IAFL Week 7 rolls around in the IAFL and after a blockbuster 6 games last week we are back to our standard helping of 5 games this weekend.
Just the one game in the Shamrock Bowl Conference, as the West Dublin Rhinos make the short trip to UCD in an all important Division game.
West Dublin Rhinos @ UCD
UCD haven’t wasted any time imposing themselves on the SBC South and already it looks as though the rescheduled fixture with Trinity at the end of the season may determine the playoff ranking of both teams. UL have 4 wins already racked up in this division and look set leave the other teams scrambling for the remaining playoff places and the wild card round. UCD have an impressive win verses the Rebels and an unlucky defeat to UL already in the books and will look to stay on course verses the reeling Rhinos.
The Rhinos inversely seem to be clawing for their SBC lives already at this early point in the Season. Failing to score against the Reapers and suffering a demolition at the hands of UL don’t make for pretty numbers for the Castleknock outfit after a strong off season of recruitment and expansion. Closing their season with games against Trinity and Belfast, the coming 4 games will determine if the Rhinos will see SBC football in 2016.
UCD are on the up and their spread-option offence is tough to get a handle on, just ask the Rebels. The West Dublin side will need to up their level of performance to live with the students. As important as winning is, if it comes down to it, maintaining a respectable scoreline could be equally as important. The Rhinos still have the opportunity to reverse the tie breaker the Reapers currently hold over them an all important game against Craigavon could see the Rhinos easily survive if those games go the right way, if they don’t the less 41-8 maulings they suffer the better.
The first of the IAFL 1 games sees Cork make the trip up to Navan to face the Meath Bulldogs
Cork Admirals @ Meath Bulldogs
Cork are taking a similar hold on the IAFL 1 as UCD did in 2014. 2 Games down and 68 points in the bag. QB Stephen Hayes accounts for half of the Touchdown passes thrown in the division and until they gave up 13 points to Mullingar in junk time last weekend the Admirals defence have handled all questions put to them in commanding fashion. Without doubt they are setting the pace with play that wouldn’t be amiss in the Shamrock Bowl Conference.
The Bulldogs stumbled out of the gate somewhat in their opening encounter in Tyrone 2 weeks ago. In their usual hard hitting fashion the Bulldogs held the Titans in check for most of the game but let it slip when the Northerns found another gear. Worryingly for the Bulldogs it was through the air that the Titans hurt them, a problem they will need to solve quickly before Hayes and Co come to town. The ground and pound style of the Bulldogs coupled with quick hitting passing attack may be the key that unlocks this Cork defence but Cork boast a squad size far superior to the last time the Bulldogs faced them and hoping to wear them down may not be the cleverest approach.
Cork look destined for a bye-week and a rest while they await the winners of the 2nd & 3rd placed playoff come the end of the season. If the Bulldogs want to be in that play off they will need to find points on offence fast and methods of controlling Corks vertical threats.
Dundalk Mavericks @ Waterford Wolves
One of the most interesting clashes of the weekend, sees the Mavericks take the long trip down the M9 to face the Wolves. The Mavericks surprised some with a victory over the Minotaurs in their IAFL 1 debut. Nobody associated with the Mavericks was surprised, this is a team that plays with a supreme confidence in themselves and reject entirely any suggestion they belong anywhere except the top of this division. That confidence and attitude can boil over at times as it did last week when they suffered 2 ejections and discipline issues on their sideline verses the Titans in a game that ultimately they lost 6-0. A game that tight these things count and we mentioned in our season preview that discipline will be a major factor the Mavericks and they will find themselves in close situations and games through the rest of the season and wins in these games may come down to what goes on on the sideline as much as it does what happens between the white lines.
The Wolves are still early in their IAFL 1 second lives and a loss to Cork on the opening weekend, based on Corks subsequent result, doesn’t look so terrible. As the Titans surge and IAFL 1 vets, Bulldogs & Minotaurs, stumble there is an opening here for the men from The Déise. A win this weekend against the Mavericks catapults them right into the mix with the Bulldogs next to take the long trip down to Waterford. Their home games are certainly advantage as normally they will face opposition light on sleep or light on a night in their own bed. It is vital they capitalise before having to make the return trips. 2 wins from these games places Waterford in a great position to challenge at the top of the division before making the return trip. The Mavericks similarly will have cast aside the bulk of the veteran teams with a win and be aiming at the playoffs for the ultimate revenge on the Titans. The result of this game will go a long way in indicating the final makeup of the IAFL 1.
Belfast Trojans 2nds @ Donegal/Derry Vipers
As Vipers Chairman Shaun McGrory told us when we spoke to him they are more than aware of the challenge facing them this weekend as they take on the Belfast Trojans 2nds. Anyone who has started a club will tell you, the football is the easy part. The Vipers are an unknown quantity composed nearly entirely of rookies but seem to have struck gold in their Coaching staff, with Chicago native Jason Brock taking the reins.
The Trojans are on the other hand an entirely known quantity. They bring power and discipline that the rest of the league has only come close to matching in the last 3 years. Long have others levelled the accusation at the Trojans about squad size being a key to their success. While it helps, anyone who knows will tell you large squads bring with them their own challenge and the Trojans finally have an outlet to get those guys live reps. Less than full speed, less than 100% is not a concept understood in Belfast, if you wear the Silver & Green you’d better perform and the Vipers will perhaps look back on Game 1 in their history as a lesson in that point. Making up the numbers on the peripheries of the league is not the aim of the Donegal/Derry outfit and this is the first step in a long road hoping to lead to where the Trojans are now. We wish them luck.
South Kildare Soldiers @ Galway Warriors
The last game of the weekend takes the Soldiers into the West for the first game of Warriors season. We’ll hold our hands up here, we didn’t give the Soldiers a chance last week verses the Vikings, we were wrong. The Soldiers haven’t been idle in the long offseason and returned better organised and supremely disciplined. UL 2nds possess a wealth of experience for what is still early in a lot of their careers and the Soldiers put them to the sword. That result has to be put the Kildare outfit in the driving seat among the exclusively IAFL 2 outfits (Soldiers, Warriors & Vipers) and the Warriors will need to show they’ve worked equally as hard in the off season to keep up with their classmates in their sophomore season. The trip west isn’t as arduous as the one to Limerick so the Soldiers if anything will be feeling better still as the UL game didn’t get underway until late due to ambulance delays in the preceding game. Afternoon kick off and short trip on the west coast this game promises to be an interesting barometer in the advancement of these two side.