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The Irish American Football League (IAFL) is Ireland's official adult full contact American football league. It is made up of teams from all over the island competing to see who will win the Shamrock Bowl, Ireland's National Championship.



Cooke RFC, Belfast - Sunday 9th August 2009 - 2pm



Photos by Ariane

Shamrock Bowl XXIII MVP Adrian Garvey #36 breaks free on TD run

The UL Vikings faced the Dublin Rebels in a rematch of last years Shamrock Bowl and the game proved to be another close fought and entertaining spectacle. It took place in Cooke RFC in Belfast in front of a large crowd from all over the country. The Dublin Rebels had the better run of form this year, handing the Vikings their only defeat of the year early in the season in Limerick. The two sides also played out an intense 14-14 draw in the return leg in Dublin. The third meeting of the teams would prove to be the most dramatic and entertaining.

Rebels Sam Hodgins #8 takes a handoff

After the pre-game ceremonies were completed the Rebels won the coin toss and elected to defer so the Vikings recieved and Brendan McCarthy took UL out to the 30 yard line. It must be said that both teams special teams units performed extremely well on the day and field position was the key of the game. On the Vikings first drive Ross McCooey pressured Vikings Quarterback Liam Ryan and disrupted a number of plays, forcing the Vikings into a 3 and out. The Vikings kicker, Daniel Smith, pinned the Rebels back deep in their half. The game was a cagey affair with both teams unwilling to risk turnovers. The Rebels moved the ball with short passes from QB Andy Dennehy to his recievers Barry Flinn and Mike Kresowaty. The Vikings secondary did well to corral the receivers once the catch was made to ensure no extra yards were gained. When the Vikings were on Offense the ball remained predominantly on the ground with backs Adrian Garvey, James Twomey and Jim Davis picking up solid yards behind the blocking of the Vikings O-line. At the end of the first quarter the teams remained scoreless.

Vikings QB Liam Ryan #17 tries to outrun Rebels LB Kevin Healy #43.

Early in the second quarter the running game of the Rebels kicked into gear with former Vienna Viking, Florian Heiss and Sam Hodgins picking good running lanes. Hodgins eventually broke one run through the Vikings D and put the Rebels ahead 6-0. Vikings Middle Linebacker Jim Davis blocked the extra point attempt. The Vikings then took over on Offense and drove down the pitch with a number of aggressive runs, one block by TE Marc Ashworth in particular showing the sheer physicality of the game. Adrian Garvey punched the ball in from 11 yards out with an excellent second effort. The extra point snap was bobbled and the teams went in at the half tied at 6-6.

Vikings JP Nerbun #12 tackles Rebels Florian Hess #23.

The third and fourth quarters were dominated by intense physical battles on both sides of the ball as neither team was willing to give an inch. Jim Davis, Brendan McCarthy and Glen Carr stuffed run after run by the Rebels while Ross McCooey, Brian Carter and Andy Flynn replicated for the Dublin side. Carter and JP Nerbun had two interceptions each as each team started to open up their offense as the game progressed. Each team also missed field goals that would have won the game for either side.

Rebels TE Paul Smyth #94 is tackled after making a catch.

Heading into the fourth quarter the Vikings began to find running room, breaking off some big runs and hitting long passes only to be repeatedly called back for penalties which killed off drive after drive. The Rebels skillfully defended the long pitch and kept the Vikings from breaking the big play that would have clinched the game. As the 4th quarter winded down Danny Smith punted for the Vikings and the ball was downed on the Rebels 1 yard line. The Vikings D, smelling blood, sent the house at the Rebels who manfully got their noses out of the danger zone and ensured the game went to overtime with two strong runs by Florian Heiss.

Full house at Cooke Rugby Club for Shamrock Bowl XXIII

The rules for IAFL overtime are the NFL sudden death rules. Basically whichever team scores first wins the game. This added even more tension and drama to an already amazing game. The Rebels won the second coin toss and elected to recieve. Kresowaty was shut down again on the return, this time John Mullen living up to his Rookie of the Year status with a crunching hit. Dennehy took the ball on his 25 yard line and went to the air. On one pass JP Nerbun stepped in front of the short route and picked the ball off to give the Vikings a chance at victory. A couple of Adrian Garvey runs put the Vikings into field goal range and Danny Smith stepped up to kick the 33 yard field goal to give the Vikings the victory. Click here to watch the winning FG on YouTube.

Vikings celebrate victory

The game MVP went to a deserving Adrian Garvey who had over 100 yards on the ground against a talented and physical Rebels Defence. The Rebels and Vikings should be proud of the level of football on display in the Shamrock Bowl, showing that Ireland has plenty of young footballing talent. The future is bright for the sport in the country.


© Irish American Football League 2009.