Biggest ever expansion – 6 more teams playing full league football.
Today, the Irish American Football League (IAFL) announced that the number of teams playing a full league schedule is expanding from 11 to 17 teams for the 2013 season. This is the biggest expansion in the history of the sport in Ireland. The addition of 6 teams to the line-up playing full rules kitted football has also necessitated a restructuring of the IAFL into two Divisions.
The Shamrock Bowl Conference (SBC) will be the elite division featuring the 10 best teams in the country, all seeking to win the Irelands National Championship – the Shamrock Bowl. The second tier of league football, called IAFL-1, with feature the remaining 7 teams, including most of the newcomers. IAFL-1 is expected to expand further in future years as more development teams come to fruition.
The IAFL has also announced that it is setting up a Youth Kitted League, using the DV8s format, to commence in August 2013. The game schedules for both the Shamrock Bowl Conference and IAFL-1 will be announced shortly.
Shamrock Bowl Conference:
West Dublin Rhinos
Univ. of Limerick Vikings
Trinity College Dublin
Each team will play each other team in their division home and away, with the top 3 teams in each qualifying for the Shamrock Bowl play-offs. The league will kick-off in late February. Shamrock Bowl XXVII will be played in Tallaght Stadium on Saturday 20th July 2013. The lowest ranked team will be relegated to IAFL-1.
This years line-up features the top 9 teams from the IAFL’s 2012 line-up alongside the DCU Saints, who return to the IAFL after a 2 year absence.
North Kildare Reapers
This years line-up features the 10th and 11th placed teams in last years IAFL, Tullamore and Dublin Dragons; Drogheda and Meath, who are stepping up after 2 years in the the IAFL’s development league and newcomers from Mullingar, North Kildare and Waterford. Each team will play a full 8 game regular season, with the winner being promoted to the Shamrock Bowl Conference. The league will run from March to August.
Background to Expansion:
American football is the fastest expanding field sport in Europe at the moment – and Ireland is no exception. Active membership of the Irish American Football Association (IAFA) has increased eight fold over the past decade and looks set to continue expanding over the coming years. Each of the new teams has been active for between 1 and 3 years in our development league or as formative teams. The formation of these teams has not come about due to any recent high profile events – they are a product of long term domestic development strategies and the hard work of the grassroots members involved in each. A further 3 teams – Galway, South Kildare and Ulster-Coleraine are in the formative stages and a team from Dundalk has recently applied for formative status.
Background on the IAFA:
The IAFA is the National Governing Body for American football in Ireland. The IAFL is a full contact, fully kitted American football league using NCAA rules i.e. those used in top level college football in the USA. IAFL teams generally have squad sizes of c.35-50 registered players. The IAFA is a member of the European Federation of American Football (EFAF) – a pan-European organisation dedicated to the development of American football that currently has over 120,000 registered players in 32 countries.