NFL-Irelands Week 8: ‘Team of the Week’

NFL-Irelands Week 8: ‘Team of the Week’

Arguably the best set of matches to date, Week 8 threw up some excellent encounters as the Shamrock Bowl Conference got back into full swing this past weekend. There was divisional games and rivalry match-ups including a few heavyweight bouts for us to sink our teeth into.

There were big victories for the Cowboys, Rebels, Trojans, Vikings and Titans on Sunday, so lets take a look to see who impressed us on April 26th.

Cowboys Team of the Week
Photo by Michael Barbour

Quarterback: Peter Loughran 
thumb_CClogo  Craigavon Cowboys

Cowboys star player Peter Loughran makes his first appearance in our ‘Team of the Week’ column after impressing during Craigavon’s first win of the season against the  Rhinos. Loughran has had spells at Receiver and Linebacker, but he was influential as the signal-caller on Sunday as he rushed for a score, whilst connecting with receivers Conrad Smith, Luis Alberto and Andrew Herron for a further 3 touchdowns in the Cowboys comprehensive 28-0 win.

Gleeson Team of the Week
Photo by Jason Toher

Running-Back: Shane Gleeson
thumb_ULlogo  UL Vikings

The Vikings dominant run-game is proving damaging and destructive to opposing defences as the SBC South leaders extended their win streak to 5 games. Their narrow 13-12 win over UCD was clinched by the efforts of Shane Gleeson, who scored 2 rushing touchdowns on the day. Despite fellow running-back Adrian Garvey being sidelined, Shane has adopted the increased workload and responsibility and now cements himself as the leading rusher in the league with 7 touchdowns.

Geraghty in flight verses Trinity. Photo from Facebook

Wide-Receiver: Paul Geraghty
thumb_UCDlogo  UCD

Despite being heavily covered throughout an intense game, UCD receiver Paul Geraghty managed to reel in a touchdown against the UL Vikings that kept them within touching distance of the win. Geraghty himself would credit his fellow receivers with a better day at the office but the Vikings have allowed only 2 passing TDs this season and the first was in junk time against the Rhinos after sending out their reserves. The Vikings have only conceded 24 points in 5 games, of which UCD have contributed to 18 of them, so scoring against one of the leagues best defences makes it all the more impressive. Paul has been ever present in UCD’s rise in form and is greatly deserving of his place in our ‘Team of the Week’ lineup.

Offensive Line: thumb_BTlogo  Belfast Trojans 

Dave Bradshaw Photography
Dave Bradshaw Photography

The Belfast outfit once again impose themselves upon the opposition and Team of the Week, and again the plaudits go to the effective unit of the Trojans O-Line. The men in the trenches helped guide the champions to a 27-6 victory over local rivals, the Carrickfergus Knights by protecting for 1 passing and 2 rushing touchdowns. The Trojan wall of Sunday that included Mark Davidson, Barry Keil, Mohamed Ramadan, Matthew Vance and Mark McGrath, has established themselves as perhaps the most fearsome and organised units in the league.

Defence: thumb_TTlogo  Tyrone Titans

Photo by Ariane Boudias
Photo by Ariane Boudias

The Tyrone Titans have continued their impressive unbeaten streak by defeating the Mullingar Minotaurs 8-0 and clinching their second shut-out in succession. The Titans defence is proving to be extremely hard to breakdown and although their offence has somewhat stalled in recent weeks, the Tyrone back-line have ensured that the victory heads back up North. With tough games lying in wait, the Titans defence hit a purple patch on Sunday (sorry Mullingar!) which will give them added confidence heading in their two games, the repeat with the Minotaurs and the home fixture with IAFL-1 leaders, the Cork Admirals.

Honourable Mentions:

thumb_BTlogo  – It may have taken longer than expected, but we finally have our first special teams touchdown in the Shamrock Bowl Conference. The score came courtesy of a punt return by Johnathan Siri who opened the scoring for the Belfast Trojans on Sunday.

thumb_ULlogo – If the Trojan line is perhaps the best in the league the Vikings one can’t be far behind. The Vikings, having played two extra games, are the highest scoring outfit in the league and of their 15 touchdowns to date, 13 have been rushing touchdowns. You don’t establish that kind of dominance without some serious men in the trenches.

thumb_UCDlogo– Paul Geraghty got the nod this week but the UCD receiving core generally had a good day. Dave Bennet and Conor Hanrahan were both in form against a very tough UL secondary.

thumb_ULlogo– The Honourable mentions column was originally to favour the guys in defences that don’t get much attention in the stats department and in that spirit, UL Defensive Tackle John Mullan was a one man wrecking crew on Sunday. With UCD QB Tom Donovan destroying teams with his legs the Ends on ULs defensive line had their hands full and protecting the interior,  Mullan excelled.

thumb_DRlogo – Rebels QB Andy Dennehy doesn’t lead the passing charts and that perhaps is as a result of the very fine running game his offence possess. Dennehy had another touchdown pass Sunday taking him to 5 on the season. Including his 2 Point Attempt success, Dennehy has now found 5 different receivers for scores in 4 games.

IAFL Week 8: Game Previews

IAFL Week 8: Game Previews

Week 8 promises to be an excellent day of football in the IAFL. With only one game in the top tier 7 days ago, the Shamrock Bowl Conference retakes centre stage with 4 highly entertaining games on offer with plenty of form teams on show. There will also be one game in the IAFL-1 to look out for as we close in on the half way mark of the season.


thumb_BTlogo Belfast Trojans (2-0) @ Carrickfergus Knights (1-1)  thumb_CKlogo    – Carrickfergus RFC, 2pm.

Despite joint fundraisers and the off-field relationship improving over recent months, the Trojans versus the Knights is still a bitter game of football when these sides take to the field. This is an intense rivalry that has only excelled over the years and when game time comes around, all issues are settled on the field in what is always a tough battle between these North Division heavyweights.

The reigning champions have started the season well with two victories in the league, averaging 30+ points per game. They also put in strong performances in the friendly fixture against East Kilbride Pirates and the IAFL-2 bout with the Donegal/Derry Vipers, that will further stake their claim as the team to beat this year. With a number of squad players getting significant game time, this could be the strongest the Trojans have ever been.

The Knights defeated the Cowboys 34-12 in their season opener with an impressive display, however they couldn’t maintain that form as they went down to a 21-0 loss to the South Dublin Panthers. Their performance was uncharacteristic, but with QB Josh Davis back in contention, they might find their fluency on offence once again.

The last meeting between these sides was a July 4th encounter under the floodlights, when the Trojans put 50 past the Knights in Belfast. The ‘Black and Gold’ will be hoping that performance won’t be replicated, however past games at Woodburn have proven to be much closer affairs. The Trojans will be looking for the McKelvey/Richardson partnership to continue flourishing and stopping that will be potentially the Knights best chance of beating the Trojans since 2011.


 West Dublin Rhinos (0-3) @ Craigavon Cowboys (0-2)  thumb_RHlogothumb_CClogo    – Chambers Park, 2pm.

You can always expect a bruising game of football when these sides meet, but this match in particular has already a lot riding on it. These two are the only SBC sides yet to win and could find themselves battling for survival come the end of the season. Picking up a W in this one could prove the difference between safety and relegation as the head to head record is the first tie breaker considered.

The Rhino’s struggles continue to build as they rank both the lowest in points scored (6) and the most in points conceded (66) in their first 3 games. With their schedule only getting tougher, the Rhino’s may have targeted this game at the start of the season as a must win fixture. Holding a talented UCD to only 13 points was a solid effort, but they need to start putting the ball in the endzone if they hope to survive this year.

The Cowboys have suffered a similar start to the season as their opponents, but they have only played 2 games thus far, both against division challengers the Knights and Rebels. It’s still too early to judge how Craigavon will perform at this stage, but this upcoming game will give us an indication of how they may finish the year. With games against the Reapers and Panthers up next, this weekend could be the start of a string of games they view as winnable.

The Cowboys defeated the Rhinos last season at Castleknock 26-7 as both teams needed a win at a similar stage last year. There is so much to play for in this game that we would expect both teams to give it their all, with the head-to-head a huge factor. Neither side has flourished on either offence or defence, but you need to score to win games. The battle at Quarterback between Peter Loughran and Arun Mooney could well determine where the victory heads this Sunday.


thumb_DRlogo Dublin Rebels (1-2) @ South Dublin Panthers (1-2) thumb_panthers    – Garda RFC, 2pm.

Both sides clinched victory in their last outings and are beginning to gradually get into stride after slow starts to the campaign. Many might expect this game to go in favour of the Rebels, but with the Panthers form improving, this game is far from a foregone conclusion.

The Rebels suffered back-to-back defeats against student outfits, Trinity College and UCD as they stumbled out of the gate in the early stages of the season. They did however grind out an 18-8 win over the Cowboys last weekend to get their year on track, just in time for the journey across Dublin. With SBC leaders the UL Vikings and Belfast Trojans on the horizon, The Rebels will be desperate to go to (2-2) before they face the league front-runners.

The Panthers have arguably the toughest schedule than any other team in the SBC. They suffered a 33-8 defeat the Shamrock Bowl champions the Trojans, before narrowly losing 7-2 to the last years finalists, Trinity College. Some may have felt the Panthers would be down and out with such a troubling fixture list, but they bounced back in fantastic fashion against the Knights, and they will hope that momentum will serve them well in this all-Dublin match-up.

Despite two defeats, The Rebels still rank 3rd overall on points scored in the division (58) with Running-Back duo Kevin Finnegan and Sean Leamy the main contributors. As of now, the Panthers are still the only defence with a touchdown, and they found their feet last week on offence scoring 21 points. If the Panthers D can contain the Rebels running threats, they have an opportunity of out scoring the 7 time Irish champions but that easier said than done.


thumb_UCDlogo University College Dublin (2-1) @ UL Vikings (4-0) thumb_ULlogo     – UL Sports Grounds, 2pm.

This weeks all South Conference clash will pit the top two sides in the division against each other for the second time this season. The Vikings defeated UCD 17-6 in the reverse fixture and if they can earn victory on Sunday and in 3 weeks verses Trinity they will have clinched the division title and a first round bye.

UCD have started life back in the SBC with a bang. They overcame the Dublin Rebels 13-12 in a close contest before closing out a 13-0 win over the Rhino’s last weekend. The competition this year has proven a step up, with UCD yet to reach the dizzying scoring heists they achieved in the IAFL-1. However with talented players throughout the squad like QB Tom Donovan, WR Paul Geraghty and LB Eoin Feely its only a matter of time before we see UCD putting up numbers that made them so dominant in 2014.

The Vikings have made their intentions known throughout the year, putting in dominant displays in all their fixtures. The combination of Ian Cahill, Shane Gleeson and Adrian Garvey has proven too much for defences to handle, as the Vikes have scored 90 points in 4 games, whilst only relinquishing 12. Victory on Sunday would inch them closer to their first division title since 2012, as they would hold the head-to-head advantage over UCD and Trinity the only team in their way.

If UCD can win, they will give themselves a glimmer of hope of catching UL, but more importantly it will increase their own chances of a playoff berth. This fixture on paper is a well-rounded game, both sides have the ability to score plenty of points and their defences are amongst the best in the league. Limerick will have the home field advantage, but another close game should be expected.

thumb_TTlogo Tyrone Titans (2-0) @ Mullingar Minotaurs (0-2) thumb_mullingarlogo     – Harbour Field, 2pm.

Before the season commenced, some might have earmarked this as the match that would decide who would make the IAFL-1 Bowl game. However both have had opposite results, as the Titans continue on their unbeaten streak whilst the Minotaurs hunt for their first win of the year.

The Tyrone outfit have proven that their IAFL-2 performances were no fluke, having defeated both the Meath Bulldogs and the Dundalk Mavericks to keep their streak alive. They have adapted very well to the hardships of the IAFL-1, showing both production on offence and stability on defence for what is still a young team in ascendance. Victory at Harbour Field would tie them at the top of the division with the high-flying Cork Admirals.

After narrowly missing an IAFL-1  bowl game last season, the Minotaurs have every right to believe they could go one step further. The performances from last year have so far alluded them as defeats to the Dundalk Mavericks and Cork Admirals have seen them slip to the bottom of the IAFL-1 momentarily. If they are to have any hope of clawing their way back into contention, they will need a victory against the Titans.

These two will face eachother twice over the next two weeks, so getting the first victory could prove crucial in how the second game plays out. The Minotaurs have surrendered 64 points so far, so if they are to have any joy in keeping the Titans top scorers in Daniel Mullan and Ryan Brolly quiet, they must lockdown on defence. The Mavericks proved that it is possible to contain the Titans offence, so there is hope for the Minotaurs to deliver Tyrone their first defeat in the clubs history.

Arun Mooney: ‘Never count the Rhinos out’

Arun Mooney: ‘Never count the Rhino’s out’

The West Dublin Rhinos travel across Dublin to face divisional rivals UCD this Sunday at the UCD Sports Grounds. The Rhino’s are currently 0-2 and sitting bottom of the SBC South and the SBC Generally for the season after succumbing to defeats against both the North Kildare Reapers and SBC South leaders, the UL Vikings.

It’s not the start the Rhino’s would have been hoping for as they looked set to make positive strides after clinching a wildcard berth last season. So far, they are yet to replicate their end of season performances from 2014, that saw them win 3 of their last 4 games.

UCD will be tough opponents and the West Dublin outfit will need to improve greatly from their previous outings if they look to clinch their first win of the year. In order to find out how the team was preparing for Sunday, we sat down with Quarterback, Arun Mooney to discuss the teams goals for the weekends match-up.

The Rhino’s have been blessed with a strong squad this year, boasting on average of 30+ players. They certainly have the numbers to cause teams problems and Arun says that this is the strongest he has seen the Rhino’s for a long time.

‘I definitely feel that this is the strongest team the Rhinos have fielded, because every year I believe we are improving in terms of the number of players we have and the experience gained by the veteran players on the team. It also helps to have a great coaching staff keeping us, the players, on our toes week in week out.’

The Castleknock squad is defined by their toughness and positive attitude. Many competitors know they are in for a tough game against the Rhino’s, particularly when they come face-to-face with their hard hitting defence. However, their struggles on offence is apparent as they have failed to click in the early stages of the season.

Arun realised the offence has work to do, but they certainly have the potential to improve.

563219_10201224526437919_1796208446_n‘I have to give props to the defensive side of the ball, they hit hard and never give up. In terms of the offensive side of the ball, we’ve been working on knowing the playbook fully and being ready to go when our number is called. We have been pushing ourselves in training every Sunday and working with our coaches to optimise our efforts and turn this into points. There is no magic formula to get better other than train hard and know your job.’

Travelling across town to UCD, albeit a short trip, will be a difficult away fixture for the Rhino’s. UCD were formidable at home during their IAFL-1 reign and that form has continued over to the SBC, as they picked up a close victory against the Dublin Rebels. The Rhino’s know they will have their work cut out in stopping the speed and skill of the students spread-option offence.

What is guaranteed however is a dedicated performance from the Rhinos; but in terms of a gameplan? Arun say’s that must remain a secret until Sunday.

‘UCD will be very tough opponents on Sunday, but I am really looking forward to this game as we have another chance at showing everyone what we can do as a team. As I’ve already mentioned the team has been working hard at improving their game and to bring home the win. The game plan is top secret I’m afraid and we look forward to the challenge on Sunday.’

2015 has proven challenging thus far for the West Siders. They are 0-2 and considering the difficulty of opponents they are yet to face, it will be a big ask for the team to stay within the playoff hunt, or even the division come the end of the season. However if any team is capable of defying the odd’s, like they showed last season, its the boys from Castleknock.

‘It will be a tough road ahead for our season and last year was amazing to comeback after a 0-4 start . Things started going our way and our team really stepped up and delivered. We expect to improve on this feat this season.’

‘The 2015 campaign has not gone to plan given our 0-2 record, but I do fully believe that we can turn this around as we have done in the past. This team always gives it their best and plays until the whistle. Its a tough road ahead given the talent in this league but never count the Rhinos out.’

10320412_10204121325896095_1717971042385701356_nArun was very honest in his assessment of the teams performances so far and admits that the offence has been playing below par. However, he knows what needs to be improved and has challenged himself to make the necessary adjustments that will grant the team victories sooner rather than later.

Despite the added pressure he puts on himself, the Quarterback is confident the team will start to see major changes that their hard work and effort deserves.

‘The expectations I’ve set myself for this season first of all, is to put the team in the best position to win games. Unfortunately I have yet to meet this expectation as we haven’t put close to enough points on the board to do so. Secondly, is to become a better player by being more consistent and improving the game management aspect of the game.’

You can see Arun in action this weekend at UCD Sports Grounds, 2pm for UCD vs the Rhinos.

Getting to know the Donegal/Derry Vipers!

Getting to know the Donegal/Derry Vipers!

The Donegal/Derry Vipers are mere days away from making their first competitive debut in the IAFL. It has been a busy 6-8 months for the rookies and a lot of hard work has happened behind the scenes as they ready themselves for Sunday’s big game.

As newest members of the growing IAFL family, the Vipers will be looking to make an immediate impact in the IAFL-2 as they clash heads with the Trojans 2nd’s. Some people may not be too familiar with the leagues newest outfit at this stage so we caught up with club chairman and Right Guard, Shaun McGrory to find out more.

From an idea that started as early as last summer, the plan to get the team off the ground was quickly set in motion.

‘Our founding members, Cathal Curran and James Fox, had always been big fans of the NFL and always had a really sports orientated life pre The Vipers having played GAA all their lives. They became aware of the IAFA and their league structure through word of mouth back in the summer of 2014 and decided to have a look and see how it was set up and where each of the teams played.

‘Having found that the sport was thriving in Ireland, that it was the fastest growing sport in the world an armed with the realisation that there was neither a team in Donegal or Derry the guys had the crazy idea of forming one and seeing if their dream would become a reality.’

Once the structure of the club was in place, the next duty was to create an iconic club name. Its alway’s interesting to learn of the reasoning behind a chosen team name, maybe due to its symbolic significance or the history of a city; or perhaps you just like the sound of it!

‘We would love to tell you that the name Vipers came from some deep spiritual place, after having walked miles barefooted to Tibet but unfortunately that isn’t the case. They liked the name The Donegal Derry Vipers so they went for it. Since then the players and staff have begun to attach meaning to it with the main theme being around bringing snakes BACK to Ireland, even going as far as, unofficially, calling our home ground at the YMCA Rugby pitches in Drumahoe, ‘The Viper Pit!’

Starting up a brand new club has its difficulties. Sponsorships and finances are vital in maintaining the health of a team and finding a city where there is a big pool for recruiting talent is also a must. However, the Vipers have been working extremely hard this off-season in preparation for what will prove to be a challenging year.

11139424_968754763149730_786476559824251160_n‘Up until late 2014 the team was merely a pipe dream but our founders really stepped it up around October of that year. Cathal and our Treasurer Frieda Gallagher contacted The Belfast Giants Ice Hockey team and managed to blag a slot at the interval and really publicize their vision of what we wanted to do. How many people would have imagined we would have a successful Ice Hockey team from Belfast 20years ago and by that logic, why couldn’t we do the same with The Vipers?’

‘After setting up all the social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and our own club website the guys started promoting the club in various local newspapers and radio stations pointing people towards our 1st training session. We recruited our Head Coach, Jason Brock, a Chicago born American who had moved to Donegal after falling in love with a beautiful Irish girl. Jason grew up playing and loving the sport and was the ideal person to mould a group of amateur American Football fans into a fully functional, closely knit, Viper machine. We now have a core team of around 40players or varying age and skill but with an equal amount of enthusiasm.’

Shaun admitted that one of the many benefactors the Vipers have had, came courtesy of the generosity of the now folded, Drogheda Lightning. Many of the founding members of the Lightning travelled up north to personally pass on old equipment and knowledge, that will greatly assist the Vipers development.

Something that Shaun and the rest of the team will be eternally grateful for.

‘As a group and as individuals, setting up the club was an adventure none of us had ever been on. The Lightning first contacted us in February of this year and rode into the Vipers like knights in shining armour. They decided, though heart-breaking to those involved with the Lightning, that their legacy should live on and that all the equipment would be passed down to our newly formed team. Not only did they provide us with equipment for players, practice and for game day but they also came with a wealth of knowledge and experience in the form of Ross and Kim Neville and Fergal Waters.’

‘To this day the guys continue to support and invest time in the team whether it is through coming to training or offering help and guidance over the phone. The Drogheda Lightning lives on in The Vipers.’

Focus will now turn to the task that lays ahead as the Donegal/Derry Vipers host the current Irish champions, the Belfast Trojans; well, to be more precise the Trojans 2nd’s team. The opening debut for a new side can be filled with mix feelings of nerves, optimism as well as excitement. Strapping on new helmets and pad’s will feel like Christmas to many of the young Vipers players.

However when Sunday arrives, all attentions must be turned to the match itself, and putting that all important first win in the history books!

11094737_968753289816544_7698314626258052092_n‘When the fixtures were released I think the initial feeling was shock. The Trojans are, undoubtedly, one of the best, if not the best team in Ireland. For a team as new as ours, to play the Champions, regardless of whether it is the 1sts or 2nds is a huge challenge and one that is not lost on our players or staff.’

‘The feeling will quickly change to excitement and determination to show that we are a team, a good team and one that is worthy of playing in the IAFL2 league. We have had contact with The Trojans and their professional attitude and approach towards the game has rung true each and every time. They are the type of team that each side in the league should aspire to be.’

‘With that said, on game day they are our opponents, they will not hold back, they will not take into consideration that we are a new team, they will go to work in the usual Trojans way. They will push us hard and we hope to push back with equal intensity.

Getting the first victory under the belts will be a fantastic feeling for the newly established Vipers, however their opening game couldn’t be much harder and then they will need to put everything they have learnt throughout the off-season into practice.

Many teams goals each year are to win trophies and to be the best. The Vipers will no doubt be aiming for the same but their first goal this season is simple. Establish the team and build for the future.

‘For us, the goal was never to blow teams away, it was to set up a family orientated club that bridged the border between north and south, to build an inclusive club based on respect and our mutual love of the sport. This is our debut season and we believe we are prepared. For now, our goal is to give the Trojans a game that both teams will remember for all the right reasons and as we progress through the season to build a club that is sustainable, competitive and spoke of in the highest terms possible both on and off the field.’


NFL-Ireland’s Week 6: ‘Team of the Week’

NFL-Ireland’s Week 6: ‘Team of the Week’

For the first time this season, we had all three tiers of the IAFL in action this weekend, including a trip to Scotland for our current Irish Champions. It’s hard to believe that we have reached Week 6 of the season already and that includes a bye-week for all the teams last week.

With a number of IAFL-2 teams yet to play, we are beginning to see how each side is performing in the early parts of the year and were the current form and momentum lies. A number of players have made quite an impression this season already, and here’s who stood out for us in Week 6.

Photography by Declan Forrest
Photography by Declan Forrest

Quarterback: Stephen Hayes

thumb_CAlogo    Cork Admirals

The Admirals signal-caller is having a stormer of a season thus far in the IAFL-1. The Quarterback registered another 2 passing touchdowns this weekend as Cork won 35-13 against Mullingar. The Cork offence has scored a superb 68 points in 2 games with Hayes at the helm. There has been 12 passing touchdowns in the IAFL-1 so far and Hayes has contributed to 6 of them as he sits well atop of the passing charts in the division.

Running-Back: Sean Leamy11077844_10152815977958634_8990827977281861155_n
thumb_DRlogo     Dublin Rebels

The Dublin Rebels run game could have taken a big hit this year, losing Simon Mackey. Kevin Finnegan and Sean Leamy (who lines up everywhere) have filled that void with 5TDs in the opening 3 Games. Sean Leamy rumbled home yesterday with 2 TDs, against a run stuffing Cowboys front making it all the more impressive.  Leamy has expanded his game but continues to show the kind of for that saw him near the top of the Rushing Charts last year.

Photography by Nathan J Sharrocks
Photography by Nathan J Sharrocks

Wide-Receiver: David Richardson
thumb_BTlogo     Belfast Trojans

The WR choice for this week is somewhat of an exception. The Belfast Trojans weren’t in IAFL action this week, however they did travel to Scotland on Saturday to face one of the toughest oppositions in the UK, the East Kilbride Pirates. The champions put in a valiant effort but came up just short as they were defeated 24-14 in a very close encounter. One shining moment of their performance however was that of David Richardson. He made 11 receptions scoring 1 touchdown against a team that conceded only 23 points last year. To say he killed it would be an understatement!

Photography by Media 401 Productions
Photography by Media 401 Productions

Offensive-Line: thumb_DRlogo     Dublin Rebels

The Rebels O-Line is one of the most well disciplined and experienced lines in the league. When you consider the Rebels offence that consists the likes of Andy Dennehy, Sean Leamy and Paul Grogan to name just a few, you can be forgiven if you forget the importance of the men that battle in the trenches. They helped the Dubliners secure 18 points this weekend contributing to 2 rushing and 1 passing touchdown. Dennehy doesn’t get sacked too often and running backs are hard to find, let alone tackle behind the Dublin line, great credit must be given to this unit for that.

Photo by Terence McCann

Defence: thumb_panthers     South Dublin Panthers

The Panthers picked up their first win of the season on Sunday with a brilliant 21-0 performance over a very good Carrickfergus Knights side. Considering the Knights scored 5 touchdowns in their season opener, many would have expected a similar showing this weekend. Instead, the Panthers defence, who have registered the only defensive touchdown so far in the SBC, recorded a shut-out to make further improvement on their opening displays. Two safeties, a defensive touchdown and a shut-out in your opening three games against 3 of the best sides in the league isn’t bad at all.

Honourable mentions:

SKS    –   The South Kildare Soldiers picked up a huge win over the UL Vikings 2nd’s in the late kickoff with a 18-12 scoreline. Considering the depth and strength of the Vikings squad, their rookies are very talented and few may have given SK a hope in this one but they proved they have the talent and belief to be a force in the IAFL-2 this year.

thumb_TTlogo    –  Potential to be the play of the week, the Titans CornerBack/Receiver Ryan Brolly intercepted the ball in the end-zone with less than two minutes on the clock, that would inevitably clinch their 6-0 win over the Dundalk Mavericks. This is a rivalry that is brewing fiercely and that interception maintains Tyrones 100% record over their IAFL-1 challengers.

thumb_CAlogo    – The Cork Admirals totalled the most points than any other team this weekend with 35. Their offensive-line protected for 3 rushing and 2 passing touchdowns to help solidify their win. RB Shane Cullinan also had a good day as he scored 2 of the rushing TD’s.

thumb_panthers    – QB Mick Duncan scored 15 of the Panthers 21 points on Sunday, as he scored a rushing touchdown, passed for the 2PT conversion, kicked two FG’s and 1 XP. An all-round standout performance from Mick!

Trojans vs. Pirates: Heavyweights collide!

photo by Ariane Boudias

The current Irish National Champions, the Belfast Trojans will be travelling across the pond this weekend to face the elite side of Scottish Football, the East Kilbride Pirates.

With the IAFL season well underway and the BAFANL only a week young, this was a great opportunity for the Trojans to pit their talents against one of the best sides in the UK. The Belfast outfit have already picked up were they left off last season, by winning their opening two games against the South Dublin Panthers and North Kildare Reapers respectively.

However, after winning back to back trophies, the 3 time champions felt it was time to test themselves against the best and to really find out how they measure up to the top sides in the UK and perhaps even Europe.

The team they will be facing are the East Kilbride Pirates who have fortified themselves as the top side in Scotland and one of the premier teams throughout the UK. The team was formed in 1985 and are both the longest serving and most successful Scottish football team to date. Interesting fact, the Pirates team name was decided through a local newspaper competition despite East Kilbride having no historical link to Pirates and being miles away from any coast line.

photo by Nathan James Sharrocks
photo by Nathan James Sharrocks

The Pirates won the first ever National Championship in their history by defeating the Leicester Falcons 62-23 in 2011. Since then they have been regular attendees in the post season after winning their respective division. They have reached the semi-final stages in the last 3 campaigns, however they were defeated by the powerhouse, London Blitz on each occasion.

The Trojans and Pirates have a lot in common, despite having never played. The Belfast outfit have registered two perfect seasons in their history, going 8-0 throughout the regular season in both 2012 and 2013, before capping it off with Shamrock Bowl victories in each campaign. The Pirates on the other hand have completed three seasons unbeaten, going 10-0 in each, however they have only won 1 National Championship. However, one very impressive achievement is that the Pirates have gone 17 seasons without losing to a fellow Scottish team!

With the Trojans 2-0 already in the 2015 campaign, they will be feeling confident heading into the unknown with two victories under their belt, whilst the Pirates are yet to open their campaign. That momentum could prove beneficial as the SBC North leaders will be feeling game ready after two dominant displays. However they will be more than aware that the opposition they will be facing will be like no other. This could be the toughest game the champions have ever faced. This will certainly prove if the Trojans are capable of hanging with the big boys and if they deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as some of the elite sides across the United Kingdom.

It’s going to be a fantastic game for the neutrals, promising to be a blockbuster! The Pirates have a wealth of experience and a very talented roster across all phases of the team, with many of their roster established members of the Great Britain National side. The Trojans have their own weapons though, and the Pirates would be silly to take them lightly. For arguably the first time, the Trojans will be considered the underdogs in this one!

They have more than enough quality to hold their own however, but key players will need to raise their game as this is a step-up in competition. QB James McKelvey and WR David Richardson will need maintain their near psychic connection to breakdown a stout Pirates defence that only conceded 23 points in the 2014 regular season. The ‘Walls of Troy’ will also face an incredibly difficult challenge trying to prevent a punishing Pirates run-game, however if anyone is capable of stopping the East Kilbride offence, it would be the Trojan’s D.

Regardless of where you are from in Ireland and no matter what team you represent, keep a very close eye on this match as the Belfast Trojans will be going all out to make a statement for Irish American Football this Saturday. This will be a guaranteed colossal game of football between two heavyweight sides and it will be a comparison of Irelands finest against Scotland’s finest. The Green Machine is coming!

Kickoff is 2pm at Hamilton Rugby Club, be sure to follow Twitter and Facebook for score updates.

NFL-Ireland’s Week 5: ‘Team of the Week’

NFL-Ireland’s Week 5: ‘Team of the Week’

This weekend we had the most IAFL games in one schedule to date. 5 games in total took place with victories for the Belfast Trojans, UCD, Trinity College, UL Vikings and Tyrone Titans. Once again there were some outstanding performances all round on Sunday and it’s a clear indication that the quality of football in Ireland is at an all time high!

Word of warning however; The images you are about to see may cause some form of confusion or extreme cases of Deja Vu. You’ll understand what I mean when you see it.

Photo by Dave Bradshaw

Quarterback: James McKelvey 
thumb_BTlogo –  Belfast Trojans

McKelvey once again put in another aerial masterclass this weekend with 3 passing touchdowns to bring his total to 7 TD’s thus far. The Trojans ran out comfortable 36-0 winners over the Reapers at the weekend as the Trojans offence put in another 30+ performance. McKelvey has already surpassed the half way mark of his tally last season after only two games!

Photo by Jason Toher

Running-Back: Adrian Garvey
thumb_ULlogo –  UL Vikings

See where I’m going with this yet? Garvey has proven himself to be the top running back in the league so far after the opening 5 weeks of the season. He rushed for a further 3 touchdowns against the Rhino’s whilst also converting all of the Vikings kicking points. UL overpowered the West Dubliners 41-6 to rubber stamp their spot at the top of the SBC South, with Garvey again proving the difference maker.

Photo by Dave Bradshaw

Wide-Receiver: David Richardson
thumb_BTlogo –  Belfast Trojans

The leagues top receiver added a further 2 touchdowns this weekend to bring his total up to 4 on the season. Teams are finding it increasingly difficult to mark the talented pass-catcher as he was a menace all afternoon against the Reapers defence. Richardson’s continued form has proven him to a real talisman for the Trojan’s O.

Photo by Jason Toher

Offensive-Line: UL Vikings  thumb_ULlogo

147 points were scored across the divisions this weekend. Not quite as many as last week but the UL Vikings did contribute 41 of them, making them the highest scoring offence this week. They scored 5 rushing and 1 passing touchdown as there offence continues to overpower opposing sides. Garvey, Gleeson and Cahill will get the praise for the points, but the Vikings O-Line are putting in massive work in the trenches.

Photo by Dave Bradshaw

Defence: Belfast Trojans  thumb_BTlogo

What can I say that hasn’t already been said. The Trojan’s defence once again make another appearance on our ‘Team of the Week’ article by registering a shut-out against the Reapers. It was a hard-hitting, well disciplined display from the champions who not only kept a clean sheet, but also prevented the Reapers from registering a single 1st down all game! Can’t ask for much more than that right?

Honourable mentions:

thumb_TTlogo  – The Tyrone Titans get an honourable mention from this week as their IAFL unbeaten streak continued with a 22-8 win over the Bulldog’s. Daniel Mullan and Ryan Brolly were two of the stand-out stars on Sunday that helped stretch the winning run to 8 games.

thumb_UCDlogo  – UCD topped the Rebels by a point after a tight game that was rarely more than one score in the difference. Two of the reasons why were due to Gavin Quirke who caught 7 passes that totalled over 100 yards and QB Tom Donovan who rushed for close to 150 yards.

thumb_panthers   – Safety’s aren’t too common in American Football, unless ofcourse you play football in Ireland! The South Dublin Panthers league leading scoring defence added another safety to their books against Trinity. The Meath Bulldog’s and Tyrone Titans also added safeties against each-other, 1 each.

Team of the Week and other NFL-Ireland articles will mostly be postponed this week, as there is no IAFL action taking place this Sunday. Games will resume again on April 12th, but we will do our best to keep you entertained until then!

Corey McKenna: ‘The Titan’s are looking forward to the challenge.’

Corey McKenna: ‘The Titan’s are looking forward to the challenge.’

Not many teams are expected to go the regular season unbeaten in their league debut, to then top it off by claiming the IAFL-2 Bowl; but that’s exactly what the Tyrone Titans did. The Titans will be taking their first leap from the rookie tier after a hugely impressive season, as they prepare for their opening competitive game in IAFL-1 on Sunday.

Going unbeaten throughout a season is no easy task, just ask the Trojans and Trinity College. It takes a special kind of team and chemistry to replicate a perfect season and the Titans are amongst the few teams in the league to have achieved such a feat.

Come Sunday, the competition will be much greater. No longer will the Tyrone outfit be considered a developing side attempting to gain experience, they will be competing in a very tough division and expected to do well.

It must feel like a long time since the championship win in the summer. However, that hasn’t stopped the team from putting in even more hard work in preparation for what will be a big year ahead, as Titans Safety Corey McKenna explains.


‘It felt amazing to go through the whole season unbeaten but to come out and win the IAFL-2 Bowl game as well was just over whelming, all the hard work during training had paid off better than what we could have hoped for.’

‘The team’s goals this year is pretty much the same as last year which is win. We don’t want anything less, we want to do the exact same as last year and go undefeated.’ 

The IAFL-1 will be a tough tier to break out of. Tests against the likes of Waterford and Cork, who have experience of playing in Irelands top flight of football await them and with the Dundalk Mavericks clinching their first win last Sunday, there may be more added pressure on the Titans to make a fast start out of the blocks.

Corey was well aware of the difference the IAFL-1 will bring, but say’s the team is more than ready for the challenge.

10167915_689550901110796_3725968805251154440_n‘I think most of the team is quite eager to get out there on Sunday and show the league the work the Titan’s have been putting in during the pre-season training.’

‘The main difference I would be expecting would be the physicality of the IAFL-1 team’s, they all play smarter, hard hitting football but the Titan’s are looking forward to the challenge.’

The Titans opening game will be a home fixture against the experienced Meath Bulldog’s. The Bulldog’s were one of the last teams to compete in the DV8’s league that finished in 2012. Since then they have been a regular competitor in the IAFL-1 division, finishing with a respectable (4-4) record last year.

It will be a tough, physical battle on Sunday but the Titans are more than confident in their own ability, and won’t be backing down despite the experience of their opposition.

‘We have been preparing like the same as last season, just preparing ourselves for any challenge to come our way. On Sunday we are expecting a tough match against the Bulldog’s, we went unbeaten last season so every team will be wanting to put that first loss on the board for us but we aren’t going to give it away that easy.’

There will be massive expectations on the young shoulders of the Tyrone Titans this year, and after a successful 2014, there will no doubt be a target on their backs.

The IAFL-1 won’t be as easy to dominate as the IAFL-2 proved to be. However with experience throughout the coaching staff with the likes of Paul Braniff and Gary Carr holding the fort, coupled with the youthful exuberance and winning mentality that has been instilled in the Titans will allow this team to flourish and make them a force to be reckoned with this season!

Meath Bulldogs @ Tyrone Titans – Kickoff: Omagh RFC, 2pm.

SBC Week 5: Game Previews

SBC Week 5: Game Previews

Last weekend was a blast! 179 total points were scored from 4 games, almost eclipsing the entire opening three weekends of games last season. It was definitely a day for the offences! Ciaran O’Sullivan of ‘Catch a Game’ made an interesting point, ‘Defence is not dead, it is just being seriously challenged as the dominant force in the Irish game’, and he might be right.

There has certainly been a change in the score-lines over the last 2-3 years. More points have been scored on offence and games are no longer dependant on the defensive side of the ball to win matches. If last weekend was anything to go by, perhaps change is on the horizon. That being said, we have plenty of good defensive sides playing this weekend, as well as a few dangerous offences; so lets see what happens.

thumb_ULlogo  UL Vikings (2-0) @ West Dublin Rhino’s  (0-1)   thumb_RHlogo   – Castleknock College, 2pm.

The current form team of the Shamrock Bowl Conference, the UL Vikings will head to Castleknock this weekend to face last seasons wildcard opponent, the West Dublin Rhinos. The Vikings are coming off the back of two solid victories against division challengers, whilst the Rhino’s will want to earn their first victory after defeat in their season opener against the North Kildare Reapers.

It may still be early stages of the season, but the Vikings are already playing Shamrock Bowl calibre football. With dominant displays over both Trinity College and UCD, the Vikes have given teams plenty to think about as they hold a comfortable advantage at the top of the SBC South. With this being their third game of the year, UL will want to stretch that advantage further by defeating a tough Rhino’s outfit.

The Rhino’s were on the receiving end of a 12-0 loss in Kildare, despite starting the game with a squad of 40+ strong. They have great squad depth, but their offence just didn’t click on the day. Defence is were the strengths lie in this team, but if they can’t get into the end-zone, teams will just simply out-score them. It’s too early to judge teams at this stage, so there’s still plenty of time for the Rhinos to improve.

The scariest thing about the Vikings at this stage is that they still have more gears to go up! The Rhino’s will be eager to improve from a fortnight ago and always turn up in big games. This is a fixture consisting of two run-stuffing defences that get to the ball carrier in numbers, so the Rhino’s could arguably be the best side to cope with the Vikings powerful offence so far. However, they will need a much improved input from their offence if they are to have a chance against Limerick.

thumb_BTlogo Belfast Trojans (1-0) @ North Kildare Reapers (1-0)  thumb_reapersLogo2 – North Kildare Sports Club, 1pm

This will be the first competitive game between these sides in the SBC and it’s a real David vs Goliath encounter. Both teams were impressive in their opening games so both camps will have plenty of momentum heading into Sunday. So the question is, will we see a dominant display from the champions or a potential giant killing?

Belfast’s 33-8 victory over the new look South Dublin Panthers got their season off to a good start. They came out of the blocks firing and never looked like letting up as both QB James McKelvey and WR David Richardson’s 2014 form continued. The Trojan’s face countless away fixtures over the next few weeks, but winning those games will put them in a great position with all their home ties still to come.

The Reapers delivered a slick display against the Rhino’s, earning a shutout to get their season off on the right foot. Despite losing a significant amount of players prior to the game, the team stuck together and battled out a hard-fought win against a very determined Rhino’s side. The Trojans game will be the hardest match the Reapers will have faced, so it will be a real test to see how far they’ve come over the last 3 years.

The Reapers will have a tough task in stopping a prolific Trojans offence this weekend, having surrendered a lot of points against the big sides last year. However, the Belfast outfit conceded a safety and a ‘pick-6’ against the Panthers, whilst the Reapers had 3 interceptions against the Rhino’s, so turnovers are very possible. The Trojans and mistakes are often found in the same sentence, but North Kildare will have to capitalise on them ‘IF’ they occur.

thumb_panthers South Dublin Panthers (0-1) @ Trinity College (1-1)  thumb_TCDlogo  – Trinity Sports Grounds, 1pm

The Panthers will travel across town to face TCD at Trinity Sports Grounds on Sunday, as they look to get the better of last years Shamrock Bowl semi-finalists. Both teams suffered a loss in the first fixture, however Trinity bounced back last weekend, whilst the South Dublin Panthers will be aiming to do the same.

Despite defeat, the Panthers gave a good account of themselves against the Trojans, as they scored the only defensive touchdown a fortnight ago. After undergoing a reformation, it might take some time for the Panthers to get fully equipped to their new offensive and defensive schemes. Not too mention they will have faced both last years finalists in their first two games. Positive words were made about their blitzes against the Trojans, so they could use that to their advantage.

For those of you who were lucky to be at Seapoint last weekend, you will have witnessed one of the best games to have taken place in Ireland. Coming from 21 points down in the 4th quarter, Trinity performed a miracle comeback to win the game 29-28 with a last gasp 2pt conversion. Had the students lost that game, there would be a mountain to climb in an attempt to catch the Vikings at the top. Good thing they didn’t!

Overcoming a huge deficit like that will give Trinity a much needed confidence boost and winning momentum will now have swung back in their favour.  If anything, they proved that no matter the obstacle, don’t rule them out! As TCD gave up 28 points, the South Dublin side will fancy their chances of getting something out of this. Whether or not the Panthers can stop Dan Finnamore and Rob McDowell however is another challenge entirely.

NFL-Ireland ‘Game of the Week’

thumb_DRlogo  Dublin Rebels (0-1) @ University College Dublin (0-1)  thumb_UCDlogo  – UCD Sports Grounds, 1pm.

This is going to be an interesting game. It feels like ages when these sides last played but so much has happened since their last meeting, the Rebels made the SBXVII final and UCD won the IAFL-1 Bowl. One thing that won’t have changed is the offensive potential of these two teams, as this game could well become a scoring fest!

How do the Rebels explain what happened last weekend? They dominated the opening 3 quarters before everything made a turn for the worse. It was a complete collapse. Regardless of the outcome, the Rebels have only had to wait 7 days in order to make things right. They are basked in experience and have more than enough quality and mental toughness to bounce back, and you know what they say about wounded animals?

Although both the Rebels and UCD have lost a game each, both played extremely well in their respective matches. UCD deserve to be back in the top flight and proved against the Vikings that they still remain an strong SBC calibre team, despite being demoted in 2013. They were missing a few key starters against UL who they now hope will be available to them this weekend. If both sides had full strength teams, this would be an epic encounter!

Rebels Running-Back, Kevin Finnegan had a stellar game against Trinity. They will be looking to him to have another standout game this week and with Andrew Dennehy and Sean Leamy in the backfield, that’s a very scary prospect for any opposition. The Rebels defence have struggled to cope against
teams with speed in the past, and UCD have that in abundance. QB Tom Donovan has the ability to leave the pocket so a lot of focus will be set on him. Both teams have several dangerous weapons at their disposal, so this is a game worth keeping an eye on.

Paul McKay: ‘You can only learn from playing the best’.

Paul McKay: You can only learn from playing the best.

The North Kildare Reapers have been impressive since admission to the IAFL in 2013. They have continued to improve year on year and after a solid opening campaign in the SBC, notching 3 victories, the Reapers should feel plenty of optimism this year.

The former IAFL-1 champions have got their season off to a good start, clinching a 12-0 victory over the West Dublin Rhinos that should give them great momentum in what will prove to be, a testing year for a team that is still growing.

It’s always interesting to hear how teams and players prepare themselves to make a greater leap the following season, so we took the time to catch up with Reapers Defensive Back, Paul McKay to chat with him about the teams plans for 2015 and how it felt getting his first win of the season under his belt.

‘It was a great way to start the season, the Rhinos are a massively experienced side. It was a huge boost for us too because we had lost a chunk of big names leading up to the game. Also it was my own first start on defence in a very new position so I was thrilled we shut out the Rhinos. It wasn’t easy!’

The Rhino’s are well known for their physicality and toughness and they have plenty of experience in the Shamrock Bowl Conference. However, the Reapers were well deserving of their victory as they put in a professional defensive display. Paul even grasped his first interception of his career!

‘Well of course, that was a nice boost for me. I haven’t played a lot the last three years. Started as a WR in 2013..didn’t get one catch. I wasn’t available most of the time so I got a few minutes as a CB. But my first game as FS I got my first SBC catch..but honestly it was all down to Coach Q’s (the 12th man) training..I think our Defense nailed it as a group and if it wasn’t for our corners and linebackers coverage, I wouldn’t have had the chance to catch it.’

Having faced some difficult teams last season, the Reapers have come away with a lot of lessons learnt from 2014. It’s still very early in the season and Paul knows the team can’t afford to rest on their laurels, but after last seasons performances, there is a lot of positives that the team can build upon.

11071747_710676439043479_4737464280269956132_n‘The Coaches have implemented a focused and tailored training programme this year and if you put in
 the work you will get game time, this is a tough balancing job for coaches because its an amateur league and people have family and work commitments. The team is confident this year as we played some massive sides last year like the Rebels, Vikings, Trinity etc, and learned a lot of valuable lessons. NKR’s programme this year is to compete for that playoff spot and with the addition of new coaches with a wealth of experience the positive atmosphere at training feels like that target is very possible.’

The Kildare outfit, like many teams throughout off season can suffer from moments of misfortune. With the season mere weeks away, the Reapers suddenly lost a significant group of players from the 2014 side, whose focus turned to other commitments and pastures new.

Understandably this could have affected team morale and potentially damaged the Reapers immediate plans to improve upon last year. So far, it hasn’t created too many problems as with their first W in the books, the remaining group is looking more focused than ever.

549362_576179389061089_923177815_n‘I think players leave every team for personal circumstances like moving house, job opportunities, you are always going to loose a few guys in the off season. Its all about how you respond to these changes and I think it galvanised us as a unit. We had new players playing their first game against a solid West Dublin Rhinos team and were it not for a few players having left, these guys (including myself) probably wouldn’t have got the opportunity..but we won, everyone played their hearts out, picked each other up after every play and enjoyed every snap. Our squad is the strongest its ever been and we are all excited about the upcoming games to test ourselves as a Team.’

Sunday’s fixture will be a major test and a huge jump in quality from previous games for what is still a young team in development. The Reapers must welcome the current champions, the Belfast Trojans to Kildare Sports Club and this will arguably be the hardest challenge the team is yet to face.

‘The team is psyched! These guys are a brilliant team that play great football. It will be an experience to put our style against theirs and see what happens. Its no small achievement to put points up against these guys like the Panthers did last week. You can only learn from playing the best. We are going out there to win and I think it will be an amazing game of football.’

Having dealt with any threat the Rhino’s could throw at them, coping with some of the leagues top scorers in Trojans trio James McKelvey, Dave Colvin and David Richardson will be a tall order. Despite being the overwhelming underdogs heading into the game, McKay maintains that the Reapers will be ready for Sunday.

‘Each of us know what we have to do. The coaches have instructed us in every way they can, if we turn up as a team and play our football, react to the changes in the game and do what we have been trained to do then you cant ask for more than that. If you can sit down with the guys after the game and know you did everything at 100% of your ability…that you didn’t let them or yourself down..that’s a plan in itself.’

This might be Paul’s first serious spell in the team, after having a bit-part inclusion over the past 3 years. He has shown great motivation and impressed on his debut at Free Safety, earning himself an honourable mention in our first Team of the Week article.

Knowing that his spot isn’t guaranteed and there’s still room to improve, Paul’s first priority is helping the team succeed. So far so good!

‘My personal goal is too earn my start on the squad, be an addition to our defense and have no regrets by the end of the regular season.’

You can watch Paul in action this weekend at Kildare Sports Club at 1pm, as the North Kildare Reapers host the Belfast Trojans!