Team of the Week: Week #17

NFL-Irelands Week 17: ‘Team of the Week’

Week 17 served up some of the best and most exciting football to date this season as the form book was ripped up in IAFL1, the Rhinos saved Trinity and the Trojans continued to dominate in IAFL2.

The seasons is winding down for those not bound for the post season, as those that are look to build momentum for their run at their respective Bowls

Here’s the best of Week 17 in the IAFL!

Photo by Ariane Boudias

Quarterback: Ryan Byrne
 Waterford Wolves

The Wolves signal caller was quite simply dominant on Sunday. Finding Mark Dunphy and Eoin Reinhardt early in the game to establish what proved to be an unassailable lead, Byrne was composed and in command of the impressive Wolves attack. Earning a lead can be hard but moving the ball, maintaining the lead and working the clock in defence of that margin can oft be the measure of a maturing QB. Byrne never rattled in the face of an imposing Titans defence, added a rushing touchdown to the score and iced the game in doing so.

 

Brian Du Toit or Superman, we’re not sure

Running Back: Brian Du Toit
 Trinity College Dublin

The Running Back Factory that is Trinity College marches on at a blistering pace. We’d never heard of Brian Du Toit and we’ll wager neither had the West Dublin Rhinos until Sunday. 4 touchdowns in a single game puts Du Toit level with established IAFL players like Sean Leamy and Adrain Garvey on the season and another game to come vs UCD could see Trinity put two backs at the top of the scoring charts if they have another good day moving the ball. Oh we forgot to mention that this was the first time Brian Du Toit has ever played a Football game…learn the name, memorise the face (image may in fact be Superman)

 

Photo by Ariane Boudias

Wide Receiver: Mark Dunphy
 Waterford Wolves

A host of receivers caught a single touchdown this weekend so it is a tough business separating one from the pack. Paul O’Driscoll for Cork had a fine day on the losing side with 7 receptions for 140 yards but ultimately of all the names that got themselves on the Receiving Charts this weekend, only Dunphys came up….nearly everywhere else too. 4 interceptions and 2 special teams scores, coupled with the fact he was ruled inches short twice in the same series, if TV replay was available to IAFL officials he may have an extra 6 on the record. Dunphy has been a standout for Waterford this year and his contribution in all phases of the game may prove the difference in getting the Wolves to the post season.

 

Photo by Charisse Mae Ducao

Offensive Line: Trinity College Dublin 

Trinity weren’t themselves yesterday as a miscommunication led to them not brining along their away jerseys. The Rhinos stepped in and saved the day by loaning Trinity their away jerseys and ensuring the game could go ahead and Trinity thanked them by rushing for 5 touchdowns and passing for another. Trinity’s O-Line are among the most impressive in the country, fast movers and punishing blockers, this season has seen them protect for 2 QBs 3 Running Backs totalling 14 touchdowns and not to mention one of the most consistent place kickers in the country. When you can score, regardless of who has the ball, the reason is usually the men in the trenches.

 

Defence: Meath Bulldogs 

Cork, through 7 games, have one of the most potent offences in the country. Not only did Meath manage to shut it down, they turned in into a weakness. There was shutouts elsewhere but of the 26 Meath points Sunday, 18 were as a result of the defence intercepting and scoring. Erin Kelly, who also played QB, had 2 interceptions, both for scores and Cian Minnock with the other pick 6. Interceptions are often the result of  good work done up front and this was an impressive day all round from a defence, many of whom were playing iron man football.


 

Honourable Mentions:

 – UL backup QB Ray Burke had a fine day at the helm of their 2nds team as he scored 3 through the air and 1 on the ground.

 – Meath Bulldogs Kicker Daryl Ratty contributed 8 of the 26 points scored against Cork from 2 field goals and 2 extra points extending the margin of victory to a safe distance down the stretch.

 – Nic Coffi reeled in another pass from Stephen Hayes as the pair moved to 9 and 22 touchdowns on the season respectively.

 –  Jonathan Siri continues to return punts for fun as he scored another adding to his 3 rushing touchdowns on the day.

IAFL Week 15 Previews!

Week 15 Previews

Games, seasons and futures can be decided in moments this time of year. Teams certain of security can make one slip and be facing the IAFL 1 quick sand. Teams wondering who their playoff opponents will be get caught looking the wrong way and their football is done for another year.
This weekend 6 SBC teams seasons will tilt one way or the other, in the IAFL 1 opportunities for the chasing pack are dwindling in the fight overcome Tyrone or Cork and uncertain of what the future of their division will hold, IAFL 2 teams just compete for the purest of motivations…victory.

Belfast Trojans 6-0 v West Dublin Rhinos 1-5

Preview
Mc Kelvey leading all scorers Photo by Dave Bradshaw

The Trojans find themselves, yet again, free from any of the above concerns. Another fine season draws to a close and the Trojans have never looked like they’d stumble. 30+ points in all games bar one (which was called early) and never more than 1 score given up in any game. They lead the way in points scored and in defence. James McKelvey and David Richardson sit atop their respective scoring charts by some margin and with Neil Montgomery within reach of the rushing title the Trojans could sweep the regular season in every imaginable way.
The Rhinos, it’s no disrespect to say, have struggled this year. An offence that never got moving and a defence that couldn’t possibly be expected to take up that much slack. Serious discussions were needed and action facing potentially certain relegation after only 6 games. A change at Quarterback is more than just about the play of the passer himself. It’s an indictment of an offence when the leader of it is replaced. It forces all men on the downfield side of the ball to hold their own performances to account and ask the question of themselves, have I done enough? It worked! Stephen Mooney stepped under centre and with their heels teetering off the edge of the SBC cliff they fought back and although it may only be a stay of execution, they saved their SBC status for another game at least. It still looks as though the men in Castleknock will go down, as the Knights have 3 games left and will consider at least one of them winnable.
This is the exact wrong time for the Rhinos to be facing the Trojans but if they are to go down they will be looking to go down swinging or to put it another way –
Why does it matter how a man falls, when the fall is all that left, it matters a great deal.

Carrickfergus Knights 1-5 v Craigavon Cowboys 2-4

To view the Knights in person and then on the league table would leave you confused. Live and up close, a large well organised professionally run outfit that exudes confidence and considered preparation. On paper, only 1 win. It’s difficult to say the least to mould a large group of men into a football team competing in all three phases of the game and while at times this season the Knights offence has rolled along, the defence as let them down. Other times when the defence was lock down the offence couldn’t capitalise. The league position is explained by a lack of consistency rather than a team that flatly ins’t able to compete. If the loss to Rhinos didn’t shock some in the Knights organisation to life, they could be in serious trouble. We mentioned above that the Knights will see some of the remaining three games as winnable, they should, at this point, know that seeing a game as winnable and actually winning it are a different story. If the game was played on paper the Knights should be 3-2 and looking to cement a play off spot. The IAFL 1 poses it’s own challenges and is not easily escaped and a season or two down there without progress could be devastating to a teams future. This is why in their remaining 3 games, (Cowboys, Rebels and Reapers) at least one win is essential. This squad is capable of better but to hold it together, if they achieve that one win, it could prove to be a defining moment in the life of the Knights.
Outside of the Cowboys; expectations were low. Often times, the first game of the season and the squad size you arrive to it with will determine what people think of your chances. After not being particularly impressive in the reverse fixture on the opening day the Cowboys slipped the notice of most people. They have thrived as the underdog this season and now must legitimately be considered that which they aim to be…the wildcard. The offence behind their enigmatic leader, Peter Loughran, have been racking up points this season. They pose several issues for defences tasked with stopping them. The aforementioned Loughran is one of the best pure football players in the league, placing him anywhere between the white lines will get you results, be it on defence or under centre. Conrad Smith is a beast at tightend and finding someone to match up with him in most defensive backfields is no easy task. Where the Cowboys have suffered is on defence, ranking near the bottom. The Knights have hardly lit up the scoring charts this season with the bulk of their 51 points coming on that opening day. If the Cowboys defence can elevate their performance on defence just a little, their offence has the tools to win the game and give them an iron grip on 3rd place in the SBC north and the Wildcard status they so crave.

University College Dublin 2-3 v Trinity College Dublin 4-1

Photo by Charisse Mae Ducao
Ola Bademosi making his mark Photo by Charisse Mae Ducao

Trinity started the season a little out of sorts and carrying injuries from an impressive but punishing campaign in 2014. UCD beat them in the College Championship and had the season opened with this game like it was supposed to things could be a looking a little dimmer for the scholars at this point. Fortuitously that game was called due to the weather and now is the closing fixture rather than the opening. Trinity suffered defeat early in the season to a surging Limerick side and the Panthers got a little closer to them that they would have anticipated. Since those early hiccups and a long break for exams Trinity look themselves again. Rob McDowell appearing in a multitude of positions and Ola Bademosi emerging as one of the most punishing runners in the league. After turning the head to head points difference around on Limerick and the subsequent loss by the Vikings to the Rebels, the SBC South is now Trinity’s to lose.
More accurately perhaps, the SBC South is UCDs to take from Trinity. The Boys from Belfield make up two of the three games remaining for their South Side neighbours and although UCD can’t claim the SBC South for themselves (unless they win out and Limerick forfeit their game at the Panthers next week) they can prevent Trinity from winning it. Motivation enough for these colours games. Tom Donovan truly is one of the most exciting players to watch in the IAFL and would give the celebrated Rob McDowell a run for his money in breakout ability. Eoin Feely on the UCD defence is consistently making game changing plays and with weapons elsewhere both sides of the ball UCD will most certainly feel they have the tools to upset their rivals. UCD maybe would feel they should be sitting on a better record than 2-3 but playoffs are most certainly within reach for the students. 3rd place in the SBC North is not guaranteed to have a better record than 4th in the SBC South and the Reapers still on their schedule, there is certainly more than one way they can make the post season. At least one positive result against Trinity would place them in an extremely strong position and with the Reapers game to come they have every opportunity keep their season going throughout July.

Cork Admirals 5-0 v Waterford Wolves 3-2

Hayes having an MVP season Photography by Declan Forrest
Hayes having an MVP season
Photography by Declan Forrest

Cork look destined for the SBC. It would be an upset if they didn’t find themselves in possession of the IAFL1 title at the close of the season. Although praise has been heaped upon them from all corners, including this one, this season they are not perfect just yet. Winning teams are often built on a precarious balance of mentality and ability. There are teams in the IAFL1 with the ability but perhaps not the winners mentality and there are some teams riding high in this and other divisions with the mentality but perhaps not the ability of their lower ranked rivals. When you go in search of a perfect season, the belief you possess the ability to do it but never the disregard for your opponents ability to stop you are vital ingredients. Cork are relatively young following their rebirth and now mentality as much as the much heralded ability of their squad will determine their perfect season.
Waterford are reconstructing their confidence, game by game, play by play, inch by inch. It was clear following some of the sentiment coming from the South East following their victory over Meath last time out that possession of a winning record once more was a milestone for this group. They will be in no humour to give it up easily. There is tremendous enthusiasm for the Wolves in Waterford and they are among the best supported teams in the land. The drive to repay that faith can often overcome any deficits verses more talented opposition. Games, seasons and futures can turn in moments in football and if Waterford can overcome cork suddenly the prospect of bouncing straight back into the SBC will edging closer to reality. Cork must now maintain mental discipline and belief in their ability or the wolf pack could devour their perfect season.

Meath Bulldogs 2-3 v Tyrone Titans 5-1

IAFL 1
Meaths scorers facing a big task. Photo by Ariane Boudias

The Bulldogs have never had a losing season at 11s football and with Tyrone, Cork and Mullingar to come that record is under threat. With the IAFL 1 bowl on their home turf in Navan again this year the Bulldogs hopes of playing in it are also still very much alive. The Bulldogs were sucker punched in the opening game of the season verses a Titans team that proved to be more potent than most had anticipated them to be in their debut IAFL 1 season. It would be uncharacteristic of the Meath men to not remedy that lapse in the intervening months. A 15 point reversal is required for the Bulldogs to stand a chance to over throw the Titans team that look odds on for the 2nd spot in the IAFL1. This is no small task against a team that, with the exception of their Cork game, have conceded no more than one score in any game this season. Meath possess some of the most consistent offensive performers in the last number of years in the IAFL1 and each of them will need to show up to challenge the stingy Titans defence.
The Titans will have always believed in their ability to win this division and at this point in their development to have a realistic shot at the SBC is a huge feat. To have only lost 1 game since their formation is unprecedented. Built on a strong defence, relying on a mix of experience and explosive playmakers they count among their ranks the players to perhaps make this one of the truly great defences in the country. Still less than a year in the tutelage of new offensive co-ordinator Gary Carr the offence has fired in spots and stumbled in others but something that has been consistent has been the results. Meath play a particular brand of hard hitting football and late in the season when bodies are sore and will is tested to the limit, the character of a team is revealed. If Tyrone truly hope to not only play in but win the IAFL1 bowl game games such as this can’t be let slip. A game that won’t be pretty but a battle that will be won and lost in the trenches.

Mid Season Power Rankings!

Power Rankings
Photo by Jason Toher
Power Rankings for the whole IAFL!

We’ll be quick, there’s football today!

1. thumb_ULlogo – UL Vikings

A surprise to see the Trojans not occupy the top spot? UL have had the tougher start and as of now have 5 wins under their belt and games in hand are great but points in the bag are better! UL have beaten Trinity & UCD twice now and the Trojans…

2. thumb_BTlogo – Belfast Trojans

The Trojans have been dominant in their 3 outings so far but none have been against teams with a winning record in 2014. The Rebels today will be the sternest test for the Green Machine so far and we may need to reexamine these rankings after that!

3. thumb_TCDlogo – Trinity College Dublin

The Students are one of the teams still with only 3 games played after their season opener was rescheduled. Although they haven’t been hitting the heights offensively they did in 2014; the 2015 edition has showed grit to eek out wins in a tight game verses the Panthers and a stunning comeback against the Rebels. Trinity have life in them yet and will be looking ahead to the game verses UL to reestablish SBC South dominance.

4. thumb_UCDlogo – UCD

A tough call to demote the Rebels here but with both teams on a 2-2 and UCD gaining the narrowest of narrow wins over the Men in Black it has to go the impressive IAFL 1 winners. UCD are upsetting the applecart atop the SBC and if they can hold together their fine form may rise above Trinity both here and in the race for the SBC playoffs.

5. thumb_DRlogo – Dublin Rebels

Unfamiliar territory for the Rebels in the middle of the pack but tough beats two weeks in a row make this spot more as a result of misfortune than poor play. The Rebels have returned to themselves in recent weeks and win or lose today verses the Trojans the Dubs have the opportunity to achieve form today that could carry them deep into the playoffs.

6. thumb_reapersLogo2– North Kildare Reapers

The Reapers have a very real chance of being the 3rd overall ranked team in two weeks. With the other 2 win teams facing tough games or weeks off, the Reapers face the winless Rhinos in a game they will fancy. 3 wins is no mean feat in the SBC and with the following games verses the Knights, Trinity and UCD if they can summon another top performance 4 wins show the Reapers mean business.

7. thumb_panthers – South Dublin Panthers

A matter of who beat who now. The Panthers went to Carrickfergus and made short work of the Knights, a tough schedule has seen them take on both of last years Shamrock Bowl Finalists and the Rebels. Everyone from here on down would have hoped for play offs but would be realistically be looking to avoid relegation first and foremost. 1 win is good for all but more will have to follow for all.

8. thumb_CKlogo – Carrickfergus Knights

The Knights dominated neighbouring Cowboys and have stumbled since. They will look at their schedule and see potential wins. The Knights will have to muster their big squad into wins to avoid missing out on the play off quality their squad is likely capable of.

9. thumb_CClogo – Craigavon Cowboys

How different this would if that 2 point attempt had succeeded at the death verses the Reapers. Likely a switch in position for both teams. If is the biggest word in sport and now the Cowboys don’t have an easy run of games to close out the season with Belfast twice and a return verses the Knights, the Cowboys have little room to manoeuvre should they not pick up anything from the Panthers or Knights.

10. thumb_CAlogo – Cork Admirals

A little harsh to hold an IAFL 1 team over an SBC team? You can only beat what is in front of you and Cork have been doing that in style. A dominant passing game and a run game and defence that isn’t getting the attention it deserves. Cork still have the stingy Titans defence to over come but should they do that few will argue they have SBC quality.

11. thumb_RHlogo – West Dublin Rhinos

Things are not going well in Castleknock. 0-4 and no signs of life yet to be seen. They now must win games or the IAFL1 is beckoning. The Reapers have to be beaten by more than 12 points and a Herculean effort to draw win from the remaining 3 games is all that will save the Rhinos now.

12. thumb_TTlogo – Tyrone Titans

Before we even finish this sentence we know those in Tyrone will feel they deserve to be up a place if Cork are and perhaps they are right. The longest unbeaten streak in the country and only 1 score given up this season the North West outfit are surging. The only marks we can put against them is the lack of high level testing and a stagnating offence in recent weeks.

13. 30 – Meath Bulldogs

The Bulldogs got off to a lacklustre start this season but a long trip down to Waterford proved fruitful and now the Bulldogs are once again in the hunt for IAFL1 glory. 1st  may prove very difficult for the Bulldogs because who ever holds it is likely to hold an unbeaten record which is not achievable now for the Bulldogs. A series of games with the Mavericks and Wolves can cement them into third and place them well for any slip ups ahead.

14. thumb_waterfordlogo – Waterford Wolves

Although last week didn’t go exactly to plan the Wolves have something this season that has been sorely needed. A win! They will have more but when you’re on a losing streak that first one is vital. Waterford are still in the hunt for 3rd but will need to reverse their loss against the Bulldogs to do so.

15. thumb_DMlogo1 – Dundalk Mavericks

We were perhaps a little unfair to the Mavericks preseason when we predicted they’d wind up last in the IAFL1. A victory over Mullingar shows they had no intention of proving us right. Dundalk are still developing but have some incredible talent on their roster and the task of harnessing that into results is beginning to bear fruit.

16. thumb_mullingarlogo – Mullingar Minotaurs

Mullingar have woken up in recent weeks and although they couldn’t defeat Tyrone they showed signs of life that had been missing from their opening two games. A win tomorrow could catapult them up these rankings and they have every capability of it.

17. 10968328_827634113959732_1746668201097951904_n – Galway Warriors

The Warriors still in infancy defeated the Soldiers in their opening game this season and played out 0-0 with the Rhinos last week. It’s hard to go anywhere without offence and this has to be the next step for the Warriors.

18. SKS – South Kildare Soldiers

The Soldiers were demolished in the worst way verses the Trojans that would make you question the merits of allowing the Trojans to play in the IAFL 2. The season started well defeating UL but losing to the fellow sophomores, the Warriors, will show there is still work to do in Kildare.

19. Vip – Donegal/Derry Vipers

Unsurprisingly the Vipers occupy the last spot. With just the one game, if you want to call it that, verses the Trojans under their belt there are more reasonable tests ahead for the Vipers where they will give a better account of where they are as a team. The only way is up!

IAFL 1 Preview

Photograph Mullingar Minotaurs Facebook.

Following UCDs steamrolling the division in 2014, the teams competing for honours in IAFL 1 will look to 2015 as a renewed opportunity to shine. With Waterford back in the pack and the Titans and Mavericks added to the mix, the brand of football in in Irelands second tier is set to take another step forward this season. The division has already proven a huge success developing of talent and fostering fledgling teams into stable and competitive outfits and thus makes the job of assessing them let alone accurately predicting the outcome of games with any sort of confidence extremely difficult, but here we go.

Cork Admirals @ Waterford Wolves

Sunday 22nd of March – 2pm

One prediction that is comfortable to make, that if this game turns out to be a preview of the IAFL 1 Bowl Game, nobody will be surprised. Cork, getting over the initial hiccups in their opening game last season, arguably were one of the more impressive units in the country let alone the division. A team on the brink of collapse just 2 short years ago, took a small squad all the way to the inaugural IAFL 1 Bowl Game and managed to do it with a brand of football that found several of their players in contention for selection in the Ireland side. Waterford landed hard in the SBC. Zero wins and some very tough defeats saw their psyche tested as much as their physique. Credit must be paid to the Board of the IAFL here, before the formation of IAFL1 teams coming off 0-8 punishing seasons were almost certainly due to suffer the same fate year on year, threatening squad size and the very existence of the club. Not so anymore. Waterford will now have the opportunity to rebuild morale and faith in their system and ensure their next spell in the SBC is more profitable than 2014.

Cork have a successful 2014 under their belt, the defence was one of the best around in IAFL1 last year (opening weekend excluded) and QB Steve Hayes is among an incredibly impressive crop of young Quarterbacks coming through in Ireland. They have all the tools to win this division and most definitely the ability to win this game. Waterford have talent on their roster still and will have every faith in their ability to win games this year but opening against the Divisions strongest team may prove too tough an ask as they look to revive their fortunes.

Our prediction Admirals Win
 Dundalk Mavericks @ Mullingar Minotaurs

Sunday 22nd of March – 2pm

Another team that will fancy themselves a contender come July will be the Mullingar Minotaurs. The Minotaurs enter their 3rd year of competitive football looking to impose themselves on every game this season in ways they only managed intermittently last year. The Midlands side boast a squad capable of matching any for physicality and back that up with an impressive run game, a fast and physical defence and explosive ability in all areas. The task for Mullingar in 2015 will be to apply this consistently and win games this year that narrowly slipped away in the last campaign. Dundalk find themselves similar to the Minotaurs in a lot of ways at an earlier stage of development. A lot of talent on both sides of the ball in need of refinement. Tyrone set themselves apart in IAFL2 last year and anyone who watched the match ups between the Titans and the Mavericks would tell you that both sides are comparable in terms of ability but the execution is there on a consistent basis with the Northerners and at times is AWOL in Dundalk.

Mullingar will need to stay disciplined to contain some of the very real threats possessed by the side from the wee county. That same discipline will be the difference for Dundalk this season. Maintain it and they have a very real chance of upsetting established teams sleeping on the weapons they posses. Lose it; and teams a little further along in their development, such as Cork, could put them to the sword in a very damaging way. The matchup with the Minotaurs will offer them a real yardstick in assessing their development having so far only competed against teams clearly inferior and only the Titans to measure themselves against.  Mullingar, so long the underdogs, will go into this game as favourites and don’t posses the mentality to take any victory for granted until it’s won. They won’t give Dundalk anything for free.

Our prediction. Minotaurs Win!

IAFL 1 Preview

Year 3 of, what it can now be fair to say, has been the hugely successful IAFL 1. Tier 2 has provided some of the most entertaining and competitive football in the land for the last few years, due in large part to it’s unpredictability. The Reapers winning the inaugural year of the Championship in their debut season and a reformed Cork outfit surprising all with a bowl run last year being among the pleasant surprises offered up so far. So with all that said, we are going to attempt to predict the outcome!


11004412_10152562488397735_9929895_nCork Admirals

Prediction 1st
The Admirals were an impressive unit after a successful reformation last season. Cork have some imposing Offensive talent to call on in the shape of QB Steve Hayes, WR John Madden & RB Shane Cullinan but something that goes unnoticed is the quiet way in which the Ads defence dominates. The Admirals shipped 104 points in 8 games last year, more than half of those in the first game against UCD, who racked up 54 points. While that isn’t exactly and advertisement for a great defence that was the first game the Admirals had played in nearly a year, a year in which the club had been entirely rebuilt. Through the remaining 7 games the Admirals never allowed more that 1 touchdown per game. They’ve also beefed up along the Offensive Line heading into 2015 and giving Hayes, one of the most promising talents around the country, even more time to dissect defences.

Meath BulldogsMeath Bulldogs
Prediction 3rd
2014 was a tale of 2 seasons for the Bulldogs. Through the first 4 games the Bulldogs were uncharacteristically lethargic. A team with 4 years experience and most of the key parts intact expected better results against Cork & Mullingar and after an impressive Defensive outing in game 1 against UCD; folded to a 44-8 loss less than 2 months later. Half way though the season saw a coaching change with Head Coach and Team Founder Garland Drake departing. Racking up 3 wins in the remaining 4 games and Bulldogs work horse Pete McMahon firing into life topping the IAFL 1 scoring charts showed that this team certainly had the talent to challenge all along. In 2015, with new Head Coach Peter Smyth in place and a host of new talent added to the already strong roster the Bulldogs will likely consider anything less than a bowl appearance as a failure. This 3rd prediction isn’t a 1st or 2nd prediction because there is always uncertainty with a new system and coaching staff but if the Bulldogs excel in even the very basics they will be right in the shake up come July.

Dundalk MavericksDundalk Mavericks
Prediction 6th
Dundalk were a cut above Galway & South Kildare in 2014 but fell a notch short of Tyrone. Dundalk are brimming with raw talent. Declan Mulvihill is a terror on both offence and defence, Matthew Hagan has immense speed and impact potential and Rob Shevlin is all impact. The Mavericks were born out of the belief that they could forge their own path and they will need to continue with the progress made in their rookie year. A major step up for Dundalk will come in the form of physicality; Mullingar, Meath, Cork & Waterford are far from soft and squad size and injuries play a greater role when the physical demands are stepped up as they will be on Dundalk this season. Dundalk do posses great experience as mentioned above but the true test will be on those players that played their rookie season last year. They will believe they are up to it and if they are they have all the assets needed to hold their own in this unpredictable division.

Mullingar MinotaursMullingar Minotuars 
Prediction 2nd
Mullingar didn’t get off to the powerful start that the Reapers and Wolves did in their inaugural season but the leap that was made between Year 1 & Year 2 was monumental. Mullingar were a power in 2014. The Minotuars season was 2 touchdowns away from the Bowl Game. Unfortunate to meet a possessed Bulldogs team, fresh off losing their Head Coach, on the 4th of July and narrowly losing by a score to Cork, reversals in those games would have seen a much different hue on their 2014 season. If the Minotuars replicate the off season improvement of 2014; the 2015 edition of Mullingar won’t fear any challenge. Mullingar do need more production on offence and Coach Paddy Lally will be well aware of where the improvement is required. Best placement of their talents will be key in 2015 and perhaps weakening an impressive defence to better balance the strength on offence will be something  facing Coach Lally. Mullingar have the potential to dominate in the trenches on both sides of the ball and if they do, the Bowl Game awaits.

Tyrone TitansTyrone Titans
Prediction 5th
Hard to tell how any team will respond to the step up in standard as we mentioned earlier but best placed will be Tyrone. Coach Paul Braniff worked this largely under experienced group into a powerful football team in 2014. They would most certainly have competed in IAFL1 last season and they totally dominated in IAFL2. They have kept the vital components of that team together and boast some of the best young talent out there. Daniel Mullan and Ryan Brolly are two of the brightest talents we have on the Island. The Titans haven’t spent too long congratulating themselves in the off season and Coach Braniff hasn’t wasted a breath in adding to his Coaching staff. Former Craigavon Cowboy and IAFL Legend Bobby ‘Moose’ Murray has joined as Defensive Coordinator and former Trojan Gary Carr has joined as Offensive Coordinator. The Titans will certainly have a new look in 2015 but if they maintain their commitment to excellence that saw them soar above all others in IAFL2, more than a few in IAFL1 will find themselves on the unpleasant end of a beating from the North Westerners.

Waterford WolvesWaterford Wolves
Prediction 4th
Harsh to suggest that a team that could reasonably considered favourites, will finish 4th? As with all predictions there has to be a certain amount of ‘ifs’ you take as certainties. If Waterford replicate their aggressive and fast moving pace of play they displayed in 2013 we will be wrong! If the lethargy with which some of their performances in 2014 were put together repeat, we will be right! 68-0 embarrassments should never happen, short of the opponent being comprised of high level American College football players. 0-8 seasons are damaging for the psyche and the response to them can be difficult to predict. Faced with a lower standard of over all opponent this season, if Waterford expect an easy time of it, hoping to face the standard of the teams they did 2 years ago a terrible shock awaits. IAFL1 is stronger now than it was when Waterford racked up 6 wins in 2013. If the drubbing that was 2014 acts as a motivator and sees efforts redoubled with the aim of handing out some beatings like the ones they were on the receiving end of last season, the Wolves have the ability and the talent to top the division.

The IAFL 1 is immensely difficult to predict and if the inverse of all of these predictions result nobody here will be surprised. With a Bowl Game and International games looming at the end of the season the motivation for excellence has never been higher in the second tier. We for one are

IAFL Weekly: 18/9/14

The 2014 season may be over, but that isn’t to say the work in the off-season has come to a grinding halt. Teams are furiously beginning preparations ahead of the new campaign that starts in the early months of 2015, so although their may not be local matches on show, we here at NFL-Ireland will aim to keep you up-to-date with the going’s on from around Irelands domestic football scene. So, with the awards dinners in progress and the recruitment drives in full swing, here is the roundup of news from the IAFL this past week.

 

IAFL Weekly – 18/9/2014

IAFA open 2015 Applications:

On the back of the news this week that the IAFA has been granted access to the Irish Sports HQ for next year, the league has also announced that they are now accepting applications for teams to join the league ahead of the 2015 campaign. The deadline for audits is Monday 6th October 2014, for all teams looking to be accepted into every division of senior kitted football. The league also added that they expect the Shamrock Bowl Conference and IAFL-1 tiers to go ahead as usual, with last year’s IAFL-2 teams making the step up into IAFL-1 territory. Also, there is now a provision as part of the application that clubs with larger squad sizes can field multiple teams this season. This could see many established teams fielding second-string sides within the IAFL-2, coupled with the new teams entering the league. Do you feel this is a positive move for Irish football? Full details can be found on the IAFA website (http://www.americanfootball.ie/).

The National Champions are recruiting!

The reigning Shamrock Bowl champions, the Belfast Trojans completed yet another remarkable year, by adding their third consecutive National Championship to their impressive trophy cabinet. However, the Trojans have already started to make plans for the upcoming season as they recently announced their rookie tryouts, which will take place on Sunday, November 2nd at 10.30am at Belfast Harlequins Rugby Club. This is the only tryout the Trojans will be hosting so make sure you get down to try out the sport! You wont regret it.

 

Trojans tryouts

 

League favourite calls time on playing career.

After undergoing ankle surgery at the end of the season, hard-hitting Defensive-End Chris Bell has decided to hang up his boots in his IAFL playing career. Chris has been a part of the Craigavon Cowboys since 2008 and will continue with the club by nurturing future talent from a coaching role. All of us here at NFL Ireland wish Chris a speedy recovery.

chris bell

 

Dublin Rebels represent Ireland in the Atlantic Cup.

The illustrious Dublin Rebels were handed the opportunity in August to travel to Brussels to defend the EFAF Atlantic Cup, in place of the absent and defending champions, the Belfast Trojans. The team travelled across to Belgium to compete against fellow amateur teams in the Villeneuve d’Ascq Vikings (FRA) Hilversum Hurricanes (NL) and the hosts, Brussels Tigers (BEL). After suffering a 24-14 loss to the Tigers in the semi-finals, the Rebels restored pride by defeating the Vikings 20-7 in the 3rd place playoff. They proved themselves as great representatives for Irish Football.

 

Photo by Thierry Kersmaekers
Photo by Thierry Kersmaekers

 

Other news:
– The Craigavon Cowboys already boast a talented youth team, but they are still looking for more potential stars to join their set-up. If you have ever been interested in taking part in American Football, be sure to head down to Chambers Park, Portadown every Sunday from 12:30-3pm.
– The Meath Bulldog’s host their annual Poker Night Fundraiser at the Royal Card Club at the Royal Navan on Sunday, October 4th at 7.30pm. Further details can be found on the teams Facebook page.

– The Cork Admirals hosted an off-season friendly match between the Veteran and Rookie players. Experience proved worthy in the end as the Vets ran out 22-0 winners, with Nick Coffi winning MVP.

To find out more information regarding the IAFL, be sure to check back to NFL-Ireland for the weekly updates from across the League. Alternatively, if you want to find out how to get in touch with your favourite IAFL teams, you can view the team directory in IAFA section of the website, or find further details on their Facebook and Twitter pages respectively. Any teams looking for information to be shared on our website, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

IAFL Week 2 Results

Carrickfergus Knights 13 – 8 UCD, Belfield, Dublin

Cork Admirals 6 – 20 Dublin Rebels, Sportslink, Dublin

Dublin Dragons 0 – 19 Tullamore Phoenix, Tullamore RFC, Offaly