2 spot. We very much look forward to the upcoming game against the Cork Admirals, a battle between the highest scoring teams in the division.


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Photo by Dave Bradshaw Photography

Defence: thumb_BTlogo  Belfast Trojans

The full ‘Team of the Week’ outfit is complete with yet another inclusion from the kings in the north. The Trojans defence has only conceded 22 points in 4 games and they held the strong Dublin Rebels offence to only 8 points at Deramore Park. The Rebels are the 3rd best Offence in the SBC and the Trojans were able to hold them scoreless in the opening 3 quarters, before conceding in the dying embers of the game. To defeat an arch-rival by this amount takes an almost complete performance, and the defence did their part by forcing two fumbles and two interceptions.


Honourable Mentions:

thumb_BTlogo – If there was a ‘Play of the Year’ category, this would certainly fit the bill. Moments of magic in football are breathtaking to watch, and one moment certainly came from Trojans Safety, Rick Duffield. After intercepting the ball and then shedding 3 or 4 would be tacklers, the Rebels finally thought they had the experienced safety down but at the last moment he was able to lateral the ball across to fellow safety Chris Mikhael, who had the simple task of strolling in for an easy touchdown! Rick had 2 interceptions in the game and was a standout on defence. Words can’t really describe how good the play was, you just had to be there!

thumb_DRlogo  – Running-Back Kevin Finnegan was a shining example in what was an under-par Rebels performance as he continued to put in hard yards throughout a difficult game. He wasn’t quite able to get over the line, however his all-round performance merited a touchdown.

thumb_BTlogo  – The James McKelvey/David Richardson combo continues to excel as their partnership again produced results, with another touchdown added to their collection. There is a number of very good Quarterback/Receiver partnerships in the league, but this one might just be the best!

thumb_mullingarlogo  – Niall Folan of the Minotaurs grabbed himself another touchdown, but it wasn’t enough to help Mullingar get their first win of the season. On a more positive note, Folan now has his 4th touchdown of the season and is the main threat of this aerial Minotaurs attack.

To keep up to date with the scoring charts, follows the links down below!
Shamrock Bowl Conference Scoring Charts
IAFL-1 Scoring Charts

IAFL Week 10: Game Previews

IAFL Week 10: Game Previews

Week 10 is upon us, the descent into the business end of the season has begun. Division titles, playoff berths and avoiding relegation all in sight for team in the coming weeks. The majority of teams have already reached the half way point of their fixtures and with not too many games left to play, it will soon become make or break for every side in the IAFL.

This weekend will be very quiet compared to most in terms of football. Only two games in the country to look out for but they are two games with huge significance. So if you happen to be up in the North of Ireland this weekend, be sure to check the games out. You won’t be disappointed!

 

thumb_DRlogo Dublin Rebels (2-2) @ Belfast Trojans (3-0) thumb_BTlogo  – Deramore Park, 3pm.

This is the heavyweight encounter of the SBC North. Two teams that contested Shamrock Bowl 27 and will no doubt have their sights set on earning yet another final appearance. This has become a bitter rivalry over recent years as with the Trojans winning three consecutive National Championships, they are the most dominant side in Irish Football; a title formerly held by the Dublin Rebels.

Although recent performances have taken them down different paths, the ultimate goal for both teams will be to add another triumph to their expanding title collection come the end of the season. Before that can happen however, they must lock horns in Belfast for a game that could well determine who lands the eventual top seed in the North division.

The Rebels shaky start to the 2015 campaign has now subsided with back to back victories over division counterparts the Cowboys and Panthers. Despite their current 0.500 record, the Dubliners still rank 3rd in points scored but remain in the latter half of the Conference in points conceded (6th). Running-Back duo Sean Leamy and Kevin Finnegan have contributed to 7 of the Rebels touchdowns thus far and they will need to hold their current form if they intend to breakdown the leagues top defence.

The Trojans continue to shed every coming challenge with considerable ease, not only do they occupy the top spot in the division, but they have also unsurprisingly taken the IAFL-2 by storm. With their rookies earning valuable game time, they will have a squad brimming with quality and confidence come the post season. Its no surprise either to see the Trojans sit amongst the top teams in the league in both points scored (2nd) and fewest points conceded (1st) with Quarterback James McKelvey and Wide Receiver David Richardson sitting highest in their respective scoring chart categories.

Arguably this is the Trojans first real test of the Season as the Rebels are the first team they have faced that finished 2014 with a winning record. Last seasons match up at Seapoint RFC proved that despite loss, the Rebels at times were able to disrupt the Trojans game plan. Similar efforts will be needed on Saturday in an attempt to stop the Trojans from increasing their lead over the Rebels as victory for Belfast would give them a 2 win advantage with a game in hand, a lead that shouldn’t be caught.

We know both teams are capable of scoring at will, but it feels like this game will ultimately be won on defence. Whichever side is able to stop the opposing Quarterback will surely win, as the dual between two of the country very best in Andrew Dennehy and James McKelvey could determine who comes away with the victory.

 

thumb_mullingarlogo Mullingar Minoutaurs (0-3) @ Tyrone Titans (3-0) thumb_TTlogo  – Omagh RFC, 2pm.

Sunday’s game is the return fixture from two weeks ago, as this time the Titans will host the Minotaurs at Omagh RFC. Both sides have had very different seasons up to this point with one team firmly in playoff contention and the other on the brink of missing out.

It’s not the season many in the midlands would have been expecting. A feeling that 2015 was full of promise, after 2 years of building a team capable of challenging to be the best in the division. Coming close to the achieving bowl status last season, the Minotaurs have suffered a reality check and currently lie bottom of the IAFL-1. With the Wolves and Admirals coming up shortly, it will prove to be much harder to overcome the deficit if they suffer defeat this weekend.

The Titans on the other hand are basking in their undefeated status. They have now gone 10 games unbeaten and if they win this weekend, they will strengthen the gap between their rivals to 6 points, which should be enough to at least clinch a top 2 spot. They must not get carried away however as although they have been grinding out wins, their recent performances on offence haven’t been too convincing. Tyrone’s stagnated performances have come on away fixtures however, so their return to Omagh should see them regain their usual form.

The last outing finished in a tight 8-0 win for the Titans and as is still fresh in the memory, both sides should be familiar with the opposition capabilities. Currently it is the passing attacks that is getting the job done for these sides, as only QB Daniel Mullan has scored a rushing TD for the Titans, whilst Mullingar are yet to register on the ground. So until the run game is firmly established, receivers Niall Folan of the Minotaurs and Ryan Brolly of the Titans will be the expected targets in this game.

If the Titans win, they will take top spot off the Admirals in the IAFL-1, but if the Minotaurs can claim victory, they will be right back in the thick of the race for 3rd place.

NFL-Irelands Week 9: ‘Team of the Week’

NFL-Irelands Week 9: ‘Team of the Week’
It was very much a mixed bag of results this past weekend, the Cork/Dundalk game was called off but there were crucial victories across the country nonetheless as the Meath Bulldogs, North Kildare Reapers and Belfast Trojans 2nd’s all added W’s to their column, whilst there was a 0-0 tie between the Warriors and Rhinos which is the first scoreless draw in the league since….well, brownie points for whoever can name the last time!

Despite only being 4 games on show, there were still a number of displays worth mentioning so without further ado, let’s see who stood out of the crowd on Sunday.

Photography by Charisse Mae Ducao
Photography by Charisse Mae Ducao

Quarterback: Luke Bailey

thumb_reapersLogo2 North Kildare Reapers

There wasn’t too many passing touchdowns this weekend, however south paw QB Luke Bailey of the Reapers contributed two of the three as he connected with receivers Josh Dowling and Ryan Doherty to help guide the Kildare outfit to a narrow 13-12 victory over the Craigavon Cowboys. The win gives the Reapers a great chance of not only equalling last years record, but realistically clinching a playoff berth, thanks in part to Luke’s performance on Sunday.


Photo by Paul Talbot Photography
Photo by Paul Talbot Photography

Running-Back: Jonathan Siri
thumb_BTlogo Belfast Trojans

The Trojans 2nd’s stormed to another comprehensive victory this weekend as they put 63 past the South Kildare Soldiers in the IAFL-2. Many players contributed to a dominant display, but at times it turned into a one man show. Described by teammates as “as good as having cheat codes” Running Back, Jonathan Siri scored half of the teams points by tallying 5 touchdowns, with 1 of those from defensive end. The men in Green are already stacked in the backfield as Matt Armstrong and Peter Roberts have scored plenty of points between them so far, but it looks like Belfast have found yet another rushing prodigy.


Reapers Team of the Week
Photo by Axel Patsch

Wide Receiver: thumb_reapersLogo2Josh Dowling North Kildare Reapers

As we mentioned above there was only 3 passing touchdowns yesterday and 2 of them were in this game. Tom Montgomery scored the 8th of 9 touchdowns against the Soldiers for the Trojans and Ryan Doherty scored the first Reapers touchdown of the day. #7 Dowling caught his first touchdown of the season and in doing so gave the Reapers the all important win. The Reapers now have 2 wins this season and if nothing else can now think themselves likely to be safe from the drop. Playoffs are now a possibility for the Kilcock team and Dowling is sure to be a key contributor to that push. (Photo to follow)


Photo by Paul Talbot Photography
Photo by Paul Talbot Photography

Offensive Line: thumb_BTlogo  Belfast Trojans  

It’s not quite 72, but its pretty close! 63 points were scored by the Trojans on Sunday. Bar one touchdown and a safety on defence, the offensive line put in yet another professional display as they assisted the run-game with 7 rushing scores and protected QB Kris Donaghy for 1 passing touchdown to TE Tom Montgomery. The O-Line has now contributed to 135 points in 2 games! With 4 more games in the IAFL-2 still to play.


Bulldogs Team of the Week
Photo by Gerard Heine

Defence: 30  Meath Bulldogs

The Bulldogs made the difficult journey down south to face the Waterford Wolves on Sunday and managed to come away with their first victory of the season. Meath salvaged a hard-fought 13-0 win over their playoff rivals as they fended off anything the Wolves had to throw at them. There were a number of clean sheets this weekend, however with the magnitude of this game and the considerable bearing it could have on each teams season, this shut-out was the most important of all.


Honourable Mentions:

 – After a long spell on the sideline yesterday Peter Loughran re-entered the game against the Reapers in the 4th quarter and looked to swing the momentum in the Cowboys direction. Playing on an injured ankle he pushed a pile of bodies and himself into the end zone for the score with under a minute remaining. The Cowboys unfortunately were unsuccessful with the 2 point attempt for the win.

30– Meath QB Eddie McMahon had a productive day passing the ball in terrible weather conditions and against a run stuffing Waterford defence. Eddie also contributed a rushing TD on the day which you can see here.

30– Keeping it in the family, RB Pete McMahon reeled in 5 of those passes and contributed a rushing touchdown of his own on the difficult away trip to Waterford.

thumb_BTlogo– Trojans Running Back Matt Armstrong had another good day with 3 rushing touchdowns against the Soldiers. Matt also had a touchdown for the 1st team last week and is showing the kind of form that will see him get more and more opportunities against the SBC defences.

thumb_reapersLogo2– Reapers Linebacker Thomas Brocklebank was all over the field yesterday verses the Cowboys. It’s often hard to get noticed on Defence but it was hard not to notice the shift put in by #55. Making on seemingly in on nearly every tackle he made the difference for the Reapers on defence in an incredibly tight game.