Week 1 Game Preview: University College Dublin @ Trinity College Dublin

Opening game of the 2015 IAFL season. Last summers Shamrock Bowl Finalists versus the IAFL-1 Champions. Two university sides who have been battling it out for years. Who will come out on top in the season opener between University College Dublin and Trinity College!

It has been a long off-season, but now the Superbowl hype has quietened down, we can begin to build the suspense for the commencement of the new Irish Football campaign. What a game to start us off as well, two teams who have followed similar paths to where they are today from competing in the DV8’s league in 2009 to once again clashing heads in the SBC South Conference six years later.

Both sides had terrific years in 2014, Trinity College were the only team to complete the regular season unbeaten as they stormed to an (8-0) campaign. They went one step further this year by defeating the Dublin Rebels in the semi-finals before competing for the highest honour, in the clubs first ever Shamrock Bowl appearance. Following unfortunate demotion to the IAFL-1 on the back of 2013, UCD swept away opposition by taking the divisions top spot with a (6-2) record, before defeating the Cork Admirals in the IAFL-1 Bowl game, and thus clinching promotion back into the top flight.

1888873_10152678269356212_6123280353886837067_oThese teams have played numerous times in the past, but currently UCD may have a possible edge. In the annual College Championship game, UCD came out 26-20 winners against Trinity in a very close contest last November. With two championship victories in two games, UCD could well be deemed the form team heading into the Shamrock Bowl season. However, no two games are the same and thats something Wide Receiver, Paul Geraghty is well aware of heading into Sundays key fixture.

‘The college championships was a great building block for us but that’s all it was. It was a great opportunity to give guys who had never played against an SBC team, a taste of the physicality and speed. But we know come this Sunday that it will be a big step above what a lot of the guys experienced in November.’

The team has been progressing well over recent years and with many rookie players in the squad, the team is beginning to gel nicely at just the right time. However the SBC is a step up in class compared to the IAFL-1.

‘The team is really looking forward to it. After a sizeable rookie class last year and a good year of recruitment so far, it’ll be the majority of guys first ever SBC game. We have done our best to prepare them as best as possible but you can’t replicate the physicality and speed of an SBC game over training, IAFL-1 and College Championship games.’

‘In saying that, success in the last year by winning the IAFL-1 and College Championship has brought a feeling of confidence to the team, that wasn’t present when I first joined.’

UCD topped nearly every scoring chart that existed in the IAFL-1 this year, with Paul reeling in 8 touchdowns of his own. Both sides contain two very explosive offences, so highlighting the strengths of the opposition will be key if UCD are to prevail. Although Paul knows the dangers that Trinity possess, stopping them will be another matter entirely.

‘For us, we have always felt our major strength and advantage comes with our speed across all positions. When we play Trinity that advantage is wiped away. Everyone knows about the threats Trinity possess on offence, but their defence is just as good. They are super aggressive and have speed in abundance making it very tough to move the ball consistently.’

‘Our goal every year is to win every game we play. Whether we do that or not will be down to us. If our game plan and execution is good I believe we’ll be very competitive in every game we play this year.’

Facing opposite Paul this Sunday will be Quarterback, Dan Finnamore who had a fantastic 2014. Dan topped the passing charts with a remarkable 18 Touchdowns in his debut year with Trinity and was recently called up to the Irish National Team tryouts. The former Drogheda Lightning signal-caller has made big improvements since his move to TCD, but he knows that the team and himself have plenty of work still to do.

‘We have established our coaching staff, having brought in Coach Garland Drake and we feel we have learn’t from last year. We are working very hard and doing our best to win games. I think we have learned from our experience last season and for us, we are taking it one game at a time’. 

Dan may have only played UCD on a few occasions, but he knows he will be coming up against a tough team on Sunday.

‘We are looking forward to getting back to playing football. It’s going to be a tough game, UCD are a good team, so we have to play our best football. They are a strong team overall and they have shown it by winning the IAFL-1. They are well coached and well drilled.’ 

Any championship game is always important, but so is the opening fixture to the season. So when asked how important the upcoming game was in comparison to the College Championship match, the Quarterback replied in modest and determined fashion.

‘You never want to lose a game, so regardless of the setting; we see each game as equally important.’

So, it’s the opening game of the season. Both teams have points to prove. Despite not perhaps admitting it, but there will surely be a sour taste dwelling from the College Championship Final. Both teams will certainly be challenging for the SBC South crown and perhaps the Shamrock Bowl Final this summer, but who will take the spoils this Sunday in what is sure to be, an explosive encounter! The game kicks off at 1pm at Trinity College Sports Grounds.

Published by Scott Morrow

Scott is an aspiring sports writer and has previous publications with Double Coverage, Touchdown Europe and American Football International. He has played football for both the Belfast Trojans and Dundee Hurricanes and currently lives in Scotland. He is also a fan of the Green Bay Packers!