IAFL Week 12: Game Previews

IAFL Week 12: Game Previews

The SBC heads for another quiet week, but there are three other games in the lower divisions to look forward too on Sunday. The SBC tie is a clash between two familiar foes in Dublin, the two top teams in the IAFL-1 will battle it out as someones ‘0’ has got to go and the IAFL-2 rumbles towards the half way point. Here’s the run down of fixtures for Week 12.

UL Vikings (5-0) @ Trinity College (2-1) – ALSAA, Dublin 2pm. 

The Vikings are riding high at the top of the SBC South and victory on Sunday would clinch their first division title since 2012. TCD are playing catch up for that automatic playoff spot however with plenty of games in hand, a win would throw this division wide open again.

It has been a long wait for both sides to return to the football field and been an age since we last mentioned either of them in a game preview. Trinity College haven’t played since March and while their competitors have been picking up wins, the students have been consigned to the the sidelines. Sunday will give them their chance to make up for lost time, as well as the opportunity to overturn the 14-0 defeat to UL the earlier this year.

It’s beginning to increasingly unlikely that the Vikings will be caught as they surge towards the SBC South crown and although they haven’t played since Week 8, their form and momentum should carry over to game day. The transition of Ian Cahill from Defensive-End to Quarterback has worked seamlessly so far, as the Vikings have scored 103 points in 5 games, 27 short from the same stage last year whilst still only conceding 24. The balance of their side plus their unbeaten stature is looking reminiscent of their 2012 season with a number of their performers still to return.

No matter what stage of the season, you can always expect an exciting game of football when these sides meet. The lack of game time may well affect the quality of TCD’s performance, but you can guarantee they have been training hard to ensure they are prepared for the Vikings visit. Losing won’t be on their minds and with 4 games still to play after this their destiny is still in their own hands, for the moment.

‘Game of the Week’

Cork Admirals (3-0) @ Tyrone Titans (4-0) – Omagh RFC, 2pm.

Certainly our ‘Game of the Week’ as the two top sides in the IAFL-1 battle for supremacy. This game has huge implications for a number of reasons; unbeaten streaks, top spot, scoring charts as well as bragging rights will all come in to play on Sunday. This is arguably the most balanced game of football that will take place this year, but only one will leave with all still intact.

Despite the postponement of their last game against Dundalk, the Admirals have been nothing short of magnificent this year. Steve Hayes and co have scored 96 points in 3 appearances, averaging 32 points per game. The defence isn’t too bad either only conceding 34 points thus far, stats that would rival many teams in the SBC. With production like that, the Titans will have a hard time containing an explosive Admirals offence. It’s going to be a long, long trip up North for the Admirals so fatigue could play a factor, but the quality and experience within the side should overcome that.

We knew the Titans would be a perfect fit for the IAFL-1 at the start of the season, but even we couldn’t predict that they would overcome many of the more experienced sides in the division. Victories against Meath and Mullingar have propelled the Titans into top spot, for now, and they look every bit as good as they did last season. The dominant win against the Minotaurs will deliver a great deal of confidence to a team that faces their biggest challenge to date. On top of that, with the match being held in Tyrone, the Titans will have the added home field advantage, and they are very strong at home.

So much to talk about in this one, it’s hard to know where to start. The Admirals possess the divisions best offence and the Titans the best defence. They are currently tied in terms of points difference and the scoring charts suggest there is little between the team also. Both Quarterbacks Steve Hayes and Daniel Mullan have passed for 10 touchdowns apiece whilst Nick Coffi and Ryan Brolly have lead the receiving charts with 5 touchdowns each. Those match-ups will be key in deciding this one. This is the only regular season encounter between these two so a victory all the more important in securing the bye week and a potential automatic IAFL1 bowl appearance. Too close to call!

Galway Warriors (1-0-1) @ Belfast Trojans 2nd’s (3-0) – Deramore Park, 2pm

First versus second in the IAFL-2, as the Galway Warriors head North to face the Trojans 2nd’s. The Warriors opened well against fellow division sophomores, the Soldiers, before they drew 0-0 in a torpor inducing game against the Rhinos. The Trojans on the other hand have brushed aside the Vipers on both occasions as well as the Soldiers, scoring 188 points in total!

Warriors struggles on offence last season appeared to be corrected against SKS, however those problems resurfaced when they failed to register against the Rhinos. It’s going to take a incredible performance from the Warriors to simply stay in contention in Belfast and as much as we don’t like ruling teams out, it’s hard to see this one going any other way than victory for the Trojans. Galway should seize up the opportunities in this game for experience and prepare for the more winnable games against the Vipers and UL 2nd’s down the line.

The Trojans have flooded the scoring charts and it’s not hard to see why. Kris Donaghy, Matt Armstrong, Jonah Siri and Chris McKeown have all been excellent in the IAFL-2, and thats just to name a few. A lot of these players will return to the first team as the season progresses so the first’s squad will have great potential heading into the playoff’s. The Warriors can pack a punch, so the Trojans should be cautious, but their quality will be too much for a committed Galway outfit.

Donegal/Derry Vipers (0-2) @ South Kildare Soliders (1-2) – Cill Dara RFC, 2pm.

Intriguing game this one. Similar to Galway, both teams have had ups and downs this campaign. The Viper’s were sacrificed on the alter of the IAFL2 schedule in their opening 2 games as they were decimated by the Belfast Trojans 2nds(and a few 1sts) in both game. The defeat against Trojans by a 72-0 scoreline could have proved disastrous for morale but rather than cowering the Vipers landed a few blows in the second encounter with Belfast putting up 20 points. This will give them a huge boost for the remainder of the season when they face teams of a less established stature.

The Soldiers surprised many when they won against a strong UL 2nd’s team and plenty would have assumed that South Kildare were a much improved outfit from last season. That opening performance hasn’t transferred so far, as they lost to close rivals, the Warriors, the following week. Not the best lead in to before taking a hit against the Trojans 2nd’s on their home turf. They face the Vipers in back to back games before facing the Trojans again, so if they have hopes of a bowl game, they need to start winning and Sunday will be the time to start.

The Soldiers and Vipers schedules are a little bit more appealing now and they can focus on picking up wins against more manageable opponents. Aside from the Trojans, it’s very much an even playing field so there is a lot of to play for with plenty of games still to come. The Soldiers are capable of beating the majority of this division and the Vipers are still an unknown element until they face similar sides, so we should learn how each team fairs come Sunday.