IAFA Week #7 Previews

IAFA

IAFA Week 7

This Weekends Fixtures

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Donegal/Derry Vipers @ Galway Warriors

IAFL 2 is back in IAFA land with what could turn out to be a title decider. Well not really in the world of Bowl Games but this is a top of the table clash. Both of these teams will be in IAFL1 next year and life is tough in that most unpredictable of divisions and games vs teams who are around your level of experience can be the key to getting a good read on your season.
The Vipers progress has been impressive in their year of existence and they set a marker, dismissing the newly founded Razorbacks and they’ll look to continue to assert their will over the division by winning here.
The Warriors have wobbled a bit and are still finding their feet. Some impressive performances last year only to be undone with some hard to explain losses. This season will be pivotal for the westerners as they have an opportunity to establish themselves, alone, in a huge catchment area. Nothing establishes you better than winning.

North Dublin Pirates @ Wexford Eagles

Game One for both of these teams, so who knows! Like the Titans & Mavericks, Reapers & Wolves and Bulldogs & Lightening, games between teams entering the league at the same time offer a good yard stick of progress (or lack of) in the quest to establish a football team. It’s no promise for lasting success but it’s always a positive to get going early. Winning is a habit and winning your first ever game is an opportunity few teams realistically get. Setting foot on a football field for the first time is learning experience, both of these teams would like to be the ones dishing out the lessons Sunday and setting a marker for all future contests! We wish them luck!

Tyrone Titans @ Louth Mavericks

Most Football teams, unlike GAA teams or Rugby teams, are built on imaginary links. They exist because we say they do, there is no club house or field or concrete foundation. They are the will of committed individuals and usually they are only as strong as those bonds. When those bonds break, football teams cease to exist. No where is the better example of this than these two teams.
The Mavericks born from the the now defunct Drogheda Lightning and the Titans holding on to that existence by their fingernails.
The Titans just have to hold on. Things were tough last week vs the Rhinos, a running clock and coming really close to not having the bodies to continue. They did not give up though. No matter how hard it gets, how many games need to be finished with a running clock they just need to endure and know that the fight breed into their team now at their darkest hour will help see them to their finest. More than you think have been in that situation. The Trojans, Rebels and Vikings can all tell you stories of when they looked around, with not too many at practice and wondered, will we survive and they did.
The Mavs have to win here, they should be in the higher echelons of this division this year and can ill afford to assume any victory. The Titans are still capable and are backed into a corner now and a game vs their rivals might be just what they need to get back on their feet. The Mavs cannot allow that. Calm and efficient and fulfilling their potential to be champions. Champions don’t allow mistakes.

Meath Bulldogs @ West Dublin Rhinos

The Rhinos have been busy in recent weeks, this their third game in four weeks. The Bulldogs inversely have had a break between the last Rhinos game as this.
The Bulldogs simply must win here. The tiebreak will be gone for the year and the Rhinos would need to collapse to allow the Bulldogs back in. Expect another defensive affair but the Bulldogs need to get something going on offence as the Rhinos ran up 29 points vs the Titans and will be carrying some momentum into this one.
The Rhinos hold the tiebreak in their hands and realistically only have to not lose by 13 points and they’ll hang onto it. The Rhinos haven’t allowed a score on defence yet and have scored twice to boost their chances. To win here, they need just do what comes naturally in West Dublin, play Defence. All of the Rhinos stalwarts got going vs the Titans and momentum can be key. If Stephen Mooney can keep this offence ticking now it might be IAFL1 and done for the Rhinos.

Carrickfergus Knights @ South Dublin Panthers

What can you say after two thumpings like the Panthers have just received? Only they will know the plan to recover their season from this point but it has to start soon. The Knights opened up well against the Panthers but ultimately failed to carry that good momentum into the Rebels game. Offensive mistakes costing them dearly.
Getting the show back on the road has to be the aim for both in this game. QB Josh Davis was injured vs the Rebels and it took some time but the offence in the hands of usual FB Phil Gunning actually looked in decent shape as the Rebels struggled to contain the power in the 2nd half, the aforementioned mistakes in the form of putting the ball on the ground ultimately prevented that promise being realised in scores. Whomever is under centre vs the Panthers will know the recipe for success here.
Special Teams rarely in this country has seen players as special as Jona Siri and the Panthers got a front row seat to that show last week. Where the Rebels loss was failures is most aspect of the game for the Panthers, the Trojans game really hinged on those special teams errors, so from that point of view the mission is clear for the Panthers, learn to kick out of bounds. They did manage a passing score vs the Trojans and as the league swings towards the passing game more and more that will be an encouragement. The season isn’t lost but a loss here would make life very difficult for the Panthers going 0-4 on the season and the division.

Belfast Trojans @ Dublin Rebels

The Shamrock Bowl 3 years ago, bright and sunny Tallaght stadium, on the opening play from scrimmage, Andy Dennehy lined up under centre and surveyed the Trojan defence. The ball is snapped and the veteran QB turned for the hand off. The rabid Trojans, all 11 of them, came flying off the line of scrimmage bursting like a flood through every conceivable crack in the O-line and swarming the running back; only one problem, no ball. After the longest delay, like a rabbit from his hat Dennehy produced the ball from behind his back and the Trojans DBs, realising they’d been duped, wheeled around to see a Rebels receiver behind them coasting down the sideline. No receiver before or since had been afforded that kind of space in the Trojans secondary and Andy has the arm, the ball came out on a high arc and traveled the distance with ease. Touchdown; guaranteed. The playaction masterful, the dive from the Running back flawless, the throw accurate, 11 Trojans lost on a football field and only one thing wrong. The pass was dropped.
This was the last time the Rebels have truly claimed the edge over the Trojans. It was the changing of the guard. Right there all in one play. The Trojans already had a Shamrock Bowl but it was UL they beat. If they wanted to lay claim to the Crown, it was the Rebels they had to beat and they did. That season and every season since.
The Rebels have opened this season perfectly. They are more talented now than they have been in recent seasons with the addition of Liam Jeter to name but one. Their QB is in arguably the best shape he’s been for a while, nearly RUSHING for a touchdown vs the Panthers. Their defence are yet to allow a score. Things are looking up in Rebels land. If they are to prevent themselves becoming Liverpool to the Trojans Man U, they need to reinstall some competition into this game, soon. The Shamrock Bowl above was 48-18, the season that followed the score was 34-19 and last year it was 43-8. The time is now, before the next generation of Rebels become this generation of Rebels and nobody remembers beating the Trojans.
The Trojans haven’t started badly themselves, 123 points on the board already. James McKelvey has 7 touchdowns in two games, both games he played no part of the 4th quarter. Jona Siri is running riot, McConnell, Whitla & Graham are positively dominant and the Trojans are just being the Trojans generally. In the very fine video below, Trojans HC Mark McGrath can be worryingly heard to say, we aren’t happy with that. ‘That’ was a 63-7 victory. What will you be happy with?
Field position is the whole show for the Trojans. You must keep them in their own half on punts and kick offs and don’t turn the ball over, duh! Until someone can do that, this is going to continue.

Video by PixlFlix

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.

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!