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.

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!