COVID-19 Statement

Statement from AFI Commissioner Brian Cleary

“In light of this mornings announcement by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, AFI have decided to postpone all football activities including practice sessions, scheduled games and combines up to and including the 29th March.

We will continue to monitor the situation over the coming weeks and keep you updated on any plans to reschedule the season.

We have a few options to consider including a new, reduced schedule commencing end of April/start of May. We may also consider all postponed games as 15-15 ties as per the bylaws. We need further time to consider the options and want to be fair to all clubs for the remainder of the season.

We urge all our members to follow the advice of the HSE in an effort to contain this outbreak and hope you and your families all stay safe and well.”

AFI Division 1 & 2 Bowls: Venue Confirmed

The AFI board of management is delighted to confirm that the 2020 AFI Division 1 and Division 2 Bowl games will be a double header event on Sunday 2nd August and will take place at the excellent facilities of Navan RFC.

Navan RFC have previously hosted a number of AFI events including the Irish Wolfhounds vs Belgium Barbarians game in 2018. Further details of the day will follow in due course.

Navan RFC

New Commissioner Appointed

AFI is delighted to announce that Brian Cleary has accepted the position of Commissioner following a recent recruitment campaign. Brian brings a wealth of experience to the association as well as having served as Commissioner on an interim basis in the past. All general queries as well as queries relating to senior kitted football should be sent to Brian at brian@americanfootball.ie

Congratulations Brian and best of luck in the position!

Commissioner: Brian Cleary

2020 AFI Flag Football Season

Preparations are underway for the 2020 AFI Flag Football season, which will start in August. Following the re-brand of the association to American Football Ireland, there have been changes made to the official names of the flag football leagues as follow:

The Emerald Bowl Conference, premier league of flag football in Ireland, is now known as the AFI Flag Premier Division, where the teams will compete for Emerald Bowl VII.

The Glas Bowl Conference will now be called the AFI Flag Division One, where the teams will compete for Glas Bowl II.

If you are interested in entering a new flag football team or would like to join an existing one, please contact us via our contact form here.

2020 Divisions and Bowl Dates

The AFI 2020 season fast approaches, with the season starting on Sunday 8th March. 20 teams will compete across 3 divisions, with bowl games scheduled for early August.

AFI Premier division

  • Belfast Trojans
  • Cork Admirals
  • Craigavon Cowboys
  • Dublin Rebels
  • South Dublin Panthers
  • UCD
  • UL Vikings
  • West Dublin Rhinos

Shamrock Bowl: Sunday 9th August

AFI Division 1

  • Belfast Knights
  • Cill Dara Crusaders
  • Donegal/Derry Vipers
  • Louth Mavericks
  • Trinity College Dublin
  • Westmeath Minotaurs
  • Wexford Eagles

AFI Division 1 Bowl: Sunday 2nd August (Doubleheader)

AFI Division 2

  • Antrim Jets
  • Causeway Giants
  • Meath Bulldogs
  • NI Razorbacks
  • North Dublin Pirates

AFI Division 2 Bowl: Sunday 2nd August (Doubleheader)

Press Release: American Football Ireland

Following a unanimous vote at Januarys SGM, the Irish American Football Association (IAFA) has changed its name to American Football Ireland (AFI), effective immediately.

AFI President Orla McAleese “This is a very exciting time for American Football Ireland. We are going into a new decade with a new brand and look. While we are evolving our name rather than completely changing it, it was the best strategic move for the association. It is important not to forget the 34 years the association has been part of sport in Ireland. That history will never be forgotten, it is part of us and what we are made of. We are just beginning a new step in our journey.”

Official logo of American Football Ireland

New Associate Member Clubs

At the recent SGM, 8 flag football clubs were made associate members of our association. We would like to extend a warm welcome to each and look forward to seeing their progress in the future:

  • Edenderry Eagles​
  • Dublin Bay Raptors​
  • UCC​
  • Ulster Elks​
  • Downpatrick Saints​
  • Norton Wasps​
  • MU Hurricanes​
  • Cork City Outlaws​

Further details of the SGM will be released at a later date.

New Board Members Appointed

American Football Ireland are delighted to announce two appointments to the management board. John Lynch (Wexford Eagles) and Paul Kirkwood (Dublin Rebels) have been co-opted on to the board with immediate effect. We would like to extend a warm welcome to both and wish them all the best in their roles.

Further opportunities to join American Football Ireland management can be found here.

2020 Senior Kitted Schedule Announced

The American Football Ireland 2020 Senior Kitted Football schedule has now been released which includes 89 domestic games across 3 leagues as well as 2 exhibition games, with teams visiting from Great Britain and USA.

The season will start on the 8th March, with all three American Football Ireland college teams in action as UCD take on the UL Vikings in the Shamrock Bowl Conference and Trinity College hosting the Wexford Eagles in IAFL 1.

This year will see a significant change as there are 11 Saturday domestic games scheduled. In previous years, there have been limited Saturday games per season, so 2020 will see the most Saturday games ever played.

The 2017 BritBowl champions Tamworth Phoenix will make the short journey across Irish sea to take on the 2019 Shamrock Bowl winners Belfast Trojans on the 25th April in the first of two exhibition matches. The second will see the D3 Kentucky based college Centre Colonels travel to Limerick to take on the UL Vikings, which will take place on the 30th May.

The Shamrock Bowl Conference playoffs are scheduled for Sunday 26th July, with the top four teams in the league advancing to this stage following the conclusion of the regular season. The winners of the playoff games will advance to the Shamrock Bowl game, which is scheduled for Sunday 9th August.

The IAFL 1 playoffs are scheduled for Sunday 19th July, with the top four teams in the league advancing to this stage following the conclusion of the regular season. The winners of the playoff games will advance to the IAFL 1 Bowl game, which is scheduled for Sunday 2nd August. This game will be part of a doubleheader which will include the IAFL 2 Bowl game. There will be no playoffs for IAFL 2, instead the top 2 teams in the league will advance directly to the bowl game following the conclusion of the regular season.

Fixtures

Shamrock Bowl Conference

IAFL 1

IAFL 2

Notice of SGM

The IAFA Management Board have scheduled a Special General Meeting which will take place on the 25th January 2020 at 2pm. It will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Blanchardstown, Dublin.

Further details of the meeting have been sent to all clubs via email.

20×20: Frieda Gallagher

Whilst we have so far highlighted those whose action takes place on the field, we next speak with Frieda Gallagher who pretty much takes to do with everything off the field as a volunteer. Frieda has held a number of positions within the Derry/Donegal Vipers including Chairwoman.

What sparked your initial interest in American football?

“I’ll be honest, I had no interest in American football, none whatsoever. My partner Cathal Curran turned around to me one day and said I’m going to set up an American football team – I said ‘you’re mad, they don’t even have that sport in the country, don’t be silly’… and the rest as they say is a lot of hard work, swearing, sleepless nights and laughter which led to the formation of the Vipers and that began my interest in American football.”

How did you get involved with your club/IAFA?

“After Cathal informed me he was going to set up an American Football club, I was making tea one day and when I opened the fridge to get milk, I noticed about £500 sitting in the drawer – now things like that aren’t the strangest thing Cathal has done, but I asked the question anyway. ‘Cathal, why is there £500 sitting in the fridge?’ ‘It’s the Vipers fees, I don’t have the bank account set up yet’ (At this stage, we didn’t have a club set up yet, but that’s another story). ‘Grand but why is it in the fridge Cathal?’ ‘Well if you were a robber, would you look in the fridge?’ Fair point, I thought, so that is where my OCD and organizational skills got me involved with the Vipers. We set it up from there along with James Fox and haven’t looked back since. The first few years were very tough, we had no money, no pitch, little equipment and very few volunteers. Now I can say over the past few years, I’ve went from having no brothers, to almost 40 – they can be absolute head wreckers at times, but I wouldn’t change them.”

What role(s) do you currently hold within your club/IAFA?

“I have been the Secretary and the Chairwoman of the Donegal Derry Vipers, currently enjoying my time as an ordinary Committee Member. I can also be found most game days perched on top of a very wobbly ladder with a video camera in one hand and frostbite in the other. As much as I give out, I wouldn’t change it for the world…well maybe a sturdier ladder!”

What is the American football environment like in Ireland?

“It is growing, definitely growing, from when the Vipers first started out. There has been some amazing work done this past few years, but we have a lot more to do. The amount of conversations I have had with people who had no idea there was a league in Ireland, and they are always shocked when I tell them how many teams are in the country. But that’s where we can play a part also, boosting the profiles of the teams, that’s done on the ground, and I’m sure the Vipers will tell you, I’m never done telling people to like/share/tweet etc, but it all helps.”

What advice would you have for a fellow female interested in getting involved in American football?

“Jump right in! As a supporter of a team or further afield in the league, wherever your interest is. I am very lucky that there were trailblazers like Kim Wilton Neville, Orla McAleese, and Emma Burrows already established in the league. I felt very welcome and very comfortable from the get-go, there are plenty of positions available and to be honest, the league just needs our help, male or female, it’s irrelevant.”

Wolfhounds Flag Football – Coaching Staff Announced

With the recent announcement of the reboot of the National Flag Football programme and the appointment of Coach Poznanski as the Head Coach of both the Wolfhounds Flag Football men’s and women’s teams, it is only fitted for Coach Poznanski to pick a crew of experienced coaches to work with in building two competitive teams to take on other National Flag Football teams in an exhibition tournament in the autumn (2020, details TBC) with the ultimate aim to enter both teams in the IFAF European Championships in 2021.

Without further ado, the Wolfhounds Flag Football Coaching Crew.

Coach Poznanski (GP), while being a keen follower of American Football for more than twenty five years and a fan of sport in general, did not get his first taste of flag football until seven years ago – after being involved in an array of sports ranging from Olympic handball, basketball, or volleyball, amongst others. He had his first try for the Dublin Vipers (formerly Dublin Titans), was hooked right then and hasn’t looked back. While playing for the Dublin Vipers, he took on the position of Director of Flag Football for IAFA from which he recently stepped down from five years of service. Alongside being an IAFA director, Coach GP also coached the DIT Spartans, UCD and South Dublin Panthers flag football teams while also working as a Coach Developer for Sport Ireland for the past 2 years.

Coach Burrows is a sports and well-being coach with 14 years of experience working with recreational, performance pathway, Olympic, Paralympic, and professional athletes. She is currently the Player Development Manager for the Professional Footballers Association of Ireland where she offers career planning and well-being support to professional soccer players. In her spare time Emma is the assistant head coach to the South Dublin Panthers senior kitted team.

Coach Zboyan (pronounced zee-boyan) hails from Seattle (Washington, USA) and is an avid Seahawks supporter.  Coach Zboyan played both kitted and flag football throughout his school and college years. After moving to Ireland in 2012, Todd kicked off his Irish flag football experience with a two-year stint with the Dublin Vipers which included a National Championship winning Emerald Bowl III in 2017. Coach Zboyan then went on to establish the Dublin Bay Raptors in 2018 currently playing in the Emerald Bowl league, leading the team as head coach and quarterback.

Coach McCann began his journey in American Football with the Dublin Dragons back in 2013 and has never looked back. Heavily involved in the re-brand and restructure of the team, he’s one of the founding members of the South Dublin Panthers. In that time, he’s been involved with both the kitted football team and the flag football team as a player, coach and team manager. In 2019 he took over as General Manager of the Panthers and became a defensive coach for the kitted team, helping them to their first Shamrock Bowl Final in their history. He also took over as Head Coach of the flag team, leading them to their most successful flag season to date.

Coach Shaw is a Dallas Cowboys afficionado from Ballyclare, Northern Ireland. Coach Shaw has been involved in American Football since 2015 when he became Head Coach of the Coleraine Elks Flag Football team. After leaving the Elks Coach Shaw became involved with the Belfast Trojans as a positional coach with their kitted team winning a national championship with Shamrock Bowl XXXIII in 2019. He also established the Belfast Trojans first flag football team and was team manager for their inaugural season.

Coach Barnewell was a late starter to playing American Football at 37. Having previously been part of league winning teams in soccer and tag rugby. Playing both special teams and defence for the South Dublin Panthers kitted team he had his season capped playing in Shamrock Bowl XXXIII. With a passion for health and fitness, ‘Barney’ then took the reigns as strength and conditioning coach while also playing centre for the Panthers flag football team as they registered their most successful season to date.

Win A £100 Football America UK Voucher

Just in time for the holiday season! This competition will run over our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles – enter on all three platforms to be entered into the draw three times!

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/iafaireland/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/iafaireland/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/iafaireland

Competition closes midnight 24 December 2019 with the winner being announced on Christmas Day – good luck!

Win Your 2020 American Football Ireland Membership Fee Back

Players who have paid their American Football Ireland membership for the 2020 season before midnight on 31 December 2019 will automatically be entered into the draw to win their membership fee back!

One player from each league (Shamrock Bowl Conference, IAFL 1 and IAFL 2) will be chosen at random with the 3 winners being announced on 03 January 2020.

Don’t miss out – purchase your membership today: https://iafa.azolve.com

20×20: Helen Smyth

Next up in our 20×20 series is Trojans flag football player Helen Smyth. Helen started her football career with the UUC Elks before moving to Belfast and joining the Trojans. The current Trojans 1st team captain is also planning on taking up coaching.

What sparked your interest in American football?

“My friend was the coach of the Ulster Elks flag team in my final year of university and until then I didn’t even know American football was a thing. I went along just to see what it was like and didn’t expect to love it as much as I did, and I’ve been playing ever since!”

How did you get involved in your club?

“I joined the Belfast Trojans two years ago. They have regular try out days which I went to and I already knew a couple of people in the club so when I moved to Belfast, it was an easy choice.”

What roles do you currently hold in your club?

“I am the defensive captain of the Trojans 1sts team and I am also on the committee. I was injured at the start of the season so took on more of a coaching/play calling role. I’ve never been so stressed in my life but I actually did enjoy being on the side-lines, so I am planning on doing my level 0 coaching course to get started.”

What is the American football environment like in Ireland?

“There’s a really good balance between the sport being fun and competitive but not too serious. Everyone is really encouraging, and despite a few rivalries, there is good sportsmanship between all the teams.”

What advice would you have for a fellow female interested in getting involved in American football?

“Just go for it! It’s one of the most fun sports I’ve been involved in. There’s such a range of players from people who have played kitted for years to people who have never played a team sport before so there is nothing to be worried about!”

IFAF Congress – London 2019

Last November, IAFA partnered with Southend Airport to attend the 2019 IFAF Congress in London. London Southend flew us out with Ryanair on Thursday 31st of October and put us up in The Holiday Inn at Southend Airport for three nights, it was such a convenient location and the trip was smooth and enjoyable. The duration of the flight from Terminal 1 Dublin Airport was approximately an hour, it was quick and stress free. When we landed in Southend Airport we got off the plane to our baggage waiting for us on the luggage belt, we were off the plane with luggage in hand in less than half an hour. The terminal in Southend Airport is small but extremely efficient with everything in close proximity so there’s no need for walking miles to get your bags. The ground staff were amazing and very helpful, as it was our first time flying into Southend we asked for help to find our hotel and the staff were more than happy to help.

We stayed in The Holiday Inn at Southend Airport so it was less than a five minutes walk to get there. Like the staff in the Airport the staff in the Hotel couldn’t have been nicer and our check in, even though it was late, was pleasant and quick. The rooms in The Holiday Inn are spacious and have all the amenities that you need. The hotel itself is located across from a retail park with lots of shops and a large McDonald’s so if you’ve forgotten anything you can pick it up without having to go into London. The hotel has a bar and restaurant with food served in both, we enjoyed a continental breakfast each morning of our stay but it also has the option of hot food with your choice of eggs prepared fresh upon ordering.

To get into London the train station is approximately a hundred feet from the airport and as you leave the terminal the train station is right across the road. The train into London from Southend is really affordable and takes less than an hour. The train will take you to Liverpool Street Station, as well as many more, where you have access to the London underground that will take you to any station in and around the city. We took the train for the three days that we were there without any issues and as they go from quite early in the morning to very late at night you are never stuck for transport.

We were at the IFAF congress on the Friday and Saturday needing to be at the Crowne Plaza in London for 9am, the train was less than an hour and the underground took us nearly on the doorstep of the hotel. Leaving the congress at around 7pm on both days, we got the train with ease getting off at Southend Airport station, and with less than a 5 minute walk away to the Holiday Inn, it was a godsend.

On the Sunday, we flew home, we had a late flight so we checked out of the hotel with ease and decided to go to the airport for some dinner before we boarded our flight. The check in process was pleasant and quick as we had a lovely man who explained where security was and how to get to our gate. We were through security in about five minutes, and decided to eat at The Navigator restaurant in the departure lounge but there were plenty of options for food and drinks as well as Dixons Travel and WHSmith for some shopping, snacks, magazines, books and papers. They also have a Costa Coffee and a large World Duty Free. Dinner in the Navigator was really nice with friendly staff, lovely food and quick service. All in all it was a really pleasant and enjoyable trip to Southend Airport.

20×20: Kelly Dwyer

2019 saw female membership in IAFA rise to 57, with many females starting their football journey through kitted football, flag football, coaching, officiating and volunteering. We spoke with Kelly Dwyer on her experiences of being a member of IAFA and what her roles consist of.

What sparked your initial interest in American football?

“Stockholm syndrome, essentially! I had no interest at all until I did my undergrad in Limerick. During those years, the Vikings lads became some of my best friends, and some of them still are. They’re an absolute gas bunch! It was so much fun. It’s a great club, and without them being so welcoming, encouraging and sound, I never would have gotten involved.”

How did you get involved with your club/IAFA?

“I began ad hoc roles with the Vikings back in 2012. I began team officiating with them in either 2013 or 2014. In 2015, I was their director of officiating. There were new rules where officials had to have 2 years’ experience within IAFA and the level 1 course passed to officiate that year. It made it difficult to get my role done and I drove those boys mad that year. But we hit all our assignments, and that was my job! When I moved to Monaghan, I started full-time league officiating and sure, been at that since.”

What role(s) do you currently hold within your club/IAFA?

“I am a full-time official and the Officiating Appeals Manager. The officiating gets me traveling to different venues, meeting different people every weekend, which I love. Last year was the first year I officiated as White Cap. First game was Jets @ Razorbacks and it was rough (sorry lads!) but the others were ok!

The Appeals Manager is a new role that was created for the 2019 season. I developed a process so that appeals are now unbiased, effective and fair.”

What is the American football environment like in Ireland?

“It’s a small community so we all know each other. There’s rivalry between teams, absolute roasting’s, but that’s half the craic. It’s great fun and there’s respect behind it all. It’s not without its challenges, and game day can be stressful, but everyone on the field is there because we share a common interest. We’re working together to develop the sport. I love it, it challenges me and I feel like I’ve met so many great people.”

What advice would you have for a fellow female interested in getting involved in American football?

“Get it done. Gender is irrelevant. In terms of officiating, I get thanked, abused, roasted, praised, pretty much the same as any of my male counterparts.

There are obviously certain things that we (female officials) need that are different or additional to what the male officials need – privacy; female changing rooms, female bathroom etc.

But typically, teams don’t even bat an eyelid at the requirement to provide that. They’re aware, they’re sound and they get it. There are now more females involved in the sport than ever before, and they’re carrying out a variety of roles.

If you want to get involved and you’re going to affect the sport positively, just do it!”

New Director of Flag Football Appointed

IAFA are delighted to announce that Robert Caldwell has been appointed as the new Director of Flag Football and will officially start the role on 1st January 2020. Robert will be working with outgoing director Guillaume Poznanski in a hand-over phase throughout December 2019. Guillaume will begin his new role as Head Coach of the Wolfhounds Flag Football on 1st January 2020.

Robert (L) pictured with former NFL kicker Nick Novak (R)

Robert has been a member of IAFA for 8 years and was one of the founding members of the Louth Mavericks. Having played both kitted and flag football, Robert was appointed Head Coach of the Mavericks flag football programme 2 years ago and was instrumental in helping the Mavericks field two flag teams this year whilst also a member of the IAFA flag football committee in 2019.

Robert (bottom middle) pitcured with members from the Mavericks Flag Football squad

His main objectives are to increase participation (particularly females), improve officiating and reduce forfeits. Welcome aboard Robert and we wish you all the very best in your role!

IAFA Management Changes & Restructure

Following yesterday’s AGM, several management changes took place:

  • Brian Cleary stepped down from the management board after 4 years of service. Brian will continue in the role of interim Commissioner. Joseph Maguire also stepped down from the management board having been co-opted on earlier this year. We would like to express our sincere thanks to both for their time and effort whilst on the board.
  • Christine Bolton and Paul O’Donnell were elected to the board, both to 3-year terms. Christine had been co-opted on to the board earlier this year and is a former chairperson of the West Dublin Rhinos. Paul has been a member of the Donegal/Derry Vipers for 4 years. You are both very welcome and we wish you all the best in your roles.
  • Emma Burrows stepped down as Director of Coaching following 2 years in the role. Emma has been instrumental in transforming the coaching department with a new level 0, Sport Ireland accredited coaching course and several level 1 courses close to being accredited. Thank you Emma for your time and effort in the position. We are now accepting applications for the Director of Coaching role – more details can be found here.

There were also numerous changes to the constitution approved, one of which included the management structure of IAFA. The new structure that was approved by the membership can be seen in the image below.

Director of Youth Football, Director of Flag Football, and Commercial Director have been added to reinforce our commitment to grow the Association and secure its future, both financially and in terms of membership numbers. Director of National Programme Operations created to reinforce our commitment to the highest level of our sport. The Director of National Programme Operations will head a National Programme Operations committee to include team managers for senior, youth and flag. The additional roles added is due to our growth, particularly our youth and flag programmes.

UCD Retain The Intervarsity Championship

On Saturday 16 November, the UL Vikings hosted UCD for the 2019 edition of the Intervarsity Championships. The Intervarsity Championship is a much sought-after piece of silverware by our member college teams as well as playing a pivotal role in giving their new players competitive game experience before the new season kicks off in March.

It also marked another significant milestone for UL in particular. The University of Limerick have invested heavily in their sporting facilities, and this was the first time the Vikings were able to welcome a team to the new facilities including a new 3g pitch.

Both teams battled hard in the cold weather, and it would be UCD who would come out 17-8 victors and return the Intervarsity Championship to Dublin for another year – congratulations UCD!

Significant Increase In Membership 2018/19

2018/19 has been a stellar year for IAFA that’s seen a 31% increase in unique membership, with particularly strong growth at youth level, in female membership and officials. These statistics formed part of our Commissioners (interim, Brian Cleary) report at yesterday’s AGM.

Year
Unique Members
% +/-
2017
1314
+7%
2018
1256
-4%
2019
1641
+31%

Overall memberships totalled 1774 – this includes members who took one more than one membership e.g. registered as an official and player.

Year
Overall Memberships
% +/-
2017
1567

2018
1635
+4%
2019
1774
+9%

Youth football had huge growth this year, thanks to the addition of four new teams to the youth league. Youth football is key to the future of our sport and whilst IAFA is pleased with this increase, IAFA will continue to push this growth and encourages more clubs to join the youth league in 2020.

Officiating was another department that seen considerable growth. There have been changes made to the operations of the officiating department, including 5 new personnel appointed to help improve standards across the whole department. The success of this can be clearly seen, with an 81% rise in the amount of trained and registered officials.

Year
Youth Kitted
Officials
Other
2017
70
78
173
2018
63
75
44
2019
123
136
106

IAFA is delighted with the increase in female membership, with members taking on roles across all areas including kitted and flag players, coaches, officials and volunteers (club and NGB level). IAFA has worked hard to increase the visibility of American football to females as part of Sport Irelands 20×20 strategy. IAFA will continue to strategize to increase female membership and welcomes all feedback to help with that strategy.

Slight decreases were noted in the number of senior kitted players and coaches – IAFA are working hard to address this to ensure that these increase next year.

Year
Coaches
Senior Kitted
Flag
2017
99
956
191
2018
125
1006
322
2019
110
968
331

Statistics collected using the IAFA registration system (Azolve).

National Flag Football Programme: Head Coach Appointed

Following on from our National Flag Football Programme Reboot announcement, IAFA are pleased to announce that Guillaume Poznanski will officially take up the role of Head Coach on 1st January 2020.

Guillaume brings with him a wealth of coaching experience as well as having spent 5 years as the IAFA Director of Flag Football. The full coaching staff will be announced in due course. We are very excited that the national flag programme is back and look forward to seeing the male and female teams in action very soon.

GBC & EBC 2019 Final Week Preview

Time flies and we are now in the final week of the regular season games for both the EBC and GBC 2019 seasons.

This being the penultimate preview of 2019 we thought we’d start with the inaugural GBC season. It all started with thirteen teams but only the top six will claim the right to compete in the playoff and maybe a shot at becoming Glas Bowl 1 champions.

A few teams have already booked their ticket to the playoff although without a definitive position yet. The Cork City Outlaws (5-1) and the South Dublin Panthers (4-1-1) currently 1st and 2nd, will be going to the playoff on the 2nd of November. However, since they have no remaining fixtures, they will only have to wait and see to find out what seeding they will finishing at.

On their trail (although already playoff bound) and with two games left to play, the Craigavon Cowboys 2nd (4-0) and Louth Mavericks 2nd (4-0) are a in a good position to take the top seeds if they win both their games with the added bonus that their last game will be against each other (which is our pick for the GBC game of the week). Now, that being said if both teams failed to win their first game and tied their second or even tie both games, they would still be in the top four teams.

The real excitement will come from further down the table. The West Dublin Rhinos (3-2-1) will be on the edge of their seat hoping for the Maynooth Hurricanes (2-2) or Belfast Trojans 2nd (2-2) to lose at least one of their games which would then seal their playoff ticket. If both Hurricanes and Trojans were to win two games then both would go to the playoff.

Now deeper in the table, the Ulster Elks (1-2-1), UCC Raiders 2nd (1-3) and Downpatrick Saints (1-3) could be giving us some upset. If the Hurricanes and Trojans were to loose both their games and the Elks were to win both their games then the Elks would go to the playoff as 5th or 6th seed (tie-breaker would apply against the Rhinos). If the Elks, the Hurricanes and Trojans were to lose both games and UCC were to win both their games then they would take the 6th seed. Same scenario for the Saints if all four teams currently above them were to loose both their games.

All in all, nothing is certain yet which should make for some great games this Saturday at the Dundalk IT Sports Grounds from 11am.

Now for the EBC. The EBC is the Premier League of Flag Football in Ireland and as such we have some of the best teams and players in the country battling it out to claim the sought title of Emerald Bowl Champions or National Champions.

Just like the GBC, it started with twelve teams, who were the top twelve teams from the EBC 2018 season. Just like the GBC, only the top six teams will be eligible to compete in the playoff with a shot at the championship at the Sport Ireland Campus on the 2nd of November. We would like to point out that even though this is the “premier league” of flag football, we did not go through the season unscathed as the season was plagued with a string of forfeits – which will be addressed at the end of the season.

With that out of the way – what’s cooking in the EBC?

Well the season is basically over for UCD (2-5-1), Meath Bulldogs (0-8) and Dublin Rebels (0-8).

Current National Champions Craigavon Cowboys (6-0) and Emerald Bowl 5 runners-up Louth Mavericks (6-0) are seating comfortably at 1st and 2nd and have already booked their ticket to the playoff although we do not yet know which will be topping the group. Mavericks have two tough fixtures against 3rd seed Edenderry Eagles (5-2) and 7th seed Trinity (3-3) with Trinity playing it all out to make the playoff a second year in a row. Some cracking games to watch there.

The Cowboys, being a competitive team, will try to keep they clean record and grab the highly sought after 8-0 perfect season against the 8th seed UCC Raiders and 9th seed Westmeath Minotaurs (also first ever Emerald Bowl champions in 2015). Both teams are on the hunt for a much needed 6th seed to make the playoff.

This is the Dublin Bay Raptors’ (4-2) second EBC appearance, and while they came very close to make the playoff last year for EBC 2018, they are now in a good position to reach the tops seeds if only they make sure to win two tough fixtures against Trinity and Belfast Trojans (4-3). The Raptors, Trojans and Knights are all on 12 points but the Knights have no fixtures left to play and while currently seating at 6th, are on the fence and will have to wait and hope that both Trinity and UCC lose both their games as one win would be enough for either Trinity or UCC to make the playoff as the Knights lost a game against both teams and would lose on head-to-head.

Some exciting games ahead to look forward to kicking off at 11am at the Newbridge College sports ground.

Good luck to all!!

Play American Football In Ireland!

American football is played right across the island of Ireland, with 22 teams competing at senior level (ages 18+). No prior sporting experience is needed to play – American Football is a sport for all shapes and sizes as well as for both females and males.

Many of our member clubs are currently recruiting for the 2020 seasons – they will have experienced, qualified coaches who will teach you all you need to know to play American football. Check out our A-Z of clubs and get in contact with your nearest club to start playing:

Connacht

Leinster

Munster

Ulster

Youth Championship Day 2019: Admirals Are Champions

The Cork Admirals have secured their second IAFA Youth Championship in a row after defeating the Belfast Knights in yesterday’s final.

Cork Admirals IAFA Youth Champions 2019

Prior to the youth playoffs, the Dublin Rebels youth team played the Antrim Jets youth team. The first half was a close affair, with the Rebels holding a 9-0 lead at the break, before the Rebels asserted control in the second half, scoring 20 unanswered points to win 29-0.

In the first semi-final, there was 39 points scored in the first half as the Belfast Knights lead the Louth Mavericks 27-12 at the half. The Knights extended their lead with two touchdowns whilst the Mavericks could only answer with one touchdown, meaning the game ended 40-19 in favour of the Belfast team and their place in the final confirmed.

Louth Mavericks Youth Team 2019

The second semi final saw the defending champions Cork Admirals take a commanding 20-0 lead over the South Dublin Panthers into the half time break. The Panthers responded with a touchdown of their own at the start of the second half, but this would fall short of what was needed as the Admirals booked their place in the final with a 26-6 win.

The experience the Admirals have in youth football proved to be the deciding factor in the final. The game started with an Admirals touchdown on the very first play. The Knights responded with a score of their own, but the Admirals soon found their way into the game and held a 24-7 lead at half time. The Knights, in their inaugural year of youth football, showed grit and determination but could not match the might of the Admirals, as the Cork team scored 20 unanswered points in the second half to secure back to back national titles.

Admirals & Knights after the championship game

Congratulations to the Admirals on a marvellous unbeaten campaign. The MVP of the championship game was awarded to Admirals QB Michael Hand.

MVP: Admirals QB Michael Hand

It has been a historic season which has seen records broken in terms of youth teams competing (7) and the number of 15-18 year olds participating (104). Well done and thank you to Director of Youth Football Bill Dougherty for a great season and to all the clubs who participated, particularly the volunteers and coaches who gave up their time to make this happen – the future is bright for American football in Ireland.

Thank you to our Youth Championship Day partner Aulo Fitness for supporting the event.

Youth Championship Day 2019: Cork Admirals

On to the second semi-final of tomorrows Youth Championship Day – we chatted with Alan Lomasney of defending champions Cork Admirals. The Admirals will play the South Dublin Panthers at 14:30.

Your team earned a spot in Youth Championship Sunday. Are your players excited to be playing for the right to be called national youth champions?

“Our players are thrilled to be playing for a National title this Sunday, they have been working very hard in practice for the last 6 weeks to get a chance to play for a championship.”

How much progression of the players and the team as a whole have you seen from day one to now?

“We have seen a huge progression in the lads individually and in the team as a whole. When they started, a lot of them didn’t know anything about football and now they are turning into a solid team.”

What do you think was the key element in the success of your squad?

“The key element in the success of our squad has been the enthusiasm and dedication to training from the players. They are always eager to learn, always train hard and it has been that work ethic that has led them to the playoffs.”

Is there a particular player or players that demonstrate the kind of leadership skills that are so critical to success in American football? Where might you envision these guys’ level of play in two or three years?

“To be honest, all of guys have shown leadership since they started. They have shown leadership in different ways both on and off the field. If all our guys stay playing football for the next couple of years, they will all contribute to the senior squad.”

Coach Lomasney, the Admirals have built up a lot of experience running a youth program. In your estimate, how long does it take to turn a raw youth recruit into a skilful American football player? Any tips for our youth coaches across Ireland?

“This is our third year running a youth program and the standard of new guys that are trying out just gets better and better. Each player differs depending on whether they watch football or play sports in general, but realistically I think you can coach a recruit into a skilful player in a couple of months. If I can offer any advice for other coaches, I would say that giving the new youths a safe, fun, interesting and structured practice environment is a good first step to keeping and maintaining the interest. It’s a tough sport so keeping it fun is a huge part of the process.”

Your team is back vying for a national championship again, how many players do you have from last years championship team on the roster and how much does last years championship experience help your team succeed on Sunday?

“We have 6 players from last year’s team this year and they have been great leaders for the team. Some of the guys are playing different positions this year so it has been a learning experience for them as well as helping mentor their new teammates. I think this year’s team has its own identity so the experience of last year’s guys will help, but it’s all about the guys playing together.”

Coach, you must have seen a lot of development of your players since that first training session till now. How rewarding is it for you to be a part of a young players initial development and introducing American football to a new generation?

“It is hugely rewarding to be involved in the beginning of these lads playing careers, we have seen them improving each and every week. It’s a privilege for us as a group of coaches to introduce them to the sport.”

Now that the season is at an end, regardless of what happens on Sunday, was it worth it for your club to expend the time, effort, and resources on youth football?

“The Admirals consider our youth program an integral part of our club. The effort and time involved is an investment in the growth of the club and is vital to the continued success we have on the field.”

Youth Championship Day 2019: Belfast Knights

Next up in our Youth Championship series, we spoke to Belfast Knights Youth Team Head Coach Jordan Clinton. The Knights take on the Louth Mavericks tomorrow at 13:30.

Your team earned a spot in the Youth Championship tomorrow. Are your players excited to be playing for the right to be called national youth champions?

“Absolutely, they are very excited to take the field on Sunday. It’s clear to us coaches that this group of guys love playing the sport so to be able to play it for a national title is a great opportunity for them.”

This is your first year fielding a youth team. Now that you’ve reached a successful result can you describe what was the most difficult part of getting your club’s youth program going?

“We were very lucky that, when the prospect of a youth team went out, we had no shortage of players willing to come forward and help coach. I suppose our main difficulty was tailoring our wealth of knowledge as players and bringing it all right down to basics for the guys, as a lot of our coaches are relatively new to coaching. However, we caught stride and our confidence in coaching has grown along with our players’ confidence on the pitch. Having that support network of dedicated coaches has been a cornerstone in our youth team’s success.”

How much progression of the players and the team as a whole have you seen from day one to now?

“It’s crazy how far these guys have come. They take everything onboard and they give 100% to every drill and exercise and the results of their hard work shine through on gamedays. Our coaches truly believe the sky is the limit for our youth players so it will be interesting to see what the future holds. As a team, everything seems to have clicked into place. We’ve seen these guys go from a group of lads standing about before warmup on their first week to a close-knit unit in 8 weeks, unbelievable progression from the team.”

What do you think was the key element in the success of your squad?

“I believe the key element in our success has been our guys’ ability to knuckle down and play good, safe football on gameday. Their transition from controlled drills during training to lining up on gameday was seamless. They play with a strong confidence and that I believe is the key element as there is only so much we as coaches can do before they take the field.”

Is there a particular player or players that demonstrate the kind of leadership skills that are so critical to success in American football? Where might you envision these guys’ level of play in two or three years?

“This is a very difficult question as I could very easily give an answer to this for all of the lads. To name one, our centre Ethan McKechnie has come in leaps and bounds as a player new to the sport and he has demonstrated his ability to rally the other lads which was very evident in our tie with the Mavericks. We have had a couple guys take interest in stepping up to senior football and I have every faith that they will transition well and see success like they have in Youth football.”

Last time around you ended up with a tie against your semi-final opponent. How do you see your team breaking the impasse and coming out on top this Sunday?

“A big part of our tie with the Mavericks was mentality. Not once did I see our lads’ heads drop. Instead, they went out with the determination to turn it around and that’s exactly what they did. A mentality like that is hard to coach but these guys have it from the get-go and if they combine it with the level of play that they have been playing at then they will certainly give the Mavericks another good game this Sunday.”

You must have seen a lot of development of your players since that first training session till now. How rewarding is it for you to be a part of a young players initial development and introducing American football to a new generation?

“Honestly as a player it makes me nervous for my starting spot next year! All jokes aside, as a coach, I am extremely grateful that I have been given the opportunity to introduce this sport to these guys. To say it is rewarding is an understatement, I truly believe this is one of the best things I have gotten involved in, next to getting involved with the sport in general. This revitalized Youth Program sets the scene for an unparalleled growth of American Football in Ireland and, with youth and senior teams all over the country, makes it more accessible than ever before. Very excited for what this holds for the sport as a whole.”

Now that the season is at an end, regardless of what happens on Sunday, was it worth it for your club to expend the time, effort, and resources on youth football?

“100%. Going into this off season we, as a club, prioritised the youth team and put a lot of hours into making it happen and all it has done is pay dividends ever since. The youth team has helped revitalise our club after a disappointing senior season, generate publicity for the Knights and the sport as a whole and, most importantly, given these guys an opportunity to take their interest in them sport to a new level and allow them to take the field as players. Definitely worth the time, effort and resources.”

Youth Championship Day 2019: Louth Mavericks

With the Youth Championship Day on Sunday fast approaching, we wanted to chat with the coaches of this year’s four playoff competitors about youth football in general and the interesting match ups that will determine the Youth National Champions. First up, we chatted to Aaron Finley of the Louth Mavericks.

Are your players excited to be playing for the right to be called national youth champions?

“Our players are extremely excited for the games this weekend! Throughout the season, they have been feeling pumped going into every game but the chance to play for a national championship brings a whole other level of excitement.”

This is your first year fielding a youth team. Now that you’ve reached a successful result, can you describe what was the most difficult part of getting your club’s youth program going?

“Recruitment was definitely the most challenging aspect of getting the program up and running. Take up was slow to begin with and at one stage we thought we might not gain enough players to enter a team this year. We were delighted to receive an influx of players just in time for the start of the season.”

How much progression of the players and the team have you seen from day one to now?

“The majority of our players, bar 1 or 2 that had previously played on our flag football team, came to us with absolutely no experience or knowledge of American football and through hard work and commitment they have turned into competent players who would fit right in among our senior kitted team. I have no doubt that they will all continue to develop into great players. As a whole, the players have built a great bond with each other and are good friends on and off the field.”

What do you think was the key element in the success of your squad?

“The key to our success this year has been down to the commitment and hardworking nature of the players. Attendance at training sessions was consistent and they gave it their all in every game, despite the fact that the entire team had to play ironman football.”

Is there a particular player or players on your squad that demonstrates the kind of leadership skills that are so critical to success in American football? Where might you envision these guys’ level of play in two or three years?

“I believe that all of our players have played a big part in us reaching the semi-finals, and without any of them we would not be in this position. One player that stands out as a leader within the group is our quarterback and captain, Nathan Hearty. He was one of the 3 original players at our very first training session and since day 1, he has led by example in everything that he does. He will be one to watch out for in the future.”

Last time around you ended up with a tie against your semi-final opponent. How do you see your team breaking the impasse and coming out on top this Sunday?

“Our game against the Knights will be very interesting. When we last played them, it was our very first match in youth football. I feel that our players have grown since our first meeting with the Knights but I also anticipate that they will enter the game with a slightly different game plan now that they know our strengths and weaknesses. I expect a very close game, but I have every faith in our lads coming out on top.”

As a coach, how rewarding is it for you to be a part of a young players initial development and introducing American football to a new generation?

“It has been very rewarding to see the players develop and grow. We put a lot of thought and effort into preparing effective training sessions so it’s great to see this hard work pay off.”

Now that the season is close to an end, regardless of what happens on Sunday, was it worth it for your club to expend the time, effort and resources on youth football?

“Yes, regardless of what happens on Sunday I am proud of our players for what they have achieved this season. However the season is not over yet and we will go out on Sunday leaving everything on the field.”

Aulo Fitness – Youth Championship Day 2019 Sponsor

IAFA is delighted to announce our partnership with Aulo Fitness for the upcoming Youth Championship Day this Sunday.

Aulo is an online global fitness marketplace designed to help people from all over the world find their perfect online personal coach and achieve their unique fitness goals. If you are looking for your next online coach, check them out at www.aulofit.com

Thank you for supporting the next generation of American football players in Ireland!

Sundays games will take place at the Sport Ireland Campus, Dublin with the schedule as follows:

Game 1, 10:30 – Cill Dara Crusaders v Dublin Rebels

Game 2, 11:30 – Antrim Jets v Dublin Rebels

Game 3, 12:30 – Antrim Jets v Cill Dara Crusaders

Game 4, 13:30 – Semi-Final 1, Belfast Knights v Louth Mavericks

Game 5, 14:30 – Semi-Final 2, Cork Admirals v South Dublin Panthers

Game 6, 15:30 – 3rd Place Game (semi-final losers)

Game 7, 16:30 – Championship Game (semi-final winners)

Entry is free with parking available on site – please see below map for directions.