NFL Ireland’s Team of the Year : Wide Receivers

And we push on to the Team of the Year Wide Receivers. In the Year of the Quarterback like we’ve just had, there has been some Wide Receivers who will claim just a bit of the credit!

Wide Receivers

Team White David Richardson Belfast Trojans

10361456_959818974028315_7711247825352074135_n
Photo by Ariane Boudias

James McKelvey had 20 passing touchdowns and David Richardson was on the receiving end of 11 of them.  In 2015 he was the highest scoring non Quarterback in the Shamrock Bowl Conference. Given the prevalence of the run game in recent years, Richardsons feat is all the more impressive. By seasons end, double coverage was the norm for the confident receiver, triple coverage wasn’t too infrequent either. Teams have to game plan for their opponents best players and David Richardson is perhaps one of the few wide receivers out there that defences need to give their first priority to. Richardson plays the game with a swagger that oft irritates opponents but never fails to entertain. McKelvey to Richardson may well just be the Montana to Rice of the IAFL and we haven’t seen a connections as good as this in some time.


Team Green Sean Goldrick UL Vikings

11779971_10153453085315409_2056311759270399536_o
Photo by Jason Toher

A testament to the player that Goldrick is that he can miss most of the season with an injury and still return at the end of the season to push Limerick to the playoffs. Goldrick contributed 5 touchdowns this campaign and had he not have missed the games he did it most certainly would have been more. The extra dimension he provides to the Limerick offence, still rebuilding, was evident in the SBC Semi Final as he streaked clear of the Belfast defence (not something that is often said) after taking a hand off and nearly, just nearly making it to the end zone and changing the face of the Semi Final.

 


Team White Alex Gurney Trinity

10313723_831801610163386_7178803573875181647_n
Photo by Ariane Boudias

How long more Alex will be eligible for this spot remains to be seen. He played as Running Back in the Semi Final of the Shamrock Bowl and looks set to repeat the feat in the Bowl itself. Gurney is the type of big bodied receiver Coaches dream of and in most other teams would likely find himself deployed on defence due to his size. Trinity absent of Dan Finnamore at QB most the season have adapted and with McDowell now supplying the passes Gurny has still found a way to get among the scores. Now light on Running Backs Gurney is still finding ways to contribute rushing for a touchdown in the Semi final. The numbers might not be as high as last year or some of the others on this list but perhaps more a sign a change in scheme than anything to do with Alex but yet the results are still there.


Team Green Nic Coffi Cork Admirals

IMG_6088Perhaps one of the best pure athletes in the IAFL. Nic Coffi has torn IAFL 1 defences apart now for two years. Returning Kicks catching the very well placed passes from Stephen Hayes. We mentioned above about how sides need to game plat for David Richardson. No better evidence of this can be seen than in the emergence of Simon O’Keefe who has found himself wide open and scoring freely as defences have chased the blue helmet of Coffi all over the field. Coffi missed the IAFL1 final and perhaps he could have been the difference in getting Cork over the line and into the SBC. Cork will make it to the SBC sooner rather than later and Nic Coffi will no doubt be terrorising DBs there when they do.


Teams

Green v White

[row]

[column size='1/2']

QB James McKelvey

RB Neil Montgomery

RB Ola Bademosi

WR Sean Goldrick

WR Nic Coffi

[/column]

[column size='1/2']

QB Stephen Hayes

RB Shane Gleeson

RB Sean Leamy

WR David Richardson

WR Alex Gurney

[/column]

[/row]


Most Honourable Mentions

Simon O’Keefe Cork Admirals 10 Touchdowns and not on the full team is perhaps a bit harsh on the young receiver but the standard of opposition sometimes is something that must be considered. O’Keefe has been unstoppable all year and between himself and Nic Coffi have provided absolutely fantastic outlets for the arm and ability of Stephen Hayes. Cork in 2014 were in a rebuilding year, 2015 they hit the gas and now with the chip on their shoulders missing out on the SBC built into their DNA this side as the potential to go from strength to strength and Simon O’Keefe could easily find himself mentioned in the company of their very finest to do it in this country.

Luis Alberto Craigavon Cowboys ‘Best game ever’ is how the Cowboys comeback victory over the Knights was described and that may very well be the case. Speed, strength and agility all in what by any standard isn’t the biggest package around. Alberto frequently and repeatedly shakes lose much bigger defenders and make catches where much bigger receivers would struggle. The connection between himself and Peter Loughran is something to behold on a good day and inside two minutes, down agains the the Knights was perhaps the best few minutes of interplay between a QB/WR combo in many long years.

Ryan Brolly Tyrone Titans The Titans season fell at the last. Nearly two years unbeaten unfortunately numbers and injuries cost them. Ryan Brolly chipped in with 6 Touchdown receptions and would have had more if he’d been in every game. The wirey receiver has a strength and speed that you wouldn’t expect and can shake even the tightest coverage. Such is the faith Titans QB Dan Mullan has in Brolly he is one of the few ‘Go and Get it’ receivers in the country. Most QBs will always wait for the open guy. Brolly doesn’t always need to be open!

NFL-Ireland’s ‘Team of the Year’: Running-Backs

Thank you for staying with us. Now we’ve arrived at the Running Backs. The IAFL has adopted a run first approach for many years as a number of the leagues top rushers dominated the scoring charts year on year; Simon Mackey and Rob McDowell being the standouts from 2014. As times change, this year in particular has seen Irish Football slowly transcend to a more passer-friendly league, but that doesn’t mean the backfield has any less importance.

The Running-Backs are often the workhorses that earn those extra inches and relieve pressure from the Quarterback and we are blessed to have many talented backs with different running styles in the IAFL. A combined total of 177 rushing touchdowns were scored across all divisions during the regular season, however who stood out the most too us in this very competitive rushing class.

Running Backs

Team White Shane Gleeson UL Vikings

Photography by Jason Toher
Photography by Jason Toher

Gleeson is was the workhorse of a very dominant Vikings run-game. When Adrian Garvey went down earlier in the year, much of the work fell to Gleeson and he became the number 1 threat for the Vikings offence. His tough, physical down-hill running style coupled with his Madden Truck Stick ability to break tackles he secured top spot of the SBC rushing charts with 8 touchdowns, as he helped the Vikings progress to the semi-final stages.

 

 


Team Green Neil Montgomery Belfast Trojans 

Photo by Dave Bradshaw
Photo by Dave Bradshaw

The Trojans are blessed to have so much talent in the backfield, but Montgomery offers a different style and dimension to the others. Neil is a physical football player that loves contact and it’s a very tough task for anybody to bring him down. He can fight for those much needed extra yards, whilst also bursting out big yardage plays that make him an ideal running-back to have at your dispense. His consistency and work ethic have made him a top back in this league, as he finished the regular season with 7 rushing TD’s.

 


Team White  Sean Leamy Dublin Rebels 

Photo by Laszlo Geczo
Photo by Laszlo Geczo

Leamy’s move from the Reapers to the Rebels during the off-season added a much needed boost to the Dubliners backfield with the loss of Simon Mackey; and Leamy’s performances didn’t disappoint. He struck up an impressive backfield tandem with Kevin Finnegan, as the pair caused all sort’s of problems to opposing defences. Leamy is a quick, elusive and dangerous running-back in open field that can also assist in the passing game. Sean came up clutch in numerous 2PT attempts, whilst also scoring 7 rushing and 2 passing touchdowns. His stock is on the rise very quickly in the IAFL.

 


Team Green  Ola Bademosi Trinity College 

Photo by Charisse Mae Ducao
Photo by Charisse Mae Ducao

Usually when talking about TCD running-backs, one name springs to mind. However with Rob McDowell moving to QB, it freed up Ola Bademosi to make an impact. Often the understudy, Bademosi soon became to go-to guy of the Trinity offence as he scored a handful of touchdowns in as many games. Ola offers a mix of both power and pace, a dangerous combo that had defences struggling to contain him as he rushed in for 7 touchdowns this term. His performances were the turning point in Trinity’s season that saw them clinch the south division title and a place in this years Shamrock Bowl Final.

 


Teams

Green v White

[row]

[column size='1/2']

QB James McKelvey

RB Neil Montgomery

RB Ola Bademosi

[/column]

[column size='1/2']

QB Stephen Hayes

RB Shane Gleeson

RB Sean Leamy

[/column]

[/row]


 

 Most Honourable Mentions:


Jonah Siri
 Belfast Trojans This guy is untouchable, I mean like properly untouchable! Siri topped the IAFL-2 rushing charts with 10 touchdowns, 2 ahead of is equally talented teammate Matt Armstrong, whilst also bagging 3 in the SBC. As good as his rushing ability is, his return threat on special teams is something to behold! He scored 8 touchdowns from both kickoff and punt returns, the most special team touchdowns scored by anyone this year. His return ability was noted by the Vikings in this years semi-finals, who deliberately kicked the ball out of bounds on Punt’s to avoid him. Say’s it all for a man better known as ‘Cheat-codes’.

Pete McMahon Meath Bulldogs Pete stakes his claim as the top scoring running-back in the IAFL-1 for the second consecutive year. Along with FB Alan Harvey, brother Eddie and Erin Kelly, they spearheaded the Bulldogs attack which saw them reach the semi-finals against the Waterford Wolves. Although Meath are mostly recognised for their defensive prowess, it was their running-back core that clinched them third in the division. Pete has delivered a number of big performances that kept the Bulldogs in the running and he once again proved himself to be the top back in the division with 5 rushing touchdowns and 2 receiving TDs.

Gareth Miller Carrickfergus Knights The Knights season didn’t go exactly as they had planned. They were staring relegation in the face for much of the year after their season began to derail following a loss to the Panthers and injuries in key places. It took a while to get going but the Knights were in a playoff for relegation several times in the last number of weeks and it was Millers stellar close to the season that may have just saved them. A late season push saw him rack up a total of 6 TDs for the year and more important than the final number was how important each of those scores was. The Knights awarded him the offensive MVP because when the chips were down, Miller came though.

David Colvin Belfast Trojans Did anyone notice Colvin scored 8 touchdowns this year? Not at the top of the rushing chart or receiving chart but one of the most productive players out there! Colvin has been the leader of the Trojan rushing attack for years now and as Neil Montgomery, Matt Armstrong and Even Johnathan Siri has seen their carries and scores go up, David Colvin has continued to make significant contributions to a team loaded with talent on offence and defence. Sometimes the guys that do it all suffer on lists like this one since they’re not the top in any category but if you were putting a team together from scratch David Colvin would be an extremely good start

Next up on NFL-Irelands ‘Team of the Year’ countdown: Wide-Receivers

NFL-Ireland’s Team of the Year : Quarterbacks

All through 2015 we’ve shown our appreciation for the very best performances each week in our Team of the Week . Now, with all but the Shamrock Bowl in the books, the time has come for the Team of the Year. Although some of these players already play together in the hypothetical world this team exists we thought they should have someone to play against and that is why, much like the NFL do for their All-Pro Teams, our Team of the Year is in fact two teams. Team Green vs Team White. Here are the rules! Each team will have 1 Quarterback, 2 Running Backs, 2 Wide Receivers, an Offensive Line, a Defence, a Kicker (we felt that we neglected them all year) and an 1 ‘all rounder’ .  So without further blabber we bring you the

Quarterbacks

Team Green QB – James McKelvey, Belfast Trojans

Team of the Week
Photo by Dave Bradshaw

Shamrock Bowl Conference MVP McKelvey doubled the passing output of all other signal callers this year. 20 Touchdowns and 3 rushing touchdowns puts #1 in the rarefied air in Ireland. Topping 20 touchdowns in a season is an immense and extremely infrequent performance. James McKelvey has gone about his business in 2015 in a calm business like manner that is the trademark of the Belfast offence. The balance and talent of his offensive team mates will be reflected as we continue with the Team of the Year but leading those men to one of the finest offensive outputs we’ve seen deserves special mention as playing quarterback is more than about throwing touchdowns and McKelvey encompasses all that could be sought from a Quarterback.


Team White QB – Stephen Hayes, Cork Admirals

Photography by Declan Forrest
Photography by Declan Forrest

All year we’ve sung Hayes’ praises (say that out loud) He played his way to the IAFL 1 MVP and brought Cork, who it must be remembered were verging on the abyss less than 2 years ago, within a point of the Shamrock Bowl Conference. 25 Touchdown passes is an incredible return and Hayes is still so young it is scary to think what his ceiling might be. Where McKelvey can boast an incredible output while still maintaining the balance of his offence, Stephen Hayes has at times put Cork on his back and carried them to large and impressive victories. Ultimately it was just short by the narrowest of margins but now playing with a chip on his shoulder 2016 could be the year we see what #12 is really capable of. Every other Quarterback in the country, excluding the one above, passed for no more than 10 touchdowns. Hayes’ return was 250% of Quarterbacks some of who started playing while Hayes was in senior infants. If 2015 was his break out year, what his best year will be will be interesting to see.


Most Honourable Mentions

Tom Donovan – UCD 10 Passing Touchdowns and 5 rushing touchdowns is an exceptional performance in a year of exceptional performances from Quarterbacks. Donovan is a new breed of Quarterback in Ireland. Every bit the passer as he the athlete when it comes to running the football. Donovan was an unknown quantity heading into 2015, only those in UCD and those who caught his brief cameos in IAFL 1 last year will be completely unsurprised with his output. This, Toms first year a starter at QB, was better than most QBs around the league have ever produced and much like Stephen Hayes, the ceiling for Donovan could be something we haven’t seen in the league before, the complete duel threat Quarterback.

Andrew Dennehy – Dublin Rebels It would be easy to assert (like we have!) that the Rebels are one of the most experienced outfits around. The opposite is true. A few guys with a vast amount of experience and a lot of guys still in the early part of their careers and all being brought along by #16. There are guys with bigger numbers out there but when considering the value of the veteran signal caller you only have to look at the 2014 Rebels and the 2015 Rebels. Losing Simon Mackey could have been a disaster, would have been a disaster for probably all other teams. The Rebels arrived at the exact same stage as they did last year and were in fact closer to the Shamrock Bowl this time around. All things that go on on the Rebels Offence flow through their Quarterback and Head Coach. He doesn’t have the moves of that Tom Donnovan has, the trucking ability of Peter Loughran or perhaps the receivers of the two men at the top of this list (not to say there aren’t those at the Rebels with that potential) Yet year on year, for a lot of years now. Andrew Dennehy gets it done.

Peter Loughran – Craigavon Cowboys…..will appear elsewhere!

Read on to the Team of the Year Running Backs!

Coach Rob Wills: ‘Our goal all year was to win this division’.

Coach Rob Wills: ‘Our goal all year was to win this division’. 

This past Sunday, the Waterford Wolves clinched the IAFL-1 Championship title with victory over Munster rivals, the Cork Admirals. Despite being 12-0 down at half time, the Wolves clawed their way back in the second half to win 13-12 at Navan RFC to lift the trophy.

On what proved to be an exceptional day of football that also included the Belfast Trojans 2nd’s winning the IAFL-2 title, we caught up with Waterford Head Coach Rob Wills to get his thoughts on his teams historic moment.

A retired high school coach from Texas, Coach Wills has had a long but decorated career within American Football. He played football at Texas Tech (although he claims he was too dumb to know any better) before embarking on a thirty-two year coaching journey, which mostly included small areas within West Texas. He had coached a number of conference championship winning teams, but never won the state championship. He can however add the IAFL-1 championship to his CV.

‘It is very satisfying’, Coach Wills said speaking of his teams win. ‘To see the faces of the players after Sunday’s victory makes it all worth while’. 

The Wolves entered halftime of the game on the back foot, trailing by 12 points to a strong Cork outfit. Waterford had lost the last two outings against the Admirals, but in a final event; anything was possible.

10409555_743277559075124_5366394276082200726_n‘At the end of the first half even though we missed a great opportunity to score, I sensed that the momentum had shifted. All we had to do was make a few minor adjustments and we could get back in the game. The biggest obstacle was our confidence’. 

The Admirals were the form team throughout the season, finishing a solid (7-1) in regular season and had on paper the best offence and defence to any team in the division. So it was fair to say the Wolves were considered the ‘underdogs’ heading into the game. Coach Wills believed that the tag worked to their advantage.

‘We had nothing to lose but at the same time we had something to prove. The lopsided loss to them earlier in the year was humiliating but at the same time, it was the team’s motivation to make it to the finals for a rematch.’

Shutting down Steve Hayes and co. would have been of upmost importance during the game. With that under consideration, Wills was able to devise a plan that would ultimately stop the Cork offence.

11781758_10204530430367670_6489579994880878568_n
Photo by Greg Barret

‘We knew we had to make them beat us running the football. We thought we matched up well with them up front but we were out matched in the secondary due to the height difference. Therefore, we left two half safeties over the top and mixed man under coverage with zone under (cover 2). Then we played mind-games up front with our Defensive-Line to confuse their O-Line and put pressure on their QB. We executed it well and were able to hold them to only two scores.’

Many often wonder what goes on or what is said in the changing rooms at halftime during games in order to provoke a better second half performance. That is when the leaders in the team step up. Coach Wills firmly believed his team could win, but he trusted his players to find a response; and they did.

‘I quietly challenged them to step up and take the game. No that’s not true at all. I went off on them in a controlled, calculated “old school” fashion. My three sons who all played for me call it “vintage Coach Wills.” I can’t say that was the difference but I do know they responded. I told Ryan (Byrne) to stick with our script when he calls plays. I did not follow that rule and called a play on the goal line that cost us the go ahead TD early in the fourth quarter. That did not phase the team. They continued to play hard and were able to overcome my lack of judgement (stupidity) to come back and score late.’

So with the IAFL-1 championship in the bag, the Wolves can set their sights on an automatic return to the top flight to compete in the Shamrock Bowl Conference once again. The ‘Wolf Pack’ can now enjoy a well-deserved break from their hardships of a long but successful season, before they plan for life in the SBC next season.

11060097_10204530440287918_2196733309481645044_n
Photo by Greg Barret

‘Our goal all year was to win this division and get back to the SBC. We were not ready in 2014 to compete at that level. The year’s experience back down will help. Our biggest obstacle is numbers. We need a good recruitment drive during the offseason to get our numbers up. It would be really nice to be able to platoon instead of playing both sides of the ball. Depth is the key to success at the SBC level.

Congratulations to the Wolves!

NFL-Ireland’s MVP Awards 2015

2015 we hardly knew ye, all that is left now is Shamrock Bowl 29 and then we face into the bleak off season. Winter training, frozen fields, rain, wind and the true face of football in Ireland. The heroes of Summer are built in the Winter and with all but two teams now focused on 2016, we look now to the heroes of 2015. NFL-Ireland are proud to announce our inaugural Most Valuable Player Awards for the Shamrock Bowl Conference, IAFL 1 and IAFL 2.

2015 Shamrock Bowl Conference Most Valuable Player

James McKelvey

Photography by Dave Bradshaw
Photography by Dave Bradshaw

#1 is number one. The Trojans are with out a doubt the standard of the last number of years. The bar has been reset in recent times by the team from Belfast and while some have come close nobody has cleared that bar to date. At the helm of an offence that has scored 147 points more than the nearest rival (that is 21 touchdowns worth), there is no doubt that McKelvey is among the elite of Irish Quarterbacks. 20 Touchdown Passes sets #1 above all signal callers this season. His 3 rushing touchdowns by way of sneaks is the cherry on top of an extremely fine season. Andy Dennehy, Peter Loughran and Tom Donovan all deserve mention in conversations about the best quarterback but James has doubled all of their passing totals and carried with him perhaps the best offence assembled on this island. It is no surprise that in this run first league, McKelvey’s favourite target, Dave Richardson has topped all skill position players in touchdowns scored.


2015 IAFL 1 Most Valuable Player

Stephen Hayes

Photo by Declan Forrest
Photo by Declan Forrest

25 Touchdown Passes, we could honestly end our summary there. That is impressive enough. What is more impressive is that #12 is the offensive coordinator, play caller and he wrote the offensive playbook. If you are not the sort that is easily impressed, we offer up that Stephen is 23 years old and his offence has produced more than double that of the next best unit and a large proportion of that has come from the right arm of #12. Hayes is without doubt one of the brightest talents at any position in the country. He has earned his place in the National set up and to be achieving so much while still at such a young age defies logic. Unfortunately his quality couldn’t carry the Admirals back to the promised land of the SBC but Hayes has had such a fine season that falling at the last hurdle may prove to be the spark that pushes him and the admirals onto greater things in 2016’s campaign.


IAFL 2 Most Valuable Player

Johnathan Siri

Photo by Lyndsay McVeigh
Photo by Lyndsay McVeigh

Earlier in the year we asked some of his Trojan team mates about Johnathan Siri and our favourite response was ‘he’s like having cheat codes’ Mike Vick in Madden 2004. Bo Jackson in Temco Bowl and now we have Johnathan Siri in IAFL 2. Siri rushed for 10 touchdowns in the regular season and then put on his best Devin Hester and scored 5 return touchdowns on Special Teams. Oh yeah….he got one playing defence too. The only question remains is, has anyone asked him to play quarterback yet? Siri also had 2 touchdowns in the Bowl Game. Making his cameo in IAFL 2 perhaps one of the more dominating performances across a season that we’ve witnessed in the IAFL. Siris game changing ability on all sides of the ball is rare. Gifted players such as this often prove headaches for coaches as to where best to deploy them, the Trojan Coaching staff have gone for the ‘Everywhere’ option. As his eligibility for IAFL 2 expires Johnathan Siri is a name we expect to hear much more of in the Shamrock Bowl Conferences (and likely Shamrock Bowls) for years to come.

IAFL-1 Final Preview

IAFL-1 Final Preview.

With the IAFL-2 Preview done and dusted, we swiftly move onto the IAFL-1 clash between the Cork Admirals and the Waterford Wolves. In what we shall christen as “The Munster Mash”, or maybe a more serious name such as the ‘Munster Bowl’, will see the division leaders do battle against the semi-final winners. Both sides have faced against each other already this season, as Cork came out 33-6 and 42-0 victors, however all past results go out the window when competing in a final!

thumb_waterfordlogo Waterford Wolves @ Cork Admirals thumb_CAlogo  – Navan RFC, 4pm.

The Cork Admirals finished IAFL-1 leaders with a commanding (7-1) record as they rarely looked like surrendering their lead as the premier team in the division. The Admirals sailed to a great start, putting up on average 30+ points in their opening 3 games with victories against the Wolves, Minotaurs and Bulldogs, a points average that continued throughout the campaign. By this stage they had established themselves as the firm front-runners in the race for the playoff’s. The midway point of the season brought up some tough encounters, including the game against the Tyrone Titans that they won 22-7, but the Ad’s continued to bask in their form. Their only defeat of the season came against the Meath Bulldogs, but despite a minor setback the men from Cork comfortably sealed top spot in the division.

Steve Hayes led the division with 25 touchdowns. Photo by Declan Forrest
Steve Hayes led the division with 25 touchdowns. Photo by Declan Forrest

One of the prime candidates and key reasons for Cork’s success fell on the shoulders of Quarterback, Steve Hayes. Hayes quite simply has had a terrific year up to this point despite being an unknown quantity before the season commenced. He has featured heavily in our ‘Team of the Week’ articles, and for good reason too. The signal-caller threw an impressive 25 touchdowns this season to various targets in his receiving corp. Nick Coffi, Paul O’Driscoll and Simon O’Keefe contributed to a cool 24 TD’s in 8 games, with O’Keefe finishing as the top receiver with 10 touchdowns. Their defence can get somewhat overshadowed by the offences prowess, but they aren’t too bad either. They only conceded 78 points, whilst scoring 3 defensive touchdowns and 2 safeties.


Standing on the opposite sideline will be familiar foes in the Waterford Wolves. The ‘Wolf Packs’ season was met with mixed results and a concern for a lack of consistency, however as the season progressed and the playoff’s loomed, the Wolves were soon hunting! Defeats one week were met with victories the following as Waterford ground out key wins against the Mavericks and Minotaurs early in the campaign. They didn’t necessarily blow teams away on the scoreboard, but they did just enough to scrape threw and thats what counts! They did win 3 of their remaining 4 games, all of which were against playoff contenders. Huge performances against the Titans and Bulldogs secured them playoff football, in which they defeated the Bulldogs 13-9 to book their spot in the final.

Despite coming second overall in the IAFL-1, the Wolves finished with the second worst points difference

The Wolves will need a complete performance to stop the Admirals!
The Wolves overcame a tough Bulldogs side to reach the final.

with -54 as they scored only 66 points whilst surrending 120. The offensive production has always been a problem for the Waterford men, but their blood thirsty defence more than makes up for it. QB/CB Ryan Byrne has been a standout performer, coming up with several big plays that has altered the Wolves path this season. He’s scored 7 times consisting of passing, rushing and defensive scores making him an all-round playmaker. His partnership with Mark Dunphy has brought plenty of success recently and the Wolves will need big performances from the pair on Sunday.

When it comes down to it, the Cork Admirals will be considered strong favourites this weekend, considering their superior record this year and past results against the Wolves. However the Wolves have had the best form in the division in recent weeks and will be feeling very confident heading into Navan. The Admirals will need to click into gear quickly unless they fear a repeat performance against Meath, whilst Waterford will struggle to keep up with Cork if they get into their flow. Both teams have been rather quiet in regards to rushing threats this season, so it appears the battle will be done through the air. Cork have easily the best receiving trio in the division, maybe even the country, but the Wolves secondary is littered with ball-hawks so this will be an interesting showcase. Let the battle for Munster commence!

Can’t make the game? Never fear! The expert commentating of Greg Barret has you covered! He will be joined by special guests Neil Graham of the Belfast Trojans and South Kildare Soldiers own Shane Farrell at ringside.  

Listen to the game live this Sunday on the OpenTempo sports app for iOS and Android, or you can follow the game via the link www.opentempofm.com and click on the “listen” sports link!

IAFL-2 Final Preview.

IAFL-2 Final Preview.

Navan RFC will be host to the first championship games of the year as the IAFL-1 and IAFL-2 winners will be decided this Sunday. The IAFL-1 leaders, the Cork Admirals will face off against last years SBC outfit, the Waterford Wolves in the 4pm kickoff.

Before that takes place, the IAFL-2 final will take centre stage. The undefeated Belfast Trojans 2’s will take on the division veterans in the South Kildare Soldiers. The Trojans currently hold the bragging rights over their opponents, but the Soldiers wont back down from a challenge in a game that will decide who wins the war of the IAFL-2.

SKS South Kildare Soldiers @ Belfast Trojans 2’s thumb_BTlogo – Navan RFC, 1pm.

The Soldiers regular season performances showed solid improvement, picking up a few extra wins than they achieved in their debutant year. They started off in excellent spirit too, dispatching a dangerous UL Viking’s side in convincing fashion. They couldn’t translate that form into their next two games however, as last seasons sparring partners, the Galway Warriors handed them their first defeat of the season, which was followed by a 63-0 demolition job by the Trojans. They did finish out the year strongly however, winning 2 of their last 3 games. Both victories came against the Donegal/Derry Vipers, including the 54-36 score-fest at Cill Dara, the highest scoring game in the entire IAFL this year.

team of the week
Eoin Whelan scored 10 TD’s for the Soldiers

The Soldiers finished (3-3) a good effort in a much improved division. They narrowly ousted rivals the Warriors in the race for second, due to Galway losing their last remaining game; they have the Vipers to thank for that! The highest scoring player for the Soldiers was QB Eoin Whelan, who threw for 6 passing touchdowns as well as rushing for 4 touchdowns this season. Wide Receiver Lee Moore also contributed to 3 receptions as the Soldiers rounded out their 6 games with 97 points for and 157 against, a good sign of progression.


The Trojans have a roster stacked in ability that has easily translated over to the IAFL-2. The rookies and second string players have made strong cases for first team selection as they swept aside every challenger they faced in the division. They went about their business in commanding fashion, showing complete dominance in every aspect of the game by winning each of their 6 games (including the Rhinos which was considered a forfeit) as they eclipsed an unbeaten regular season, similarly to their teammates in the SBC. They have accomplished what’s been asked of them, so lifting the IAFL-2 trophy would cap off a terrific season.

The seconds accumulated a staggering 315 pts, averaging a mind-blowing 52.5 points per game. They

Jonah 'Cheat-codes' Siri has proven himself to be a dangerous return threat. Photo by Paul Talbot Photography
Jonah ‘Cheat-codes’ Siri has proven himself to be a dangerous return threat. Photo by Paul Talbot Photography

only conceded 40 points over that span, with the Vipers scoring 20 of them. Quarterback, Kris Donaghy connected for 9 touchdowns whilst the quartet of Jonah Siri, Matt Armstrong, Peter Robert and Donaghy contributed to 25 rushing touchdowns between them. Tight-End Tom Montgomery also came in with 4 receiving scores. Arguably the most electrifying player in sports entertainment, (not the Rock this time!) was Jonah Siri, who scored 5 special teams TD’s and proved seemingly untouchable.

The Belfast Trojans ‘B’ team will hoping to add to the clubs honours, by adding their first IAFL-2 title to the growing trophy collection. A win would also bring great momentum heading into the National Championship game on August 9th. The South Kildare Soldiers, a much rejuvenated side from last season will no doubt have the odd’s stacked against them but football can be very unpredictable, particularly in a final, so don’t expect them to bow down to their fierce enemies this Sunday. Anything is possible!

Coming up: IAFL-1 Preview – Waterford Wolves @ Cork Admirals.

Semi Final Shamrock Bowl Live Stream

See Below for our twitter feed of the games!

Semi Final Preview: UL Vikings @ Belfast Trojans

Shamrock Bowl XXIX semi-final previews

The road to Shamrock Bowl XXIX stops off in Belfast on July 26th, as the defending champions the Belfast Trojans host the semi-final double header at Deramore Park.

The Trojans won the right to host the semi-finals due to their #1 ranking during the regular season. The fixtures will see the Belfast Trojans, UL Vikings, Trinity College and Dublin Rebels lock horns for the right to headline the final at Dalymount Park on August 9th.
thumb_BTlogo Belfast Trojans vs. UL Vikings thumb_ULlogo – 4pm

The reigning champion Belfast Trojans face familiar foes in the UL Vikings, who have now met at the semi-final stages in the last three consecutive years.

McKelvey threw for 20 touchdowns this season. Photography by Dave Bradshaw
McKelvey threw for 20 touchdowns this season. Photography by Dave Bradshaw

The Trojans proved throughout the regular season that they are the team to beat as they went unbeaten for a third time in four years, finishing with an 8-0 record. The men in green dominated from start to finish, outgunning and outplaying every opponent they came up against.

The Belfast side averaged 43.6 points per game, racking up 349 in total whilst only conceding 30 all season. Quarterback, James McKelvey topped the division with 23 all-purpose touchdowns, throwing 11 to David Richardson who topped the receiving charts.

The current holders have won the Shamrock Bowl the last three seasons, proving throughout the 2015 campaign so far that they have no intention of relinquishing their crown. Dominant performances against rivals the Carrickfergus Knights and Dublin Rebels have displayed their superiority as they clinched the North Division title with considerable ease.


Their opponents on Sunday will be none other than the UL Vikings. The Vikings booked their place in the semi-final courtesy of a 20-12 victory over University College Dublin in the wildcard round. Limerick finished the regular season with a solid (6-2) effort, falling just behind rivals Trinity College into second.

UL had a very strong start to the year, defeating the aforementioned UCD and Trinity College on their way to a 5 game win streak. However back-to-back defeats against Trinity in the return leg and the Dublin Rebels cost the Vikings in the race for the SBC South division.

Gleeson finished the SBC's leading rusher. Photography by Jason Toher
Gleeson finished the SBC’s leading rusher. Photography by Jason Toher

The Vikes have been solid performers all season, finishing second to the Trojans in much of the scoring statistics. They amounted 24 touchdowns during the regular season, whilst allowing only 67 points in 8 games. The transition of defensive pairing, Ian Cahill and Shane Gleeson to offence proved hugely successful for the Limerick side. The strong duo contributed to a powerful run-game that had opposing defences struggling to cope, as Gleeson finished the Shamrock Bowl Conferences leading rusher with 8 touchdowns.

The battle between these two juggernauts has always provided a tough, physical affair. The Trojans may have won the last three outings, but each game has been decided late in the 4th quarter. These two are both incredibly strong sides that pride themselves on shutdown defences and are both highly capable of putting up big scores as well.

The Vikings arguably have a much better squad than in recent years, so this could be their best opportunity to de-throne the champions. Belfast on the other hand will know they are in for a war on Sunday, but their preparation, quality and home-field advantage could be key in the outcome. The Trojans took the spoils in a 28-6 score-line last season, so the Vikings will be focused on enacting some revenge this weekend.

Semi Final Preview: Dublin Rebels @ Trinity College

Semi Final Preview: Dublin Rebels @ Trinity College 

thumb_DRlogo Dublin Rebels @ Trinity College thumb_TCDlogo  – 1pm.

The first game in the double header is a replay of last years showdown between Trinity College and the Dublin Rebels, that saw the students reach their first ever final with a 47-8 victory over their Dublin foes.

Bademosi produced TCD's greatest rushing threat. Photo by Charisse Mae Ducao
Bademosi produced TCD’s greatest rushing threat. Photo by Charisse Mae Ducao
Trinity College started the 2015 campaign in unusually sluggish fashion, as they fell victim to a 14-0 defeat against the Vikings in the opening game. It appeared the after-effect of last seasons Shamrock Bowl loss threatened to derail the student’s season, however it only sparked the finalists into life, as they won their last 7 games to finish (7-1) and defend their South Division title.

Their defining victory of the season came in their league encounter with the Rebels, when the students came back from  from 3 scores down and win 29-28!

Once they found their feet, Trinity’s performances proved irresistible. Converting 202 points, 28 touchdowns and surrendering only 92, they quickly began to show signs of their unbeaten 2014 form. Dynamic duo, Dan Finnamore and Rob McDowell couldn’t quite reach the dizzying standards they set last term, however their offence is still brimming with quality, with Running-Back Ola Bademosi have a particularly good year as he finished the teams top scorer with 7 touchdowns.


The Dublin Rebels will occupy the other sideline this weekend as they clinched second spot in the SBC North, before defeating the Craigavon Cowboys in the resulting wildcard bout. The 7 time champions put in their best performance of the year in the playoff game, as they showed why they are the most successful team in Irish American Football, winning 62-19 against a spirited Cowboys outfit.

The Rebels endured a mixed season, finishing (5-3) and losing to two of the other semi-finalists during the campaign. However solid victories against the South Dublin Panthers and fellow divisional rivals put them in commanding position to secure their playoff spot.

TE Paul Grogan will be a key target on Sunday. Photo by John Whealan
TE Paul Grogan will be a key target on Sunday. Photo by John Whealan
On paper, the Rebels rank lowest out of the four playoff sides but never underestimate the quality that they posses. Veteran Quarterback, Andrew Dennehy was effective as ever, connecting for 10 touchdowns this year whilst the backfield tandem of Sean Leamy and Kevin Finnegan combined for a total of 12 rushing scores. Offensive production was fluent as always, as the Dubliners scored 168 points over 8 games, however defensive struggles saw them leak 132 during that period.

The Rebels have one of the most experienced sides in the league and have been contesting for the Shamrock Bowl since they formed in 1995. They set themselves high standards every year, so expect them to do whatever it takes to reach the final this August.

 

Last season’s result was a blowout victory for Trinity, however the match-up earlier in the campaign would suggest that this semi-final will be more closely contested. Both sides won their recent games in convincing fashion and will enter the fixture in promising form. The Rebels and Trinity have never been short on quality and their squads will give them plenty to be confident about. Starting quickly could be the difference in this match as neither can afford to go too far behind early on. This will be an interesting fixture to spectate, but who will come out on top? Will it be the experienced Dublin Rebels, or the speed and quickness of Trinity College?