Category: Division 2

Posts related to the AFI Division 2

Review: AFI Gameweek 17

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

Last weekend saw 3 games that varied in stakes, from finishing above or below .500 on the season to bowl game qualification. With the start of the postseason signaling must-win games, let’s take a look at who came out on top.

SATURDAY

AFI Division 2

#3 NI Razorbacks (5-3) 13 – 2 #4 Causeway Giants (3-5)
A defensive affair at Limepark saw the Razorbacks shutout the Giants offense en route to a win that sees them finish 5-3 on the season. QB Mark Thompson and RB Ali Best added scores on the ground for the Razorbacks, whose improvement between their 2019 debut season (1-7) — and even as recently as 2021’s Donaghy Group Invitational Cup — and this season is clear to see. A team on the rise, the Razorbacks should be considered dark horses for next season.

The Giants offense just could not find the stride they found a month ago in their 25-7 win against the Mavericks. Defensively the Giants were still as strong as expected, containing the Razorbacks to 13 points while adding 2 of their own through a Ros McKenzie safety. Speaking of McKenzie, he was the clear highlight an already strong Giants performance, totaling 2 sacks, a forced fumble, an interception and the aforementioned safety. While not scoring on offense in their season finale will hurt, the Giants should also be quite pleased with how this season has shown their growth since their debut in the 2019 season. Also ending that year at 1-7, the Giants finish this season just below the .500 mark at 3-5 with much more to show for it.

SUNDAY

AFI Division 1 Playoffs

#4 Donegal / Derry Vipers (3-4-1) 6 – 41 #1 Westmeath Minotaurs (7-1)
A dominant display from the Minotaurs at home after a poor display in their last regular season game (a 26-7 loss to #2 Vikings). After a regular season output that saw plenty more scores through the air than the ground, the Westmeath offense ran the ball into the endzone with RBs Andrew Paton (2), Rafa Monteiro and FB Jay Bruton. The defense made sure to get on the scoreboard too through Peter Dempsey and Niall Folan interception returns, sealing the win and a bowl game entry for the Westmeath side.

The Vipers put up a great fight all season, but it seems like the amount of travel this season and numbers caught up to them. Strong running from Pete Farrell kept the Vipers gaining ground early on, a Charlie Carlin interception and a touchdown through a connection between QB Paul O’Donnell and Zac Kirkwood kept the game interesting going into halftime, but it wasn’t to be for the Vipers. Improving upon their 2019 2-6 season and being a competitive force in Division 1 this season, the Vipers will likely have raised a few eyebrows as teams prepare for next year.

#3 Cill Dara Crusaders (4-4) 18 – 21 #2 UL Vikings (5-2-1)
The tightest game of the weekend, the Crusaders truly put a fight up to the Vikings and looked close to coming away with the win late on. QB Jordan Farrell connected with WR Sidney Pindi for a score after a massive 74 yard run from RB Luke Carey before halftime. Farrell added a score in himself while Carey rounding off the scoring for Cill Dara. Craig Dooley finished an incredible season performance with a sack on defense while Cormac de Butléir and Jonny Keogh scooped up a pair of fumbles in the Vikings backfield to keep the game as tight as possible.

However, the Vikings did enough on defense to limit an oft-explosive Crusaders offense to 18 points. Creating pressure in the pocket was clearly a priority for the Vikings coaching staff, sacking Farrell 3 times and pressuring him into 2 Adam Keane interceptions. Those turnovers proved to be vital as the Vikings maintained possession for much of the game. On that, the Vikings run game proved to be the deciding factor in this one, with RB Aidan Maher pounding in 2 on the ground while RB Glen Carr punched in the third. A true X-factor in the latter half of the season, the Vikings have used the run game very effectively in a division with defenses historically more familiar and more suited to stopping the run. Scoring 7 rushing TDs in their last 2 games, the performance of the Vikings offense will likely be the deciding factor in the Division 1 Bowl vs #1 Minotaurs July 31st at Newforge Sports Complex.

Preview: AFI Gameweek 17

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

We’ve made it to the postseason folks! Well, by Saturday 5pm we’ll be there anyway. One game remains in the Division 2 regular season, taking place Saturday afternoon at Newforge Sports Complex, the venue for the Division 1 and Division 2 Bowl game double-header. Of course, Sunday sees the Division 1 semi-finals take place, with the usual #1 vs #4 and #2 vs #3 setup also used in Premier Division. With that, let’s preview the 3 games taking place this weekend — and remember, this is all in *one* writer’s opinion!

SATURDAY

Division 2

#4 Causeway Giants (3-4*) @ #3 NI Razorbacks (4-3) — Newforge Sports Complex, Belfast, 2pm
A game that sees two teams looking to end their seasons on a positive note, the Razorbacks will be extra eager to do so as the home side. The introduction of veteran RB Gareth Millar to the offense has been incredibly beneficial for the Razorbacks offense this season, while TE Zakk Appleyard has proven to be a reliable option for QB Mark Thompson. On defense, DE Corey Adair has been no stranger to opposing QBs, being at the top of the sack leaderboard for most of the season. The DE’s talents have made the jobs of the Razorbacks’ defensive backs a little easier, which has led to better coverage, forcing offenses off the field quicker — a result that leaves the Razorbacks with the #1 defense in the division before this last game. Keeping the pressure on a dual-threat QB will be key to keeping that #1 defense and, more importantly, earning their way to the win.

The Giants are coming off a monster upset in their favour, still thriving off their 25-7 win over the Mavericks three weeks ago. The Ruairi/Tiarnan Boorman connection has been lauded before, the pair combining their abilities with unique chemistry to be responsible for every Giants passing TD this season. The Causeway crew can run the ball as well with plenty of weapons though, and while the Boormans can be seen in this side of the offense too, respect must be given to RB Matthew Clyde who leads the team in rushing TDs. The Giants D-line is arguably the strength of this team, with the duo of Ross McKenzie and Michael McCafferty tallying 7.5 sacks between them so far. The Giants have also scored plenty due to their defense, with short drives due to turnovers and scores directly by the defense attributing to the Giants Points For column. The Giants were shutout in their last 2 away trips, but with the lack of playoff stress and the boost they’ll be carrying with them from the Mavericks upset, they may just get out of Belfast with a win Saturday.

SUNDAY 

Division 1 Playoffs

#3 Cill Dara Crusaders (4-4) @ #2 UL Vikings (5-2-1) — Maguire’s Field, Limerick, 2pm
An interesting game here for sure. These teams faced off in Newbridge earlier in the season and came out with the highest scoring game in Ireland, a 39-47 win in favour of this weekend’s home team. QB Kieran Gilhool has his best game of the campaign against the Crusaders, throwing for 3 TDs in the shootout. A pair of backs in Eoin Rudkins and Sean Grace will be eager to punch the ball into the endzone themselves too, with both likely to see plenty of the ball Sunday. The Vikings defensive line have picked up tremendously in the latter half of the year, with Jake Kelly and Robert Browne picking up 12 sacks just between the two of them. Pressuring the QBs remaining in these playoffs will be crucial to their success, as seen in their 26-7 win over #1 Minotaurs at the end of their regular season.

Cill Dara make this game interesting because of their dominating win over the Vipers last weekend, a 24-8 result that saw the Vipers score right at the death. QB Jordan Farrell is a charismatic QB who can inspire giant-killings, and with him throwing the most TDs in the division (9) he knows how to get the ball into the endzone through the likes of brother Kealan (2) and Robert Brown (4). Sack leader Craig Dooley (9) paired with young DL Hendre Erasmus (4) has made for a pass-rush that rivals the Vikings, so they matchup with the Limerick side well. This game is sure to be an interesting watch, but will it exceed the 86 points scored in the prequel to this semi-final?

#4 Donegal / Derry Vipers (3-4-1) @ #1 Westmeath Minotaurs (7-1) — Mullingar RFC, 2pm
The Vipers come into this with little momentum but a much bigger squad available than what they travelled to Newbridge with. RB Pete Farrell grinded out tough yards against a game Crusaders defense Sunday and will look to do the same in Mullingar, while WR Chad Higgins will look to make multiple explosive plays on offense and defense. Darren Quinn and Danny Mullen will be keen to create more turnover-worthy plays this weekend too, with both players coming close on multiple occasions against Cill Dara.

The Minotaurs come into this postseason as the #1 seed, the first time they have done so in the club’s history. WR Jack Lynch has been a big reason for that, leading the division with 6 receiving TDs. QB Joe Kinahan has thrown 8 total scores on the year and ran 2 in himself, while the defense has also scored on the season through a pick 6 by DB Jason Owens. Speaking of that ball-hawking defense, Owens (2), S Niall Folan (3) and CB rookie Peter Dempsey (7) have been reading QB eyes and will be keen to add to their tallies for this campaign. The Vipers will be hoping for a “third time’s the charm” storyline, but it’s difficult to see where the cracks form in the Minotaurs for Donegal / Derry to capitalise on.

Quickfire Predictions
Giants 17 – 14 Razorbacks
Crusaders 22 – 28 Vikings
Vipers 10 – 21 Minotaurs

Review: AFI Gameweek 16

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

And with that, the AFI Senior Kitted regular season is (almost) over. 75 of the 76 regular season fixtures across all 3 divisions in Ireland have come and gone, and while we wait on the #4 Giants @ #3 Razorbacks in Division 2 this coming Saturday, all playoff fixtures and relegation scenarios were confirmed last weekend. Let’s dive into how each game affected clubs across the island!

Record: ¹ = Secured Playoff Appearance
                   ² = Secured Home-Field Advantage
                   ³ = Eliminated from Playoffs

SATURDAY

AFI Division 2

#2 Antrim Jets (5-3)¹ 16 – 32 #1 Louth Mavericks (7-1)¹
Dundalk RFC hosted a preview of sorts to the Division 2 Bowl game (Newforge Sports Complex, July 31st, 12:30pm), with the division’s #1 and #2 seeds battling it out for what position both would end up in the division standings. The Mavericks came out on top at home, scoring 4 TDs on offense and a 5th through a pick 6, all touchdowns coming from QB Nathan Hearty in some capacity. The signal-caller scored the pick 6 on defense (after already picking up an INT earlier in the game), ran the ball in twice on the ground, and added 2 passing TDs through WR/TE Dec Mulvihill and RB Brendan Simms. Veteran Maverick Alex Simms picked up 2 sacks, while Mulvihill and Anthony Vize paired up for the team’s 3rd sack. Momentum may very well be on Louth’s side for the final after an apparent dip in form two weeks ago.

The Jets lose a bit of momentum going into the final with the loss here, but do have three weeks to make adjustments to their gameplan for the Division 2 Bowl (Newforge Sports Complex, 12:30pm). QB Scot McLean has been the Jets MVP for the season and has put up some great games, and while he’s struggled against the Mavs this season, McLean is the type of quarterback to break off a superstar performance on any given Sunday. Couple him with RB Declan Curran, who has been punching in TDs for fun in the latter half of this season, and a defense that scorches past offensive lines (5 defenders with 4+ sacks), and the Jets could find third time’s the charm on July 31st.

SUNDAY

AFI Premier Division

#4 South Dublin Panthers (4-4)¹ 13 – 42 #1 Dublin Rebels (8-0)²
The Rebels achieved the undefeated regular season landmark with an emphatic win at home against a Panthers team that came out fighting for playoff football. Ty Henry continued his incredible form, throwing for 4 TDs while adding 2 on the ground himself. On the receiving end of Henry’s scoring passes were standout WR Dave King (who leads the the country, as a rookie, with 9 receiving TDs), while Dan Johnson caught his first 2 TDs of his 2022 campaign. Defensively the Rebels swarmed the Panthers offensive line and created pressure all game, creating 8 sacks — the likes of Gustavo Souza (3) and Kenny McCarty (2) getting to Ian Cahill more than once. Capitalising off that pressure was DB Cathal Keane, who came away with an INT Sunday, ending his regular season with 5 on the year. An impressive display from the undefeated Rebels, who face the same Panthers side in 2 weeks time in the semi-final.

South Dublin will take loss on the chin, as the result in the Trojans/Admirals game means they will occupy the #4 seed for the playoffs. Ironically ending their season with the inverse scoreline of how they started the year, a 42-13 loss to the team they will be playing in two weeks time (July 24th) likely wasn’t the morale booster the Panthers were looking for. Still, the Panthers have often had the ability to surprise favoured opponents, especially around this time of year (see: 2019 semi-final vs Admirals) so they are not a side to be ruled out purely on last Sunday’s result.

#5 Belfast Trojans (4-4)³ 20 – 26 #3 Cork Admirals (5-2-1)¹
The closest game of the weekend with the most playoff implications going into it, Cork emerged from the dust on home-field to secure their playoff position for 2022. Another 4 TD performance from QB Stephen Hayes put enough points on board for the Admirals defense to make enough stops to a rolling Trojans offense. 3 of those 4 TDs were caught by Jack Cronin, who had a career day in a must-win game, with brother Richie catching the other. Ayo Mumuni had a good day on the other side of the ball, tallying a sack and a forced fumble for the Admirals. Limiting an offense that had scored 40ppg in their last 4 games to just half that is a big credit to an Admirals offense looking to squeeze scoring opportunities down to a minimum for #2 UCD (6-1-1, 36.125ppg).

Big T put up an incredible fight to try complete what would have been one of the best season turnarounds in since the turn of the millennium, starting off 0-3 and still finding a way to keep themselves in playoff contention until the final whistle Sunday. The offense did what they could with a ferocious Admirals defense in front of them, with QB James McKelvey punching a TD in himself while throwing one to WR Tom Morris. Star RB Jona Siri made sure to fight his way into the endzone for a TD of his own. Defensively the Trojans had their work cut out for them, and while DE Lopez Sanuzi put in an almighty effort to get his sack and the defensive backfield had multiple pass breakups, it just wasn’t to be for Belfast, who just miss out on playoff football and their chance to defend their National Championship. An awful lot of credit must go to the Trojans for coming so close after a horrid start to the season.

#8 Dublin Rhinos (1-7)³ 0 -34 #7 Belfast Knights (1-7)³
A game that saw the winner earn Premier Division survival for 2023 and the loser be relegated to Division 1 next season, the Rhinos took the trip to Belfast which, unfortunately for the Castleknock side, ended in Rhinos relegation. An unfortunate result to a season against teams that had greatly improved from their 2019 seasons, the Rhinos became the odd team out despite the talent on their team — a pass rush consisting of Samson Olusegun, Nico Marrimposey and Gary O’Rourke put in some great performances which saw each player reach the 4 sack mark on the season, something few pass rush trios around Ireland can claim. Maintaining these players, along with a push in recruitment and finding a true identity on offense, should make the Rhinos one of the top promotion candidates from the 2023 Division 1 campaign.

The Knights, meanwhile, left it until the end of the season to get their much needed win, as they finally got offense and defense clicking together. Josh Davis was under center for the first half and ran in 2 TDs to get the Knights up early. Marty Caskey added 2 field goals on the day and, when he came into the game, QB Spencer McDowell finished off the game and sealed survival for the Knights with a pass TD to WR Jordan Clinton and a rush TD of his own. The defense, made obvious by the 0 on the board, was all over the Rhinos, allowing very little in the way of scoring opportunities or drives near their endzone, while coming up with 3 sacks — Robbie Alexander was involved in all 3, including a 0.5 credit with Graeme Best. After enduring a forgettable season, the Knights came together at the right time to earn a win they won’t forget about for a while.

AFI Division 1

#4 Donegal / Derry Vipers (3-4-1)¹ 8 – 24 #3 Cill Dara Crusaders (4-4)¹
Crusaders fans were treated to a win in their final home game of the year last Sunday, putting away the Vipers 24-8 in a game that sees them leapfrog the Donegal/Derry side into the #3 seed. QB Jordan Farrell cemented himself at the top of the passing TD leaderboard for Division 1 leaderboard with his 7th, 8th and 9th of the year (Robert Brown x2, Ben Costello), and inspired a hard-fought performance from his Crusaders offense. That all-in mentality bled over to the defense, who were relentless in stopping the Vipers rushing game and never gave QB Paul O’Donnell time to breathe — finishing the day with an interception from Erin Kelly, and nine sacks. A huge momentum boost to carry with them to Limerick to face #2 Vikings this coming weekend in the Division 1 semi-finals.

The Vipers, meanwhile, found it tough down numbers to break through the Crusaders defense, with O’Donnell sneaking a TD in towards the end of the game. DB Chad Higgins came away with an interception on Farrell, while  LB Darren Quinn was unlucky to not have either of his forced fumbles result in a turnover in favour of the red and yellow. The Vipers have impressed as a whole in their 2022 campaign, though, and with everything to play for in their semi-final @ #1 Minotaurs this Sunday they will be sure to give every bit of fight they have in them.

Review: AFI Gameweek 14

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

Gameweek 14 provided some massive scorelines, and some massive upsets. 3 divisions were represented across 4 games, home-field advantage was earned, and 2 of Ireland’s 3 undefeated seasons were put to rest. Just who earned themselves momentum swings heading into the playoffs, and whose stock may have dropped a tad? Let’s find out.

Record: ¹ = Secured Playoff Appearance
² = Secured Home-Field Advantage
³ = Eliminated from Playoffs

AFI Premier Division

#1 Dublin Rebels (7-0)² 58 – 2 #6 Craigavon Cowboys (2-5)³
An uncomfortable watch in Portadown saw the Rebels truly take over People’s Park en route to a statement 58-2 victory. QB Ty Henry was the expected standout for Dublin, carving out 3 passing (Greg Johnson x2, Dave King) and 3 rushing TDs all while not turning the ball over once. King made sure to come down with an INT on defense, but it was Cathal Keane who shone there, taking in 4 INTs from Cowboys QB Peter Loughran. A defensive performance that saw the Cowboys run game smothered, the Rebels rarely took their foot off the gas in this one. With home-field advantage AND the #1 seed now secured for the Rebels, their last game on July 10th could be approached in one of two ways — get some youth and depth pieces on the field to further their development and rest starters for the playoffs, or put a huge dent in local rivals #4 South Dublin Panthers’ playoff hopes and go for the 8-0 season.

Craigavon’s season, itself left with one game remaining, has gone completely wayward since the Easter break. Starting off 2-0 before losing 5 straight, the Cowboys were — at one point — considered a dark horse for the playoffs and perhaps the Shamrock Bowl. Now with playoff scenarios for them drawing dead, the Cowboys will need to sit down and figure out what went wrong for them on the field before coming into the  2023 season. An away trip to the Panthers this upcoming weekend (July 3rd) provides a chance to finish the season on a high note, though Craigavon should be wary of a team still fighting to play postseason football this summer.

AFI Division 1

#2 UL Vikings (5-2-1)² 26 – 6 #1 Westmeath Minotaurs (7-1)²
The first of two undefeated seasons to be lost this weekend, the Minotaurs had the opportunity to cement themselves as the team to beat in Division 1 with a win at home against a Vikings team they had already shutout in Limerick. Instead, the Vikings dominated the majority of the game, securing a home-field semi-final game on July 17th. The triple-option offense broke a typically unbreakable Westmeath defense, scoring more points Sunday than the Minotaurs had conceded all season. Responsible for each of the Vikings’ 4 TDs was RB Aidan Maher, taking one score to the house that saw him break 3 tackles before reaching the endzone. The defense certainly did their job too, swarming to Minotaurs QB Joe Kinahan and creating pressure whenever he dropped back to pass, resulting in seven sacks (including 5 from Jake Kelly) and an interception each from Adam Wixted and Evan Quigley. The Vikings, after this performance, will surely be favoured against whoever they face in the semi-finals, and perhaps the Bowl game too.

The Minotaurs, on the other hand, will have this game in the back of their minds for the rest of the season. Perhaps coming into this game overconfident, this weekend provided an eerily similar backstory to last (2019) season’s playoffs for the Westmeath outfit — a strong start to the season, bookended with a sizeable streak-breaking loss at the end of the regular season to a team that came in with more competitive fire. While the offense had some spurts that showed this is a team to back still (Kinahan and WR Jack Lynch connected for another touchdown), and the pass defense was still all over the ball with 2 inteceptions (CB Peter Dempsey, S Jason Owens), the Minotaurs must work over the next month to make sure the postseason does not end for them the same way that 2019 playoff run ended — an empty silverware cabinet.

AFI Division 2

#1 Louth Mavericks (6-1)¹ 7 – 25 #4 Causeway Giants (3-4*)
Another undefeated season gone, the Giants fired back from their recent heavy losses with a huge win over the #1 Mavericks. The Boorman brother connection was the highlight of the game Sunday, with Ruairi throwing 2 to Tiernan before swapping roles on a 3rd. The athletic duo went through the Mavericks defense, as did RB Matthew Clyde, who made sure not to be left of the stat sheet with a rushing TD of his own. The Giants pass rush was on its game too, collecting 4 sacks while shutting the Mavericks offense out. With a game against the #3 Razorbacks (3-3) remaining, the Giants go in with a great boost and potential to finish 4-4.

The Mavericks could not find what had worked for them all season in this one. The defense did come up with some highlights, and DB Brendan Simms came up with another impressive performance (1 sack, 1 forced fumble and recovery, 1 kick return TD), but it was not enough to inspire much on offense. With July 9th providing a preview to the Division 2 Bowl (Mavs host #2 Jets), the Mavericks have lost a bit of momentum at the wrong time. That game could make for an interesting watch in Dundalk.

#2 Antrim Jets (5-2)¹ 40 – 2 #5 North Dublin Pirates (0-7*)
Stock for the Jets keeps growing, with the Antrim side securing their place in the Division 2 bowl Sunday with another win. RB Declan Curran was the clear MVP with 5 rushing TDs, with QB Scot McLean connecting with Eoin Delargy to wrap up the scoring. An overwhelming performance from their offense carried over to their defense, with Antrim making sure they were all over the Pirates. 2 interceptions and 4 sacks from the pass rush unit were topped off with a fumble forced by Dean McNeill, recovered by Marc MacFadyen — both of whom were on the sack sheet. With the offense firing on all cylinders, and the defense not conceding in 4 games, the Jets have really built up a team to truly challenge the previously-thought untouchable Mavericks.

Credit must be given to the Pirates, in some respect. A year in which they entered with a smaller roster (even after them taking some Meath Bulldogs on loan), with an unfortunate recruitment campaign during the pandemic break, the Pirates have done their best and fought through the toughest year in the club’s history. 2022 has seen some clubs forfeit their entire seasons, and others have folded midway through the year. The Pirates, though their efforts on the field have resulted in positive points on the division standings, should be commended for trying to finish their season amid the chaos that surrounded the club in the last 2 years. Whispers of them forfeiting their final game linger, but credit to the North Dublin crowd who have done their best to play as much football as possible.

Preview: AFI Gameweek 14

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

Three Gameweeks in the AFI Senior Kitted regular season remain, and with the postseason on the horizon, playoff pictures are becoming clearer and clearer by the weekend. 4 games take place around the island this Sunday, with playoff appearances and home-field advantage all up for grabs. Let’s project how the landscape of AFI will look come the end of Sunday.

Record¹ = Secured Playoff Appearance
                   ² = Secured Home-Field Advantage
                   ³ = Eliminated from Playoffs

AFI Premier Division

#1 Dublin Rebels (6-0)¹ @ #6 Craigavon Cowboys (2-4) — People’s Park, 2pm
The Rebels travel to Portadown looking to lock up the #1 seed in the division after their game of the season vs #2 UCD two weeks ago. The Rebels come into this one as big favourites and it’s hard to argue against that: an on-fire quarterback with weapons galore and a tough offensive line coupled with a hungry defense that always gets after the ball. Boasting the #2 offense and #1 defense in the division will go a long way for your claims to the #1 seed, and with the opportunity to clinch just that this Sunday, the Rebels are likely to come out of the gate hot.

The Cowboys’ season just hasn’t gone as they’d have hoped. Starting off real strong with a 2-0 record that included a 35-6 opening day performance, the Craigavon side have dropped their last 4 straight, with the Peter Loughran-led offense scoring 3 touchdowns in a game only twice all season. Having not rebounded well to their away loss to the #7 Rhinos or at home to the #3 Admirals, the Cowboys gave up a season-high 49 points in their battle with the #5 Trojans in Gameweek 10. Craigavon are safe from relegation but will hardly see this season as a success unless they can muster up a performance good enough to earn a win or two from these last two games — with two wins keeping their playoff hopes mathematically alive for now. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, it doesn’t seem likely this weekend, facing opposition that seem unstoppable at the moment.

AFI Division 1

#2 UL Vikings (4-2-1) @ #1 Westmeath Minotaurs (7-0) — Mullingar RFC, 2pm
A return fixture to the game at Maguire’s Field three weeks ago, it’s a quest for home-field advantage for UL vs a quest for an undefeated season for the Minotaurs. UL travel to Mullingar after being given a 30-0 win for Trinity’s season forfeiture from last weekend, meaning their 16-0 loss to the Westmeath side will still be fresh in their minds. QB Kieran Gilhool will need to drive his offense (including RBs Eoin Rudkins and Sean Grace) down the field a lot more efficiently that their attempts three weeks ago if they want to avoid another long travel for the semi-finals. Generating a similar pressure-to-sack conversion rate like they did in this fixture at the beginning of the month (6 total sacks) will also be key.

Westmeath, on the other hand, could be the first of three eligible teams in Ireland to go 8-0, with a win at home sealing the undefeated season for the #1 Minotaurs. Having the division’s highest scoring quarterback (Kinahan, 7) and wide receiver (Lynch, 5) on offense, along with a strong run defense and the division leader in interceptions (Dempsey, 6) stack the odds in the Westmeath outfit’s favour. One factor to consider is Westmeath’s potential to rest starters with this game having no bearing on their playoff seeding. Even with this in mind, the push to 8-0 seems to be the most likely outcome here.

AFI Division 2

#1 Louth Mavericks (6-0) @ #4 Causeway Giants (2-4*) — Limepark Playing Grounds, 2pm
A game with no consequences for the playoffs, the Giants host the Mavericks in a game that will see pride on the line more than anything else. The Giants, having started well, have been shutout in 3 straight games. While most (if not all) teams will look at the lack of playoff football as a bit of a sore spot, the development of the Giants has been admirable, having doubled upon their win total from their debut season in 2019. Sticking to this season and beyond, though, this game does provide a chance for coaches to give players and play designs game reps they may have otherwise not gotten. Making sure to get the likes of Ross McKenzie schemed up to add to how much pressure he’s put on Quarterbacks this season may be of high priority if the Giants want to keep themselves in this game — the team’s sack leader has 4 sacks in a run-heavy league and is second on the division leaderboard.

The Mavericks will also get a chance to experiment with their own personnel and scheme as Louth already have Bowl game contention locked up. Also trying to maintain an undefeated streak in their division, the Mavs can improve to 7-0 this Sunday, with the likes of RBs Brendan Simms and Dan Finley, and QB Nathan Hearty all very likely to see playing time for large portions to make sure they get over the finish line with the W in tact. Still, with young players coming up through youth and flag football ranks, it would be interesting and — particularly in the long run for Louth — beneficial for the Mavericks to make sure to get fresh blood on the field in this one, especially if the game goes the way many likely see it going.

#2 Antrim Jets (4-2) @ #5 North Dublin Pirates (0-6*) — Trinity Sports Campus, Santry, 2pm
It’s been a horrific season for the Pirates who had, up until this season, been a competitive team in Div 2. The 2 year hiatus inn AFI action due to COVID-19 was clearly cruel to North Dublin, with the team unable to find any of the tricks that made the team click before 2020. With two games left in the season it’s unlikely they find that spark that leads them to a win, however the Pirates will be sure to make some impressions on film in preparations for more individual and collective success in 2023.

This is all to say that, most likely, the Jets fly into the Division 2 bowl game with a win this Sunday. While Antrim will need to be sure to not rest on their laurels, the 35-0 result at the Forum is evidence enough that the Jets can put this game away handily enough. QB Scot McLean has been one of the MVPs of this Division, while a ruthless pass rush (5 of the top 10 pass rushers in Division 2 come from the Jets defense) will be sure to not give the Pirates offense an inch. Much like with the Mavericks, there’s potential here for the Jets to give some depth pieces plenty of game time this weekend.

Quickfire Predictions
Rebels 27 – 10 Cowboys
Vikings 10 – Minotaurs 20
Mavericks 30 – 12 Giants
Jets 32 – 6 Pirates

Clinching Scenarios
AFI Premier Division
Dublin Rebels
— clinch #1 seed with win @ Cowboys
Craigavon Cowboys — eliminated from playoff contention with loss vs Rebels

AFI Division 1
UL Vikings
— clinch home-field advantage with win OR tie @ Minotaurs

AFI Division 2
Antrim Jets
— clinch Division 2 Bowl spot with win @ Pirates

Review: AFI Gameweek 12

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

… everyone take a breath and calm down…

Gameweek 12 provided the smallest slate of games we’ve seen from a gameweek this season, but what a thrill ride it was. Between AFI Division 2’s Bowl game slots being all but filled, and the wild back and forth we witnessed in the game at the top of the Premier Division, a lot happened in last Sunday’s 2 games. How do they impact the rest of the season? Let’s have a look.

Record: ¹ = Secured Playoff Appearance
                   ² = Secured Home-Field Advantage
                   ³ = Eliminated from Playoffs

AFI Premier Division
#2 UCD (6-1)¹ 30 – 34 #1 Dublin Rebels (6-0)¹
Talk about game of the year. A surprising first half saw the Rebels take a 22 point lead at one stage, but a fantastic second half saw UCD slowly claw back that lead, making it a one-score game by midway through the fourth with the a strong rushing attack through QB Arun Mooney and RB Jack Finnegan, along with the UCD defense impressing by keeping the Rebels out of the endzone. The game had an ending fitting of the hype surrounding it: Mooney threw for his second TD on the day inside the 2 minute warning (his first to WR Sean Douglas, this one to WR Cian Lawlor), only for Rebels WR Dave King to come down with a clutch catch in traffic in the endzone on a deep ball from QB Ty Henry just seconds later.

Henry himself had 2 passing TDs (King, Cathal Keane) and contributed to 1 of 3 Rebels rushing TDs  — the others coming from King and RB Wello Omorodion. On defense, Kenny McCarthy had himself a day with a sack, a forced fumble and a recovery, while rising star CB Rex Harding came away with an INT. Not to be forgotten about, the UCD defense had some great individual performances on top of the effort that led to the almost-comeback, with Larry Doyle coming away with a sack and a safety and James Twomey totaling 2 sacks.

The #1 seed currently lies in the Rebels hands, but that could change between now and July 10th. UCD have a date @ #3 Admirals (3-2, July 2nd), where a win or less-than-20-point loss will still guarantee home-field playoffs. The Rebels travel to #6 Cowboys (2-4, June 26th) — who will be fighting for their playoff hopes — and host #4 Panthers (3-2) on the final day of the season.

AFI Division 2

#4 Causeway Giants (2-4*)³ 0 – 32 Antrim Jets (4-2)
From a tight, game of the year candidate to one that was in total control for one team. The Giants fell to the Jets 32-0 at the Forum, a result that sees the Causeway side fall out of playoff contention. With QB Nathan Chapman unable to get going on offense due to a relentless pass rush — Mark MacFadyen (3), Dean McNeill (2) and Kevin Montague combined for 6 sacks — opportunities were few and far between for the Giants, with Chapman eventually throwing an interception to Jets LB Ryan Beckett. As has been the case with the Giants this season, some incredible efforts were put in by the defense despite the scoreline: oft-praised defender Ross McKenzie had an absurd day, finishing with 2 blocked kicks, a forced fumble and an INT, while DL Francis D’Souza also shone bright, collecting 2 sacks and a forced fumble. The Giants season, at least in terms of playoff contention, may be over, but there is certainly a lot to be excited about when they compete in Division 2 in 2023.

For the Jets, it’s a result that sends the Antrim side even closer to the Division 2 bowl game. With 4 rushing TDs for the offense the Jets ground-and-pound approach proved very effective. QB Scot McLean ran one in himself but also added a score through the air, with Joey Howe on the end of it. The aforementioned pass rush swarmed all over the Giants O and never really relented, pitching their 3rd consecutive shutout. With their defense truly stepping up since their 20-16 loss to the Razorbacks and some fantastic offensive performances all season, the Jets have put themselves in great position to upset the #1 Mavericks (6-0)¹ in the last Gameweek of the season and, potentially, the Division 2 Bowl. A win in either of their remaining 2 games — @ #6 Pirates (0-6*)³ June 26th, @ Mavericks July 9th — OR a Razorbacks loss — vs Pirates July 3rd or @ Giants July 16th — will send the Jets soaring to the bowl game.

The end of the regular season is just around the corner, and with all the different scenarios for relegation and playoff qualification starting to shape up, the next few weeks of AFI football are set to be the hottest gameweeks yet! Check in later in the week for our preview of Gameweek 13, where 4 games across Premier Division and Division 1 can seal anything from a relegation head-to-head at the end of the season, to playoff qualification and even home-field advantage!

Preview: AFI Gameweek 12

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

After several consecutive weeks with 4-5 games taking place, Gameweek 12 provides a less-is-more approach: only 2 games take place this Sunday (a Pirates forfeit to Razorbacks in Division 2 brings the total down from 3), but both games are HUGE for their respective divisions. Division 2 has a win-to-keep-your-hopes-alive scenario for the Giants, Division 1 takes the week off, while the Premier Division will be showcased by perhaps the most anticipated game of this regular season. In fact, let’s start with that game!

Record: ¹ = Secured Playoff Appearance
                   ² = Secured Home-Field Advantage
                   ³ = Eliminated from Playoffs

AFI Premier Division

#1 UCD (6-0)¹ @ #2 Dublin Rebels (5-0)¹ — De La Salle RFC, Glenamuck, 2pm
Don’t even try saying you’re not excited for this one. Undefeated vs undefeated; #1 vs #2, the battle for the top of the table: this should be the game of the regular season. UCD winning this one would secure the #1 seed, as they would be 7-0, with one game remaining, and the head-to-head over the Rebels would leave the hosts finishing the season 7-1 as a moot point — although if the Rebels win they are in favourable position for that #1 seed too. UCD certainly have the talent to do it, with a — quite frankly — unfair RB duo in Sean McVeigh and Jack Finnegan who are, in case you forgot, rookies. A nasty offensive line and weapons galore in the passing game (including Sean Douglas and Cian Lawlor) has made QB Arun Mooney’s job about as easy as can be expected in the Premier Division. That’s not to take away from Mooney though, who has thrown 19 TDs through these first 6 games.

The Rebels have their own superstar QB in Ty Henry, who is tied for 2nd on the passing touchdown leaderboard while also taking in 2 himself through 5 games this year. Star WRs Greg Johnson and David King have torn it up so far this year with 5 TDs apiece, while rushing TD leader Wello Omorodion has been a problem for defenses for years now.

You’d almost predict a shootout in this one, until you realise that this game also boasts 2 of the most productive defenses seen in the Premier Division in quite some time. While the Rebels defensive line has not wowed in the sack department, they are underestimated because of their production in a stat that we cannot track: pressure, more specifically pressure resulting in turnovers. The Rebels have 16 INTs on the year, including a whopping 6 from CB Dylan Paisley, while they also have on their roster one of the best cover corners in Ireland under the age of 23 in Rex Harding. UCD, no strangers to impressive talent on defense, boast the likes of tied sack leader Larry Doyle (4), Calum Henry (3), Dan Verzuh (3 INTs, t-3rd) and rookie Eoghan McMahon (2).

So, prediction time… who knows? The matchups this Sunday is #1 offense vs #1 defense, and #2 offense vs #2 defense. It’s basically a coin flip for this writer, and in the same superstitious thinking that tails never fails, in situations like these it’s always difficult to side very slightly with the hosts. This feels like the type of game to be decided on the final possession, and it seems like football fans across Ireland can’t wait to see it unfold.

AFI Division 2

#4 Causeway Giants (2-3) @ #2 Antrim Jets (3-2) — Antrim Forum, 2pm
A must-win for the Giants, who need to win out and hope for a handful of results to go their way to sneak into the Division 2 bowl game. They will need a massive effort put in to regain the momentum needed for that run, especially after last week’s 39-0 loss to the #1 Mavs (6-0)¹. A loss eliminates the Causeway crew — who will be hoping for a return to action for Tiernan and Ruairi Boorman, the apparent X-factor players on that offense — from playoff contention. A quick bounce back from the Causeway Giants defense will be on the priority list for this Sunday too, with DL Ross McKenzie (4 sacks, t-2nd) likely being let loose to hunt down Scot McLean again after getting a sack on the Jets QB at Limepark 4 weeks ago.

A win for the Jets, meanwhile, would be a huge push towards the #2 seed into the Division 2 bowl. With the #3 Razorbacks now 3-3 due to the Pirates forfeit this weekend, a win Sunday would all but secure the #2 seed — for them to drop the place in the bowl, Antrim would need to lose out while the Razorbacks would need to win their remaining 2 games. QB Scot McLean has been the driving force behind Antrim’s push to the bowl, scoring 10 total TDs this year while leading Division 2 in both passing and rushing TDs. Inarguably the best QB in the division this season, his talents have been highlighted even more by the likes of Jay Burton and Eoin Delargy as his main pass-catching targets and a strong offensive line. Antrim are no slouches on defense either, ranking #2 in the division while dominating around the line of scrimmage and pressuring QBs with the likes of Curtis McLeish (4 sacks), Ryan Beckett and Robert Newman (both 3).

The Giants are the type of team that, when on their A game, can put a real test up against any opponent in this division. The Jets, however, have a lot stronger chances of making the bowl game, and their players know how important of a game this is for them. With them being 2-1 so far on the year at the Forum, they’ll also be keen to keep that home record above .500, so will be itching to make some plays to get them ahead early. With a defense that has really wrapped up tight since their opener (averaging 7.0ppg), it’s hard not to go with the Jets here.

Quickfire Predictions
UCD 23 – 24 Rebels
Giants 7 – 21 Jets

Playoff-Clinching Scenarios
AFI Premier Division
UCD — clinch home-field advantage and #1 seed with Win @ Rebels

AFI Division 2
Causeway Giants — eliminated from Bowl game contention with Loss @ Jets

Review: AFI Gameweek 11

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

Sunday’s 4 games across Ireland impacted the seasons of more than just the teams who competed. Playoff hopes were heightened or dashed altogether for a multitude of teams this past weekend as the sun slowly begins to set on the regular season and teams look towards playoff football. What went down, and who came out the better from each game? Let’s take a look.

Record: ¹ = Secured Playoff Appearance
                   ² = Secured Home-Field Advantage
                   ³ = Eliminated from Playoffs

AFI Premier Division

#7 Dublin Rhinos (1-5)³ 0 – 35 #5 Belfast Trojans (2-3)
Sunday, the Trojans continued to ride the surging wave of momentum they find themselves on with a 35-point blowout-shutout of the Rhinos. James McKelvey added another performance more reminiscent of his 2019 season than how this year started, throwing for 2TDs, one each to WRs Michael Ferris and Dominic Lynn — the latter taking over QB duties late in the game. RB John Haughey was a particular standout performer on offense Sunday, rustling his way through the Rhinos defense for most of the day, taking the ball into the endzone twice. Adam McElwee added a score on the ground himself late on. The gameplan that led to the shutout seemed very focused on creating havoc in the pocket, with the defense racking up 4 sacks, while DB Thomas Boyde came down with 2 INTs. The rough start has certainly woken up the Belfast side, as they are now 2-0 at home, outscoring their opponents 84-19 in that timeframe. With a shaken #4 Panthers (3-2) game on the horizon that has big H2H tiebreaker implications for playoff spots, the Trojans could be on the rise at the right time.

It wasn’t to be for the Rhinos, who fall to 1-5 and out of playoff competition with the loss in Belfast as they give up tiebreakers to the Trojans and to the Panthers and can only finish as high as 3-5. QB Ethan Foster was injured early in this one and, with an already depleted roster, it became an increasingly difficult task to get out of Belfast with a result. The defense got after it and tried to spark some life into their push for some points with some excellent individual performances. DE Samson Olusegun starred with a 3 sack, 2 forced fumbles day, kicking him up to 5 sacks on the year and up near the top of the sack leaders chart for Premier Division. On a day with a limited player pool and further injuries the Rhinos were decidedly beaten and pushed further into the relegation mix with the Knights.

#8 Belfast Knights (0-6)³ 21 – 41 #3 Cork Admirals (3-2)
A difficult season for the Knights became even more so on Sunday, suffering another large defeat despite putting a second-straight 21 point performance on the board. McDowell put in another good shift at QB for Belfast, throwing a score to WR Jordan Clinton while also taking in 2 TDs on the ground. A pick 6 by Admirals defender Owen Chandler evened McDowell’s passer rating out, though (at least on offense) the Knights should be happy with the improvement in their output over the course of the season. DB Josh Harvey came away with an INT from a Stephen Hayes pass but, other than that, it was a performance the Knights defense would like to forget. Many will look towards July 10th’s matchup with the Rhinos as a “win-an-you’re-in” type game with regards to Premier Division 2023, but a Knights loss to the Trojans and a Rhinos upset of the Admirals before that July 10th game would seal the Knights’ fate and relegate them to Division 1 next year.

Cork will look at Sunday a lot more positively, taking another step towards the playoffs while coming into their stride on offense down the stretch. A 5 TD performance from QB Stephen Hayes will reassert his position as a legitimate QB capable of bringing a Shamrock Bowl to Cork, while WR Jack Cronin added his 3rd and 4th receiving TD of the year on 2 of Hayes’ scores. A breakout day for Ryan Price included 2 receiving TDs of his own. The aforementioned pick 6 by Chandler was the highlight of the day for the Admirals defense, adding to sacks from Shane Hourihane and Reese Wynman + Aaron Hogan. The Admirals may need to take a second look at this game and figure out how they gave up 21 points, as they have tougher tests with the likes of #1 UCD (6-0)¹ in their future, as well as whoever they face away in their potential playoff game.

AFI Division 1

#1 Westmeath Minotaurs (5-0)¹ 16 – 0 #3 UL Vikings (3-2-1)
Westmeath kept their undefeated streak in Division 1 alive with a 16-0 win in UL. With the defense pitching another shutout the Minotaurs are comfortably sitting in the #1 seed, needing just 1 result to go their way to secure home-field in the playoffs. Fumble recoveries from LB Darren Sammon and DL Keith O’Grady regained possession for the Westmeath outfit in their own territory, while a field goal block and recovery by DB Jason Owens took away expected points on the board for the Vikings. On offense, QB Joe Kinahan threw his 4th and 5th passing TD on the year to WR Jack Lynch (who later left the game due to injury) and TE Conor Dougherty — who scored his first receiving score on the year. With #5 Crusaders (2-3) on June 19th and the Vikings visiting Mullingar RFC on June 26th, the Minotaurs seem to be in prime position to keep their winning ways in tact.

UL will be disappointed not to have come away with points on the board Sunday, let alone a win. With a defense that generated pressure all day against an oft-praised offensive line (Kinahan was sacked 6 times — 3 times each by Robert Brown and William Campbell), the Vikings D forced plenty of opportunities for the offense to capitalise. UL, unfortunately, could not capitilise on any of those opportunities, which included an INT at midfield by DB Adam Wixted off a tipped ball. A date with #4 Trinity (4-1*) on June 19th is next on the plate for the Vikings, which will prove vital for playoff seeding. Generating the same pressure on defense as they did last Sunday while creating more explosive plays on offense could make for a more positive result for UL.

AFI Division 2

#4 Causeway Giants (2-3*) 0 – 39 #1 Louth Mavericks (6-0)¹
It was much the same from the Mavericks Sunday, taking another step towards an undefeated season of their own and towards the Division 2 Bowl game. RB Brendan Simms had yet another 4 TD game, firmly taking hold of the top of the rushing TD leaderboard — in case that wasn’t enough, he also grabbed another INT in an outstanding individual game. RB Dan Finley was injured in this one, but made sure to score a TD and a sack on defense of his own before that. QB Nathan Hearty threw for his 2nd TD of the season, with Declan Mulvihill grabbing it and taking it to the endzone. On defense, LB Stephen Traynor took charge with an INT and 1.5 sacks, the .5 coming on an effort with DL Donal Drew, while Liam McNally took down the Giants QB twice. With their date in the final secure, the Mavs will now look to push forward with their quest for an undefeated season, with the return fixture @ Giants (June 26th) and vs #2 Jets (3-2, July 9th) the 2 remaining games in front of them.

Not the result the Giants will have been hoping for in this one, though without the Boorman brothers in their offense for this game the cards were stacked against them from the beginning. Michael McCafferty will certainly have a few more eyes on him from his own sideline as well as opposing coaches in the games to come, as he will likely see even more game reps after blocking 2 XPs Sunday. Apart from McCafferty’s display there was little to be excited about on the Causeway sideline last weekend, with this result potentially locking them out of the bowl game due to their Gameweek 1 forfeit and their current H2H record against the Jets and #3 Razorbacks (2-3). With games against both those teams there is Bowl game hope remaining, though a loss at home on the 26th to the Mavericks will likely be the nail on the head.

Keep an eye out for our Gameweek 12 Review later this week. A short slate takes places this weekend, but includes perhaps the biggest matchup we’ve had this regular season!

Preview: AFI Gameweek 11

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

School may be out for summer, but the 2022 AFI Kitted Season is still in full swing, with teams across the country throttling forward towards playoff qualification or punching the gas as hard as possible in attempts to avoid relegation battles. Gameweek 11 provides 4 games across Ireland’s 3 divisions, all with increasingly pressing playoff and demotion implications that teams will either look back on as clutch performances or missed opportunities. What teams are happening this weekend? And who is impacted from this Sunday’s action?? Let’s take a look

* Note: Trinity @ Donegal / Derry Vipers was due to take place this weekend, though we have been informed Trinity have forfeited this fixture. Vipers therefore earn the tiebreaker over the Students should it be needed at the end of the regular season.

Record: ¹ = Secured Playoff Appearance
² = Secured Home-Field Advantage
 ³ = Eliminated from Playoffs

AFI Premier Division

#7 Dublin Rhinos (1-4) @ #6 Belfast Trojans (1-3) — Derramore Park, Belfast, 2pm
Fresh off a massively impressive (and important) home-debut win vs #5 Cowboys (2-4) last Sunday, the Trojans come into this one with new life. The goal coming into the season was to defend their National Championship and, while that chances of hitting that target were/are still under threat, the Trojans seem to have found the right formula to getting back on that path. The only knock from the game that could carry forward is a still-somewhat-leaky defense (allowed 3 TDs), though when an offense can carry the game like it did vs Craigavon (49 points scored) that can be forgiven, especially when this week’s opponents provide a lot less prolific of an offense (8ppg).

The Rhinos desperately need a win in Belfast, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility. Still sitting in a relegation triple threat, the Rhinos could nearly clinch survival with an upset here. While they were outmatched in their most recent fixture with #1 UCD (6-0)¹, they showed in their 28-16 win over the Cowboys that they can pull some — pardon the irony — Trojan performances out of the bag. QB Ethan Foster has offered a dual-threat in previous games this season too, which can always provide an unpredictable element to a game. While the Trojans carry so much more momentum and will (arguably, should) be favoured here, this writer is not entirely ruling out being caught out twice in one season by the same team.

#8 Belfast Knights (0-5) @ #4 Cork Admirals (2-2) — Old Christians RFC, Cork, 2pm
The Knights are in a tough spot here. Perhaps the one team in the whole of Ireland most in need of a win this weekend, the black and gold make the cross-country travel down to an on-fire Admirals squad. The Knights welcomed back the likes of WR/K Marty Caskey and other returning faces that will make a massive impact on their offensive output, hoping to churn out more performances like their 3TD game vs the #1-ranked Rebels defense 2 weeks ago. What they will need to have rectified by Sunday is their defense, who gave up 48 points in that game, as Cork have scored 20+ points in each of their last 2 games. Similar to their Dublin-based relegation battle counterparts, the Knights are the underdog in most people’s eyes but, also like the Rhinos, could pull of the upset. A loss here turns their matchup with the Rhinos on July 10th into the Premier Division survival bowl.

The Admirals host just their second home game of the year and will be looking for a better result than that game’s 20-0 loss (Rebels). QB Stephen Hayes and his men seem to have found a rhythm on offense which should make them a more viable threat as we head towards the playoffs. Already a strong contender due to their defensive displays, an efficient offense could make this team a Shamrock Bowl contender, especially by the time mid-July rolls around. Cork will need to be sure to not let the Knights into this game and strengthen their own grip on a playoff position. Like that playoff position, though, a win Sunday is far from guaranteed.

AFI Division 1

#1 Westmeath Minotaurs (4-0) @ #2 UL Vikings (3-1-1) — Maguire’s Field, Limerick, 2pm
A battle at the top of a division thrown into disarray after Trinity’s surprising forfeit of this Sunday’s fixture with the Vipers at City of Derry RFC. The forfeit sees the Vikings jump to the #2 seed with a points difference tiebreaker over the #3 Vipers. RB duo Eoin Rudkins and Sean Grace will be out for scores this Sunday, each scoring 3TDs on the ground this year, while on defense, the Vikings will be drawing up pressure in the pocket with the likes of Rob Browne, who has a 3-sack season thus far. That defense has only given up 1 touchdown per game at Maguire’s field this season, so the Vikings know what it takes to defend home turf.

The Minotaurs come into this one after taking a 24-7 win home from their trip north to Donegal / Derry last Sunday. The Kinahan-Lynch connection has scored 3 times in their first 2 played games (Minotaurs have 2 forfeit wins from the now-folded Wexford Eagles), and the offense has a whole seemed largely improved from their season opener. Maintaining an impressive streak was their defense, who have only given up one touchdown this season. The Minotaurs likely trek to Limerick as favourites, and will secure playoff positioning with a win Sunday, as well as being a win and a half ahead of the competition for home-field advantage in the playoffs. A loss in Limerick for the Westmeath side would truly kick the division wide-open.

AFI Division 2

#4 Causeway Giants (2-2) @ #1 Louth Mavericks (5-0) — Dundalk RFC, 2pm
Another win-and-you’re-in situation, this time for the undefeated Division 2-leading Louth Mavericks. Starting the year 5-0, the Mavericks have shown they are the team to beat in Division 2, averaging 29.2ppg on offense while conceding just 6.8ppg. They are having a lot of fun on offense clearly, having so far logged 5 individual touchdown scorers, while the defense has been hunting for the ball all season, coming away with 9 takeaways. It seems inevitable that Louth will qualify for the Division 2 bowl game (July 31st), it’s just a case of when they qualify. Could it be this Sunday? Perhaps, but the Giants have a case of their own.

Sat in the #4 seed at the moment due to a point deduction from their season-opening forfeit, the Giants are aching for a win here to keep them alive in the race for the #2 seed into the bowl game. The Boorman brothers on offense seemed to have gotten things moving on offense until the shutout by #2 Jets, so will likely be coming out swinging against an even bigger opponent. DL Ross McKenzie has been bossing his way through offensive lines all season for the Giants and has inspired his team around him, having so far accounted for 4 sacks, a forced fumble, a recovery and a safety — most chances of stopping the explosive Louth offense run through him. A win away from home against a team like the Mavericks seems unlikely, but more surprising results have occurred this season…

Quickfire Predictions
Rhinos 14 – 27 Trojans
Knights 13 – 19 Admirals
Minotaurs 23 – 10 Vikings
Giants 8 – 16 Mavericks

Playoff Scenarios
AFI Premier Division
UCD
— Secure home-field advantage with Admirals Loss OR Tie vs Knights
Belfast Knights — Eliminated from playoff contention with Loss @ Admirals.

AFI Division 1
Westmeath Minotaurs — Secure playoff berth with Win @ Vikings

AFI Division 2
Louth Mavericks — Secure bowl game berth with Win vs Giants

Review: AFI Gameweek 9

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

Gameweek 9 is behind us, and with the 5 games tipping Sunday’s point total over 200, there was certainly plenty of scoring to talk about. Not only that, but playoff appearances this year for plenty of teams were secured, strengthened, casted with doubt or ruined altogether with results from last weekend’s action impacting plenty of teams around the country. Let’s see what went down, and how that impacts the rest of the season in Premier Division and Division 2 (no games occurred in Division 1).

Record: ¹ = Secured Playoff Appearance
               ² = Secured Home-Field Advantage
               ³ = Eliminated from Playoffs

AFI Premier Division

#2 UCD (5-0)¹ 37 – 6 #6 Dublin Rhinos (1-4)
UCD put forth another great performance en route to guaranteeing themselves a playoff berth this postseason. The pass game with QB Arun Mooney took a back seat to an incredibly strong run game as RB duo Jack Finnegan and Sean McVeigh punched in 2 scores each on the ground — although it should also be noted that the passing touchdown leader still added 2 to his season tally (Cian Lawlor and Darragh Mooney being on the end of them). On defense, the dominance continued, with the pass rush taking down Foster for 5 sacks (LB Larry Doyle claiming 2 himself). Perhaps scarier, UCD held Foster to as many incompletions as interceptions on the day (2), with defenders Thomas Fitz and Brian Broderick each picking off the Rhinos QB.

Speaking of the Rhinos, spirits have perhaps crashed back down to earth after their upset win over the Cowboys at the start of May. Some flash plays here and there fail to make up for a loss this size, though it must be stated that their keeping of UCD to 12 points in the first half is something they can work off going into their final 3 games. RB Craig Usher ran in for Rhinos touchdown, only their 6th on the season. The Rhinos will need a big push on offense for their last 3 games, and with games against the Trojans and Admirals coming up, they need to find ways to score quick or they may find themselves in a Premier survival bowl against the Knights come the final day of the season. 

#8 Belfast Knights (0-5) 21 – 48 #1 Dublin Rebels (5-0)
Another big day for the Rebels offense saw them sweep a more competitive Knights team than what we saw in this matchup a month ago. Oddly enough, despite them being seeded higher than UCD, the Rebels have not mathematically secured a playoff position just yet due to the result in Craigavon, though they are all but written in. What will help their case is performances like this past Sunday’s, most notably by star RB Wello Omorodion, who ran through the Knights defense for 4 TDs. QB Ty Henry made sure to welcome WR Greg Johnson back from injury with 2 passing TDs going his way, while WR Dave King added one on the ground himself. DBs Rex Harding and Dylan Paisley each came up with INTs (Paisley now has 5 on the year), minimising the amount of time the Knights had on the ball. With a bit of rest before their clash at the top at home vs UCD on June 5th, the Rebels may well be favoured to take run with the #1 seed into the playoffs.

The Knights, meanwhile, should be happy with how most of the game went. Keeping the score close at 21-26 until turnovers and the strength of the Rebels offense got the better of them in the 2nd half, McDowell and his offense had a well enough day themselves, scoring more points on the Rebels defense than had been scored on them all season long to that point. McDowell threw 3 TDs (one each to WR/TE Marty Caskey, WRs Jordan Clinton and Matt Williamson), all while being kept upright for most of the game by an especially strong offensive line performance. Defensively the Knights were not as strong as one needs to be to keep the Rebels at bay for a full four quarters, though individual efforts by the likes of Robbie Alexander (2 forced fumbles) will be appreciated moving forward into their last 3 games of the season. The Knights need at least 1 win to survive relegation, facing an upward battle with #4 Admirals (2-2) away, #7 Trojans (0-3) away and — on the final day of the regular season — #6 Rhinos (1-4) at home. 

#5 Craigavon Cowboys (2-3) 13 – 22 #4 Cork Admirals (2-2)
After silencing the Panthers in Gameweek 8 for their first win on the season, Cork bumped their win streak to 2-in-a-row after the long trip up to Craigavon. QB Stephen Hayes and co. have certainly turned it up a notch in recent weeks, throwing for 3 touchdowns on Sunday (Kit O’Keefe with the first, WR Jack Cronin with the second and the game-winner). The story on the other side of the ball was how the Cork defense got into the head of Cowboys QB Peter Loughran, with the Admirals finishing Sunday with 2 sacks and 4 interceptions on the Craigavon signal-caller. The Admirals are certainly performing like a playoff team at this stage in the season. With the defense proving they could limit the likes of UCD and the Rebels, and the offense having come on leaps and bounds since those games, the former National Champions could be a dark horse to get to (and even win) this year’s Shamrock Bowl.

Craigavon, meanwhile, could be hitting the panic button. Starting the year 2-0 after Division 1 promotion from 2019, the Cowboys have since gone 0-3, losing to UCD, the Rhinos in a massive upset, and now Cork. WR Odhran O’Kane was the man for scores Sunday for the Cowboys, catching Loughran’s lone touchdown pass, while also returning a kick to the house before halftime to keep the deficit — before Cronin’s second-half touchdown — to 1 point. DB Anton Nulty grabbed another interception on the year, but defensively the Cowboys will need to improve for sure. With their closing stretch being the Rebels at home and the #3 Panthers (3-1) away, next weekend’s battle with the Trojans may be their best chance to earn a playoff berth. 

AFI Division 2

#3 NI Razorbacks (2-3) 8 – 13 #1 Louth Mavericks (5-0)
Perhaps a tighter game than many expected, Louth kept their undefeated streak in tact and secured their series tie-breaker over the Razorbacks. The Louth defense, which has been strong in Division 2 all season long, swarmed Razorbacks QB Mark Thompson and consistently created pressure in the pass and run game, resulting in 6 takeaways, including 2 INTs from veteran Dec Mulvihill. A slower day on offense, QB Nathan Hearty and RB Dan Finley still punched in a score each to make sure Louth took another win home. 

The Razorbacks fell short of the upset Sunday but played a close game. An aggressive defensive showing paid off, only allowing 2 scores to Division 2’s most prolific offense, while also adding a safety of their own through DL Dee Lorimor and sacks through DL Corey Adair and Elliott Lloyd. Thompson did have the aforementioned 4 INT day, which certainly didn’t help matters, but a strong, growing connection with TE Zakk Appleyard has proven an effective sticks-mover in the Razorbacks offense. Credit must be given to the Razorbacks backroom and HC/RB Gareth Millar, who have revitalised the club and, against many predictions, kept the Razorbacks in bowl game-contention in the later stages of their season: with 2 games against the #5 Pirates (0-5) and #4 Giants (2-2), they could very well make it. 

#2 Antrim Jets (3-2) 35-0 #5 North Dublin Pirates (0-5)³
The Jets soared as high as they have all season against the Pirates, winning a 35-0 shutout. Antrim defended their home turf and also put themselves in good position for the #2 seed in the division, which would send them through to the Division 2 bowl. With the Mavericks facing them at the end of the regular season, the Jets will need wins over the Giants (June 12th) and Pirates again (June 26th) to secure a bowl game berth. 

For stats-crazed among us, QB Scot McLean’s 100% score rate for the Antrim Jets came to an end Sunday as — while he threw for 2 TDs and ran one in himself — RB Declan Curran got on the board twice on the ground.

The Pirates, on the other hand, had little to celebrate Sunday. They were completely outmatched in Antrim, and need a win from their final 3 games in order to not end the year on the sour note that is 0-8. With a return date at home vs the Jets, and a series with the Razorbacks on the cards, that seems more unlikely than likely, though if there’s anything that we’ve come to expect from AFI football this season, it’s to expect the unexpected!

Keep an eye on our socials tomorrow as we preview 5-game slate for AFI Gameweek 10, which includes 
 

Preview: AFI Gameweek 9

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

Gameweek 9 is fast approaching, and with divisions starting to shape up as we march towards the playoffs, teams will start to give those last pushes in their campaigns, whether that be for spots in the postseason or for escaping relegation. This Sunday sees 5 games take place across the island — let’s dive into them and see how they could affect the landscape of the rest of the season ahead! Playoff scenarios for this weekend’s action have been compiled by contributors to AFI, and can be found at the end of this article!


AFI Premier Division

#6 Dublin Rhinos (1-3) @ #2 UCD (4-0) — UCD Sports Grounds, Belfield, 2pm
The Rhinos shocked the #4 Cowboys last time out in what was, at least to that point, the upset of the season. And while it would be quite the sight to see two giant upsets in a row for the Castleknock side, keeping the scoreline respectable may be the secret goal among the Rhinos coaching staff. QB play from Ethan Foster has not been consistent enough to truly trust in the Rhinos to pull off another big win (Foster has 2 passing TDs to 7 INTs on the year), and after already giving up 120 points so far this season, their defense does not match up well with the Students’ offense, who rank 1st in the league in points scored (150).

Speaking of that offense, yardage and points have come from pretty much everywhere for UCD. QB Arun Mooney has truly exploded on to the scene this year, currently sitting with 12 passing TDs so far this season, while RB duo Jack Finnegan and Sean McVeigh have been tearing through defenses for scores in their first 4 games too. Their defense hasn’t been short of playmakers either, with the likes of Dan Verzuh and Eoghan McMahon each coming away with 3 takeaways so far this year. They provide have provided the toughest tasks for every team they have faced this season, and it may end up being much the same this Sunday. It’s worth noting that with a win here, UCD would just need an Admirals win over Craigavon to secure a playoff spot, as the Students hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over Craigavon.

#1 Dublin Rebels (4-0) @ #8 Belfast Knights (0-4) — Malone RFC, Belfast, 2pm
The difficult season for the Knights may very well continue Sunday, hosting the return fixture to a 30-7 loss at the hands of the Rebels this time last month. The visitors have had a comfortable season thus far, their closest game on the scoreboard being their opener @ #6 Admirals. QB Ty Henry has breathed a new life into an offense that struggled in their last season in 2019, scoring 11 total TDs while throwing just 2 INTs. With a powerful, explosive running game to boot, the Rebels have been a force to be reckoned with on the ball this season. Couple that offense with a water-tight defense that has forced 14 turnovers in 4 games, and the Rebels look Shamrock Bowl-bound at this point in the season.

The Knights unfortunately sit at the other end of the table, currently in the relegation zone to Division 1 with a 0-4 record. The Belfast side would have hoped to have picked up at least 1 win by this point in the season, although being without the likes of QB Spencer McDowell and WR/TE Marty Caskey for most of the season to this point has certainly not helped the offensive output. After a massive opening weekend loss to #2 UCD, the Knights appeared to be getting more competitive, taking close one-score losses to #3 Panthers and #4 Panthers. The blowout loss to the Rebels derailed any momentum they were building however, and now Belfast are forced to come out of at least 1 of the next 4 games with a result or face being relegated.

Belfast will be relying on season-best performances from the likes of Robbie Alexander and Kenny McClean to slow the Rebels offense down as much as possible. Otherwise, with remaining fixtures against a surging Admirals team and local rivals #7 Trojans on the cards in the coming week, things may come down to a final day clash with the Rhinos for Premier Division survival. The Rebels secure playoffs with a win and an Admirals loss.

#5 Cork Admirals (1-2) @ #4 Craigavon Cowboys (2-2) — People’s Park, Portadown, 2pm
Perhaps the game of Gameweek 9, as not only are both teams fairly even on the standings, and not only does this matchup influence other teams’ playoff chances, but there are also some very intriguing storylines coming into this one. For the visitors — who are making a near 800km round-trip for the game — this matchup could not come at a better time. After taming the #3 Panthers at Palmerston in last Sunday’s Gameweek 8 matchup, the Admirals travel up north feeling a lot better about themselves than they may have this time 2 weeks ago. The defense has been incredible thus far despite their less-than-stellar win/loss record, conceding just 42 points in 3 games. The main questions for Cork going into this one is can they get inside Peter Loughran’s head in the same way they did Ian Cahill’s? And can the offense unlock RB Phylip Walters in the run game again? If the answer to at least one of those questions is “yes”, then the Admirals give themselves a great chance celebrating going 2-2 on the bus ride home.

As for Craigavon, the hot start has well and truly flamed out, and they may need something to reignite it quick. After storming the Rhinos out of Craigavon and taking home a dying-seconds win from the Knights, the Cowboys were handed a massive loss by UCD before being upset by the Rhinos. Arguably, they are colder now than they were hotter 2 games into the season, and the Cowboys need a win to get back on track. With an angry #7 Trojans team and the #1 Rebels next in line, a win here is crucial for the Cowboys and their hopes for competing in the playoffs this season. Plenty of teams will be watching this one very carefully.

AFI Division 2

#1 Louth Mavericks (4-0) @ #2 NI Razorbacks (2-2) — Newforge Playing Grounds, 2pm
A clash at the top of the table sees a rematch of a game that happened just 2 weeks ago, with the Mavs extending their unbeaten streak in a 24-6 win. The Razorbacks will be disappointed to not have continued their slowly-growing momentum on offense, scoring just 1 TD after scoring 3 in their upset over the Jets. QB Mark Thompson will be hoping for a better day than their away trip to Louth too after throwing a pick 6 and being sacked twice. The Razorbacks need a big win here to validate their claims for the #2 seed in the division, and to prove their Jets performance was not just a happy accident.

The visitors, meanwhile, are exactly where most expected them to be after accepting a voluntary relegation to Division 2. Sitting atop the table and averaging a 33-6 scoreline in 4 games, they will be favoured in every game for the rest of the season, as they are here. The Mavericks run game has scored more touchdowns than the rest of the division combined, and it’s hard to not predict a similarly dominant showing this Sunday.

#5 North Dublin Pirates (0-4) @ #3 Antrim Jets (2-2) — Antrim Forum, 2pm
The final game in our preview sees the Pirates travel to Antrim to take on the Jets, hoping to come away with their first win of the year. The season has not gone at all as planned for the Pirates, especially after bringing on some promising pieces from the Meath Bulldogs, who withdrew from competition before the beginning of the season. While some of those players have made some splashes — Adam Pyne has come away with some nice plays and an INT on defense — but it’s difficult to have much faith in this group considering their results and their forfeit of their most recent matchup. Here’s hoping for more positive outlooks for North Dublin moving forward.

The Jets come into this one as clear favourites and will likely move into the #2 seed after Sunday’s games. QB Scot McLean has been the backbone of this side, still contributing to 100% of the Jets scores on offense, and will be encouraging his players to be more aggressive this weekend. Projecting the Jets after this game is a bit clouded, as while they have been solid on both sides of the ball, they have failed to put up 17 points or more in a single game this season. Sunday represents a big opportunity to buck this trend as the Jets look to close in on that #2 seed in the Division 2 Bowl game at the end of July.

Quickfire Predictions
Rhinos 6 – 35 UCD
Rebels 28 – 13 Knights
Admirals 14 – 13 Cowboys
Mavericks 28 – 10 Razorbacks
Pirates 7 – 24 Jets

Playoff-Clinching/Elimination and Relegation Scenarios
Premier Division
Dublin Rebels (4-0) clinch playoff berth with: Rebels win + Admirals loss
UCD (4-0) clinch playoff birth with: UCD win + Cowboys loss
Belfast Knights (0-4) eliminated from playoff picture with: Knights loss + Cowboys win

Division 1
No scenarios for Gameweek 9

Division 2
North Dublin Pirates (0-4) eliminated from playoff picture with: Pirates loss

Review: AFI Gameweek 8

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

Gameweek 8 is in the rear-view mirror, and what a week it ended up being. Despite there being only 3 games on offer, Gameweek 8 provided the first tie game of the year, an interesting wrinkle in the Division 2 playoff race, and a massive upset in Premier Division. Let’s take a look at what happened and how it leaves the teams involved for the rest of the season.


AFI Premier Division

#3 South Dublin Panthers (3-1) 2 – 24 #5 Cork Admirals (1-2)
While it was only a matter of time before the Admirals got on the scoreboard after a cold start, a performance this strong did not seem as possible. Making the trip to Palmerston to get their season back on track, Cork made a statement to the rest of the league on Sunday, making easy work of the Panthers in all three phases of the game. The defense swarmed all over Cahill, picking up 3 sacks and a nationwide-high 5 INT. Particular stars on the Admirals defense for the day were the likes of DBs Kit O’Keefe and Liam O’Leary picking up 2 INTs each (with O’Leary taking one home for a touchdown) and LB Marty Mulrey who tallied an INT and a sack on Sunday. RB Phylip Walters made sure it wasn’t just the defense shining bright, totaling 3 TDs on the day (2 on the ground, 1 off a pass from QB Stephen Hayes). It’s obvious the Admirals were waiting for the opportunity to break out after game nearly a month ago @ #2 UCD, and it throws a few spanners into the works for playoff projections now that they hold a tiebreaker over the South Dublin side. Cork next take the sudden wave of momentum they’re riding up north to face the #4 Cowboys on May 22nd.

As for the Panthers, a lot of work needs to be done very quickly to get themselves back on track as they next face #2 UCD at home. South Dublin, who started hot with a big 42-13 win over the #7 Trojans, have been a lot less efficient in games against teams like the #8 Knights and the #6 Rhinos, and have picked up injuries along the way. Couple a less than 100% squad with a 6 turnover performance on offense, and things aren’t shaping up too well for a team going up against a UCD team being tipped for a Shamrock Bowl appearance and a potential revenge game for the #7 Trojans within the next 4 weeks. Based on their own 2019 Shamrock Bowl finalist campaign though, the Panthers love playing as the underdog, so they are a compelling narrative to follow over the next few months.


AFI Division 1

#1 UL Vikings (3-1-1) 10 – 10 #4 Donegal / Derry Vipers (2-2-1)
We all love tie games, right? Right?? Well, regardless, both the Vipers and the Vikings will be looking at last Sunday as a missed opportunity. Both teams had the chance to gain a tiebreaker over the other as we start to look closer and closer to playoff seeding, and UL had the chance to take a true 1-win lead over the division. Instead, the tie leaves the Vipers a win behind the top 3 with as many as 2 extra games played, while the Vikings (who take the top spot for now) sit only a point above #2 Minotaurs and #3 Trinity, who each have 2 games in hand over UL. The run game ruled the day here, with both teams’ touchdowns on the day being ran in by RBs Eoin Rudkins (UL) and Pete Farrell (DDV). Otherwise, it was a very physical, defense-dominated game that resulted in 6 turnovers combined between the 2 teams. Standouts from Sunday’s game include Vipers LB Darren Quinn popping up with another fumble recovery on the year, while UL LB Robert Browne particularly made an impression with 2 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Vipers next host #2 Minotaurs (May 29th) and will be looking for a win to distance themselves from the #5 Crusaders (2-2) and keep themselves in playoff contention. UL also next host the Minotaurs, having a bit more time to prepare for their June 5th matchup.


AFI Division 2

#4 Causeway Giants (2-2) 0 – 16 #3 Antrim Jets (2-2)
With only bowl game spots up for grabs in Division 2, things are heating up in the race to the #2 seed, as — after Antrim’s win Sunday — the Razorbacks (#2), Jets (#3) and Giants (#4) sit at 2-2. The Giants will be disappointed not to walk away with the win here, now being disadvantaged by currently losing the 2-game series with the Jets and (obviously) a 1-point deduction for their Gameweek 1 forfeit to the Razorbacks. It will be an uphill battle for the Giants and QB Ruairi Boorman, who threw 2 INTs Sunday (both to Jets DB Connor Ross). The Giants next 3 games all come in the space of 4 weeks in June (@ #1 Mavericks, @ #3 Jets, vs #1 Mavericks), and realistically need to come away with at least 2 wins from those 3 to keep up with the pack.

The Jets, meanwhile, will look back at Sunday and be incredibly proud of the effort put in by their defense, who put pressure on Boorman all day and did not allow a point scored. They came away with the aforementioned 2 INTs, as well as a nationwide-high 8 sacks on Sunday (with 3 coming from DL Curtis McLeish). QB Scot McLean added 2 TDs on the ground (still being responsible for every offensive score the Jets have this season), while Conor Davison kicked 1 XP and 1 FG to seal a 16-0 win. The Jets, whose next 3 games are vs #5 Pirates, vs #4 Giants and @ #5 Pirates, now find themselves in great position as we push into the latter half of the season and start looking at playoff spots.

AFI Gameweek 9 will feature 5 games — 3 from Premier Division, 2 from Division 2 — all with high stakes coming into the latter half of the season. Keep an eye out on our website, Facebook and Instagram for our preview of this upcoming Sunday’s action!

Preview: AFI Gameweek 8

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

A week removed from the Irish Wolfhounds Kitted team’s return to training, Gameweek 8 sees one game take place across AFI’s 3 divisions. Each of these matchups feature teams battling for playoff positions, and with many teams closing in on (or after already reaching) the halfway point in their season, these games slowly but surely start to become more vital to each team’s chances of winning silverware or escaping promotion. What’s in store this Sunday? Let’s have a look.

AFI Premier Division

#6 Cork Admirals (0-2) @ #3 South Dublin Panthers (3-0) — King’s Hospital School, Palmerstown, 2pm
This writer is finding it hard to know what to think of this one. On one hand, yes, the Panthers are undefeated thus far, but after the hot start that was their 42-13 win over the Trojans, they were held to a close game at the Knights and a closer-than-expected outing with the Rhinos. Ian Cahill & Co will be happy they are currently undefeated, but they will be looking for more convincing results going forward to put them up to the challenges the #1 and #2 seeds will provide later in the season and in the playoffs. Can they replicate their vs Trojans performance this Sunday?

The Admirals, meanwhile, are a hard team to analyse right now, having been shutout on offense by the Rebels and UCD, but also having held the 2 highest scoring offenses in the division to just 20 points apiece. The fact Irish Wolfhounds QB Stephen Hayes and his offense haven’t scored is worrying, but after having time to regroup for this one they should be ready to make up for the lack of output to this point. WR Jahn Dasini will be looking to make plays whenever possible for his QB, while the Admirals defense will be out to hold up their end of the bargain, as they have done for many years in this division.

Expect this one to be a lower scoring affair. While it would be nice to see the Admirals pick themselves up after a tough start, it’s hard not to back the Panthers after their more balanced start through all 3 units of the game.

AFI Division 1

#5 Donegal / Derry Vipers (2-2) @ #3 UL Vikings (3-1) — Maguire’s Field, 2pm
Another close one to predict at UL this Sunday. The Vipers face the near-five hour journey for this one, and after away trips to Trinity and Westmeath resulted in 0 points scored, they will be looking to have a bit more bite while on offense this weekend. Young QB Mike Naulty will be looking to lead his men to a performance more in line with their 30-12 home win over the Crusaders than their away trips thus far. Naulty has not yet thrown for a touchdown while throwing 6 INTs, but has ran in 2 TDs himself. The Vipers run game has proven to be the focal point of the offense, though WR Chad Higgins will be eager to shine as he has done when given chances so far this year.

The Vikings come into this in the #3 seed after an incredible shootout with Cill Dara before the Easter break. QB Kieron Gilhool took charge in that outing, throwing for 3 TDs in that game, but equal praise must be given to RB Sean Grace for matching that total on the ground. Both men will be looking to take advantage of any chances they get from a defense that has not provided many opportunities to teams they travel to. The Vikings defense has created turnovers in each game thus far, which also seems to lean in their favour.

All signs point to a lower scoring game here, so expect a tight one where the team forcing the most mistakes and setting themselves up for short fields walks away with the W.

AFI Division 2

#4 Antrim Jets (1-2) @ #3 Causeway Giants (2-2) — Limepark Playing Grounds, 2pm

We finish with the game in Division 2, as the Jets look to bounce back from a 20-16 upset by the Razorbacks from the start of the month. As has been discussed on these previews and other platforms already, the success of the Jets seems to rely on the performance of QB Scot McLean moreso than any other team with their signal-callers. That narrative, while certainly valid, neglects the likes of LB duo Kenny Pollin and Ryan Beckett, who have been wrecking havoc in their own right thus far this season. What may go against them is how aggressive they may be early on in this one, as they may be out to rectify the result from 2 weeks ago and try get their record (and playoff chances) back on track.

The Giants host a game in which they can certainly take advantage of a team perhaps looking to start off hot. A win here would fast track the Giants to the #2 seed, putting them in line for the Division 2 bowl game later in the year. The Boorman brothers and their offense will be out to prove a point after a disappointing 6-point showing in Santry, despite picking up the W over the North Dublin Pirates. That win came in large thanks to the DL Ross McKenzie-led defense, with McKenzie having totaled 3 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in just 2 games this season. The Giants will look to put McLean under that pressure all day long Sunday, and if they can throw the Jets QB off his game, they give themselves a great chance to put themselves in the driver’s seat for the #2 seed.

Quickfire Predictions
Admirals 10 – 17 Panthers
Vipers 14 – 10 Vikings
Jets 14 – 16 Giants

Review: Razorbacks 6 – 24 Mavericks

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

Last Sunday, Division 2’s frontrunners took another step towards the division’s bowl game as they took down the Razorbacks 24-6 at home. Louth have been on the tear they were almost unanimously expected to go on in Division 2, jumping to 4-0 on the year and 2 games ahead of the #2 seed. The Mavs have averaged more than 34ppg on offense and only 6.3ppg on defense, leading the league in both categories. The run game did the damage Sunday again, with Gerry Lawless and Dec Mulvihill each pounding a touchdown in. Both men made impacts away from the offense too: Lawless rocking up a sack on defense; Mulvihill kicking 3 XPs and a field goal on special teams. Brendan Simms, who ran in 4 TDs in the Mavs last game, took an errant throw from Razorbacks QB Mark Thompson to the house, showing his ability on both sides of the ball. The Mavericks seem set for a date in the Division 2 bowl game — it’s just a case of who will be there with them.

The Razorbacks, meanwhile, fall to 2-2 and could slip to #3 after the upcoming Gameweek 8. RB Gary Busch ran in the only score for the ‘Hogs on Sunday, his second on the season. S Daniel Lorimer also added an interception for the Razorbacks defense, while DE Corey Adair picked up a sack. The Razorbacks are still a tough team to project on the year. With a forfeit win to start the year, going 1-1 in their series with the Jets and this loss, the Razorbacks could end up anywhere from second-to-last in the division to the bowl game at the end of July. Having come from relatively little before Covid, they are an interesting team to keep an eye out for, and a dark horse for sure. Coming out of the return fixture at home to the Mavs on May 22nd with a win will be a crucial result.

Preview: NI Razorbacks @ Louth Mavericks

Not a full gameweek this weekend (Gameweek 7.5, if you will) as the rescheduled Razorbacks @ Mavericks game take place in Dundalk on Sunday. Postponed because of a COVID-19 outbreak among the Razorbacks in Gameweek 6, the match takes place in a different context in Division 2 to what it would have 2 weeks ago. Let’s see why, and if it affects this writer’s prediction for the game.

With the Razorbacks upsetting the Jets last week, this Sunday’s game is a #2 @ #1 matchup, with the ‘Hogs’ sitting in the #2 seed behind the #1 Mavericks. Last weekend’s win was crucial for the Razorbacks chances of making the Division 2 Bowl game, climbing to a 2-1 record above the Antrim outfit and above the #3 Giants on points difference. QB Mark Thompson will be feeling good going into a tough matchup this Sunday after having scored a touchdown each though the air and the ground. The Razorbacks defense has shown the ability to swarm the ball and force turnovers too, taking the ball away 4 times from the Jets at home last Sunday. That eagerness to take points off the Mavericks’ board will be crucial in giving the offense a chance this Sunday.

As for the Mavericks, they are currently cruising undefeated and in the driving seat for the Division 2 Bowl game appearance, as many expected they would be. Having not played in more than a month they will certainly be looking to get momentum rolling again, and it may be the only disadvantage they carry going into Sunday. With a relentless rushing attack that has notched up 11 TDs between 4 players in 2 games played, the Mavericks offense is a huge threat to any defense in Division 2. When you add that their own defense has clamped down on opposing offense, the odds of the Razorbacks’ coming out of this one with a win aren’t the greatest. It certainly won’t be impossible — they weren’t favoured by many going into the Jets game and caused an upset — and hopefully this game closer resembles Mavs/Jets than Mavs/Pirates. Still, it’s hard to go against the Louth side until proven otherwise.

Prediction
Razorbacks 14 – Mavericks 24

Review: AFI Gameweek 7

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

What set of results Gameweek 7 provided!! With only 3 games on the slate last Sunday, there were a lot more eyes on each game, as teams looked at the standings of their divisions and wondering just how their seasons would be affected. While we would all love a 6-game weekend to look forward to, the 3 games we did get last Sunday have shifted paths of Premier Division and Division 2 in ways many never saw coming. Let’s break each game down and find out.

AFI Premier Division

#1 Dublin Rebels (4-0) 38 – 6 #7 Belfast Trojans (0-3)
The T in “Big T” may very well stand for “Trouble”, as that is exactly where the Trojans find themselves as they approach the midpoint of their season. While their losses have come against as-of-yet unbeaten teams — so some leeway must be given their way — the defending Shamrock Bowl champions have not started this season on the right foot at all. This game was actually quite close for most of the game, with the Rebels up 14-6 at the end of the third quarter. The Trojans then suffered a complete collapse in Q4, turning the ball over twice — INTs from McKelvey to DB Dylan Paisley and LB Gustavo Souza — and giving up 24 points. Panic alarms may not be ringing just yet, certainly not when it comes to relegation anyway, but the Trojans have very quickly slipped down the seeding order for that 4th playoff spot, which now seems to be their only way to get back in the picture to defend their championship. The Trojans next host #4 Craigavon on May 29th, with both sides needing wins to keep their playoff hopes in tact.

The Rebels, meanwhile, are cruising atop the Premier Division after their dominant fourth quarter performance. QB Ty Henry threw for 3 TDs, all to WR David King (who also racked up a fumble recovery off a muffed Trojans punt return), while RB Wello Omorodion added a score on the ground. Long-time Rebel Conrad Cook made sure the defense wasn’t left off the scoring chart, taking a fumble recovery to the house in the first quarter. The Rebels found a way to break the Trojans after 3 tough quarters of football to put this one away quite convincingly in the end. The Dublin outfit travel to Malone RFC to take on #8 Belfast Knights on May 22nd, in a game that could mathematically secure the Rebels a spot in the Premier Division playoffs.

#5 Dublin Rhinos (1-3) 28 – 16 #4 Craigavon Cowboys (2-2)
Author’s note to start this review: I did not see this happening at all. To some around the league the Rhinos seemed destined to finish 0-8 after their start to the season and how they matched up against others in the Premier Division. And yet, the Rhinos put in a performance we’ve not seen from the club since perhaps their 2018 Division 1-winning campaign. QB Ethan Foster ran in one score and RB Rodrigo Nieto punched in two, with Nieto’s TDs being interrupted by a Foster-to-David O’Neal touchdown pass. Foster’s passing TD and Nieto’s second score sealed the game for the Rhinos after the lead changed hands multiple times in the second half. The Rhinos schemed up pressure brilliantly throughout the game, creating 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and a recovery in the game: DE Gary O’Rourke, putting in a standout shift, tallied one of each on the day. DB Patrick Gahan helped finish the game in the 4th with an INT on Cowboys QB Peter Loughran, the second on the year for the Rhinos and Gahan’s first. The Rhinos leapfrog a few teams into the #5 seed, with a trip to #2 UCD on May 22nd on the cards. Will the Rhinos ride the wave from last Sunday to another shock upset? Only time will tell.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, will certainly be looking back at the weekend as a missed opportunity. The strong start to the season has flamed out, with the Craigavon side not reacting well to their loss to UCD a few weeks ago. QB Peter Loughran threw for 2TDs to WR Luis Alberto, but there was little else to speak of from the rest of the team. With a brief break to prepare for back-to-back clashes with the #6 Admirals (May 22nd) and the #7 Trojans (May 29th), it will be interesting to see what version of the Cowboys we see in those games: the side that came out guns blazing in Gameweek 1, or the more reserved side we’ve seen since then? Coaches will be hoping for the former as Craigavon look to put their return season to the Premier Division back on track.

AFI Division 2

#2 NI Razorbacks (2-1) 20 – 16 #4 Antrim Jets (1-2)
The Razorbacks denied the Jets the clean sweep in their series with the closest result from Sunday’s action, claiming a 20-16 victory that sends them to the #2 seed. QB Mark Thompson scored once each on the ground and through the air (the latter going to TE Zakk Appleyard for his first TD of the year). RB Gary Busch was also on the scoresheet with a rushing touchdown. The Razorbacks defense played their part too, coming away with 2 INTs and 2 fumble recoveries — DE Jonny Graham tallied up a force and a recovery, while DB Liam McCarren notched an interception late on to seal the win. The result puts the Razorbacks ahead of the Giants with the same 2-1 record, though the ‘Hogs’ have a tough test ahead with the #1 Mavericks (3-0) in Gameweek 8’s lone matchup.

The Jets fall to 1-2 and the #4 seed after a failed comeback attempt. QB Scot McLean keeps his streak of being involved in every offensive TD Antrim have scored this season, adding another score on his passing and rushing touchdown tallies. It’s an interesting situation for the Jets now, who give up the “points difference in head-to-head” tiebreaker in this series, which may end up affecting playoff seeding later in the year. Still, while they would have hoped for a better defensive output, this loss doesn’t derail Antrim’s chances at the Division 2 final too much. And, with McLean under center, the Jets may soar up the standings in time for that game.

Preview: AFI Gameweek 7

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

Another Sunday, another gameday on the horizon as the focus of players and coaches around the league shift back to domestic football after a brief shift of attention towards last night’s Round 1 of the 2022 NFL Draft. While the futures of certain NFL clubs and draft prospects changed forever after Thursday night/Friday morning’s extravaganza, the immediate situations for clubs in Ireland striving for playoff appearances or fighting for survival in their divisions will be affected by the 3 games taking place this Sunday across the island. “What games?”, we hear you ask. Let’s start off with the most enticing one…

AFI Premier Division

#5 Belfast Trojans (0-2) @ #2 Dublin Rebels (3-0) — De La Salle RFC, Glenamuck, 2pm
This is not your typical “undefeated vs winless” matchup. Opponents in Shamrock Bowl 30 and praised for a long time as 2 of Ireland’s best American football clubs, the Rebels and Trojans will both be out to prove to the rest of the division that they are the real deal. Belfast have certainly had a slow start to the season, conceding an uncharacteristic 35 points per game over their first 2 matchups, and did not impress offensively in their most recent game when they visited the Panthers in a 42-13 loss. One thing thing that must be kept in the back of everyone’s mind when reading these previews is that you should never count “Big T” out. McKelvey and Co. have had slow starts in previous years that ended with them hoisting the Shamrock Bowl above their heads. While that is not necessarily a prediction for this season, and while the push may not begin in this game, a playoff appearance is still on the cards for Belfast.

It’s hard to see them coming away with a result in this one, though. The Rebels are on fire right now, coasting through games with an average margin of victory of nearly 32 points. QB Ty Henry is at 6 passing TDs and 2 INTs on the year, on top of running in 2 TDs himself, and has truly revitalised on offense that struggled in their previous season in 2019. The Rebels defense has been as impressive, racking up 11 takeaways on defense so far in just 3 games. A true force at the moment and a contender for Shamrock Bowl honours, the Rebels look set to move to 4-0 (and potentially to the #1 seed) in this one.

#4 Craigavon Cowboys (2-1) @ #8 Dublin Rhinos (0-4) — Castleknock College, 2pm
After recovering from a difficult 44-8 loss to #1 UCD before the Easter break, Craigavon travel to Castleknock for the return fixture of their 35-6 season opening win over the Rhinos. There’s not too much that can really be said about this one as it seems to be the most set-in-stone result of the weekend. The Rhinos improved on defense vs Panthers in their recent matchup compared to their first 2 performances, and have totaled 11 sacks in 3 games, which is near the top of the division in that metric. Unfortunately for the Rhinos they have not been able to get their offense going, with QB Ethan Foster’s opening day TD to Adam Jenkins being the only score they’ve put up thus far. Considering Craigavon will be out for blood after giving up 44 points in their last game, and that this matchup earlier in the season was fairly one-sided, it’s likely Craigavon add another win to their season this Sunday.

AFI Division 2

#4 Antrim Jets (1-1) @ #3 NI Razorbacks (1-1) — Newforge Playing Grounds, 2pm
We finish off this week’s review with the lone game in Division 2. The Jets took this one at home last time out and now travel to Newforge looking to sweep the series. The Razorbacks come off a COVID outbreak that set their game with the #1 Mavericks back to May 8th, so may come into this one a little rusty. They do have that home-field advantage, and knowing how close they came last time out will certainly encourage the Razorbacks to be a bit more aggressive in this one. 

Razorbacks QB Mark Thompson will be looking for a better day this Sunday than these teams’ previous meeting, throwing for only 1 TD with 4 INTs (including one for a pick 6). They will look to DE Corey Adair (who had multiple sacks in their last outing) to get after Jets QB Scot McLean, who thrown or rushed for every Jets touchdown this season (2TD:1INT, 1 rush TD). This one may come down to McLean’s performance Sunday and whether he can lead his team to capitalise on any mistakes the Razorbacks give up in this one.

Quickfire Predictions
Trojans 14 – 27 Rebels
Cowboys 28 – 6 Rhinos
Jets 20 – 16 Razorbacks

Keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram stories for a chance to give your thoughts on this weekend’s stupendous offering by voting on winners’ polls and leaving us your predictions for Sunday’s action!

Review: AFI Gameweek 6

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

With the first gameweek since the Easter break in the rear mirror, the midpoint of the season is fast approaching. With players looking to impress the Irish Wolfhounds staff scouting for talent for the upcoming camp, and (more importantly) teams looking to take the next step towards playoffs or away from relegation, there was plenty to play for last Sunday. How did teams get on? Let’s break each game down.

 

AFI Premier Division

#7 Belfast Knights (0-4) 7-30 #2 Dublin Rebels (3-0)
The Rebels continued their undefeated streak last Sunday with a big win over the winless Knights. Much has been said (on these previews and reviews, as well as podcasts like The Domestic Game) about Dublin’s passing attack, but it was the run game that truly shun at the weekend. Long-time Rebels RB Wello Omorodion ran in 2 of Dublin’s 4 rushing TDs on Sunday, including a 90-yarder that saw multiple broken tackles and the domination on the line of scrimmage, at least in the run game, that set the tone for the rest of the day. Their strength on the line of scrimmage was on Dublin’s defense, who earned 2 sacks and, due to that pressure, 4 interceptions, with one of each coming from defender Kenny McCarthy. The Rebels sit #2 in Premier Division at 3-0, already having beaten their 2019 win total this early into the season.

The Knights, on the other hand, were outmatched for most of the day in this one, although did have some moments they can look back on and look to replicate for the rest of the year: already noted was the Rebels ability to control the line of scrimmage in the run game, but the Knights got after QB Ty Henry for most of the game, creating 4 sacks (2 of them by DE Danny Moll, his first and second on the year). QB Spencer McDowell was picked off twice by the Rebels defense, but did make sure to throw for a TD to avoid the shutout loss. The Knights came close in their last 2 games, but are clearly a step below the top of the division. While this loss all but rules them out of sneaking in the back door for the playoffs, they have (at least according to the standings) passed through the hardest part of their schedule, and will be eager to strike the 0 from the win column in the second half of their season.

#3 South Dublin Panthers (3-0) 17-0 #8 Dublin Rhinos (0-3)
To be quite honest, it’s hard to have many takeaways from this game, other than the defensive effort put forward by the Rhinos considering recent results. The hosts sacked Panthers QB Ian Cahill 4 times, with DE Gary O’Rourke picking up 3 of them. They also picked off Cahill once, with Matt Mays taking away a Panthers score with an interception in the endzone.  That efficiency was not matched by the Rhinos offense, who struggled to get the ball moving all day (a trend that has haunted them through every game so far this season). The Rhinos have not yet found what works for them this year, having not scored since Week 1 vs the Cowboys — their lone touchdown of the season. They have also given up their 10th turnover in 3 games, and need to change those fortunes quick. They currently sit #8 and in the relegation spot, and with dates against Craigavon and UCD on the horizon, their schedule isn’t exactly getting any easier.

South Dublin, still recovering from some knocks picked up from their game 2 weeks ago, did not pick up the type of win they likely were looking for going into this one. QB Ian Cahill threw for 2 more TDs (one apiece for WRs Ryan Eccles and Josh Clarke), and DEs Evan Allen and Antony Burke collected 2 sacks each on defense. The dominance was still there for most of the game from the South Dublin side, but with injuries to key positions they were tamer than what many would have expected on paper. Still, the Panthers continue their winning streak despite some injuries, and now have a few more weeks to recuperate before a date with the Admirals on May 15th.

#6 Cork Admirals (0-2) 0-20 #1 UCD (4-0)
A somewhat similar story from Belfield, as UCD win despite a more pedestrian day on the scoreboard, at least by their standards. QB Arun Mooney connected with WR Conor Hanaran twice for TDs, while RB Sean McVeigh ran one in on the ground with McVeigh and RB partner Jack Finnegan combining for 177 yards. The Students’ defense, while not being overly aggressive, impressed in a big way: allowing less than 100 yards of total offense and only allowing Cork complete 5/28 passes, UCD shut out the Admirals defense not just on the scoreboard, but on the field in general.

The Admirals, meanwhile, now sit 0-2 without score to this point, and now need to self-reflect on what needs to be done to start giving themselves chances to win. The defense made some plays in the pass game, sacking and intercepting Mooney twice, but not capitalising on those turnovers and big plays will cost the Admirals games further down the line. Playing away to the Panthers in three weeks will be a big test.

 

AFI Division 2

#2 Causeway Giants (2-1) 6-0 #5 North Dublin Pirates (0-3)
A difficult watch at Trinity Sports Grounds with the lone score in this one coming in the fourth quarter. This game ended up being the complete opposite of the first matchup between these two, a 31-16 win for the Giants. North Dublin’s struggles continue in Division 2, currently winless and after giving up their series with the Giants. The Giants move to #2 in the division at 2-1, and while they are in that position for the time being, the Gameweek 1 forfeit to the Razorbacks may come back to haunt them when it comes to sorting out playoff positions at the end of the year.

Unfortunately no stats or reports were submitted for this game, though both teams will surely be happy with their performances on defense. Work will need to be done to fix offensive deficiencies moving forward in order to keep competing in the division, whether that be for playoff positions or to avoid bottom place. The Pirates have a quick turnaround as they play the Mavericks this Sunday, while the Giants have until mid-June to prepare for the Jets.

Preview: AFI Gameweek 6

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

The Easter break has come and gone, and on top of some MASSIVE flag football news and an EXCLUSIVE promo for the Aer Lingus College Football Classic, we also have a preview of this weekend’s action to bring you! With teams looking to either keep pre-bye week form rolling, or to kickstart a season that was struggling up to that point, a lot rides on these next few weeks as we rock into the middle of the season and start looking at more accurately projecting the playoff pictures across each division. Let’s have a look at what this Sunday has to offer.

Note: Originally scheduled for this week was NI Razorbacks @ Louth Mavericks. This game has been postponed. An update on when this fixture will take place will be available soon.

 

AFI Premier Division

#7 Belfast Knights (0-3) @ #2 Dublin Rebels (2-0) — De La Salle RFC, Palmerston, 2:30pm
The Gameweek 1 demolishing by UCD didn’t really do the Knights any favours for the start of their season, especially when they were permitted back into the Premier Division after previously being relegated in 2019, but that seems to have been a once-off result. Their latest 2 games, while also losses, saw the Knights fight in very competitive games. Robbie Alexander has collected 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble on the season and has definitely been a high-point on a defense that has tightened up after the season opener — Belfast has given up 58, 13 and 19 points in games this year. They will certainly be looking to replicate the latter 2 games than their opener this weekend against an offense that can capitalise on defenses not being on their A game.

The Rebels come into this after shutting out the Admirals and Rhinos 20-0 and 52-0 respectively. With QB Ty Henry feeling himself so far this season (6:1 TD:INT ratio, 1 rushing TD), the Rebels are a dangerous outfit. While they face a defense that has reinforced itself after Gameweek 1, Dublin are hosts this Sunday, which will help boost their chances of victory. With a stout defense of their own, the Rebels are favoured going into this one and it’s hard to go against them here.

#3 South Dublin Panthers (2-0) @ #8 Dublin Rhinos (0-2) — Castleknock RFC, 2pm
Another undefeated vs winless matchup here as the Rhinos host South Dublin. The Panthers come off a close game with the Knights in Gameweek 5, but will be happy to walk into this game undefeated so far, still rolling off the momentum from their 42-13 win over the Trojans. QB Ian Cahill has truly impressed thus far, throwing 7 TDs to 3 INTs. Coming up against a defense that has given up 87 points in 2 games, he and his offense will be looking to add to that tally.

The Rhinos, meanwhile, need to recover quickly, as they face return matches with the Cowboys and the Panthers in their next 2 games after this Sunday. To say they need to take advantage of any preparation they have done over the break is an understatement, as they are at a real risk of relegation even at this early stage in the season. QB Ethan Foster will need his best performance yet to keep the Rhinos in this one.

#5 Cork Admirals (0-1) @ #1 UCD (3-0) — UCD Sports Grounds, Belfield, 2pm
UCD play hosts in a game that they will favour themselves in — not just by record comparison, but by the fact that they have been able to knock the COVID hiatus rust off while the Admirals haven’t. UCD are going into the halfway point of their season, while Cork’s lone game so far was a 20-0 loss to the Rebels. While that is certainly not a metric to judge the Admirals on (the team had not competed in scrimmages during the league hiatus and they could return to regular form later in the year), it’s just hard to ignore what UCD have done to this point. Averaging 43.3 ppg on offense and 14 ppg on defense, the Students have impressed and blown past the majority of expectations put on them. This writer is on the UCD train until otherwise stated. Cork may keep this closer than many expect, but (while trying to dodge the commentator’s curse) this feels like UCD going 4-0.

 

AFI Division 2

#4 Causeway Giants (1-1) @ #5 North Dublin Pirates (0-2) — Trinity Sports Campus, Santry, 2pm
The Pirates are in a bit of a tough spot right now: their home venue for the season has changed, they come off the back of a 52-8 massacre by the Mavericks in Gameweek 4, and their Meath Bulldogs imports (who may have been able to add a bit of juice to this side) have not, at least on the standings, made the impact the Pirates were looking for. Of course, there is still plenty of daylight left in the season, and what better way to build some positivity heading into the midway point of the year than to get a revenge win at home to keep your team’s playoff chances alive? QB Rian Molloy has thrown a touchdown in his first 2 games but, while getting the passing game going is a promising sign, more will be needed of him against a team North Dublin have already lost to.

Speaking of their opponents, the Giants will have been sitting on their 31-16 win over the Pirates for more than a month, having not played since that game on March 20th. The only game they have *played* so far this season (the loss coming on a forfeit to the Razorbacks in Gameweek 1), the Giants defense were arguably bigger stars than their offense — with 2 interceptions (1 returned for a touchdown) and 2 fumble recoveries on the day, the Giants swarmed all over the ball in Limepark. Knowing they may only need to replicate that gameplan, on top of the fact they have been sitting on a win for a month while the Pirates have needed to recover from a blowout loss, the Giants will surely be confident going into this one.

Quickfire Predictions
Knights 14 – 28 Rebels
Panthers 34 – 8 Rhinos
Admirals 10 – 24 UCD
Giants 27 – 14 Pirates

Keep an eye on our Facebook and Instagram stories for a chance to give your thoughts on this weekend’s stupendous offering by voting on winners’ polls and leaving us your predictions for Sunday’s action!

Review: AFI Gameweek 4

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

The first 4 Gameweeks in the 2022 AFI Kitted Football Season have come and gone, and last Sunday’s action has certainly left a big impact on the rest of the season. Division 2’s two games from Sunday have already started shaping that division’s playoff picture, Division 1 has had a wild start due to a forfeit, and a Premier Division team’s chances at a playoff run may be more up in the air than many would have predicted at the start of the year…


AFI Premier Division

South Dublin Panthers (1-0) 42 – 13 Belfast Trojans (0-2)
Hands up if you predicted this scoreline?? A Panthers win was absolutely within the realm of possibility here, but even the Panthers themselves must be beyond excited about this win. With a bit of uncertainty going into the game regarding their head coaching situation, there was even a bit of an excuse to expect a Trojans blowout here. What actually happened was quite the opposite, as Panthers QB Ian Cahill threw for 4 TDs (3 to WR Ray Burke), while RB Ben Arulogun added 2 TDs on the ground. The Panthers defense smothered the Trojans offense in the second half, stopping multiple 4th down attempts and DB Sean Carrick picking off long-time Trojans QB James McKelvey late in the game.

The Panthers come out of their season opener with a big momentum-starter leadinng up to their game this weekend @ Belfast Knights and for the year ahead, and have silenced a lot of critics with this win alone. The bigger story here, though, may well be the Belfast Trojans, and where they go from here. The Big T have started their 2019 National Championship campaign 0-2, and have conceded 7 passing TDs in those 2 games. While they have a month to prepare for their next game (an away trip to the Dublin Rebels), shutting down QB Ty Henry will be vital to the national champions’ hopes of getting their season back on track — a loss to the Rebels (who themselves shutout Cork 2 weeks ago) would likely set the #4 seed in the playoffs as Belfast’s ceiling for the season, and would make missing the playoffs altogether a genuine possibility.

AFI Division 1

Westmeath Minotaurs (1-0) 30 – 0 (forfeit) Wexford Eagles (0-2)
Not much to preview on paper, as the Eagles elected to not travel to Mullingar for their game with the Minotaurs. This comes after the Eagles tight 12-6 loss @ UL Vikings in Gameweek 1, and ahead of their hosting of Trinity (2-0) this weekend. 

This currently leaves Division 1 in what can only be described as utter chaos. Officially, Westmeath have the best points difference in the division and currently sit in the #2 seed in Division 1, without actually playing a game yet. Trinity (having shutout their 2 opponents so far this year) sit atop the division, while the highest-scoring offense — Donegal/Derry Vipers (1-1) — sit in the #4 seed, with UL above them on points difference. The Eagles have some work to do to push themselves back into a competitive position on the standings, as Sunday’s forfeit leaves them with a -36 points difference and 0 wins on the season so far.


AFI Division 2

Louth Mavericks (2-0) 52 – 8 North Dublin Pirates (0-2)
The Mavericks jumped ahead early in this one and never really took their foot of the gas. QB Nathan Hearty added a score through the air via Kaelin Dunne for Louth, but the star of the day was clearly Brendan Simms in at RB, tallying up 4 rushing TDs for the Mavericks. A Rian Molloy passing TD to Mark Hughes made sure the Pirates were not completely shutout, and an Adam Pyne interception helped provide another positive for the North Dublin outfit to pull from the day, but it was certainly a much better day for the Mavericks.

The Pirates fall to 0-2 after their loss to the Causeway Giants in Gameweek 2, but can look forward to the return fixture of that game on April 24th when they host their first game of the season. The win leaves Louth in the driver’s seat in Division 2, having beaten the Antrim Jets (1-1) in Gameweek 3. You would have to expect the Mavericks maintain that position through to the Division 2 final in July, but as we’ve seen in the
divisions above, stranger things have happened…


Antrim Jets
(1-1)
14 – 8 NI Razorbacks (1-1)
The most competitive match of the week, the Jets came away with their first win of the year at home against a much stronger Razorbacks team than we’ve seen in previous seasons. The Jets offense ran through Scot McLean as it usually does, though instead of adding scores through the air, McLean ran a TD and 2pt in himself. The Jets were aggressive on defense, forcing 5 turnovers. This included a forced fumble by Kyle Fenton (recovered by Kenny Pollin), and 4 interceptions — 2 by DB Patrick O’Connor, including 1 he took to the house. 

Antrim’s win helps even out their loss to the Mavericks the previous week, and puts them back into the mix for hosting a playoff game in Division 2, currently sat in the #3 seed. The Razorbacks, due to points difference, still sit at the #2 spot, though will surely be focused on keeping better control of the ball moving forward to keep themselves in the playoff picture. There are no Division 2 games until April 24th, when the Razorbacks travel to Louth. They have a quick turnaround after that game, as they host the return fixture of last Sunday’s game on May 1st, hosting the Jets at Newforge Country Club.

Preview: AFI Gameweek 4

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

As we roll into Gameweek 4 there are already a number of storylines beginning to take shape: UCD’s dominance over the Premier Division has been a shock to many; Trinity’s defense has taken charge in Division 1 (as opposed to their high-scoring offense from their 2019 season); and Division 2 is a lot tighter early on than some may have assumed it would be. With the the schedule’s first bye week coming up on the horizon, we look to this week’s action, featuring teams looking to rescue momentum from early hiccups, teams looking to ride waves of momentum they have created early on, and multiple teams only beginning the season this weekend. Let’s have a look at what’s happening this Sunday…

AFI Premier Division

Belfast Trojans (0-1) @ South Dublin Panthers (0-0) — King’s Hospital School, Palmerstown, 2pm
The only match taking place in the Premier Division this weekend is a rematch of the most recent Shamrock Bowl way back in August 2019 (with the hiatus caused by you know what). While Belfast came out of that game as National Champions, the Big T find themselves in an interesting situation so early in the season — so early that the hosts haven’t even kicked off their year yet. They struggled very early on against UCD, and while they mounted a late comeback, QB James McKelvey was picked off by UCD DB Eoghan McMahon. What was promising about the Trojans performance, though, was just how well they — specifically RB Jona Siri — ran the ball, with the man himself totaling over 200 yards and 2 TDs. The Belfast back following up on that performance will be key to the Trojans steadying the course on their path to reclaiming National Championship.

Meanwhile, the Panthers will be looking at the UCD win against the Trojans and asking “why not us?”. The South Dublin side have always been a very well-drilled team, with talent at many positions on the field. With an influx of talent coming from their growing youth football setup, from flag teams like the MU Hurricanes and others around the Dublin area, as well as a small haul from the Meath Bulldogs after their withdrawal from this season, the Panthers certainly have bodies willing to make plays this year. The pressing question surrounding the Panthers is what type of team will they be without long-time HC Steve Mack, who only very recently stepped down from the role.

An interesting year and an interesting weekend lay ahead for two teams who need wins soon to put any worries — internally and externally — to rest.

AFI Division 1

Wexford Eagles (0-1) @ Westmeath Minotaurs (0-0) — Mullingar RFC, 2pm
Much has been said and celebrated online about the Minotaurs’s 15-8 win over the Philadelphia Blue Flame 2 weeks ago, and the story coming out of the game was the Westmeath outfit’s defense: HC Bill Dougherty schemed up 4 sacks and 4 takeaways (including a pick 6) against the American side, and will be looking to keep up that production heading into the year. The Joe Kinahan-Jack Lynch connection — despite scoring in that game themselves — will be eager to help improve upon what was an underwhelming day overall for the offense.

Wexford travel to Mullingar after their 12-6 loss to UL in Gameweek 1. The Eagles kept a close game in Limerick and were close to taking a win home at various moments in the game, and will look to do much the same this Sunday. QB Trevor Smith may end up using his legs more than his arm because of the Minotaurs pass rush, but based on his runs against a strong UL defense 3 weeks ago he may very well be comfortable with that. An away win here would surely be considered an upset, but Wexford aren’t strangers to those either…

Historically this game has favoured the hosts, and with how the Minotaurs have come out of the pandemic compared to Wexford it is difficult to see a break in that trend this Sunday.

AFI Division 2

North Dublin Pirates (0-1) @ Louth Mavericks (1-0) — Dundalk RFC, 2pm
After earning their first win of the year last week in Antrim, the Mavericks play hosts this Sunday to the 0-1 Pirates. The Mavericks will be pleased with the 27-12 scoreline from last week but must feel that they easy left points on the board between penalties and turnover-worthy plays. They will definitely be happy with their run game, with 4 TDs scored on the ground in Antrim and will probably look to extend on that tally this weekend. RB Nathan Hearty leads the division in rushing TDs himself with 2 and will be out to bump that number up as he runs behind his offensive line.

North Dublin will be out to limit the mistakes made in their first outing at Limepark in Gameweek 2. The Pirates offense turned the ball over into 15 points 2 weeks ago between a fumble, a pick 6 and a safety, so will look to tighten everything up for a tough test in Dundalk this Sunday. With more time to gel with their Bulldogs counterparts, this team will likely become more of a unit to compete. Right now, though, unless QB Rian Molloy can inspire his players to the point where they will themselves to a win, it’s hard to read much into this game other than “Louth Mavericks go 2-0”.

NI Razorbacks (1-0) @ Antrim Jets (0-1) — Antrim Forum Playing Fields, 2pm
With the Jets loss last week they currently sit bottom of Division 2, though that status does not do the Antrim outfit any justice. Boasting one of the stronger passing offenses in the division, the Jets are a team that can absolutely rebound both within a game and within the next few games of the season. Donaghy Group Invitational Cup finalists, the Jets will certainly be leaning on QB Scot McClean to bring them back to .500 on the year and defend their home turf for the first time this season.

The Razorbacks, the Jets opponents Sunday, are a peculiar outfit. Officially top of the division right now due to a forfeit win from their scheduled match with the Giants in Gameweek 1, the Razorbacks have welcomed a plethora of Belfast City Lions flag team players to their ranks, which immediately gives a major boost to skill position groups and their defensive back room. With that potential to burn teams with speed and agility now on top of the power they can show up front, the Razorbacks could become a real threat in Division 2.

This writer will contradict himself with his prediction, however, as it’s hard to see the Jets dropping 2 in a row. Still, both teams should be very exciting to follow in this division, particularly down the stretch towards the playoffs.

Quickfire Predictions
Trojans 24 – 18 Panthers
Eagles 06 – 27 Minotaurs
Pirates 12 – 24 Mavericks
Razorbacks 14 – 20 Jets

Make sure to follow our Facebook and Instagram stories over the weekend as we give YOU the chance to have your say and let us know who you think comes out on top in each this Sunday!

AFI Gameweek 1 Review: Students Set the Standard

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.

Gameweek 1 is in the books, and while there was only the one close game out of the four on offer (Causeway Giants forfeited their away game to NI Razorbacks), it was great to see teams across the country get back in action. It was also very interesting to see just how teams came out of the two-and-a-half year gap between games, whether they have stalled or built upon their 2019 campaigns, and whether they’ll be up to the task this season. So, let’s take a look into last Sunday’s action.

AFI Premier Division

UCD (1-0) 58 – 7 Belfast Knights (0-1)
In fairness, I did say this would be a high-scoring affair. With that being said, I never saw it going this badly for Belfast. What had been a plus-graded 2021 has, at least in the short-term, been completely forgotten about, as they got dismantled by UCD. The Students got off to one of the hottest starts in recent AFI memory, with QB Arun Mooney throwing for 5 TDs (3 to WR Cian Lawlor) and RBs Jack Finnegan and Sean McVeigh each adding 1 TD on the ground. The defense made sure to get on the scoreboard, with Dan Verzuh and rookie Eoghan McMahon (one of 6 rookies down as starters on Sunday) both taking an interception to the house.

UCD ride a massive wave of momentum into this week’s matchup with the 2019 national champions, while the Knights have 2 weeks to reflect and improve upon Sunday’s performance before hosting the winner of the next game on our review…

Craigavon Cowboys (1-0) 35 – 6 Dublin Rhinos (0-1)
A strong display by the ‘Boys disrupts any thoughts that Craigavon wouldn’t be pushing for playoffs this year. QB Peter Loughran was his usual self, spreading the ball around the field for 4 TDs, with WRs Neil Maxwell, Odhran O’Kane and Luis Alberto all making their debuts on the season’s receiving touchdowns list. Praise must be given to a man who could be found all over the field, Shayne Mone — Mone ran a TD in on offense, and also came away with 1 INT and 1 forced fumble on defense.

For the Rhinos, it was a much bleaker day, with one of the few bright spots being QB Ethan Foster’s 45-yard touchdown pass to Adam Jenkins to make sure the Rhinos could come away from People’s Park with some points on the board. Not the start to the season the Rhinos were looking for.

AFI Division 1

Trinity (1-0) 20 – 0 Donegal/Derry Vipers (0-1)
This was not a pretty game. Though it stayed dry most of the day, the field at Trinity Sports Ground had still found a way to be soaked, making for what was a messier affair than this writer would have expected between these two teams. LB Darren Quinn came up with an interception for the Donegal/Derry outfit, but the Vipers beat themselves on silly turnovers here, with Trinity defenders Sean Emmanuel and James Cushing scoring on fumble recoveries: one from a punt smacking off Viper helmet, and the other from a backwards pass on a broken screen play.  Neither offense really imposed their will on the opposing defense, and while QB Ben Dowling threw his first TD of the year, even he will admit WR Brandon Atwell did the brunt of the work, taking a screen play from Trinity territory to the house after he (and the aforementioned field) made every would-be tacker miss.

Trinity will be happy to come out 1-0, but both teams have better showings in them. The Vipers will surely be eager to even up the series when Trinity travel on June 5th.

UL Vikings (1-0) 12 – 6 Wexford Eagles (0-1)
Two teams entering 2022 on rebuilds went head-to-head in what ended as the first one-score game of the season. UL had an advantage going into the game based on their recent Premier Division history, and ultimately came away with the win. Wexford, though, kept things close with various tricks up their sleeve, chief among them being a Terry Carey 20-yard gain on a fake punt. Ground control equaled game control in this one, as Vikings RB Eoin Rudkins took 2 handoffs to the endzone, earning the W for UL.

Be on the lookout on our Facebook and Instagram pages soon for a preview of Gameweek 2!

Preview: AFI Gameweek 1

The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and to build excitement around American Football Ireland games.

After a longer wait than we may have expected around this time two years ago, AFI American Football has finally returned! While last year’s Donaghy Group Invitational Cup and friendly series in the back end of 2021 helped tide a lot of us over, none of that can compete with the excitement and the drama of an AFI American Football season!

We are excited to bring more than 80 games across the country this year, from big rematches from the 2019 season and big rivalry games, to first-time-ever matches and (of course) our 3 divisions Bowl games, culminating with Shamrock Bowl XXXIV on August 7th at Energia Park.

With that being said, here is a preview for each game to look forward to this weekend:

AFI Premier Division

Belfast Knights (0-0) @ UCD (0-0) — UCD Sports Campus, 1pm
The Knights will be eager to truly leave their 2019 season in the past, finishing just 1-6-1 that campaign. Saying that, the Belfast outfit showed improvement in their 2021 series, winning both games. The Knights will surely rely on the playmaking of their passing offense trio in QB Spencer McDowell, and WRs Jordan Clinton and Marty Caskey to make a big impact and keep UCD’s defense honest throughout the game.

UCD will be looking to pick up where they left off 3 years ago after an impressive, if up-and-down, 2019 campaign. Finishing 5-2-1 and with the highest scoring offense in the division, UCD fell short of making it to Shamrock Bowl 33, which will surely be the aim for the club this season. A strong offensive line with Wolfhounds experience, a plethora of offensive weapons and a defense that has had names like DBs Michael Sykes and Alex Kusmirek in the secondary should make for a team to watch out for come the playoffs.

Expect a high-scoring affair in Belfield…

Dublin Rhinos (0-0) @ Craigavon Cowboys (0-0) — People’s Park, Portadown, 1pm
The Rhinos goal for this season may just be to simply forget about the last 3 years. 2019 was the Castleknock side’s return to the Premier Division, and while their 2-6 record kept them away from relegation, their points difference (-145) was the worst in the division that year. There is a lot to be positive about for the upcoming season if you’re following the Rhinos though: a good, stable coaching staff with Steve O’Rourke as Head Coach, a perhaps-revamped defense under DC Nick Newby (as seen by their 14-0 shutout @ Meath Bulldogs during their 2021 series), and a dual-threat QB in Ethan Foster.

Speaking of dual-threat QBs, Craigavon Cowboys signal-caller Peter Loughran can be as hard to stop on the ground as he is through the air. The Cowboys have quite a deep WR room for Loughran to offload the ball to too, with the likes of Eoin Hughes, Anton Nulty and speed-demon Luis Alberto all options for the ‘Boys to target on any given play. With a stout defense to boot (ranked #2 in 2019 AFI Division 1), Craigavon may be a dark horse moving forward.

Craigavon should be in control here but should be sure to not let their guard down and let the Rhinos work their way into the game.

AFI Division 1

Donegal/Derry Vipers (0-0) @ Trinity (0-0) — Trinity Sports Grounds, Santry — 1pm
The Vipers come into this game with, arguably, the most momentum out of any team competing across the island this year. Though their 2019 outing was certainly not what they had hoped — a 2-6 record with wins against the now-defunct Galway Warriors and Waterford Wolves — their 2021 went about as well as they could have hoped. Going 4-0 in the Donaghy Group Invitational Cup and winning the tournament, the QB change to Paul O’Donnell seemed to bring the squad together better than we had seen throughout 2019, keeping the Vipers above 20 points per game across the 4 game tournament. Add a strong run game and defensive play from the likes of LB Darren Quinn and CB Marty Patton, and Donegal/Derry have a solid base that could bite teams that don’t match their physicality.

Trinity come in as a polar opposite to the Vipers in more ways than one. A successful 2019 season for the students saw them finish with a 6-2 record and with the #4 seed in the playoffs, falling short in the semi-finals to eventual Division 1 champions Craigavon Cowboys. The pandemic was a lot harsher to Trinity than it was to the Vipers, though, with the university team unable to compete until November 2021 in an Intervarsity blitz with UL and UCD. Trinity came out 0-1-1 from that blitz, but surely saw development from rookies recruited as far back as 2020. If the team can get close to replicating the form they had in 2019, Trinity may well be a title contender come the end of the Division 1 season.

As for this game, early control of the scoreboard will probably decide this game. With such differing ideologies on both sides of the ball and each team’s strengths playing into the other’s weaknesses, whoever can slow down the other first — even for a drive or two — should see this one out.

Wexford Eagles (0-0) @ UL Vikings (0-0) — Maguires Playing Grounds, Limerick, 1pm
Wexford enter their first season without longtime Head Coach Kevin Klatt, who joined the South Dublin Panthers coaching staff during the pandemic. Because of this, it’s hard to say exactly what version of the Eagles we will see in 2022. Wexford finished the #3 seed in Division 1 in 2019 with a 6-2 record and the #2 Offense in the Division. Being in a tightly-contested division, emulating that production on offense will be a top priority in the Model County.

UL, while perhaps not quite as uncertain as Wexford, also come into 2022 with question marks that will be answered this Sunday and throughout the year. Posting a 3-5 record in the 2019 Premier Division, the Vikings took the step down to Division 1 this season after the pandemic robbed them of some key pieces on both sides of the ball. Despite the large rookie membership, UL still have some recognizable names — QB Eoin Rudkins stands out — and will certainly lean on that experience to bring such a young squad up to speed.

Both teams need a statement win on Sunday. Wexford have always been a gritty team that have threatened some Division 1 goliaths in the past, but it’s hard to overlook UL’s Premier Division experience that includes 7 consecutive Shamrock Bowl appearances.

AFI Division 2

Causeway Giants (0-0) @ NI Razorbacks (0-0) —  Newforge Playing Fields, 1pm
The Giants may come into this as at least the popular favourite in this game, thanks in large part to their unique cyan-coloured kits and an incredible touchdown run during the Donaghy Group Invitational Cup from Tiernan Boorman that so closely resembled Washington Commanders QB Taylor Heinicke’s score against the Buccaneers during the 2020-21 NFL Playoffs that Heinicke himself shared the play to his followers online. A 1-7 2019 season was wiped somewhat from memory after a respectable showing during the DGI Cup last year — improving their points per game from 6.25 in 2019 to 17.5 in 2021 — the Giants will want to build from that series and begin their push to playoff spots this season. 

The NI Razorbacks had a similar 2019 campaign to the Giants, also finishing 1-7, but come into this season after a winless 2021 series. A deeper squad than what the Razorbacks have seen in the past, we can probably expect from the team a run balanced offense with a lot of rotation to keep defenses guessing.

Two teams looking to move on from their 2019 performances here so it will likely be an especially physical game. These two have met each other plenty of times already in the Giants’ short history, with the Giants last match (a 3rd place game in the DCI Cup) 22-7.

Quickfire score predictions:
Knights 20 – 24 UCD
Cowboys 28-10 Rhinos
DDV 13 – 21 Trinity
Wexford 10 – 24 UL
Giants 17 – 7 Razorbacks

This season promises to be one of the most exciting in AFI history! Make sure to get in touch with clubs and let them know you’ll be supporting them on gameday. If you can’t make it to a game, make sure to follow along on our Facebook and Instagram pages where you can stay updated on final scores, touchdown scorers and more!

2020 Senior Kitted Season Cancelled

Statement from AFI Commissioner Brian Cleary “The AFI board held an online meeting to discuss the current ongoing situation and the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak.

It has been decided that the 2020 Senior Kitted season will be cancelled in its entirety. A number of factors were considered in making this tough decision. There remains uncertainty as to when this crisis will end, which makes it very difficult to publish a schedule that will allow for enough time to prepare and complete a season for our members. It may also prove very difficult to secure ambulance bookings for fixtures due to the increased workload of our front-line services. We are also very aware of the financial difficulties our clubs and members may be facing during this time and do not wish to add any more pressure than what they are already facing. Ultimately, we need to put our members physical and mental welfare first before football.

We will continue to monitor the situation and, if circumstances allow, we are open to the possibility of hosting a 2-3 week tournament at the end of the summer for clubs that wish to participate and have some form of kitted football in 2020.

With immediate effect all current Adult Kitted, Coaching, Officiating and Non-Playing memberships will be extended until 30th September 2021 and there will be no need to purchase or renew your membership for the 2021 season.

No decision has been made yet in relation to Youth and Flag football. We will continue to monitor the situation and liaise with our directors in the coming weeks and update you when we have a clearer picture on the possibility of the Youth and Flag seasons going ahead.

It is important to note that we have put our insurance on hold at this time and under no circumstances is any physical footballing activity to take place until further notice.

Please look after yourselves and your loved ones and we will continue to provide updates as the situation unfolds. If you have any queries please contact me at brian@americanfootball.ie.”

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

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.

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

Shamrock Bowl: Sunday 9th August

  • 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)

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

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

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

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

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).