Emerald Bowl I Preview!

The IFFL is approaching the end of its inaugural season. On the 9th August in Dalymount Park, the Mullingar Minotaurs will be taking on the Dublin Vipers in the first ever Irish Flag Football National Championship, the Emerald Bowl I.

Flag Football, as a sport, has been in Ireland for a good few years now, but has never been organised on a national level. In October 2014, the Irish American Football Association (IAFA) gathered teams keen on seeing a more official, competitive and permanent league rather than the backyard games they were used to.

The league is in its infancy, but interest is growing because of the success it has seen so far. Most people involved are originally either involved in kitted football or just fans of American Football but not willing to take on the physical side of the sport. Flag Football has every aspect of a dark horse, unknown but with great potential and eager to prove itself a real contender. The sport has never really been promoted before last year and most teams involved are originally kitted clubs with a few exclusively flag teams. All in all, we’ve seen 19 teams taking part 2015, but interest is growing and more teams intend to be part of next season along with more kitted teams.

The league is split into four regional divisions; Dublin, Midlands, Munster and Ulster. Each division has a number of teams competing based on an NFL-type of schedule, with each team playing every other team in their division twice, and at least two inter-divisional games during the season.

The league is split into two seasons, winter (October to February) and summer (March to August). Each season produces a champion, and they compete in the national championship, the Emerald Bowl.

2
The Dublin Vipers

The two teams who made it to the Emerald Bowl I are the Dublin Vipers and the Mullingar Minotaurs. The Minotaurs have been solid all season and have refined their game over time from a kitted-based style to a more focused flag style. The Dublin Vipers are the favourites with the best record overall. They are an exclusive flag team, with players having played together for the last three years. They also play a clean and efficient style of flag, which tends to make them the favourites in most match ups. Both teams have played each other twice this past year with the Minotaurs succeeding both times which will make the Emerald Bowl I a very tight and interesting game to watch.

The plans for the future growth of the league are to develop it further by fostering other initiatives such as an all-female league, youth league and school programs, and ultimately to compete on the international level within the next two to three years. We need to see the league grow well enough to have access to a sufficiently large pool of talent.

2-3
Mullingar Minotuars

We would also start working with our neighbouring countries as some of them have years of experience in running successful flag football league. In that mind set the IFFL will be are holding an open tournament on October 10th, with teams from the UK flying over to test the Irish game style. This will also be mark the first anniversary of the league. If all goes well, we would make it an annual event, which would be a good way to test the international waters and build relationships in the long-term.

Some believe that Flag Football is very much in the shadow of kitted football which is rather a misconception. Both sport show a love for the sport American Football in different ways. Anyone who likes the strategies and tactics but not necessarily the physical part of the sport but with a very big dose of fun then Flag Football is the sport for you.

If you want to follow the progress of the Irish Flag Football League, like their Facebook page or visit their website here

Guillaume Poznanski
IAFA Director of Flag Football

Aldon Smith : Timeline of his Rise & Fall!

The Aldon Smith Tragedy

Aldon Smith has been one of the biggest boom to bust stories of the NFL of Recent Times. Here we look at where and when it all went right and then all so wrong for the talented but troubled Defender.

2009

Starts 11 of 13 Games for the Missouri Tigers. Records 60 Tackles & 11 Sacks
Is selected First-team Freshman All-American, Big 12 Defensive Newcomer of the Year & Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year, Hendricks Award Watch List, Second-team All-Big 12, Honorable mention All-Big 12, Team Defensive Lineman of the Year Award, Team Freshman of the Year Award

2010

In 9 Games he records 48 tackles & 6 Sacks

2011

Forgoes his final two years of eligibility and is drafted 7th overall by the San Francisco 49ers
Records 14 sacks in his Rookie Year. Half a sack short of the all time rookie Record.

2012

January Arrested for Driving Under the Influence in Miami.
June Smith is stabbed in an incident where two other people where shot and is charged with three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon
Smith goes on to record 19.5 sacks in the regular season and is selected to the Pro Bowl and is the NFC Defensive Player of the Year

2013

September =After recording 4.5 sacks through week 3, Smith is involved in a single vehicle accident. He is subsequently arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and possession of marijuana. Voluntarily entered a rehab. Misses 5 games of 2013 Season.

2014

AprilSmith was detained and arrested following an incident at the Los Angeles International Airport it was alleged Smith claimed he was carrying a bomb. Aldon Smith was suspended for 9 games for the 2014 season. Plays only 7 games of 2014 season and records just 2 sacks and the 49ers miss the play offs.

2015

August Arrested for hit and run, driving under the influence and vandalism charges. Released the same day by the 49ers.

Shamrock Bowl XXIX Final Preview

Shamrock Bowl

Shamrock Bowl XXIX Final Preview:

Dalymount Park, August 9th: 3pm

Dalymount Park is the 2015 venue for the Championship game and will see the defending champs and three time winners, Belfast Trojans take on their 2014 Bowl Game opponents, Trinity College Dublin. The Trojans squeaked a 7-0 win last year, but who will take the honours this weekend?

Both sides are entering the game on the back of tremendous seasons. The Trojans went undefeated with a perfect 8-0 record and Trinity College overcame some early jitters and impressed with an excellent, 7-1 record. Reversing roles on 2014, it will be the Trojans entering the game undefeated with the students looking to cause an upset.

Belfast’s path to Shamrock Bowl 29 rarely looked like derailing, with comfortable wins against division rivals the Dublin Rebels and Carrickfergus Knights, the champions steamrolled their way to the top of the SBC North unthreatened. Their passage into the playoffs would see them tied against familiar foes in the UL Vikings in the semi-finals. Despite a close, physical battle the Trojans came out on top with a narrow 10-0 victory that would see them headed for their fourth consecutive Shamrock Bowl.

Trinity on the other hand started slowly, losing to the Vikings in the season opener. However they quickly worked their way through the gears to ultimately top the SBC South with key wins against UCD and then the Vikings in the return leg, as they went the rest of the campaign without a loss. They faced the Dublin Rebels in the semi-finals, were they came out 22-0 winners and booked themselves another showdown with the Trojans for the Waterford Crystal Bowl this Sunday.

Photography by Dave Bradshaw
Photography by Dave Bradshaw

Both teams are entering Dalymount in excellent form, mounting strong tallies on both offence and defence throughout the regular season. The Trojans topped the Shamrock Bowl Conference in all aspects, scoring well over 300+ points whilst only conceding 30 over an 8 game span. They averaged 38 points per game with the offence controlling every match from the outset as the defence went about their usual business creating several turnovers and compiling 4 shutouts.

Trinity had a strong showing too throughout, tallying 202 points for and only 92 against. They averaged 25 points per game as the offence started to come into its own at the midway stage and although their defence couldn’t salvage any clean sheets, they did however keep most teams at bay as their average points conceded per game over the year was only 9. The Trojans may have topped the majority of statistical charts, but TCD weren’t far behind in second place.

Despite the strength of the Trojans line-up, one key absentee will be that of star receiver David Richardson, who was ejected against the Vikings and will miss the final as a result, a huge loss to the offence. Quarterback, James McKelvey will need to turn to other targets in the passing game, with more responsibility now being added to the shoulders of Running-Backs, David Colvin and Neil Montgomery to carry the workload.

Trinity College will be coming into the game with a new look offence that has served them well this

Photo by Ariane Boudias
Photo by Ariane Boudias

season, as injured Quarterback Dan Finnamore moves to Wide-Receiver, allowing the dynamic Rob McDowell to move under centre. Having both McDowell and leading rusher Ola Bademosi could prove a dangerous tandem with their big play ability, so the Trojans defence will need to stay focused.

In regards to Sunday, both teams and sets of fans will be hoping the difficult Irish weather remains at bay, so it isn’t a repeat performance from Mother Nature of last year. Providing the weather is kind to us, supporters will be able to witness the full potential and talent that both sides have to offer in a great game of football. With the IAFL season drawing to a close, it’s only fitting that the best two sides of recent years contest the showpiece that is Shamrock Bowl XXIX.

Belfast Trojans versus Trinity College – THE REMATCH!

To give you a taste of what to expect this Sunday, here is a highlights package courtesy of Media 401 Productions of last seasons epic final!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9hqlex7uGU

NFL-Ireland’s ‘Team of the Year’: Offensive Line

We now turn to the men in the trenches, the guys up front that notably get overshadowed but are as equally, if not more important than anybody on the offence. They are key to all offensive production and without them, the quarterbacks, receivers and running-backs of this world wouldn’t get the praise they do! Dear Linemen….we thank you!


Offensive Line

Team White: Belfast Trojans

Photography by Dave Bradshaw
Photography by Dave Bradshaw

The men in green from Belfast have racked up some serious points on offence this year. They averaged 30+ points per game and scored a whopping 349 in total, 325 of which were on offence. McKelvey and Richardson topped their respective scoring charts, but the guys battling in the trenches helped facilitate that. The O-Line consisting of Matthew Vance, Michael Bradford, Mohammed Ramadan, Mark Davidson and Mark McGrath, with Chris Harte, Simon Cherry, Barry Keil, Jeroen Egge, Greg Gibson and Stephen Cheevers deputising at one point or anther too all have contributed to easily the best offensive unit in 2015.


 

Team Green: Trinity College

Photography by Charisse Mae Ducao
Photography by Charisse Mae Ducao

It’s not quite the blistering heights of last years breakout offence, but the students still got the job done on their path to another Shamrock Bowl Final. The O-Line was still as clinical as ever in both the passing and run game as they led TCD to 200 points and 28 touchdowns. The offensive line may not have the height advantage, but they are quick, nimble and very athletic and can more than hold their own against the best defences. Jack McKenna, Tom O’Hara, Kieran Coughlan, Dan McCarthy-Edwards, Jan Tamas and Barry Lysaght have ensured that Trinity remains one of the best offences in Ireland this year.


Most Honourable Mentions

Dublin Rebels – The Rebels have endured many changes over the years to both sides of the ball but despite the numerous new faces, the Rebels Offensive Line has remained one of the best front 5’s in the business. Their pass protection is second to none, which is why you rarely see QB Andrew Dennehy being sacked. They can get upfield too and provided pairing Sean Leamy and Kevin Finnegan with clear running lanes in which they can show their talent. They are smart, well-drilled and communicate well across the line which is a testament to the a very strong Rebels offence. Sunday (Fergal O’Hanlon), Paul Kirkwood, Tom Telford, Lewe O’Connor, Ross McCooey and at times Steve Walsh are one of the best there is.

Cork Admirals – The Admirals have proven themselves to be an offence to be feared, despite the lapse against the Wolves in the IAFL-1 final. They scored an incredible 225 points over the regular season, surmounting 33 touchdowns, the second best of all IAFL teams. Their is a reason Steve Hayes, Nick Coffi and Simon O’Keefe get the attention they do, but they can only be as good as their offensive line allows them to be, and based off this seasons performance, Cork are one of the better ones around.


Teams

Green v White

[row]

[column size='1/2']

QB James McKelvey

RB Neil Montgomery

RB Ola Bademosi

WR Sean Goldrick

WR Nic Coffi

OL Trinity College

[/column]

[column size='1/2']

QB Stephen Hayes

RB Shane Gleeson

RB Sean Leamy

WR David Richardson

WR Alex Gurney

OL Belfast Trojans

[/column]

[/row]

Next up Defences!

NFL-Ireland’s ‘Team of the Year’: Defence

We are gradually coming to the end of our ‘Team of the Year’ selection, so it’s now time to turn our attentions to the defensive side of the ball. Defence ruled in 2014, however this year the offences have started to take centre stage in the bragging rights with a number of high scoring and one sided games. There have been of course a few shut-outs and defensive battles to name, but few and far between compared to recent years. The teams named below have been the best defensive units in the league this year, not only because they are a talented bunch, but they have also been the best equipped in dealing with the high-powered offences this season. Everyone loves a good defensive battle!


Team Green: Belfast Trojans

Photography by Dave Bradshaw
Photography by Dave Bradshaw

The Trojans very own ‘Walls of Troy’ has been standing tall for the last 4 years. Only Trinity College has been able to get the better of the tormenting defence in that timespan, as the defending champions boast the best defensive unit in the league for another year. They conceded only 30 points in 9 games and delivered 5 shutouts in the process, including the Vikings in the semi-final. They’ve been able to get on the scoreboard too, with Chris Mikhael, Connor Whilta and Chris Weir all bagging defensive touchdowns, with Neil Graham and Christophe Perret penetrating the backfield to create safeties. From the D-Line, to the Linebackers, to the DB’s the Trojans are well equipped in all areas.

Team White: UL Vikings

Photography by Jason Toher
Photography by Jason Toher

Not too far behind the Trojans in the defensive conversation would be the UL Vikings. They are tough as nails, and possess one of the most frightening run-defences in the IAFL that get to ball quickly and in numbers. Their secondary is quite scary too, with Sean Sheehy and Craig Switzer possessing excellent coverage skills and are solid in run-support. The Viking’s D surrendered only 67 points, consisting of 3 shut-outs and have proved difficult to break down all season long. The semi-final against the Trojans optimised what defensive football is all about, two notorious units going head-to-head in a lockdown battle. The Vikings have always been stellar on defence, and that looks set to continue. Ray Burke, Blake Farbe, Mark Kiniry, Darren Gleeson and the best kept secret in the IAFL Darragh O’Callaghan, to name but a few of this teams sensational stoppers.


Most Honourable Mentions

Cork Admirals – As good as the offence has been, the defence has been doing a top notch job at the other end. The Admirals suffered only 1 loss during the regular season, thanks in part to the exploits of their defence that created numerous turnovers that greatly helped the offence. Its always nice to have an offence that can’t stop scoring, it’s even better to have a defence that can add to that. The Admirals delivered 1 shut-out this year against the Wolves, whilst scoring three touchdowns courtesy of Chris Allen, Paul Farrell and Ayodele Mumuni. Chris Allen also scored a safety as the Admirals finished the IAFL-1’s highest scoring defence as well as holding the best defensive record.

Tyrone Titans – The Titans didn’t quite have the stamina to go the distance in the playoff race, but their defence was a primary reason for not only their IAFL-2 triumph last season, but their 11 game unbeaten streak. Tyrone started the season off very strongly, picking up where they left off in 2014 and when their offence struggled, their defence held firm. They did however manage the second best defensive record in the IAFL-1, allowing only 84 points. They also managed two shutouts against the Minotaurs and Mavericks as they held 2nd spot for most of the campaign. Kyle McAneny was the only contributer in regard to scoring with a safety, but for a team that the most points conceded in a single game was 22, and 4 of which were 10 or below; thats a strong place to start ahead of next season.


Teams

Green v White

[row]

[column size='1/2']

QB James McKelvey

RB Neil Montgomery

RB Ola Bademosi

WR Sean Goldrick

WR Nic Coffi

OL Trinity College

Defence Belfast Trojans

[/column]

[column size='1/2']

QB Stephen Hayes

RB Shane Gleeson

RB Sean Leamy

WR David Richardson

WR Alex Gurney

OL Belfast Trojans

Defence UL Vikings

[/column]

[/row]


Read on to the much ignored but ever appreciated KICKERS!!

 

NFL Ireland Team of the Year : All Rounders

Our team of the Weeks included only QB, RB, WR, OL and Defences and as we sat down to pick the very best of all we found that since we put so much faith in our scoring charts (have you seen them?) there are players that are so key to their teams yet don’t put too many scores on the board. Ask their teams and they’ll rave about them! So who are they?


All Rounders!

Team Green Rob McDowell Trinity College Dublin

Photo by Ariane Boudias

Rob has been on the end of a lot of praise in his IAFL Career. Easily one of the fastest players out there, the elusiveness and trucking ability, he plays defence and returns kicks! So is there anything else to add. Well now he plays Quarterback. Dan Finnamore injured at the end of last season Trinity could have easily faded away but into the breach came McDowell and has brought all the ability and intelligence you could hope for to the position. This is the all rounders section so worth noting that at Safety McDowell shuts down the deep middle of the field with Quarterbacks afraid to test him because if he picks it, you’re in trouble. The weekend will be his 2nd Shamrock Bowl and he has the ability to be the hinge upon which it all turns.


Team White Peter Loughran Criagavon Cowboys

Photo by Ariane Boudias

Define All Rounders, Peter Loughran. We’re done. He plays receiver, he plays Quarterback and when he cameos on Defence he Quarterbacks that too from the Middle Linebacker spot. The true measure of a players value, when you consider how many other teams he’d make it into. Loughran (and the others on this list) would make it any team in the league and do it at any position you’ve got. He threw 10 touchdowns, ran for 5, 3 2point attempts, thats 96 of Craigavons 111 points. Perhaps the finest few moments of the year was in the game against the Knights when he put the team on his back….and several of the Knights and willed them to victory.


Team Green Mark Dunphy Waterford Wolves

Photo by Ariane Boudias
Photo by Ariane Boudias

Cork & Tyrone were steamrolling their way towards the IAFL 1 bowl game until they met the Waterford Wolves and Mark Dunphy. Dunphy plays on offence and he plays on defence and the results are the same on both sides of the ball, passes caught! Dunphy also plays kicker and when the Wolves season was on a knife edge late verses the Mavericks on two occasions. Dunphy dispatched field goals to win both games. Interceptions against the Titans put the Wolves in excellent position in the game and back into the play offs. The SBC will test the Wolves and Dunphy and this time they’ve some of the experience along with the talent to succeed. We mentioned in the Kickers piece that the league rate of XPs to Touchdowns is usually under 50%. Dunphy is one of the Kickers above that mark.


Team White Ross McCooey, Dublin Rebels

Photo by Ariane Boudias
Photo by Ariane Boudias

 Ross McCooey is one of the finest football players in the land. No debate. It is easy to see the contribution of the above 3 players. McDowell and Loughran Quarterback and Dunphy catches all in sight. Ross McCoy oft goes unnoticed by all but the running backs he’s leading out for and the Quarterbacks that have just inadvertently thrown him the ball. McCooey plays nearly ever down, offence, defence and special teams and just makes plays over and over again. A veteran of the Berlin Rebels and Dublin Rebels alike and what is scary is he’s still only 28 and perhaps only entering his best years now. This is the last player on our list and we don’t believe we could have ended it any better. See the complete list below!


Teams

Green v White

[row]

[column size='1/2']

QB James McKelvey

RB Neil Montgomery

RB Ola Bademosi

WR Sean Goldrick

WR Nic Coffi

OL Trinity College

Defence Belfast Trojans

Kicker Nick McSweeney

All Rounder Rob McDowell

All Rounder Mark Dunphy

[/column]

[column size='1/2']

QB Stephen Hayes

RB Shane Gleeson

RB Sean Leamy

WR David Richardson

WR Alex Gurney

OL Belfast Trojans

Defence UL Vikings

Kicker Greg Gibson

All Rounder Peter Loughran

All Rounder Ross McCooey

[/column]

[/row]

NFL Ireland Team of the Year : Kickers!

Dear Kickers, we are sorry we neglected to mention you all year, let this make up for it!

Kickers

Team White Greg Gibson, Belfast Trojans

Having the luxury of playing for the highest scoring team will usually result in a pretty decent return for a Kicker.  Gibson totalled 26 points on the season and managed to oust veteran Trojans kicker Rick Duffield (who was the 2nd most productive kicker on the year with 14 points….speaking of which)


Team Green Nick McSweeney, Cork Admirals

McSweeney dispatched 19 extra points this season. We don’t have stats on how many attempts but league wide the rate of successful XP to Touchdowns is less than 50%. Cork and Belfast are the only teams that topped it. Both of these Kickers are a testament to their units and these two are the best!

 


Most Honourable Mentions

Darryl Ratty Meath Bulldogs Ratty boasts the highest Field Goal total in the land with 3 and added 8 XPs to his total.


Teams

Green v White

[row]

[column size='1/2']

QB James McKelvey

RB Neil Montgomery

RB Ola Bademosi

WR Sean Goldrick

WR Nic Coffi

OL Trinity College

Defence Belfast Trojans

Kicker Nick McSweeny

[/column]

[column size='1/2']

QB Stephen Hayes

RB Shane Gleeson

RB Sean Leamy

WR David Richardson

WR Alex Gurney

OL Belfast Trojans

Defence UL Vikings

Kicker Greg Gibson

[/column]

[/row]

And Finally the do everything guys, the first in last out guys, the ‘someone go in’ guys, the all rounders!

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

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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

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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!