Author: Maurice

AGM 2016 Review

Yesterday we held our 2016 Annual General Meeting in the Louis Fitzgerald Hotel in Dublin.

New Board

The meeting opened with the annual report and then progressed on the Board elections. Four new Board members were elected to the nine person Board. For the first time in the history of the sport, there will be two female Board members – both of whom bring very relevant skills.

The 2017 Board is as follows:

Michael Smith (President)

Brian Cleary

Colum Lavery (external)

Declan McNally

Cillian Smith

Joining these existing Board members are (in alphabetical order):

Emma Burrows, a Sports Psychology PHD student, who has an academic background in human performance

Aidan Maguire, President of Louth Mavericks, one of the leagues fastest developing clubs

Derek Ward, former Director of Officiating with coaching, management and playing experience at club level

Janice Ward, HR/financial services professional who is currently on the Presidium of the International Federation of American Football

Other topics

At the AGM, the Association announced that it is currently focusing on recruiting volunteers with professional experience to communications, event management and financial positions within the organisation. These are currently being advertised on our website, sportsjobs.ie and via Boardmatch. Other items discussed/announced included:

  • A new Strategic Planning process is due to start – Barry Kiel (Belfast Trojans) and Pete Kloehn (Dublin Rebels) were appointed as ‘Captains’ of the process
  • Team representatives advocated asking members with relevant skills to put themselves forward to a panel, based on their expertise and experience, that can be called upon for specific projects and advice
  • The Competition Committee recommended getting the SBC back to 10 teams by 2018, changes to promotion/relegation and structures to help clubs to field 2nd teams
  • Review of membership fees
  • The association will look into the introduction of baseline testing for concussion
  • Team Ireland’s participation in a new IFAF sanctioned International competition with both kitted football and flag tournaments, alongside Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium & Luxembourg and taking place in Spain next year
  • Cheer Dance Ireland to come on board as a constituent part of the IAFA which will be the National Governing Body and National Federation for the sport of competitive cheerleading going forward
  • The disappointment with the organisers of the ALCFC and the push for sporting sector regulatory changes at Government level which will compliment the Association’s position on visiting events
  • New club, Antrim Jets, which is planning to play in IAFL2, was welcomed to the Association

Volunteer role vacancies

Due to the continued expansion of the sport and the retirement of some staff, we are seeking to appoint a number of volunteers to available positions within the organisation – Director of Finance, Communications Officer and Event Manager. Full details of the roles are available below:

 

 

 

If you are interested in applying for these positions, please send your CV and cover letter to recruitment (at*) americanfootball.ie (*@)before 5pm on the 30th November.

 

Junior Football 2016 Champions

At today’s Team Ireland U20s training session, the South Kildare Soldiers were presented with their trophy as 2016 Junior Football Champions.

Junior Football Director Russell Kerley presenting the trophy to Tomiwa Oyewo and Jordan Farrell

Receiving the trophy on behalf of the Soldiers was Tomiwa Oyewo and Jordan Farrell from Director of Junior Football Russell Kerley. The Soldiers finished the season with a perfect 6-0 record against the Craigavon Cowboys and Westmeath Minotaurs.

“This has been a great year for junior football and congratulations to the Soldiers and Coach Farrell on a fantastic season”, said Russell Kerley at today’s presentation. “Next year we’re focusing on expanding the number of clubs competing in the junior league as well as compete in International games and leagues. 2017 will be a massive year for Irish football”.

South Kildare Soldiers’ Head Coach Ken Farrell with his players

Belfast Trojans competing in the Atlantic Cup

This weekend, 2015 SBC Champions the Belfast Trojans will be travelling to Luxembourg to take part in the 2016 Atlantic Cup. The Trojans are the current Atlantic Cup Champions after beating the Groningan Giants 26-7 last year in the Nethelands.

The Atlantic Cup is the Western European Championship, of which Ireland is a founding member, and this year will be hosted by the Luxembourg Steelers in State JF Kennedy in Dudelange. Also taking part are the Brussels Black Angels and the Groningen Giants.

The Atlantic Cup will take place on Saturday and Sunday:

Saturday

12:00 Belfast Trojans vs Brussels Black Angels

16:00 Groningen Steelers vs Luxembourg Steelers

Sunday

11:00 3rd/4th place game

14:30 Final

Best of luck to the Trojans!

Start of Junior League 2016

This Sunday the 2016 season of our Junior League kicks off in Mullingar RFC. The Junior Football league is a full contact football league for players aged 16 – 19 and was started last year thanks to the continued demand for the sport in Ireland. This weekend’s games are the first of three competitive  before the end of the year.

All three teams involved in the Junior League will be playing this weekend with the schedule as follows:

11am: South Kildare Soldiers vs Westmeath Minotaurs

1pm: Craigavon Cowboys vs South Kildare Soldiers

3pm: Westmeath Minotaurs vs Craigavon Cowboys

Good luck to everyone!

IFAF Logo

IFAF Congress this weekend

This Saturday, the International Federation of American Football (IFAF) will hold its annual Congress in Paris where a number of Presidium positions are up for election including President, Senior Vice President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Sports Director and an Executive Board of Directors.

IFAF Extraordinary Congress March 2016
IFAF Extraordinary Congress March 2016

In July last year, IAFA member Janice Ward was elected into the role of Secretary for a period of 1 year and ahead of the upcoming Congress, we are very happy to nominate her again for this position for a four year term.

Janice Ward
Janice Ward

Shamrock Bowl 30 Preview

Thanks to Scott Morrow for the article below. Scott is an aspiring Sports Journalist who enjoys writing about all things American Football. He is a regular contributor to AFI Review and also writes for both NFL Ireland and Double Coverage, and currently plays for the Belfast Trojans. He also supports the Green Bay Packers.

This Sunday see’s the pinnacle of the Irish American Football season come to a grandstand finish as the Belfast Trojans face the Dublin Rebels for Shamrock Bowl 30. The Rebels are in search for their 8th National title as the Trojans hope to add a 5th Bowl win to their recent trophy haul. Both the Trojans and Rebels are the only teams to have won 4 championships in a row, but no team has managed five. Now, both will get the chance to break that record this weekend.

The defending Irish champions the Belfast Trojans have set the pace in recent years having won the Shamrock Bowl four consecutive times between 2012-2015, including defeating the Rebels 48-18 in 2013. They have also added the Atlantic Cup twice in that time period adding International honours to their domestic success. The Trojans have managed two unbeaten seasons since their first trophy win in 2012 making them to team to beat.

Despite finishing the regular season with a (6-2) record, their quality and will-to-win was ever present in the playoffs. They defeated both the Carrickfergus Knights 31-16 in the wildcard round before squeezing past UCD in the semi-finals with a 10-7 scoreline. If the Trojans were to win on Sunday, they will set a new IAFL record by becoming the first team in its history to win 5 straight championships, a feat that the Dublin Rebels are also hoping to obtain.

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The Belfast offence has been prolific this year, with Quarterback James McKelvey matching his touchdown ratio from his MVP campaign in 2015 despite only playing 7 games. His favourite target David Richardson has again been the key component to his success along with the great protection from his Offensive Line that includes a number of Senior Irish team starters. With Richardson likely to be double-teamed at every opportunity, rookie Jack Millar may offer a solid outlet to take the pressure off his teammate. Not too mention when you have a backfield quartet of Matt Armstrong, David Colvin, Neil Montgomery and the ridiculously multi-talented Jonah Siri, it’s no surprise the Trojans finished with the best scoring total in the league (298).

The defence more than matched up to the offences production, holding their opponents to no more than 75 points all season. The Trojans can depend on the disruption of Patrick McElkerney, Mark McGrath and veteran Marty Devlin upfront to create penetration that will allow Linebackers, Conor Whitla and Neil Graham to flow to the ball. Unfortunately for Belfast, key playmaker Jonathan McConnell will be a huge loss as he misses out through suspension. The Trojans are also known for their ball-hawking secondary. Safeties Chris Mikhael and Rick Duffield offer a commanding presence at the back and Cornerback, James Gallagher has been impressive this season. Belfast have a strong all-round unit, with depth and skill at every position which is why they have only lost 3 matches in the last 4 years.

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Their opponents on Sunday will be none other than Ireland’s most successful team, the Dublin Rebels, who will be competing in their 11th final. The Dubliners have been around since 1995 and have remained one of the most formidable teams in the league for over 20 years. A consistent playoff contender, the Rebels experience has guided them to 7 Shamrock Bowl victories, the most by any team on Irish soil. Their last trip to the final came in 2013 that ended in defeat to the Trojans, so payback will certainly be in mind come Sunday.

The Rebels had an excellent season by wrapping up the SBC North division title with a solid (7-1) season, before dispatching the difficult University of Limerick Vikings 20-12 in the semi-finals. Much like the Trojans, they too will be hoping to break the record of 5 straight Bowl wins. The Rebels kept pace with Belfast throughout the year, as they finished just behind with 284 scoring points in 8 games. Their defence, not often getting the credit they deserve only surrendered 94 points this year.

Quarterback, Andrew Dennehy has been there and done it all. He is no stranger to finals having contributed to all 7 of the Rebels’ Bowl wins. His experience will prove vital for the upcoming crop of players competing for their first piece of silverware this weekend. The backfield tandem of Wello Omo and Sean Leamy is exciting to watch, as they offer a one-two punch of both speed and power. Receiver Paul Grogan is another member with vast experience at high level and could be a difference maker in the passing game. Dennehy will rely heavily on his trustworthy offensive line to keep the Trojans pressure at bay.

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On the other side of the ball, defensive stalwarts Gerard O’Leary and Steve Walsh will make a productive presence in the trenches and with Inside Linebacker, Marhias Durot controlling the middle, they should be capable of stopping the run game. Summer acquisition Conrad Cook, who moved from cross city rivals the Panthers, will be aiming to apply pressure off the edge to get to the Trojans Quarterback. Former Lubeck Cougar, Darragh Farrell and Keith Foster have improved the secondary this year and with the Paisley brothers, Ricky and Dylan, the Rebels will feel they have the ingredients to shutdown Belfast’s passing attack. Defensive Coach and interior lineman Ross McCooey could be the biggest key to the Rebels defence. The former Berlin Rebel has played football for 11 years and his leadership will be vital in anchoring the defence on game-day.

Spectators in Ireland and beyond should be prepared for a fast and physical ball game, played by two of the most accomplished sides in IAFA history. The Belfast Trojans and Dublin Rebels have faced each other twice already this year. The Trojans defeated the Rebels 25-8 back in Week 7, before the Rebels reversed the scoreline in Belfast to win 8-7 over 6 weeks ago. Now they will do battle for a third time, with the hope of lifting the Waterford Crystal trophy on the biggest stage in Shamrock Bowl 30. All the hard work during the off-season, fighting off the cold Irish weather and 18 weeks of gruelling football all comes down to 1 game. There’s no better way to celebrate 30 years of Shamrock Bowl history than to watch two of the best in Ireland collide once again.

Shamrock Bowl 30 – August 7th, Tallaght Stadium Dublin, 3pm. Belfast Trojans versus the Dublin Rebels. Parts of the game will be streamed live from the Irish American Football Associations Facebook page.

 

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Journey to Thirty

Thanks to Scott Morrow for the article below. Scott is an aspiring Sports Journalist who enjoys writing about all things American Football. He is a regular contributor to AFI Review and also writes for both NFL Ireland and Double Coverage, and currently plays for the Belfast Trojans. He also supports the Green Bay Packers.

It’s been over 30 years since the inaugural season of the Irish American Football League and a lot has changed over its life span. The standard of football has grown tremendously with now full contact, flag football and youth leagues well in place. The Irish National side has spent the better part of two years preparing for their first ever International fixture that comes this August against the Dutch Lions. With the pinnacle of the Irish season, Shamrock Bowl 30 less than a week away there is no better time to have a brief reflection of how football has changed in Ireland over the last three decades and by remembering some of the most memorable finals of years past.

Founded in 1984, American Football in Ireland grew on a fascination of the NFL and a love for the game. In a country predominantly consumed by both soccer and rugby, the idea of America’s game becoming a mainstay on Irish waters would take time. Thus, the first Shamrock Bowl that took place was played in 1986 between the Craigavon Cowboys and the Dublin Celts; two of Ireland’s first ever sides. The Cowboys would win 6-0 in that game but the Dublin Celts would go on to become a force in Irish football. The Celts would win 5 titles in 10 years (including a 45-23 victory against the Cowboys in Shamrock Bowl II) during the early part of the leagues formation. They also became the first Irish side to compete in a Euro Bowl, the then considered Champions League of European football.

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Despite showing 13 years worth of promise that included first Bowl wins for the Carrickfergus Knights and Dublin Tornadoes, a lack of organisation and planning forced a hiatus in 1999. However attempts were made to rekindle the IAFL once again 2 years later. This plan was constructed in 2000 and the league has never looked back. One of the telling moments in American Football history in Ireland, that fell on pure coincidence came in that summer. American high school St.Mount Josephs College in Maryland, USA had made the trip across the Atlantic to face both the Great British Lions team and an ‘unknown’ Irish select side. Little knowledge had been gathered of this invitational match but with the college side looking for an organised game, word was spread and anyone who wanted to play showed up and took part. The Irish team may have lost 34-12, but it was this moment that ultimately resurrected the IAFL and became the defining moment of Irish American footballs rebirth.

As a new era dawned In 2001, four teams would make up the new league structure; the Carrickfergus Knights, Dublin Dragons (rebranded as the South Dublin Panthers), Dublin Rebels and UL Vikings. After the success of its first season, the Dublin Rebels and Carrickfergus Knights would contest Shamrock Bowl XV, in which the Rebels won 28-7. This would go on to be the Dublin sides first of 7 total championship wins.

The Rebels would begin a surge that saw them become the driving force behind the leagues rejuvenation both domestically and internationally. Later in 2001, the Rebels would travel to Belgium to compete in International competition, fending off the Charleroi Cougars and French outfits, the Reims Champs and Forbach Taupes on their way to European glory. They later returned in 2003 to defend their trophy and did so successfully.

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With football hitting a firm stride in Ireland, it quickly began to grow domestically. The IAFA welcomed more teams year after year and 2003 proved to be a hugely rewarding campaign. Once the Belfast Bulls (defunct), Cork Admirals and Craigavon Cowboys joined the fold, the league comprised of 7 sides which set a new record at that time. The Rebels would defeat the Knights 24-12 in Shamrock Bowl XVII, which attracted large crowds and also television coverage with highlights broadcasted on both TV3 in Ireland and on Sky Sports throughout Europe.

2004 would celebrate another accolade in the sports short rise. The season defining final would record the biggest attendance for any IAFL game in history and the final itself is regarded as one of the best finals to have been played in the 30 years. The Rebels would again be 24-22 victors over the Knights.

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Over the next 3 years, the Rebels would win their 4th straight championship, the current defending champions the Belfast Trojans kickstarted their tenure and the UL Vikings would win their first Shamrock Bowl. These teams have since set the standard of football in Ireland and continue to be leaders in the sports current progression. In 2008, the league opted to create a DV8’s division that proved to be a defining moment in the IAFA’s forward thinking. The idea of 8 v 8 full contact, rather than the traditional 11 aside, was designed to help new clubs earn valuable game experience and prepare them for future games at 11-a-side level. It improved both funding and recruitment that increased the longevity of new teams, often a persistent problem in previous years. The developmental league has now been dropped in place of a new IAFL-2 division, but teams such as the North Kildare Reapers and student sides like University College Dublin and 2015 finalists Trinity College have greatly benefited and are now playing at high levels.

The following season, Shamrock Bowl XXIII in 2009 would mark a rare occasion as the only final to reach overtime after the game finished 6-6 after 4 quarters. The UL Vikings would eventually come out on top, defeating the Dublin Rebels 9-6 to win their third Shamrock Bowl, with kicker Daniel Smith converting the decisive kick. The Rebels would enact revenge however in 2010 with a 15-0 shutout against Limerick.

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In 2012 the IAFA once again prepared a reshuffle of the leagues format by dividing the previously 3 tier division structure into a two tier league, creating the Shamrock Bowl Conference North and South. This allowed teams a full schedule of 8 games and also helped add to the growing competitiveness in order to boost the standard of play. This structure is still the format that is implemented in the IAFL today. Along with the change, 2012 would also witness a power shift across Ireland. The current champions, the Belfast Trojans would commence their reign atop the Irish League by winning their first ever Shamrock Bowl in a dramatic 16-14 cliffhanger against the UL Vikings that summer. The game would be remembered for Rick Duffields last second field goal that clinched them the title against a seemingly unstoppable Vikings side.

The last four championships have since all been won by the Trojans, including back to back victories against the aforementioned Trinity College. One of those games was played in torrential rain and dubbed the ‘Thunder Bowl’, when a Connor Whitla pick-6 was all that separated the sides in an intense defensive battle in 2014. The same sides also contested the final in 2015 with Trojans winning 28-14.

Shamrock Bowl XXVIII

For anyone who can't access the Shamrock Bowl XXVIII vid on their phone…sorted!

Posted by Lyndsay Mcveigh on Thursday, 16 October 2014

So here we reach the present day, with the IAFL in a much better condition and exceeding expectations. The Irish American Football Association has worked tirelessly continuing to push the boundaries of what Irish Football is capable of achieving. The goal is improve the quality and publicity of this great game across the country so that more people can become aware of the worlds fastest growing sport on Irish soil. Since its initiation in 1984, the IAFL now stands at 23 full contact sides, with more expected to join in the coming years. There is also a full calendar year of flag football and the first youth football program started in 2014. With the number of interested players and teams registering with the IAFA, the league could soon be making the strides needed to compete with some of the top leagues across Europe. America’s game has accelerated across the country and the demand is at an all time high.

This Sunday, Tallaght Stadium in Dublin will be the host of Shamrock Bowl 30 when the Belfast Trojans face the Dublin Rebels. The final will not only be a great footballing spectacle, but more importantly it signifies how far we have come throughout this ever developing journey. With plenty optimism and excitement surrounding Irish American Football, the future looks very promising. Here’s to the next 30 years!

Team Ireland Senior Squad Named

Team-Ireland-Shield-Final_SeniorAfter a series of training sessions and camps over the past year, the final Team Ireland senior squad has been selected by Head Coach Ciaran O’Sullivan and the Team Ireland coaching staff. These players will represent Ireland against a friendly against the Dutch Lions on August 27th in the Netherlands.

The coaching staff selected the majority of players from Irish clubs, reflecting the high level of skill and athleticism that has made our domestic leagues extremely competitive; we have players from clubs in the Shamrock Bowl Conference (SBC), IAFL1 and IAFL2 conferences. We are also lucky to have several players who have graduated from the Team Ireland U20’s program on the squad – the high percentage of that team that made the Senior team once eligible represents the dedication and preparation of those players and the effort of their coaches. Team Ireland has also had involvement from eligible players overseas and they have representation on the squad.

“Team Ireland Coaching Staff & Management would like to congratulate these players and their clubs on this achievement”, said Head Coach Ciaran O’Sullivan. “We also appreciate the access IAFA clubs have given us to their players & coaches. Team Ireland is made up of more players than we have listed & we are thankful for the positive support of our team mates who will not be taking this trip”.

The following is the full Team Ireland Senior squad:

Offensive Line

Joe McGrath, Fergal O’Hanlon, Mike Bradford, Graham Murtagh, Ross McCoey, Mark Davidson, John Cannon, Tom Telford, Paul Kirkwood.

Running Backs & Receivers

Neil Montgomery , Ian Cahill, Oisin Russell Conway, Paul Grogan, David Richardson, Sean Goldrick, Adrian Garvey, Peter McMahon, Shane Sweeney, Sean Leamy, Conor O’Dwyer.

Quarterbacks

Tosan Memuduaghan, Andrew Dennehy, Tom Donovan.

Defensive Line

Donal Drew, Steve Walsh, Conor Becket, Aaron McNaughton, John Mullen.

Linebackers

Neil Graham, Conor Whitla, Laurent Doyle, Spencer McDowell, Jonathan McConnell, Mick O’Shea, Conrad Cook, Darragh O’Callaghan.

Defensive Backs

Oisin Dowling, Sean Sheehy, Craig Switzer, Adam Skelly, Ray Burke, Frankie Tchiofo, Alan Neary.

Kicker

Eric Lawless

On behalf of every IAFA member, we want to congratulate every player and wish them all the best of luck in their upcoming fixture.

Road to Shamrock Bowl 30

Last Sunday’s fixtures marked the end of the SBC regular season, and with those games in the bag, we have confirmation of the post season games.

SBC North

The Dublin Rebels won the SBC North with a 7-1 record, finishing on 14 points. The Belfast Trojans (6-2) took the second position with 12 points and the Carrickfergus Knights (5-3) took third with 10 points.
 
As SBC North winners, the Rebels advance straight to the Semi-Finals. The Trojans and Knights will battle in the Wildcard game, the winner of which will take on SBC South winners, UCD
 

SBC South

Both UCD American Football and the UL Vikings finished the season on 13 points (both with a 6-1-1 record) and Trinity College Dublin American Football (2-6) finished third. Using the tie breaker rules, we end up at the points difference – UCD win this so they take the top spot in the SBC South and the Vikings take second place.
 
UCD advance to the Semi-Finals as SBC South winners, while the Vikings and Trinity will meet in the Wildcard game, the winner of which will play against the SBC North winners, the Dublin Rebels.

Post Season Schedule

The Wildcard games will take place on July 17th and will be hosted by the club ranked second:
  • SBC North: Harlequins RFC, Belfast (Belfast Trojans)
  • SBC South: UL Sports Grounds, Limerick (UL Vikings)

The Semi-Final games will take place on July 24th and will be hosted by the division winners – the Dublin Rebels and UCD. The venues for these games are to be confirmed.

Shamrock Bowl 30

The Shamrock Bowl will take place on August 7th in Tallaght Stadium and will kick off at 3pm. Tickets for the Shamrock Bowl can be purchased below: