IAFA 2016 Week 2 Preview Part 1

IAFA

Ok before we start, has everyone ordered the ambulance and made sure the field isn’t waterlogged?

Good! Lets start…

IAFA Week 2

This Weekends Fixtures

DateHomeResultsAwayTimeCompetitionVenue

Admirals @ Wolves

A repeat of the 2015 Bowl Game, this game will be an immediate barometer of each teams off season. The Wolves are still in the division at their own request. So one could only assume they’re significantly weaker than last year. The IAFL1 has the same number of games as the SBC; admittedly a higher standard but SBC games don’t end with ambulances speeding away from games stuffed with players, so we fail to see the logic of Waterford still being in this division. Cork wobbled towards the end of last season and ultimately came up short of what everyone assumed was an automatic bowl win. The Wolves (and Bulldogs for that matter) would argue that Cork didn’t wobble but were figured out and their biggest weapon taken away from them. The plan this Sunday should consist of two words, Stop Hayes.

Stephen Hayes lit up the division last year and drew admiration from across the IAFA community. 25 touchdown passes and it looked like nobody had the answer but a chink in the armour was exposed and Cork were found without a Plan B. Two very impressive seasons since their reconstitution, the time has come. The Admirals have seen what they can do and what teams will do to stop them. They must now evolve and become the complete team to regain their place in the SBC; running the ball and taking some of the pressure off their young QB are the last two strings to this bow and the SBC awaits.

Kick off is 1pm in the Waterford RSC

Titans @ Soldiers

The Titans have probably had the most nightmarish off season in the IAFA. For a minute there, they were no more. Back from the dead and under new management on and off the field, time has been short to get what remains of the Titans in football shape, let alone competitive shape. All that being said, the Titans have been highly impressive in their Freshman and Sophomore IAFA Seasons and its the foundation of that team that remains. Football is often decided by which team has the momentum and from the outside it looks bad, the New Titans have, in the space of 2 months, saved a football team and got it ready for Game 1. Teams have been around for years and never gotten that far. The schedule could have been worse, a Trojans/Admirals/Rhinos opener could undone a lot of good work. The Soldiers are no pushovers but it could have been worse.

The Soldiers took an extra year at IAFL 2 level and this season should be telling as to whether it pays off. There is a depth of experience at the Soldiers and yes, the Titans could have had a tougher start but the Soldiers could smell blood in the water here. Where the Titans are likely weaker the Soldiers should be stronger and an early score could be fatal to a team searching for confidence. Kildare have a big play threat in QB Eoin Whelan and if he can elevate his play in this new division there is no reason why the Soldiers can’t cause some upsets in IAFL1, the the Titans being the first target.

Kick off is 1pm in Cill Dara Rugby Club

Trojans @ Bulldogs

The Trojans 2s swept all in IAFL2 away with ease and now IAFL1 is in their crosshairs. It could be a long time before we see another winner of IAFL1 considering the difficulty SBC teams are having toppling the Trojans. Kilkenny Hurling in years gone by were often said to have both of the best teams in the country, their Seniors and Minors and we suspect the Trojans could make a similar claim. The Trojans play football in a similar style as the Klitschko brothers box, keep it simple and when you make a mistake, smash you. This 2nds team is an advantage that most don’t have. A place to blood new talent in a slightly more forgiving environment, so when their time comes for the 1s they’re less likely to make errors, which is what Trojan football is built on.

In last weeks preview we mentioned the detrimental effects of being stuck in the IAFL1 mud too long and the Bulldogs are facing into their 4th successive season in the division. Only the Minotaurs have the same record. All others have been promoted or folded. This will be the toughest game the Bulldogs have faced in 11 aside football and is a fitting opening to the season that may define the club. The Bulldogs improved to a winning record last season and the effects of Peter Smyths leadership are clear to see after only 1 season at the helm. After a shaky start the Bulldogs finished in perhaps their finest form to date and were unfortunate to come up against an equally resurgent Wolves team as the Meath men would have fancied their chances vs Cork in the Bowl. That form and intensity of effort will be required for every second of every snap on Sunday. The Bulldogs pride themselves on physical football and that philosophy will be tested like never before vs the Trojans. If they can hold it together and not give the Trojans any easy openings, their style lends itself to this being a close game….if

Kick off is 1pm in Navan Rugby Club

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

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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!