Shamrock Bowl XXVIII Preview

Shamrock Bowl Final Preview:

The biggest game in Irish American Football is nearly upon us. This Sunday, two of the countries best teams will compete for the Shamrock Bowl at Tallaght Stadium, Dublin to be crowned the 2014 National Champions. Who will prevail?

The reigning and defending Champions, The Belfast Trojans will be heading to Dublin to take on Trinity College Dublin in a battle that will determine who leaves with the coveted Waterford Crystal bowl in their hands. These two sides have built a competitive rivalry over the last two seasons, with the Trojans defeating the students in the Atlantic Cup Final last term, and with Trinity ending the Belfast sides unbeaten run earlier in the season. Over the course of the year, these sides have proved they deserve their place in the final, but ultimately, only one team can be crowned champions!

The Belfast Trojans

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McKelvey and his offence. Photo by Alyssia McAnee

 

Season Results: (7-1)                                                           Scoring Charts:

A: Carrickfergus Knights– W 28-13                   Passing: James McKelvey – 14 TD’s

A: Craigavon Cowboys– W 28-0

H: Craigavon Cowboys– W 56-0                        Rushing: David Colvin – 5 TD’s

A: West Dublin Rhinos– W 19-6

H: Trinity College– L 18-0                                   Receiving: David Richardson – 6 TD’s

H: Dublin Dragons– W 35-0

A: Dublin Rebels– W 34-19                                  Kicker: Rick Duffield – 5 XP’s  1 FG

H: Carrickfergus Knights- W 50-0

Semi Final: UL Vikings– W 28-6                           Defence: Jon-Erik Talvio – 2 TD’s

Offence:

QB James McKelvey will be looking to get his players fired up for the final and with key weapons Dave Colvin and David Richardson back having missed the last encounter, the Trojans will be extremely strong on offence. With the mix of experience and young blood on the offensive line that have been very impressive in their first year, coupled with the variety of aerial and rushing threats, the offence has plenty of fire power heading into the final.

Defence:

Intensity, desire, commitment; there’s no shortage of words to describe the leagues best defence. With numerous shutouts, interceptions and defensive scores this term, the Trojans ‘D’ are a threat all over the field. Their defensive line is disruptive, their linebackers are hard-hitting and with their ball-hawking secondary, the defence has all the ingredients to stop a rampaging Trinity offence.

Trinity College Dublin

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Rob Mc Dowell & the impressive Trinity O-Line. Photo by Charisse Mae Ducao
Season Results: (8-0)                                                      Scoring Charts:

H: UL Vikings– W 34-9                                     Passing: Dan Finnamore – 19 TD’s

H: West Dublin Rhinos– W 27-0

H: Carrickfergus Knights– W 27-18                  Rushing: Rob McDowell – 20 TD’s

A: Craigavon Cowboys– W 25-6

A: Belfast Trojans– W 18-0                              Receiving: Daniel Murphy – 7 TD’s

H: North Kildare Reapers– W 52-21

A: Waterford Wolves– W 34-0                         Kicking: Conor McGinn – 26 XP’s 3 FG’s

A: West Dublin Rhinos– W 53-6

Semi Final: Dublin Rebels– W 47-8                Defence: Alex Gurnee – 1 TD

 

Offence:

Trinity’s offence has been dominating teams all season. Finnamore topped the passing charts in his first season in Trinity colours, and Rob McDowell reminded the league why he is the top running back in the league. The young, yet disciplined offensive-line has been excellent, providing Finnamore with time in the pocket to pick out his array of receivers. Trinity has been scoring points for fun this term, and it will take a lot to stop them this Sunday.

Defence:

The limelight that has shone on the offence this year has somewhat overshadowed Trinity’s efforts on defence; but they have been equally as impressive. They have conceded no more that 78 points all season, backing up their offence with a defence that can stop some of the best teams in the league. They will have a huge task in stopping the Trojan’s ‘O’ from scoring, but their talent across the field is capable of matching anybody on their day.

 

Shamrock Bowl XXVIII sets the stage for the best two teams in Ireland, when either the Belfast Trojans or Trinity College Dublin will walk out National Champions. This game has got the makings to be something special; its First versus Second, South Division Champions versus North Division Champions, the leagues best Offence versus the leagues best Defence, the Students versus the Green Machine. Will the 2-time champion’s the Trojans defend their crown? Or will Trinity win their first Shamrock Bowl in the clubs history! It is going to be an exciting final!

Kick-off: 3pm at Tallaght Stadium, Dublin on August 10th.
Tickets are available on https://shamrockbowl28.eventbrite.ie/

– €8 for adults, €5 for children
Alternatively, tickets can be purchased from your local American Football club.

Shamrock Bowl Breakdown Part 1: The Belfast Trojans

Neil Montgomery fights his way through the Rhinos defence. (Cover Photo by Dave Bradshaw Photography)

Once again we reach the pinnacle stages of the Irish footballing calendar, where four teams will battle it out to cement their place in the biggest game of the year; The Shamrock Bowl. This four part series will look at the teams vying for a spot in the final and how they faired during the regular season, on their way to the knockout stages. So without further ado, first up we have the current champions; The Belfast Trojans.

The Green Machine entered the season on the back of a very impressive year, by claiming their second consecutive Shamrock Bowl and adding the Atlantic Cup to their trophy haul. This season may have stopped short of their personal best, but the Trojans know what it takes to win and will always prove to be a difficult team to stop.

Regular Season

The Trojans started the season in typical fashion, as they picked up where they left off last term by defeating Northern rivals, the Carrickfergus Knights and Craigavon Cowboys comprehensively. The second half of the season for the Belfast side would prove to be more challenging however, as their unbeaten run came to an end against the number one seed, Trinity College in an 18-0 defeat. This only sparked a new fire in the Trojan camp as they went on to beat North Conference challengers, the Dublin Rebels before putting an emphatic 50 points (for the 50 states!) past the Knights on Independence Day. The Trojans finished the regular season with a 7-1 record, one win shy of going another regular season unbeaten. That record was enough to finish atop the Northern Conference and avoid a wildcard match with the Knights in the process.

 Key Players

QB- James McKelvey: With a strong receiving corp, McKelvey was able to produce 13 TD’s in the regular season, adding  3 rushing scores himself!

WR- David Richardson: Another good year for the receiver as he topped the SBC receiving charts with 6 TD’s.

RB- Neil Montgomery: The hard yards by Montgomery were rewarded with 5 TD’s, expect him to add more in the post season.

LB- Neil Graham: One of the top players in his position, he leads the team with the most tackles this year averaging over 8 tackles a game.

CB- Jon-Erik Talvio: The former Jyvaskyla Jaguars player has rallied in with numerous interceptions and has scored 2 TD’s in his first year.

Post Season

The Trojans will face off against the University of Limerick Vikings in the first of two semi-final double header in Dublin. These two sides met at the same stage last season as the men from Belfast defeated the Vikes 14-0 last year in a cagey affair on the way to their Shamrock Bowl triumph. The Trojans will also have fond memories of beating the Vikings 16-14 in SB26 when a field goal was all that separated the sides on the day. A lot of love has been lost over the last two years and when these sides meet this Sunday, expect an intense battle that neither side will want to lose. Kickoff is at 12pm, at Garda RFC, Dublin on July 27th.

Defence wins Championships

Trojans Defence fighting their way to 3rd Successive Shamrock Bowl – Cover photo by Dave Bradshaw Photography


As the saying goes, ‘Defence wins Championships’ and there is no shortage of people who would agree with such a statement. Great teams are built on a productive offence and a solid defence; with these two ingredients coming together, you have the makings of a team capable of challenging for a championship. This is certainly the case with the Belfast Trojans.

The Trojans have established themselves as being the most dominant team in recent Irish football. The reigning Shamrock Bowl champions consist of a team made of up quality and quantity, often dispatching teams with a flurry of running and aerial assaults on offence, complemented by an organised and well disciplined defence that opposing teams struggle to cope with. The Belfast side once again find themselves attacking the summit SBC North Conference with a 4-0 record this season and show no intentions of letting up anytime soon.

Having firstly defeated the Carrickfergus Knights, the Trojans followed that up by securing victory in both clashes with the Craigavon Cowboys and on the road at the West Dublin Rhinos. The likes of QB James McKelvey, RB Dave Colvin and WR David Richardson can be found sitting atop of the scoring charts on a weekly basis and when a team is consistently able to put points on the board, it’s no surprise that the offence will be in the limelight.

However, what about the defence? So often overshadowed by an offence’s performance it is easy to forget the contribution made from a defensive perspective. When an offence is struggling, they must know they can rely on their defence to step up and rally the team. That kind of trust in your teammates ability has flourished throughout the Trojans squad this year. So, as the offence continues to make waves, what kind of impact is the defence making on the other side of the ball?

The Trojans have conceded only 19 points from their opening four games this year, including two shutouts against fierce rivals, Craigavon Cowboys.  Linebacker trio Neil Graham, Connor Whitla and Chris Weir have racked up in excess of 70 tackles between them, an impressive total in just four outings. The defence have also found the end zone on two occasions this term, courtesy of touchdowns from Rick Duffield and Jon-Erik Talvio. On top of that, the pressure caused to opposition quarterbacks has lead to multiple sacks this season, so it’s no surprise that this defence is to reckoned with.

So what is it that makes the Trojan’s defence one of the most complete and dominant units in the league? Linebacker, Connor Whitla shares his views.

I would say that, while on paper our defence has performed well, recording two shut-outs in three games, we are never content with our performance. The emphasis week in, week out is always on improvement, both personally and as a team. I think it has been this mentality that has allowed our defence to really step up.” – Connor Whitla.

As Whitla explains, the team’s mentality is to perform to the maximum of ones own ability and to not rest on their laurels. A defence striving on being the best and recognising there is always room to improve.

“Absolutely we can improve. There is no such thing as a “perfect” team and we are far from that. We aim to be better every single week and put in work in the gym and on the training field in order to achieve that. Evaluating game film and regular player assessments go hand in hand with training in order for everyone to improve as players.”

The Trojans are at the half way mark of their season; but with games against Trinity College and last years finalists the Dublin Rebels on the horizon, the defence will be expecting each individual player to make a significant contribution.

“Each unit on the defence is fiercely competitive and every single player wants to do their utmost to help the team. Going into games this means everyone plays with 100% intensity, and there is a strong sense of responsibility. Everyone relies on and trusts one another to do their job which allows us to play as a much more cohesive defence.”

The unit has performed well thus far, but maintain there is another level that they can reach. The team has benefited from increased competition over the years, spurring the growth of players for the future. As the Trojans prepare for their game against the equally undefeated Trinity College this weekend, Whitla gives us his views on his own personal goals for this season.

“My main goal for this season is to be better than I was last year. To be stronger and faster. To know the playbook inside out and do everything that is expected of me by my teammates.”

The Trojans are once again showing that they have the strength and quality within their squad, capable of extending their recent run of success. The Belfast side will be aiming to prove they are a team to be reckoned with as they strive towards another Shamrock Bowl triumph. The Trojans welcome Trinity College to Deramore Park this weekend, hoping to continue their good run of form; the kind of form that this defence will have no intentions of relinquishing.