This weekend will see the final games of the Emerald Bowl IV regular season with all teams in action at Three Rock Rover HC, Rathfarnam. The Craigavon Cowboys (EBII Champions), Westmeath Minotaurs (EBI Champions) and Dublin Vipers (EBIII Champions) have already secured their seats in the playoffs, with the Edenderry Eagles, North Kildare Reapers and potentially the Dublin Rebels still battling for the last spot. The South Dublin Panthers will be hoping to end the season on a high and begin preparations for next season.
In the first round of games (11am), the 6th placed Rebels will take on the 5th placed Reapers. Although close neighbours in the table, there are 7 points separating the teams. This will be the first of 3 games in a row for the Rebels, who will be looking to get off to a good start against the young Reapers side. If the Rebels win all their games and see the Eagles lose or tie both their games, the Rebels will be through to the playoffs. However, this is the Reapers only game of the day and it is a must win for them to have a hope of playoff football – they are level on points with the Edenderry Eagles but the Eagles have a game in hand and thus have the advantage. The second 11am game will see 1st placed Craigavon Cowboys play 7th placed South Dublin Panthers. The Panthers will want to avoid a winless season but may find it tough to overturn against the Cowboys, who ran out 58-26 winners the last time the two teams met. This will be the first of 3 games on the day for the Cowboys, where 2 wins will confirm them as number 1 seeds for the playoffs.
The Rebels are back in action again at 12 noon when they will play the 2nd placed Minotaurs. The Rebels will be hoping that home field advantage will favour them in this one, as the Minotaurs previously beat them 54-18. The Minotaurs will be looking to put pressure on the top seed with a win here and hope other results go their way which would leave their second match a crucial one to win. The second noon game will see the Panthers play back to back games, this time against the 4th placed Eagles. The last meeting between these two saw a record broke as the Eagles put 95 points on the Panthers (final score 95-6). The Panthers will not be looking for a repeat of that, but rather to end their first season return to flag football on a high. While advantage is with the Eagles to make the playoffs, they still need to at least win 1 and draw 1 to confirm their place in the playoffs (depending on the Reapers 11am result). A win here must not be taken for granted.
Round 3 games are set to start at 1pm and will see 3rd placed Vipers play the Eagles. This is the Vipers only game of the day and although they have already secured their playoff spot, it’s an important game for their seeding. Should the Eagles win their first game, the winner of this game will more than likely finish 3rd whilst the loser finishes 4th (or 5th depending on results for the Eagles, Rebels and Reapers). These two teams have been playing since the start of the formal Irish Flag Football League (Emerald Bowl I), going up against each other many times. Neither will want to lose based on the rivalry between the two, but the seeding and potential to miss out on playoff Flag Football for the Eagles will add extra zest to the game. The second game will see the host Rebels take on the Cowboys. The last time these two met was the wildcard playoffs for Emerald Bowl III, where the Cowboys would triumph. The Cowboys have the best defence, and will be looking to make sure the Rebels don’t earn a surprise win in their last game of the season and potentially a playoffs berth.
The final game of the regular season (2pm) will see the top 2 battle for what could determine the number 1 seed. The Minotaurs, the best offence in the league, will come up against the Cowboys, the best defence in the league. The Cowboys beat the Minotaurs 41-31 when the Westmeath team hosted earlier in the season. Although both teams have secured playoff football, there will be no letting up in this match between two old rivals. The Cowboys will want to remain unbeaten while the Minotaurs will have a point to prove.
Although the season is coming to an end and had some rocky patches, this weekend promises to be a very competitive and great day of Flag Football and a super end to the EBIV regular season. Longitude (Music Festival) is on in Marlay Park which next door to the Three Rock Rovers venue, so there may be traffic restrictions in place – please take this into account when planning your journey for Saturday!
by Jo Buchanan.