IAFA Strength of Schedule

The IAFA have announced their schedule today (see it here) and we sat down and wildly speculated to bring you the 2016 Strength of Schedule.

First off, the rules; we assigned a number of points denoting how hard that particular team is to play. The higher the points the harder that team is to play. This number was mainly based upon where this team finished last year and any modifiers we think are worth adding on or taking off a point for and we’ll explain those as we go. Here is how the Shamrock Bowl Conference ranked.

Belfast Trojans
2015 Final Rank: 10 points. SBC Winners!
Modifier: +1. 1 loss in 4 years is no joke and you’ve got to wonder if some teams are beaten before the opening kickoff.
Total: 11 points

Trinity
2015 Final Rank: 9 points. Runners up
Modifier -1. The loss of Rob McDowell, Alex Gurney & Dan Finnamore would devastate any teams ambitions.
Total: 8 points

UL Vikings
2015 Final Rank: 8 points. Defeated Semi Finalists
Modifier 0. The UL train seems firmly on the right track. Reputed some talented additions in their Rookie Group but we’ll see.
Total: 8 points

Dublin Rebels
2015 Final Rank: 8 points. Defeated Semi Finalists
Modifier 0. The Rebels recruited well during last season and if anything should be stronger again this year but still to be seen.
Total: 8 points

UCD
2015 Final Rank: 7 points. Defeated in the wildcard round
Modifier 0. A new coaching set up promises to kick on the very talented UCD roster.
Total: 7 points

Craigavon Cowboys
2015 Final Rank: 7 points. Defeated in the wildcard round.
Modifier 0. The Cowboys pulled some unexpected results out of the bag last year and were unlucky to not win more. Peter Loughran ever the X-Factor for this squad.
Total: 7 points

North Kildare Reapers
2015 Final Rank: 6 points. Missed the play offs on a tie break.
Modified 0. The Reapers missed the playoffs on a tie-breaker, which is unlucky but teams must be ranked!
Total: 6 points

South Dublin Panthers
2015 Final Rank: 5. Two wins & 3rd worst record
Modifier 0. The Panthers improved on the previous season so this season will see if momentum can be kept up.
Total: 5 points

Carrickfergus Knights
2015 Final Rank: 4. Same record as the Panthers but a loss to the Dublin side saw them slip below them in the overall rankings.
Modifier 0. The Knights will be the first to admit they under performed last year. They have a large squad and a committed coaching staff. We don’t expect this ranking again.
Total: 4 points


 

Notes
Before we give you the final ranking of the strength of schedule. We are going to add a point of difficulty for every back to back week of play and deduct a point of difficulty for every 3 week break.


 

Weakest Schedule
Belfast Trojans! Strength Score: 55.
The Trojans are hardest ranked team, so by virtue of not playing themselves and only one occurrence of back to back game weeks. It’s not surprising their schedule ranks the weakest.

Tied Weakest
UCD. Strength Score: 55.
UCD also don’t have to play the Trojans. They do have 3 back to back outings so will make things a touch harder.

7th Ranked Schedule
Craigavon Cowboys. Strength Score: 57
With a double header against the lowest ranked Knights and another game vs the 2nd lowest ranked Panthers drops the overall rank of the Cowboys schedule.

6th Ranked Schedule
South Dublin Panthers. Strength Score: 58
A double header against the Knights and will bring the Strength Score down slightly but 3 back to back outings push it up a bit.

5th Ranked Schedule
Carrickfergus Knights. Strength Score: 59
5 games against last years play off teams and 3 back to back weeks. Not that we considered it in our formula but they’ve also got 3 long trip to Leinster in a row.

4th Ranked Schedule
North Kildare Reapers. Strength Score: 60
Reapers only play 2 games against non playoff opposition from 2015. Midseason vs the Knights and last game of the year vs the Panthers.

Tied 4th Ranked Schedule
Dublin Rebels. Strength Score: 60
The Rebels only have 1 back to back out but they’ve to play the Trojans twice and UL on the closing day of the season.

2nd Strongest Schedule
UL Vikings. Strength Score: 62
The Vikings have 1 back to back week and 1 three week break. So this is all about the opposition they face. Opening the season vs the Trojans, closing it vs the Rebels and 2 games against Trinity. The Vikings only play one non playoff team from 2015, the Reapers who missed it on a tie-break.

Strongest Schedule
Trinity College Dublin. Strength Score: 63
Twice vs the Vikings, once vs the Trojans and Rebels. 3 back to back weeks and a tricky opener vs UCD. Missing some of their mainstays from the past few seasons, getting to another Shamrock Bowl is going to be a big ask for Trinity.

Inter Varsities 2015

On November 7th, The U.L Vikings host the annual inter varsities, the college championship for Ireland. This year it has four teams competing U.C.D , Trinity , The Cork Admirals and also the home team Vikings.

Both semi finals kick off at 11.00 a.m on Maguires field, where Trinity and The Vikings will compete for a place in the final. On the other side you have U.C.D, reigning college champions, facing off against the Cork Admirals, the first time these two sides have met since they competed against each other two years ago for in IAFL 1 Bowl game.

The winner will advance to the final to be played also on Maguires field at 2.30p.m

U.C.D as reigning champs are expected to be competitive yet again and would be expect to make the final. Last year, after being promoted from the IAFL 1, they defeated the Vikings in Dublin and, following a weather delay, Trinity a week after at the same venue and were crowned College Champions
U.C.D had endured a mixed SBC campaign where they defeated top teams including a victory over the Dublin rebels in a one point thriller but finished the season 3-5
With new Head Coach, Dave Murphy, at the reigns this season, UCD will be keen to maintain process made in the last two years and forcing a playoff push in 2016. Counting Quarterback Tom Donovan, Larry Doyle, Eoin Feely and Paul Geraghty among your number will give every chance for success.

The Cork Admirals, defeated finalist in the past two IAFL 1 Bowl games are still undergoing a rebuild. Once a Shamrock Bowl team verses the Vikings in 2007, the club went through turmoil and has since folded and re-opened.
Cork while in a rebuilding process have come really close to greatness, narrowly loosing in the Bowl Game to both Waterford and U.C.D the previous year, the hard work put in by the past few years of Stephen Hayes and Harris Monagahn has kept them atop their league, both national players are expected to play a huge role and although, due to not being a college team, they cannot play in the final, they will nevertheless look to upset UCD in the semi final stages.

Trinity Football have been to the past two ShamrockBowls and loosing narrowly to the Belfast Trojans on both occasions. Trinity football boasts wins over both U.L and UCD in Regular season competition last year, but lost to UCD in the college finals last year. Trinity are expected to get into a battle in the semi finals with their fierce rivals, the U.L Vikings. One man expected to make the difference for Trinity is young running back Ola Bademosi, Ola has taken the mantle of #1 running back vacated by the heralded Rob McDowell. Trinity have always been strong at the running back position and this year is no exception, Ola scored 7 regular season ruching touchdowns last year and in only 6 games, with a full 8 games it’s hard to imagine him not being the leading rusher of the league.

The U.L Vikings are always competitive, its in their nature. The Vikings are three time ShamrockBowl champions, the only team in the tournament to have won the coveted ShamrockBowl, although the last time they lifted one was in 2009, it is becoming a distant memory and has been a team in transition and rebuilding for the past few years, the Limerick camp says that they are having their strongest rookie year to date.

Ireland under 20’s player Graham Murtagh is expected to lead the offensive
from Centre, now one of the physically biggest offensive lines in the country.
Running behind them is the dynamic rookie running back trio of Conor Brennan Marco Lidron and Phillip Poilet who are expected to contribute massively to the Vikings run game in 2016.

One thing is for sure, this promises to be an excellent tournament yet again.

Article Contributed by Ian Cahill.

Mark McGrath: ‘We’re champions and we will fight for that title’.

Mark McGrath: ‘We’re champions and we will fight for that title’.

Three consecutive Shamrock Bowl titles is an impressive feat but for the Belfast Trojans, they have bigger aspirations. Today, they enter Dalymount Park with only one thought in mind; to win again. Victory today would see them surpass the UL Vikings in Shamrock Bowl wins as the Trojans look to put themselves into the elite status of football in Ireland. Ahead of the game, we got chatting to Head Coach Mark McGrath about the teams preparation ahead of kickoff.

The Trojans have looked unstoppable at times this season, showing clinical production on offence coupled with the ever reliable shutout defence. It’s been their third unbeaten year in the last four and signs are already pointing to more success in the future. The defending champions are itching to get going!

‘The squad is feeling excited and impatient about the final’, said McGrath, ‘We have our game plan in place and can’t wait for kickoff!’

Photo by Dave Bradshaw
Photo by Dave Bradshaw

The ‘Green Machine’ have had terrific depth in their squad for the last number of years, stacked in quality and Irish National team calibre players. If the past teams were good, it’s scary to think of the potential this years team possesses. Mark, who plays on both offence and defence, claims that compared to the other successful rosters in the past; the 2015 squad could be the best one.

‘In my opinion this years squad is our strongest to date. We have good depth in our squad, our D is formidable but what makes us different this year from others is how well our O has performed.’

The Trojans came out victors in last years final 7-0, overcoming the rain and gruesome weather to narrowly defeat this weekends opponents, Trinity College. Although they won the game, there is still plenty to be learnt from last seasons showpiece as Connor Whitla’s pick 6 was all that could separate the sides in difficult conditions, as the game so easily could have had opposite fortunes for the defending champions.

‘The main thing I have taken from last years final, and the regular season games before it, is that Trinity cannot be underestimated. We will need to bring our A game to beat them. We will be looking for our defence to step up again and play as well as they did last year. As for the offence, we moved the ball well in tough conditions last year but we will be hoping to put points on the board this year regardless of the weather’.

Belfast go about business in commanding and professional fashion. They set the bar high for rival teams to reach their standards year after year. With the upcoming rookies clinching the IAFL-2 trophy last weekend, the winning mentality established within the team has already worked its way through the entire squad. However, for a team that has had great amounts of success in recent years, how do you motivate a winning team to keep going?

Photo by Dave Bradshaw
Photo by Dave Bradshaw

‘Complacency is a big problem to fight, fortunately our team is full of very competitive guys who will push each other, which makes my job as Coach much easier. We try to keep training fresh and interesting and having an extra six games for our rookies to play in has really helped keep the squad focused. At this stage of the season it’s win or go home and my guys don’t need much motivation from me. We’re champions and we will fight for that title because it’s who we are.’

Trinity College will post as difficult opposition to face, as the last two encounters between the pair have proven. It’s been a terrific year for reigning champions, but it all comes down to one game to prove they are the best in the country. Both sides will be filled with emotion, nerves but a lot of optimism and so they should be. They have had great seasons up to this point, but only one team can take home the biggest honour in Irish American Football.

10426317_10206641052485211_5535856864618686332_nMark knows what his team is capable of producing, as his side enter the battlefield ‘one more time’.

‘Obviously, Trinity are a very talented outfit but keys to victory for me are to play Trojan football. If we play our brand of football, there isn’t a team on this island that can beat us. This game, like the 3 before it is in our hands to win or lose and I personally can’t wait until the game to see my team lift another Shamrock Bowl!’

The Shamrock Bowl kicks off at 3pm today from Dalymount Park, Dublin.

Rob McDowell: I genuinely couldn’t be prouder of this TCD squad.

Rob McDowell: I genuinely couldn’t be prouder of this TCD squad

One of the most iconic American Football players in the IAFL, Rob McDowell has amazed us with his fantastic footballing ability for the last six years as his speed and skill have made him arguably the best player in the country over recent times. He has achieved plenty of recognition during that period, from national team call ups to the 2014 MVP award. Despite all that he has achieved, there is still one accolade that alludes him; the Shamrock Bowl trophy.

Trinity College enter Sunday on the back of a solid (7-1) campaign that included the 22-0 victory over the Dublin Rebels in the semi-finals. The students started 2015 slowly, but quickly turned on the jets that eventually saw them defend their SBC South crown.

After enduring 5 games in 8 weeks to complete a busy end to the regular season, fatigue may be slowly starting to settle in, but there is an air of excitement throughout the TCD camp ahead of the final and everyone is ready for the task at hand.

‘Physically? I feel terrible! I think I actually felt better with a torn ACL at the end of 2013 than I do now [ha]. Mentally, great. I’d be lying if I said there are no nerves, but mostly I’m excited. It’s great to get to play infront of actual supporters in a game that really means something.’ 

‘I think this season has been the most impressive performance by a TCD team in the 6 years I’ve been playing. Things weren’t exactly looking great at the start, To lose three in a row – Shamrock Bowl, College Championship and the season opener to the Vikings – was not how we pictured launching this campaign. But in hindsight I believe it was the start we needed.’

‘We didn’t really have to fight last year; but in the game with the Rebels we had to claw our way back, and it really bonded us – we gained a huge amount of trust and confidence in each other and it’s carried through the entire season.’

This weekend’s encounter will be only the second time the students have reached the coveted Bowl game, having fallen to this weekends opponents the Belfast Trojans 7-0 last year. Trinity were much fancied for last years title after a blistering season and although this year has proving seemingly more challenging, Rob still feels this team can go all the way.

 

Photo by Charisse Mae Ducao
Photo by Charisse Mae Ducao
‘Last season things just clicked for us in a way we couldn’t have expected going into it. That unbeaten run, taking down the Trojans away, beating the Rebels for the first time in club history to clinch our first ever playoff win, it was a lot. Any team that has traditionally been a mid-tier contender and on the end of a lot of heavy beatings is going to be proud of those achievements and unfortunately I think as a team we carried a little bit of hubris into the finals and even into the two losses that followed.’

‘We’ve been through a considerably tighter season than last year but its built a much more effective team. It will be a tough game undoubtedly but I’d expect nothing less from a side like the Trojans.

‘Our defence in particular is a massively overlooked strength of the team. We don’t post as many shutouts as the Trojans do, but when it comes to the big games and we have our full D out there, it’s scary! Brian O’Driscoll (CB) knows as much, if not more about football than anybody in this league and he brings it to bear as the Defensive Captain. He studies tape more than anyone I know and it pays off.

‘You just have to look at the numbers – at total of 8 points scored against our D in our last 3 postseason games, 0 points conceded against the Trojans offence in our last two match ups. They are a great unit, pretty much nameless and deserving of far more recognition than they garner. But thats fine by me because they all play with a chip on their shoulders and its fun to watch (and occasionally join in with).’

 

The talent that McDowell possess allows him to be a threat in every facet of the game. Primarily known for being the star running-back, Rob also features as the safety on defence and the dangerous returner on special teams. However, this season he has adopted the more unfamiliar Quarterback position, something he is still getting used to. Understandably, he receives a lot of attention for his ability on the field but he was quick to praise the players around him for helping him improve his game.

Photo by Ariane Boudias
Photo by Ariane Boudias
‘It’s been interesting. You have to approach the game so differently than you would at RB. I actually only played a total of 3 games at QB. I started the season at RB but after racking up a lot of minor injuries, we sat me for the better part of 3 games midway through the season. When Ola went in as the starting RB he absolutely tore it up – 7 touchdowns in three games with 4 or 5 of them scored against two great defences in the Vikings and UCD. There was no point in keeping Ola (and subsequently Brian DuToit: 5 touchdowns in two games) on the bench. Dan Finnamore makes for a great target out wide; he has the size and reach to box out any DBs in this league, so we figured QB was a logical spot to put me in to allow us to keep our best athletes on the field, and keep me somewhat healthy.’

‘I know the O-line were apprehensive about putting me in there though. They’re great pass blockers but I had twitchy feet and tended to bail out of the pocket before it had even formed, and then potentially run back into it 5 or 6 seconds later [haha]. After a while I got used to it and stopped thinking so much like a RB. It helps when you’ve got the receiving core that we have too – a great mix of size, speed and catching ability which really gives a QB a lot of confidence.’

Tomorrow is a huge occasion for football in Ireland, the showpiece that determines the best team in the country. Trinity came incredibly close to winning that honour last year and the misfortune still lingers. One of the defining moments of the game came at the expense of Rob, when the ball was forced from his grip and recovered by the Trojans that ultimately secured Belfast the title. Rather than let it affect him ahead of the game, Rob sees the lighthearted side of it and knows things could be different this Sunday.

‘Bring a lot of towels. Be adaptable. Carry the ball with my outside arm [haha]. In all seriousness though, last years final was a disaster. A huge portion of the team was playing every phase of the game and we never had a moment off the field to discuss what was going wrong and how to fix it. I think an air of panic set in when we hadn’t scored by the half and having no established coach last season to calm us down was a serious handicap. With Coach Drake on our sidelines this year we’re a much more focused team. He brings a calmness to the group that we desperately needed.’

The weather was a distinct struggle for both teams last year, with torrential rain and lightning making the pitch almost impossible to play on. The forecast is expected to be much better this Sunday, so we should expect a fantastic game of football in the season finale. It’s going to be a true battle this weekend and with memories of last years final still fresh in thought, both sides will know what they need to do to win.

‘Play hard, clear eyes, full hearts, yards and inches and stuff, etc… The gameplan is for us to know and the Trojans to figure out.’

 

Photo by Ariane Boudias
Photo by Ariane Boudias
Rob McDowell has proven himself to be a gifted athlete when it comes to American Football. Whether he is bursting out blockbuster runs with tremendous pace or evading would-be tacklers with his elusiveness, he has always been able electrify games with his playmaking ability. He admits he is unsure what the future holds for him, but the man dubbed the ‘Human Highlight Reel’ will always be remembered as a great IAFL player, regardless of the decision he chooses to make. He will look to finish this season on a high by helping his side lift their first ever Shamrock Bowl trophy in Dalymount Park on Sunday.

‘I don’t say it to them a whole lot, but I genuinely couldn’t be prouder of this TCD squad – the guys who were here at the start of the season, and those who stepped up to fill their spots when the inevitable summer turnover came around, the 1st year players and the veterans that are left.. every single one of them helped us get back to the Shamrock Bowl. It’s a special team and win or lose I am incredibly grateful to have spent my final season playing with this bunch of guys.’

 

 

Emerald Bowl I Preview!

The IFFL is approaching the end of its inaugural season. On the 9th August in Dalymount Park, the Mullingar Minotaurs will be taking on the Dublin Vipers in the first ever Irish Flag Football National Championship, the Emerald Bowl I.

Flag Football, as a sport, has been in Ireland for a good few years now, but has never been organised on a national level. In October 2014, the Irish American Football Association (IAFA) gathered teams keen on seeing a more official, competitive and permanent league rather than the backyard games they were used to.

The league is in its infancy, but interest is growing because of the success it has seen so far. Most people involved are originally either involved in kitted football or just fans of American Football but not willing to take on the physical side of the sport. Flag Football has every aspect of a dark horse, unknown but with great potential and eager to prove itself a real contender. The sport has never really been promoted before last year and most teams involved are originally kitted clubs with a few exclusively flag teams. All in all, we’ve seen 19 teams taking part 2015, but interest is growing and more teams intend to be part of next season along with more kitted teams.

The league is split into four regional divisions; Dublin, Midlands, Munster and Ulster. Each division has a number of teams competing based on an NFL-type of schedule, with each team playing every other team in their division twice, and at least two inter-divisional games during the season.

The league is split into two seasons, winter (October to February) and summer (March to August). Each season produces a champion, and they compete in the national championship, the Emerald Bowl.

2
The Dublin Vipers

The two teams who made it to the Emerald Bowl I are the Dublin Vipers and the Mullingar Minotaurs. The Minotaurs have been solid all season and have refined their game over time from a kitted-based style to a more focused flag style. The Dublin Vipers are the favourites with the best record overall. They are an exclusive flag team, with players having played together for the last three years. They also play a clean and efficient style of flag, which tends to make them the favourites in most match ups. Both teams have played each other twice this past year with the Minotaurs succeeding both times which will make the Emerald Bowl I a very tight and interesting game to watch.

The plans for the future growth of the league are to develop it further by fostering other initiatives such as an all-female league, youth league and school programs, and ultimately to compete on the international level within the next two to three years. We need to see the league grow well enough to have access to a sufficiently large pool of talent.

2-3
Mullingar Minotuars

We would also start working with our neighbouring countries as some of them have years of experience in running successful flag football league. In that mind set the IFFL will be are holding an open tournament on October 10th, with teams from the UK flying over to test the Irish game style. This will also be mark the first anniversary of the league. If all goes well, we would make it an annual event, which would be a good way to test the international waters and build relationships in the long-term.

Some believe that Flag Football is very much in the shadow of kitted football which is rather a misconception. Both sport show a love for the sport American Football in different ways. Anyone who likes the strategies and tactics but not necessarily the physical part of the sport but with a very big dose of fun then Flag Football is the sport for you.

If you want to follow the progress of the Irish Flag Football League, like their Facebook page or visit their website here

Guillaume Poznanski
IAFA Director of Flag Football

Shamrock Bowl XXIX Final Preview

Shamrock Bowl

Shamrock Bowl XXIX Final Preview:

Dalymount Park, August 9th: 3pm

Dalymount Park is the 2015 venue for the Championship game and will see the defending champs and three time winners, Belfast Trojans take on their 2014 Bowl Game opponents, Trinity College Dublin. The Trojans squeaked a 7-0 win last year, but who will take the honours this weekend?

Both sides are entering the game on the back of tremendous seasons. The Trojans went undefeated with a perfect 8-0 record and Trinity College overcame some early jitters and impressed with an excellent, 7-1 record. Reversing roles on 2014, it will be the Trojans entering the game undefeated with the students looking to cause an upset.

Belfast’s path to Shamrock Bowl 29 rarely looked like derailing, with comfortable wins against division rivals the Dublin Rebels and Carrickfergus Knights, the champions steamrolled their way to the top of the SBC North unthreatened. Their passage into the playoffs would see them tied against familiar foes in the UL Vikings in the semi-finals. Despite a close, physical battle the Trojans came out on top with a narrow 10-0 victory that would see them headed for their fourth consecutive Shamrock Bowl.

Trinity on the other hand started slowly, losing to the Vikings in the season opener. However they quickly worked their way through the gears to ultimately top the SBC South with key wins against UCD and then the Vikings in the return leg, as they went the rest of the campaign without a loss. They faced the Dublin Rebels in the semi-finals, were they came out 22-0 winners and booked themselves another showdown with the Trojans for the Waterford Crystal Bowl this Sunday.

Photography by Dave Bradshaw
Photography by Dave Bradshaw

Both teams are entering Dalymount in excellent form, mounting strong tallies on both offence and defence throughout the regular season. The Trojans topped the Shamrock Bowl Conference in all aspects, scoring well over 300+ points whilst only conceding 30 over an 8 game span. They averaged 38 points per game with the offence controlling every match from the outset as the defence went about their usual business creating several turnovers and compiling 4 shutouts.

Trinity had a strong showing too throughout, tallying 202 points for and only 92 against. They averaged 25 points per game as the offence started to come into its own at the midway stage and although their defence couldn’t salvage any clean sheets, they did however keep most teams at bay as their average points conceded per game over the year was only 9. The Trojans may have topped the majority of statistical charts, but TCD weren’t far behind in second place.

Despite the strength of the Trojans line-up, one key absentee will be that of star receiver David Richardson, who was ejected against the Vikings and will miss the final as a result, a huge loss to the offence. Quarterback, James McKelvey will need to turn to other targets in the passing game, with more responsibility now being added to the shoulders of Running-Backs, David Colvin and Neil Montgomery to carry the workload.

Trinity College will be coming into the game with a new look offence that has served them well this

Photo by Ariane Boudias
Photo by Ariane Boudias

season, as injured Quarterback Dan Finnamore moves to Wide-Receiver, allowing the dynamic Rob McDowell to move under centre. Having both McDowell and leading rusher Ola Bademosi could prove a dangerous tandem with their big play ability, so the Trojans defence will need to stay focused.

In regards to Sunday, both teams and sets of fans will be hoping the difficult Irish weather remains at bay, so it isn’t a repeat performance from Mother Nature of last year. Providing the weather is kind to us, supporters will be able to witness the full potential and talent that both sides have to offer in a great game of football. With the IAFL season drawing to a close, it’s only fitting that the best two sides of recent years contest the showpiece that is Shamrock Bowl XXIX.

Belfast Trojans versus Trinity College – THE REMATCH!

To give you a taste of what to expect this Sunday, here is a highlights package courtesy of Media 401 Productions of last seasons epic final!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9hqlex7uGU

NFL-Ireland’s ‘Team of the Year’: Offensive Line

We now turn to the men in the trenches, the guys up front that notably get overshadowed but are as equally, if not more important than anybody on the offence. They are key to all offensive production and without them, the quarterbacks, receivers and running-backs of this world wouldn’t get the praise they do! Dear Linemen….we thank you!


Offensive Line

Team White: Belfast Trojans

Photography by Dave Bradshaw
Photography by Dave Bradshaw

The men in green from Belfast have racked up some serious points on offence this year. They averaged 30+ points per game and scored a whopping 349 in total, 325 of which were on offence. McKelvey and Richardson topped their respective scoring charts, but the guys battling in the trenches helped facilitate that. The O-Line consisting of Matthew Vance, Michael Bradford, Mohammed Ramadan, Mark Davidson and Mark McGrath, with Chris Harte, Simon Cherry, Barry Keil, Jeroen Egge, Greg Gibson and Stephen Cheevers deputising at one point or anther too all have contributed to easily the best offensive unit in 2015.


 

Team Green: Trinity College

Photography by Charisse Mae Ducao
Photography by Charisse Mae Ducao

It’s not quite the blistering heights of last years breakout offence, but the students still got the job done on their path to another Shamrock Bowl Final. The O-Line was still as clinical as ever in both the passing and run game as they led TCD to 200 points and 28 touchdowns. The offensive line may not have the height advantage, but they are quick, nimble and very athletic and can more than hold their own against the best defences. Jack McKenna, Tom O’Hara, Kieran Coughlan, Dan McCarthy-Edwards, Jan Tamas and Barry Lysaght have ensured that Trinity remains one of the best offences in Ireland this year.


Most Honourable Mentions

Dublin Rebels – The Rebels have endured many changes over the years to both sides of the ball but despite the numerous new faces, the Rebels Offensive Line has remained one of the best front 5’s in the business. Their pass protection is second to none, which is why you rarely see QB Andrew Dennehy being sacked. They can get upfield too and provided pairing Sean Leamy and Kevin Finnegan with clear running lanes in which they can show their talent. They are smart, well-drilled and communicate well across the line which is a testament to the a very strong Rebels offence. Sunday (Fergal O’Hanlon), Paul Kirkwood, Tom Telford, Lewe O’Connor, Ross McCooey and at times Steve Walsh are one of the best there is.

Cork Admirals – The Admirals have proven themselves to be an offence to be feared, despite the lapse against the Wolves in the IAFL-1 final. They scored an incredible 225 points over the regular season, surmounting 33 touchdowns, the second best of all IAFL teams. Their is a reason Steve Hayes, Nick Coffi and Simon O’Keefe get the attention they do, but they can only be as good as their offensive line allows them to be, and based off this seasons performance, Cork are one of the better ones around.


Teams

Green v White

[row]

[column size='1/2']

QB James McKelvey

RB Neil Montgomery

RB Ola Bademosi

WR Sean Goldrick

WR Nic Coffi

OL Trinity College

[/column]

[column size='1/2']

QB Stephen Hayes

RB Shane Gleeson

RB Sean Leamy

WR David Richardson

WR Alex Gurney

OL Belfast Trojans

[/column]

[/row]

Next up Defences!

NFL-Ireland’s ‘Team of the Year’: Defence

We are gradually coming to the end of our ‘Team of the Year’ selection, so it’s now time to turn our attentions to the defensive side of the ball. Defence ruled in 2014, however this year the offences have started to take centre stage in the bragging rights with a number of high scoring and one sided games. There have been of course a few shut-outs and defensive battles to name, but few and far between compared to recent years. The teams named below have been the best defensive units in the league this year, not only because they are a talented bunch, but they have also been the best equipped in dealing with the high-powered offences this season. Everyone loves a good defensive battle!


Team Green: Belfast Trojans

Photography by Dave Bradshaw
Photography by Dave Bradshaw

The Trojans very own ‘Walls of Troy’ has been standing tall for the last 4 years. Only Trinity College has been able to get the better of the tormenting defence in that timespan, as the defending champions boast the best defensive unit in the league for another year. They conceded only 30 points in 9 games and delivered 5 shutouts in the process, including the Vikings in the semi-final. They’ve been able to get on the scoreboard too, with Chris Mikhael, Connor Whilta and Chris Weir all bagging defensive touchdowns, with Neil Graham and Christophe Perret penetrating the backfield to create safeties. From the D-Line, to the Linebackers, to the DB’s the Trojans are well equipped in all areas.

Team White: UL Vikings

Photography by Jason Toher
Photography by Jason Toher

Not too far behind the Trojans in the defensive conversation would be the UL Vikings. They are tough as nails, and possess one of the most frightening run-defences in the IAFL that get to ball quickly and in numbers. Their secondary is quite scary too, with Sean Sheehy and Craig Switzer possessing excellent coverage skills and are solid in run-support. The Viking’s D surrendered only 67 points, consisting of 3 shut-outs and have proved difficult to break down all season long. The semi-final against the Trojans optimised what defensive football is all about, two notorious units going head-to-head in a lockdown battle. The Vikings have always been stellar on defence, and that looks set to continue. Ray Burke, Blake Farbe, Mark Kiniry, Darren Gleeson and the best kept secret in the IAFL Darragh O’Callaghan, to name but a few of this teams sensational stoppers.


Most Honourable Mentions

Cork Admirals – As good as the offence has been, the defence has been doing a top notch job at the other end. The Admirals suffered only 1 loss during the regular season, thanks in part to the exploits of their defence that created numerous turnovers that greatly helped the offence. Its always nice to have an offence that can’t stop scoring, it’s even better to have a defence that can add to that. The Admirals delivered 1 shut-out this year against the Wolves, whilst scoring three touchdowns courtesy of Chris Allen, Paul Farrell and Ayodele Mumuni. Chris Allen also scored a safety as the Admirals finished the IAFL-1’s highest scoring defence as well as holding the best defensive record.

Tyrone Titans – The Titans didn’t quite have the stamina to go the distance in the playoff race, but their defence was a primary reason for not only their IAFL-2 triumph last season, but their 11 game unbeaten streak. Tyrone started the season off very strongly, picking up where they left off in 2014 and when their offence struggled, their defence held firm. They did however manage the second best defensive record in the IAFL-1, allowing only 84 points. They also managed two shutouts against the Minotaurs and Mavericks as they held 2nd spot for most of the campaign. Kyle McAneny was the only contributer in regard to scoring with a safety, but for a team that the most points conceded in a single game was 22, and 4 of which were 10 or below; thats a strong place to start ahead of next season.


Teams

Green v White

[row]

[column size='1/2']

QB James McKelvey

RB Neil Montgomery

RB Ola Bademosi

WR Sean Goldrick

WR Nic Coffi

OL Trinity College

Defence Belfast Trojans

[/column]

[column size='1/2']

QB Stephen Hayes

RB Shane Gleeson

RB Sean Leamy

WR David Richardson

WR Alex Gurney

OL Belfast Trojans

Defence UL Vikings

[/column]

[/row]


Read on to the much ignored but ever appreciated KICKERS!!

 

NFL Ireland Team of the Year : All Rounders

Our team of the Weeks included only QB, RB, WR, OL and Defences and as we sat down to pick the very best of all we found that since we put so much faith in our scoring charts (have you seen them?) there are players that are so key to their teams yet don’t put too many scores on the board. Ask their teams and they’ll rave about them! So who are they?


All Rounders!

Team Green Rob McDowell Trinity College Dublin

Photo by Ariane Boudias

Rob has been on the end of a lot of praise in his IAFL Career. Easily one of the fastest players out there, the elusiveness and trucking ability, he plays defence and returns kicks! So is there anything else to add. Well now he plays Quarterback. Dan Finnamore injured at the end of last season Trinity could have easily faded away but into the breach came McDowell and has brought all the ability and intelligence you could hope for to the position. This is the all rounders section so worth noting that at Safety McDowell shuts down the deep middle of the field with Quarterbacks afraid to test him because if he picks it, you’re in trouble. The weekend will be his 2nd Shamrock Bowl and he has the ability to be the hinge upon which it all turns.


Team White Peter Loughran Criagavon Cowboys

Photo by Ariane Boudias

Define All Rounders, Peter Loughran. We’re done. He plays receiver, he plays Quarterback and when he cameos on Defence he Quarterbacks that too from the Middle Linebacker spot. The true measure of a players value, when you consider how many other teams he’d make it into. Loughran (and the others on this list) would make it any team in the league and do it at any position you’ve got. He threw 10 touchdowns, ran for 5, 3 2point attempts, thats 96 of Craigavons 111 points. Perhaps the finest few moments of the year was in the game against the Knights when he put the team on his back….and several of the Knights and willed them to victory.


Team Green Mark Dunphy Waterford Wolves

Photo by Ariane Boudias
Photo by Ariane Boudias

Cork & Tyrone were steamrolling their way towards the IAFL 1 bowl game until they met the Waterford Wolves and Mark Dunphy. Dunphy plays on offence and he plays on defence and the results are the same on both sides of the ball, passes caught! Dunphy also plays kicker and when the Wolves season was on a knife edge late verses the Mavericks on two occasions. Dunphy dispatched field goals to win both games. Interceptions against the Titans put the Wolves in excellent position in the game and back into the play offs. The SBC will test the Wolves and Dunphy and this time they’ve some of the experience along with the talent to succeed. We mentioned in the Kickers piece that the league rate of XPs to Touchdowns is usually under 50%. Dunphy is one of the Kickers above that mark.


Team White Ross McCooey, Dublin Rebels

Photo by Ariane Boudias
Photo by Ariane Boudias

 Ross McCooey is one of the finest football players in the land. No debate. It is easy to see the contribution of the above 3 players. McDowell and Loughran Quarterback and Dunphy catches all in sight. Ross McCoy oft goes unnoticed by all but the running backs he’s leading out for and the Quarterbacks that have just inadvertently thrown him the ball. McCooey plays nearly ever down, offence, defence and special teams and just makes plays over and over again. A veteran of the Berlin Rebels and Dublin Rebels alike and what is scary is he’s still only 28 and perhaps only entering his best years now. This is the last player on our list and we don’t believe we could have ended it any better. See the complete list below!


Teams

Green v White

[row]

[column size='1/2']

QB James McKelvey

RB Neil Montgomery

RB Ola Bademosi

WR Sean Goldrick

WR Nic Coffi

OL Trinity College

Defence Belfast Trojans

Kicker Nick McSweeney

All Rounder Rob McDowell

All Rounder Mark Dunphy

[/column]

[column size='1/2']

QB Stephen Hayes

RB Shane Gleeson

RB Sean Leamy

WR David Richardson

WR Alex Gurney

OL Belfast Trojans

Defence UL Vikings

Kicker Greg Gibson

All Rounder Peter Loughran

All Rounder Ross McCooey

[/column]

[/row]

NFL Ireland Team of the Year : Kickers!

Dear Kickers, we are sorry we neglected to mention you all year, let this make up for it!

Kickers

Team White Greg Gibson, Belfast Trojans

Having the luxury of playing for the highest scoring team will usually result in a pretty decent return for a Kicker.  Gibson totalled 26 points on the season and managed to oust veteran Trojans kicker Rick Duffield (who was the 2nd most productive kicker on the year with 14 points….speaking of which)


Team Green Nick McSweeney, Cork Admirals

McSweeney dispatched 19 extra points this season. We don’t have stats on how many attempts but league wide the rate of successful XP to Touchdowns is less than 50%. Cork and Belfast are the only teams that topped it. Both of these Kickers are a testament to their units and these two are the best!

 


Most Honourable Mentions

Darryl Ratty Meath Bulldogs Ratty boasts the highest Field Goal total in the land with 3 and added 8 XPs to his total.


Teams

Green v White

[row]

[column size='1/2']

QB James McKelvey

RB Neil Montgomery

RB Ola Bademosi

WR Sean Goldrick

WR Nic Coffi

OL Trinity College

Defence Belfast Trojans

Kicker Nick McSweeny

[/column]

[column size='1/2']

QB Stephen Hayes

RB Shane Gleeson

RB Sean Leamy

WR David Richardson

WR Alex Gurney

OL Belfast Trojans

Defence UL Vikings

Kicker Greg Gibson

[/column]

[/row]

And Finally the do everything guys, the first in last out guys, the ‘someone go in’ guys, the all rounders!