Category: Bowl Games

Review: AFI Gameweek 18

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’s Premier Division playoff matchups in Dublin saw 2 teams put on outstanding performances on their way to Shamrock Bowl XXXIV at Kingspan Stadium (tickets still available). With 102 points scored between both games, who came out on top and secured their ticket to the final? Let’s dive into last weekend’s action.

#4 South Dublin Panthers 6 – 46 #1 Dublin Rebels
The Rebels outmatched the Panthers and were relentless in securing the win Sunday. Consistently gaining yardage seemingly every play, moving the chains and playing water-tight on defense, the Rebels sprinted out of the gate and held a 24-0 lead at halftime. Not easing off the throttle, they scored another 22 points in the second half and, while the Panthers did eventually break through the defense for a score of their own, the Rebels dominated this semi-final and punched their ticket to the National Championship. With one more game to go, the 2022 Dublin Rebels could join the short list of Irish championship-winning teams who have completed undefeated seasons.

The loss is a heavy pill to swallow for the Panthers, who came into this game with a nack for upsets looking for another. Instead, the Panthers bow out of the playoffs at the semi-final stage to the #1 team in the country. Coming into this season as an unknown, particularly with an up-in-the-air coaching situation, the Panthers earned some great results where needed and proved their worth where it mattered in the regular season. With a steadier preseason in 2023 that should stabilise the foundation of the team on the field, the Panthers should be seen as Premier Division playoff contenders next season.

#3 Cork Admirals 6 – 44 #2 UCD
A balanced first half in Belfield gave way to a one-sided second half as the Students overcame the Admirals and denied the Cork side the chance to replicate the 2018 Shamrock Bowl matchup. The game was locked up early with UCD scoring shortly before the break to make it 16-6 at half. From there, UCD were disciplined and capitalized on many penalties given away by the Admirals, which shortened the field for the Students and helped them score more frequently. Couple those penalties with a growing deficit, and QB Stephen Hayes was put under more pressure to make more risky throws, and while the QB was on target more often than not, UCD were able to come away with 4 sacks and 3 interceptions. Cork’s season ends in a disappointing fashion, but their season as a whole must be celebrated — especially considering they finished 5-2-1 with the #3 seed after a 0-2 start. Expect to see the Admirals recover and reestablish themselves as potential favourites in 2023’s playoff picture.

The Students, meanwhile, build some necessary momentum as they can now set their sights on a revenge game from earlier in the season. A 40+ point performance against a tough defense and allowing just 1 score to a team that had averaged nearly 35 points in their last 4 games will absolutely boost spirits for the UCD roster. With 2 teams who have been hot all year playing with the National Championship on the line, August 7th should be a monster of a game.

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.

Shamrock Bowl XXXIV Ticket Information

American Football Ireland are excited to announce that tickets for Shamrock Bowl XXXIV will go on sale Wednesday July 6th from Midday. The first Shamrock Bowl to take place since August 6th 2019 due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the event showcases the two best American football teams on the island of Ireland, and pits them against each other to crown the National Champions!

This year’s championship final will kickoff August 7th at 3pm. Shamrock Bowl XXXIV will take place at the world-facilities of Belfast’s Kingspan Stadium — the home of Ulster Rugby — marking the first time the game will be hosted in the city since Shamrock Bowl XXIII back in 2009!

AFI President Aidan Maguire had this to say on this year’s Shamrock Bowl:

“On behalf of the AFI Board of Management I am delighted to announce that the 2022 Shamrock Bowl will be held at Kingspan Stadium in Belfast on Sunday, August 7th. The home of Ulster Rugby is a world class venue and one of the premier stadiums in the country. Having our national championship final at such a prestigious venue is another step in the growth of AFI. I want to thank Paula Bradley and her colleagues for welcoming the sport of American Football into their Stadium, as it was truly humbling to receive such support. Shamrock Bowl XXIV promises to be a great event between the 2 best teams in the country and we look forward to bringing our marquee championship final to the beautiful and historic city of Belfast”.

Tickets, available from £4 are available on Ticketmaster. More details about the event, including the two teams competing in this year’s National Championship, are to follow.

Preview: AFI Gameweek 13

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.

Happy Father’s Day Weekend, folks! With a scorcher of a weekend on the cards weather-wise, this gameweek has actually worked out to be a great card for American football across the island. 4 games take place this weekend, 2 apiece for Premier Division and Division 1, with everything from confirmation of a relegation battle to a #1 seed up for play. Will AFI Gameweek 13 be an unlucky 13 for any teams this week? Let’s try call the action ahead.

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

AFI Premier Division

#4 South Dublin Panthers (3-2) @ #5 Belfast Trojans (2-3) — Deramore Park, 2pm
What a turn of events for this one. The first of this 2-game series was played back in Gameweek 3, and the Panthers winning that one (let alone by a 42-13 scoreline) surprised a lot of people. The Panthers won their season opener and their next 2 games, while the Big T fell to 0-3 by May 1st. Since then the tables have truly turned: the Trojans, since returning to Deramore Park, have outscored their opponents 84-19, while the Panthers haven’t scored on offense in their last 2 games. Injuries and tougher opposition have contributed to that latter stat, and it’s a cloud the South Dublin side will look to rid themselves of this Sunday. With S Thomas Boyde lurking around the defensive backfield looking to add his 5th INT of the year, QB Ian Cahill — having thrown 7 INTs in the last 2 games — will need to take a lot better care of the ball against a team on fire right now.

A vital game when discussing potential tiebreakers for the #3 and #4 seeds in the playoffs. For a straight H2H advantage over the Panthers, the Trojans would need a 30-point victory, and while that may seem like a tall task on face value, they have won each of their home games this season by 30 or more (#6 Cowboys, #7 Rhinos). The Panthers aren’t that level of competition — they are currently in playoff positioning for a reason — and while this writer takes the Trojans to win, the Panthers should maintain their H2H points difference advantage over Belfast.

#3 Cork Admirals (3-2) @ #7 Dublin Rhinos (1-5)³ — Castleknock College, 2pm
To Dublin now where we see a team trying to avoid a relegation scrap at the end of the season hosting a rising Shamrock Bowl dark horse. The Rhinos defend their home-field for the final time this season, knowing a win will put them in great position to playing Premier Division football again next year. Dublin will be looking to the likes of Nico Marrimpoey, Gar O’Rourke and joint sack leader Samson Olusegun to keep the pressure on Cork QB Stephen Hayes, with the trio already having collected 13 sacks in 6 games this year. An aggressive pass rush has, unfortunately for the Castleknock-based outfit, not generated many turnovers and opportunities to get the offense on the field, only totaling 2 INTs so far this year. QB Ethan Foster and co. will be looking for a performance on offense akin to their 28-16 upset of the Cowboys, momentum from which they have since lost. Having scored just 12 points in the 5 games outside of that victory, the Rhinos will need to dig deep for another special game.

This one seems a lot more straightforward for the visiting Admirals. A win Sunday puts them in pretty good positioning for playoff football in July, giving Cork a 66.7% chance of qualifying this season without relying on results elsewhere. QB Stephen Hayes has been quickly shooting up the passing leaderboards, with Hayes and WR Jack Cronin building great chemistry as the year has progressed. Between the offense clicking more and more over the past few weeks and the defense and the defense not giving up more than 21 points in a single game this season, it’s hard to go with a result here that doesn’t go in Cork’s favour.

AFI Division 1

#4 Trinity (4-1*) @ #3 UL Vikings (3-2-1) — Maguire’s Field, 2pm
A difficult game to get a read on in this one, as we see a team who forfeited their last fixture travelling to a team who was shutout at home 2 weeks ago. This is the second in the UL/Trinity series this year, with Trinity grinding out a 6-0 win in Santry back in March. The Dublin Students will be eager to kick up the standard of that offensive performance, with QB Ben Dowling looking to improve on his 4 TD season. O’Dwyer brothers Conor and Rory will be key in the playmaking department for Trinity, consistently showing up as highlight performers on offense for years now. Consistent pressure on defense has been and likely will be the gameplan Sunday for Trinity, having so far schemed 6 players into at least 1 sack (including joint second in the sack list, James Cushing).

UL will likely use their option offense and designed QB runs to slow down the Trinity pass rush which should open up lanes to pass the ball, similar to how they attacked the Crusaders (#5, 2-3) defense in their 39-47 victory in Newbridge. A concern for the offense must be noted after failing to score at home when the #1 Minotaurs visited in Gameweek 11 though, and a gutsy performance from the Vikings offensive line will be needed to keep that Trinity pressure out of the way of QB Kieran Gilhool and create gaps for star RBs Eoin Rudkins and Sean Grace (3 TDs each). After a 3 sack game 2 weeks ago, sack leader DE Robert Browne will be itching for more this weekend against Dowling, though he will be competing in that department with fellow DL William Campbell. With 7 INTs on the season so far the defensive backfield has been all over tipped and rushed passes, so Vikings coaches will be looking for ways to create opportunities against a QB who has generally been very safe with the ball in his hands.

This writer will err on the side of caution and go with the home team looking to avenge their recent display on offense, as well as their loss earlier in the year. With better conditions this weekend, expect more points on the board.

#5 Cill Dara Crusaders (2-3) @ #1 Westmeath Minotaurs (5-0)¹ — Mullingar RFC, 2pm
Cill Dara come into this one knowing that an upset win Sunday is key to their playoff hopes, needing a win from either this game or @ Trinity (July 2nd) AND a victory over #2 Vipers in Derry at the end of the season to earn postseason football. QB Jordan Farrell has always been a gunslinger-type, especially this season (6 TDs: 9 INTs), but that ride-or-die style could actually be of benefit Sunday, with the Crusaders unable to play it too safe against an aggressive defense like Westmeath. RB Luke Carey (3 TDs) will also be sure to pop up in some key moments, having scored his first senior touchdown against the Minotaurs in their friendly series back in September. Craig Dooley has been the main bread-winner in the Cill Dara pass rush, tallying 4 sacks while also contributing in pressure that has led to the Crusaders’ 4 team INTs this season. Always ready for a tough game, Cill Dara will need all hands on deck for any chance of knocking off the #1 seed.

Which, on the flip side, could be locked up for Westmeath by Sunday’s end. The Minotaurs has taken a massive turn for the better near the end of the 2010s, going from leaky to water-tight over the space of 2 years, and have continued that trend this season. Much like the Dublin Rebels in the Premier Division, an understated pass rush has created more pressure than sacks, resulting in 5 INTs on defense (including 3 for division-leader CB Peter Dempsey) and no pass TDs allowed thus far. Add to that an offense picking up consistent yardage on the ground and through the air, and it makes for a difficult team to travel to. With the offense returning home for the first time since April 10th, expect a more performance by a more comfortable unit looking to put out a showing that asserts themselves as the team to beat moving into July’s postseason.

A win for Westmeath confirms home-field advantage in the playoffs, while their win and Trinity failing to beat UL would secure the #1 for the Minotaurs. Knowing what they could lock up this week, it’s hard not to back them here.

Quickfire Predictions
Panthers 17 – 27 Trojans
Admirals 24 – 8 Rhinos
Trinity 14 – 17 Vikings
Crusaders 6 – 24 Minotaurs

Clinching/Elimination Scenarios
AFI Premier Division
Rebels — secure home-field with Panthers Loss/Tie @ Trojans
UCD — secure home-field advantage with Admirals Loss/Tie @ Rhinos

AFI Division 1
Minotaurs — secure home-field advantage with Win vs Crusaders
secure #1 seed with Win vs Crusaders AND Trinity Loss/Tie @ Vikings

Make sure to keep an eye on our socials over the weekend so you can give your own predictions!

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 10

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.

4 games took place Sunday past for AFI Gameweek 10, and with more than 200 points scored, home debuts and playoff positions being fought for, there were plenty of fireworks on display! Now that the smoke has cleared and the dust has settled from Sunday’s action, let’s take a look back at how it all unfolded, and how that leaves both the Premier Division and Division 1, with Division 2 taking the week off.

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

AFI Premier Division

#1 UCD (6-0)¹ 44 – 6 #3 South Dublin Panthers (3-2)
Not a good run of form at all for the Panthers from the last few weeks, failing to defend home turf and being blown out by the current #1 seed. The offense was also shutout for the 2nd straight game (while QB Ian Cahill threw for his 11th INT on the season), with the Panthers relying on the defense again to prevent the dreaded goose egg on the scoreboard — this time DB Andrew Reddy picking off UCD QB Arun Mooney and housing it. Having started the year hot, South Dublin has actually cooled off as we roll into the summer months, being outscored 25-68 since the Easter break and going 1-2 in that timeframe. Taking that run of form into a playoff push is far from ideal, but their schedule could also prove a huge challenge: an apparently re-energized Trojans team looking to avenge their loss from earlier in the season, a desperate Cowboys side and the undefeated Rebels are all still yet to play the Panthers in the next 6 weeks.

It was business as usual for UCD, meanwhile. Mooney had his second 5TD performance this season, taking his tally up to 20. RB Sean McVeigh had himself another great day with another 2TD day on the ground, while on defense it was the near-faultless unit performance we’ve come to expect from UCD — Larry Doyle stood out with a sack and a recovery of a loose ball, while Brian Broderick and Finn Moloney split Cahill’s INTs one apiece to bring the Students’ insane takeaway tally to 15 in 6 games. UCD aren’t quite locked into a home semi-final in the playoffs, but an Admirals loss OR tie to the Knights on June 5th would secure a playoff game in Belfield.

#5 Craigavon Cowboys (2-4) 19 – 49 #6 Belfast Trojans (1-3)
Hector will be happy with this one! Kicking off their first home game of the season, the Trojans gave their season the shot in the arm it needed as they overcame Craigavon by 30 points. A massive result for Belfast coming at a vital point in the season, as a loss here would have all but ended their playoff hopes. RB John Haughey got on the scoring charts with a rushing TD, and Sunday acted as a big bounce-back game for McKelvey under center too, throwing for 3TDs (TE Gil David, WRs Ryan Brolly and Dominic Lynn) to 1 INT, his experience in this division guiding his offense through an Craigavon defense still adjusting to the skill level after their promotion from the previous 2019 season. The clear star from the day, though, was RB Jona Siri, hammering in 2TDs on the ground while also housing a kick return for more than 80 yards, a true momentum multiplier for the Trojans. The defense tightened up after a fair amount of criticism from around the league too, allowing the fewest points they’ve given up in games so far this season and coming away with an interception (Thomas Boyde). With a more forgiving back half of a schedule coming up, the Trojans are still in contention for a playoff spot despite being 1-3. It would be a heroic recovery on their season if it happened, but it is still possible all the same.

For the Cowboys, on the other hand, hope is dwindling. A strong start to the year has seen them go 0-4 since the start of April, conceding nearly 36ppg and scoring just 9ppg in that time frame. QB Peter Loughran did fare much better than his outing from Gameweek 9, matching McKelvey’s 3:1 TD:INT ratio — WR Eoin Hughes with 1, WR Luis Alberto with another 2 on his year. Jason Haire came down with the interception on the Trojans QB, but apart from that it was another disappointing day on defense for the Craigavon unit. With 2 tough games on the Cowboys schedule to go — vs #2 Rebels (5-0) and #3 Panthers (3-2) — there are still permutations for the rest of the season that can see Craigavon go back down to Division 1. They are shielded by the fact that some of those potential outcomes require specific results to happen, and are likely safe, although the Cowboys will certainly be pushing for another win out of their last 2 to not end the season on a 6-game losing streak.

AFI Division 1

#2 Trinity (4-0) 39 – 13 #5 Cill Dara Crusaders (2-3)
Trinity kept their undefeated season in tact Sunday, taking over Newbridge College on route to a 26-point victory over the Crusaders. The Dowling-O’Dwyer connection has proved a solid formula for success in the passing game for Trinity, with the pair scoring 2TDs through the air. It was RB Brandon Atwell amounting for most of the scoring though, slicing through the Crusaders defense for 3 rushing TDs, and a pick 6 on defense. Speaking of the defense, Trinity pressured Cill Dara QB Jordan Farrell all day, totaling 4 sacks on the day and forcing 3 total INTs (Atwell’s pick 6 and 2 picks from Liam Fahy). James Cushing, after a 2 sack performance last weekend, now has 4 on the season so far. Trinity look well on their way to a playoff appearance, which could be locked up as early as this upcoming Sunday with a win or a tie @ #4 Vipers (2-3-1).

For the Crusaders it continues to be a disappointing year on defense. Taking away 2 forfeit wins due to the Wexford Eagles folding, Cill Dara’s defense has conceded 38.7ppg, the highest average in the country. On offense they have shown the ability to score (see their 39-47 shootout with UL), but have also shown to be loose with their ball security — QB Jordan Farrell has already thrown 10 INTs this year. Jordan did connect with brother Kealan for a TD Sunday, and RB Luke Carey has shown to be a good addition to the Crusaders running game, adding a score on the ground (his 3rd on the year). The oft-aggressive Cill Dara defense did force mistakes on Dowling and gave their offense chances. Kyle Dooley came down with an interception, veteran Thomas Brocklebank scooped up a fumble, while Nathan Purcell had himself a day on defense by coming down with one of each. Cill Dara, with #1 Minotaurs (4-0) and Trinity again in the future, may need to rely on other results before their final day showdown with the #4 Vipers in order to make the playoffs.

#1 Westmeath Minotaurs (4-0) 24 – 7 Donegal / Derry Vipers (2-3-1)
After a 13-0 away loss in early April and with playoff hopes slowly fading, the Vipers failed to defend the Viper Pit at City of Derry RFC from the travelling Minotaurs. With Mike Naulty out through injury from the Vipers tie with the Vikings 2 weeks ago, Danny Mullan stepped under center and played a mostly clean game until an interception late in the game (WM CB Peter Dempsey). RB Pete Farrell punched his 3rd TD on the year, while on defense LB Charlie Carlin continued to shine, recovering a fumble to add to his forced fumble and 2 INTs from earlier in the season. A playoff appearance in the Vipers’ immediate future is still possible, though must get wins against #2 Trinity (home, June 5th) and #5 Cill Dara (away, July 10th) to secure a spot.

On the opposite sideline, the Minotaurs all but booked a date in the playoffs. The usually strong defensive performance was on show Sunday, with the defensive backfield closing down throwing lanes for Mullan before forcing the game-sealing interception by Dempsey, who makes it 3 INTs on the year. On offense, QB Joe Kinahan and WR Jack Lynch twice connected for touchdowns, Kinahan himself running in for the Westmeath outfit’s 3rd touchdown, while K Jay Bruton added a FG on top of the point afters to wrap up the scoring for the Minotaurs. After sputtering into the season in their 13-point opening performance, the Westmeath offense seems to have found its groove again. A win or tie @ #3 UL (3-1-1) OR a Vipers loss vs Trinity will secure playoff positioning for the Minotaurs, who will still have 3 games to play after Gameweek 11.

Preview: AFI Gameweek 10

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 10 has arrived, and we celebrate that milestone on the season with a cracker of a slate this weekend! 5 games take place around Ireland over Saturday and Sunday, including 2 each in Premier Division and Division 1, as well as a visit from the second team from the USA to play a game on Irish soil in 2022!

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

SATURDAY

Friendly
Centre College Colonels @ UL Vikings — Maguire’s Field, Limerick, 2pm
The Colonels are no stranger to a transatlantic flight for a friendly game, having played the Dublin Rebels back in 2014. They return to Ireland 8 years later, this time travelling to Limerick to take on UL for an end-of-semester celebration of the sport on campus. The Colonels compete in NCAA Division III Southern Athletic Association, going 8-2 in 2021. Quarterbacked by senior Trentin Dupper, the school record-tying QB for Total TDs in a season, Centre College are as excited to visit Ireland and spread the gospel of football as they were 8 years ago. For sharing culture, experiences and some football knowledge, this will be a great learning experience for both games. Focusing more on the domestic implications of this game, UL will certainly try to soak up coaching points as they can as they look towards the end of their regular season (including hosting #2 Minotaurs next weekend) and to the playoff picture.

SUNDAY

AFI Premier Division

#2 UCD (5-0)¹ @ #3 South Dublin Panthers (3-1) — King’s Hospital School, Palmerston, 2pm
A battle between #2 and #3 as we head down the latter stretch in the Premier Division, as the Students take the short trip to Palmerston looking to extend their winning streak. QB Arun Mooney has been the fast-rising star so far this year, although the entire offensive unit has put in incredible efforts to push UCD’s offense over the top. A quick-hitting run game bolstered by 3 of the best backs in the league, on top of a quick WR corps and a top tier QB in Ireland is a recipe for major success, and a big reason as to why they have been as dominant as they have been. The other reason? A heat-seeking, ball-hawking defensive unit that has forced 12 turnovers in 5 games. The production the Students have put forth on both sides of the ball this season has been nothing short of an A+, and all signs towards them carrying that with them into and through the playoffs.

The Panthers, meanwhile, will be itching to defend their home turf after an embarrassing 2-24 loss to the #4 Admirals 2 weeks ago. With little time to make adjustments for this one, the Panthers will need everyone back at 100% for what will be their toughest test to date. The likes of QB Ian Cahill, who blasted on to the scene early on, getting back to full form will be instrumental in breaking down a tough defense, while the defense will be looking to exceed expectations like they did in their 42-13 win over the Trojans to start their season. Limiting turnovers on offense and playing disciplined on defense will keep the Panthers on the ball for as long as possible — against a team that can score as well as UCD have, that may prove vital to their success.

#5 Craigavon Cowboys (2-3) @ #7 Belfast Trojans (0-3) — Deramore Park, Belfast, 2pm
Talk about a season that has gone off-script for both teams. We’ll start with the Cowboys who, after coming up from Division 1, many expected to maybe start slow and build from there, started 2-0 before beginning the 0-3 slump they find themselves in. A tough, competitive loss to the Admirals saw a good overall performance, but an unusually turnover-heavy performance from QB Peter Loughran limited the Cowboys chances. If there was ever a game for Loughran and the Cowboys to bounce back and provide an upset, this Sunday is it. A win here keeps the Cowboys in position to slip into the playoffs — a loss in Belfast likely puts an end to their season, with games vs Rebels and @ Panthers to come. 

The Trojans have also started their season unconventionally, especially for a defending National Champion. Going close against UCD in the opener, the true shock came in their blowout loss to the Panthers at the end of March, before a further big loss to the Rebels really narrowed their chances of defending the title. Perhaps it was the level of competition, or perhaps it was down to the travel, as Sunday marks just the Trojans first home game of the season. The likes of Jona Siri will be relied upon in the backfield to carry the rock against a tough Cowboys defensive line, while the defensive unit will use their inaugural home game of the season, along with the prospects of a playoff-less season for the Belfast team, as motivation to improve upon performances from earlier in the year. For what’s on the line, this could be a fantastic game.

AFI Division 1

#3 Trinity (3-0) @ #5 Cill Dara Crusaders (2-2) — Newbridge College, 2pm
Both teams will be eager to get back on track in this one, as both have gone without a game since April 10th. Trinity have gone undefeated to this point, with an especially strong defense not having conceded points in their 3 games played. Numerous players on that unit standout, but nobody has gotten himself on the stat sheet as consistently as Adam Byrne, having picked up an INT, a fumble recovery and a sack thus far. On offense, it’s the Trinity names you likely know, with O’Dwyer brothers Conor and Rory leading the charge with QB Ben Dowling. Trinity, providing they maintain numbers now that the university is off for the summer, look set to continue their push to the playoffs and the Division 1 bowl, though they could fall trap to Cill Dara if they cannot stay disciplined. 

Speaking of the Crusaders, we last saw them back in early April in the 39-47 shootout with UL. QB Jordan Farrell threw for 4 TDs in that game (5 on the year), and will be full of confidence coming into this one, as will RB Luke Carey who has scored in each of his games so far this season. A veteran defense, led by Dooley brothers Kyle and Craig (combining for 4 sacks), will have recognised how each of those 47 points were given up, and will likely come into Sunday’s game as prepared as they’ve been for a game this season. While many will favour Trinity, and perhaps should, Cill Dara pulling off the upset here should absolutely not be ruled out. 

#2 Westmeath Minotaurs (3-0) @ #4 Donegal / Derry Vipers (2-2-1) — City of Derry RFC, 2pm
Needing to pull off all the stops to get a much-needed win Sunday, the Vipers invite the Minotaurs into the Pit in the return of the 13-0 victory for the visitors. The Vipers have since played a game (a 10-10 with #1 UL), though picked up some injuries along the way, namely QB Mike Naulty. Despite this setback, the Vipers will turn to their strong defense and players like LB Darren Quinn and DB Charlie Carlin to make plays and limit the Minotaurs time on the ball, and while the likes of RB Pete Farrell will be eager to punch his way into the endzone as he has done twice this season, not being able to project a passing game due to Naulty’s injury from 2 weeks ago creates some issues from a predictions standpoint.

On the Minotaurs, they are in an unusual position. While most teams in Ireland are around the halfway mark in their season (some having past that mark already), the Westmeath outfit have only actually played one competitive game after the folding of the Wexford Eagles. Starting the season with a subpar offensive output against the Vipers in April (and before that in their 14-8 upset of the Philadelphia Blue Flame in March), QB Joe Kinahan will be hoping the last 7 weeks of fine-tuning will have paid off so he, WR Jack Lynch and the receiving corps can get on the board more often. On defense, they will be looking to keep pace with Trinity in the shutout department, having held the Vipers to 0 points in their opener while forcing 4 INTs. 

Quickfire Predictions
Colonels 48 – 14 Vikings
UCD 24 – 16 Panthers
Cowboys 21 – 23 Trojans
Trinity 18 – 14 Crusaders
Minotaurs 20 – 7 Vipers

Playoff-Clinching Scenarios
Premier Division
Belfast Knights — Eliminated from playoff contention with Cowboys win.

Division 1
No clinching scenarios in Gameweek 10.

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

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 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

GBC & EBC 2019 Final Week Preview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good luck to all!!

Youth Championship Day 2019: Admirals Are Champions

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

Cork Admirals IAFA Youth Champions 2019

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

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

Louth Mavericks Youth Team 2019

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

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

Admirals & Knights after the championship game

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

MVP: Admirals QB Michael Hand

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

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

Shamrock Bowl XXXIII Preview

The main event in the Irish American Football Associations calendar is finally back once again as the Belfast Trojans take on the South Dublin Panthers for the Shamrock Bowl in its 33rd year. This year’s game will take place at Energia Park, Dublin which boasts excellent modern facilities including a 2,500 capacity seated stand, 3G playing surface as well as multiple spectator bars. There will be food vendors on site as well as Football America UKs travelling shop, with plenty of equipment and NFL merchandise to choose from. Corporate.ie will also have their throwing competition, with brilliant prizes on offer.

Belfast Trojans vs South Dublin Panthers

These two teams are well known to each, having faced each other multiple times in recent years. They last played each other on the 9th June in Belfast, where the Trojans came out 26-16 winners. This would be the first of a string of three defeats for the Panthers to end their regular season whilst the Trojans would win out their remaining four games.

The Trojans finished the regular season as second seeds, gaining home field advantage in the semi-final, of which they overcame UCD 14-0 in a rain soaked game at Harlequins RFC. Both defense’s took advantage of the weather, stifling each other’s offenses as both were finding it difficult to establish an air game in the tough conditions. The Trojans eventually broke the deadlock at the end of the second quarter, ironically through a passing play, before going on to score the games only other touchdown in the second half. Trojans head coach James McKelvey was happy with his team’s semi-final performance and is really looking forward to taking to the field at the Shamrock Bowl once again “It’s been a real journey this year for the Trojans after a good start and winning our first two games but then stalling in the next two. As a team we came together and put in a lot of work to finish the season strongly. Versus UCD we came up against a fantastic team who pushed us in every phase of the game and I was delighted with the win. I can’t wait to play at Energia Park and face a team who I have a ton of respect for.”

It would be fair to say that the Panthers were underdogs in their semi-final when they travelled to the 2018 champions and top seeds, the Cork Admirals. The Panthers scored on their first drive via a 50 yard run, before extending their lead to 21-0 going into the fourth quarter. The Admirals got one back but the resolute Panthers ensured that that would be their only score, with the game finishing 21-6 and the Panthers securing their first ever Shamrock Bowl appearance. Panthers head coach Steve Mack was delighted to cause an upset and is confident his team can come out of the Shamrock Bowl as champions “Obviously a lot of positives and great things achieved this season. Club records on both sides of the ball, Ian Cahill and Eoin Neville setting individual team records too. So a lot of positives. Very happy to have built on last year, getting to the semi-final and beating an undefeated team which is really a testament to the talent this squad has and how hard they work. The Trojans are going to be equally as tough. A lot of people who came into the sport when I did knew them as those groups of perfect teams that could not be beaten and our club and our team has tried to emulate in a lot of ways what the Trojans were doing back then. I’m expecting a very tough game. An entertaining game for the neutral and a great advertisement for our sport in Ireland.”

Location: Energia Park, Donnybrook, Dublin

Kick-off: 2pm

Get Your Tickets Here

2019 Key Stats
Trojans
Panthers
Regular Season Record
6-1-1
4-4
Avg Points Scored Per Game
20.2
20.1
Avg Points Conceded Per Game
9.6
16.0
Defensive Shutouts
2
0
Games W/L By 8 or Less Points
2
5
Most Recent Head To Head Results
09 June 2019
Trojans 26-16 Panthers
20 May 2018
Trojans 48-0 Panthers
07 May 2017
Trojans 9-0 Panthers

Shamrock Bowl XXXIII: Belfast Trojans

The Belfast Trojans return to the Shamrock Bowl for the sixth time, having previously won four in a row from 2012 to 2015. An impressive regular season saw them finish second in the Shamrock Bowl Conference with six wins, one tie and one loss. The Trojans then hosted UCD just under two weeks ago in the semi-final. In stormy conditions, the home team managed to beat the students 14-0 and book their place in Sunday’s game. We caught up with Trojans chairman Barry Keil to look back at the season so far as well as to get his thoughts on Sunday’s vital clash:

The Trojans finished the regular season with six wins, one tie and one loss. This meant that they would finish second in the Shamrock Bowl Conference. What was the key to success for the Trojans this season?

“I would say that our success this year is down to making small improvements in every area. We have made the semi-finals in each of the last eight seasons and have missed out on the final by small margins in the last two years so making adjustments, recruiting well, retaining talent and implementing the new ideas that head coach James McKelvey has introduced has allowed us to take that extra step into the big game.”

Two weeks ago, the Trojans beat UCD 14-0 in the semi-final to make it to the bowl game. What did you think of your team’s performance in that match?

“I think we were solid but still somewhat shy of our potential. UCD are a very dangerous opponent but I felt we dominated the game and really should have been able to put more points on the board. The team is capable of that and we know that in post season football you have to take every opportunity that is presented to you to get put the game beyond the reach of your opponent.”

The Trojans will take on the South Dublin Panthers in this year’s Shamrock Bowl. Having already played them this season, what are your expectations for the game and how have you been preparing?

“Firstly we have huge respect for the South Dublin Panthers, the strides they have made as an organisation in last few seasons have been impressive and we are delighted that their hard work has brought them to the Shamrock Bowl. We expect the Panthers to have a thorough plan for how to take us on. They did their homework and pulled off an upset in Cork against the Admirals in the semi-final, we expect the same in the Bowl. It will be a tough tactical battle that, as always, will come down to who makes the fewest mistakes. In terms of our preparations, it’s been very much business as usual. We tend to focus on our strengths rather than the opponents weaknesses, if we play to the best of our ability, we have confidence in our ability to win.”

Finally, what advice would you like to give to your team that will hope to bring home their fifth title on Sunday?

“Play hard, focus only on what is happening in the moment, stay united, give everything on every play, leave nothing on the field, be Trojan, let em know.”

Coaching/Volunteer Staff

Head Coach
James McKelvey
Offensive Co-Ordinator
Ian Shaw
Defensive Co-Ordinator
Nathan Armstrong
Defensive Line Coach
Stephen Cheevers
Defensive Line Coach
Teddy Canty
Offensive Line Coach
Paul Braniff
Offensive Line Coach
Dave McCully
Wide Receivers Coach
Daniel Shaw
Running Backs Coach
Mike McAuley
Linebackers Coach
Chris Weir
Defensive Back Coach
Scott Morrow

Playing Squad

Number Name Position
01
James McKelvey
QB
02
Connor Whitla
DL
04
Andrew Henderson
S
05
Mark McVeigh
QB
06
Carlos Delgado
DL
08
Michael Ferris
WR
10
Oran McMenamin
WR
11
Ross Allen
DB
12
Jona Siri
RB
13
Sammy Geddis
LB
14
Keith Stevenson
WR
16
Marty Devlin
DL
18
Scott Fischaber
S
24
Ben Sloan
DB
25
Ted Elston
DB
26
Jonny Bryans
LB
30
Gareth Millar
RB
31
Alex Kusmirek
S
39
Peter Roberts
RB
40
Neil Graham
TE
43
Jake Warry
RB
45
Stephen Donnelly
DB
46
Eugene O'Furphy
DL
47
Peter Hamilton
DB
53
Jamie Wright
LB
54
Mark McGrath
OL
57
Stuart Leckey
LB
66
Mohamed Ramadan
OL
68
Hassan Jaafar
OL
69
John Mahon
DL
70
Ruairi McCann
OL
71
Dave Gordon
OL
72
Harry Creelman
OL
73
Barry Keil
DL
74
Zakk Appleyard
OL
77
Jonathan Stoops
OL
78
Danny Tarr
LB
79
Mark Davidson
OL
80
Tom Morris
WR
85
Gael Reverte
DB
87
Gil David
TE
88
David Richardson
WR
89
Andy Moore
TE
90
Thomas Boyde
S
92
Ross Thain
DL
94
Jordan Murphy
DL
98
Chris Currie
DL
99
Stephen Cheevers
DL

Shamrock Bowl XXXIII: South Dublin Panthers

The South Dublin Panthers will make their first ever Shamrock Bowl appearance this Sunday, as they beat top seeds the Cork Admirals 21- 6 in the semi-final to reach the big game at Energia Park, avenging a 14-20 defeat to them earlier in the season. The Panthers finished fourth in the Shamrock Bowl Conference, winning four games and losing just as many. We spoke with Panthers chairman Brendan McAleese about the season so far and Sundays historic game for the club:

The Panthers started the season really well, going 4&1 before finishing the regular season with three losses and a fourth place finish in the league. What was the key to success for the Panthers this season?

“It was an absolute belief in themselves as team and trusting what the coaches were implementing. We knew this was a talented bunch of athletes who take pride in every rep. They bonded as a team and a family very early on and as the season progressed that belief became the drive to never give up and as they say in football, just do your job and finish what you started.”

The Panthers overcame the Admirals in the semi-final through a 21-6 win. What did you think of your team’s performance in that match?

“It was typical of what we were seeing all season and we knew we matched up well against the Admirals. The team was well prepared by the head coach and his staff and the team applied that to the game.”

This year’s Shamrock Bowl will see the Panthers take on the Belfast Trojans. Having already played them this season, what are your expectations for the game and how have you been preparing?

“We expect a very physical, hard-hitting game based on what we witnessed this season and from our fixture against them earlier in the year. The Trojans are a very experienced team who give no quarter and expect none. We’ll do what we have done all year and prepare for a football game.”

Finally, what advice would you like to give to your coaches and players taking to the field on Sunday?

“All the work has been done at this stage. Believe and never give up. Stay in your routine. Just concern yourself with what you can control. Trust the man beside you and most of all trust yourself. We’ve got your back.”

Coaching/Volunteer Staff

Head Coach/Offensive Co-Ordinator
Stephen McDonnell
Assistant Head Coach
Emma Burrows
Defensive Co-Ordinator
Conor O'Driscoll
Special Teams Co-Ordinator/Offensive Line Coach
Brendan McAleese
Assistant Defensive Co-Ordinator
Rob McCann
Defensive Line Coach
Conor O'Sullivan
Defensive Backs Coach
Eoghan Whelan
Linebackers Coach
Sean Higgins
Conditioning Coach
Luke Doherty
Assistant Coach
Andrew Healy
Assistant Coach
John Romanoski
Assistant Coach
Steve O'Rourke
Assistant
Finn Connaughton
Assistant
Ruben Ruiz Torres

Playing Squad

Number Name Position
01
Andrew McMahon
WR
03
Ben Arulogun
RB
06
Eoghan Whelan
DB
07
Ryu Robles
LB
08
Stephen Lally
DB
10
Michael Lynch
RB
11
Ryan Eccles
WR
12
Raymond Burke
WR
13
Stephen Daly
DE
16
Ian Cahill
QB
21
Micheal Staunton
DB
23
Calvin Comerford
DB
25
Andrew Reddy
DB
28
Alan Barnewell
LB
29
Adam Bowe Devereux
DB
30
Ryan Hewitt
LB
31
Dominic Luxton
WR
32
Eoghan Gately
DB
34
Petru Bogdan
LB
41
Thomas Phelan
HB
42
Conor McGrath
DB
43
John Kelly
RB
47
Eoin Neville
DB
50
Colin Kelly
LB
52
Niall Burke
DT
55
Anthony Burke
DE
57
Gareth Fogarty
DT
59
Ciaran Jones
LB
62
Gustavo Andrade
DE
66
Oisín Russell-Conway
C
68
Gavin Jackson
DT
70
Stuart Bowles
OG
71
Allan O Kearney
C
73
Conor O'Sullivan
DT
75
Aaron Carbury
OT
77
Shane Roberts
OG
78
Stephen Connor
OT
84
Sean Goldrick
WR
85
Adam Conway
WR
87
Kevin Mayo
LB
88
Keith Lally
WR
89
Stephen Mooney
HB
96
Paul Fages
LB
98
Danny Curran
DT
99
Evan Allen
DE

IAFL 1 Bowl Preview

All to play for this Sunday with the IAFL 1 Bowl and promotion to the Shamrock Bowl Conference at stake as the IAFL 1 top seeds Craigavon Cowboys take on second seeds Westmeath Minotaurs. The game will be played at Navan RFC with live commentary, music, bar, BBQ and an ice cream van for spectators to enjoy and of course, the big game. Admission is free for everyone with the game kicking off at 2pm – not to be missed!

Craigavon Cowboys vs Westmeath Minotaurs

Form favours the Cowboys as they are currently on an eight game winning streak, whilst also carrying the best consistency having lost only one game this year. The Minotaurs had an excellent start to the season, winning six games in a row before losing their last two regular season games. These teams last met only four weeks ago where the Cowboys would return home from Mullingar RFC with a 26-0 win.

This will be the third bowl game for the Cowboys in three years, having lost out to the Mavericks and Rhinos in the previous two years. This has been an improved season for the County Armagh outfit, winning the league this year compared to finishing fifth in the 2018 overall standings. The Cowboys boast the better defense of the two teams, however they are up against the best offense in the league this Sunday. Cowboys head coach Greg Loughran will be hoping third times a charm and that the bowl makes its way back to Craigavon “We have to be confident going into this game but we are also well aware that nothing is guaranteed and that we have to perform at our best to come away with the win. We don’t have a right to the Bowl, it has to be earned and I’m pretty sure that the Minotaurs will be thinking along the same lines.”

The Minotaurs will contest their first ever bowl game this Sunday, following a stellar season so far. Changes off the pitch within the club set the foundations for the players to excel this year, which saw them improve on their fourth place finish in 2018 to second place in 2019. A tricky encounter with the Wexford Eagles two weeks ago, which had a 14-14 score line at half time, saw the team in purple emerge as 27-22 victors. Minotaurs head coach Conor Brennan was pleased with his team’s performance in the semi-final and has his team ready to try and bring home their first bowl “We’re really looking forward to the final. Obviously we didn’t like how the regular season ended as we felt that performance wasn’t what we were capable of. The semi-final result saw our big guns return to action and it was a much improved performance. We had a light session Sunday, just walking through plays and adjustments. I feel everyone is very excited but also relaxed at the same time. We’ve been around for eight or nine years at this stage and have had very mixed results over the years. We’ve gone 0-8, had some good years and some mediocre ones. Now we’re coming off back to back 6-2 seasons and playoff football so we’re just going to enjoy this occasion. That would be my message to the lads. We’ll aim to put in our best performance of the season and the result will look after itself.”

Location: Navan RFC, County Meath

Kick-off: 2pm

2019 Key Stats
Cowboys
Minotaurs
Regular Season Record
7-1
6-2
Avg Points Scored Per Game
29.4
31.8
Avg Points Conceded Per Game
9.1
11.6
Defensive Shutouts
3
3
Games W/L By 8 or Less Points
1
2
Most Recent Head To Head Results
30 June 2019
Minotaurs 0-26 Cowboys
06 May 2018
Cowboys 13-6 Minotaurs
02 April 2017
Minotaurs 6-31 Cowboys
Facebook: Craigavon Cowboys
Facebook: Westmeath Minotaurs

IAFL 1 Bowl: Craigavon Cowboys

This will be the third IAFL 1 Bowl appearance in three years for the Craigavon Cowboys, who finished top of the league after winning seven games and losing only their season opener. The Cowboys defeated Trinity College Dublin 27-19 in the semi-final to secure their spot at the IAFL 1 Bowl. Their defense finished as second best in the league, having only conceded an average of 7.9 points a game whilst the offense ended third best in the league scoring 238 points in eight games. We chatted with Cowboys president Jo Buchanan about the season so far and Sundays crunch game:

A tricky start to the season saw the Cowboys lose their only game this year to Trinity, before going on to win their next seven games and finishing top of IAFL 1. How much has the team improved from that first game to now?

“There has been a lot of changes throughout the season, particularly with new guys starting and old faces returning, which have been great additions to an already solid squad. We have played well in all three phases of the game and everyone has really come together week in week out to improve as a unit. Great coaches help too, we learned a lot about how we play in that Trinity game which let us make adjustments where needed. The team as a whole has improved massively since then.”

The Cowboys ran out 27-19 winners against Trinity in the semi-final, reaching the Bowl game as well as avenging their early season loss. What did you think of your team’s performance in that match?

“We were in first gear the whole first half. The heat was difficult to adapt to and we just weren’t clicking. We regrouped at half time and really stepped up our performance in the second half, which inevitably became too much for Trinity’s depleted squad. Fair play to them for travelling for such low numbers and putting in the performance they did. We have been working hard to ensure we start the bowl game playing like where we left off with Trinity.”

The Cowboys last played the Westmeath Minotaurs in June where their defense dominated, forcing a shutout against the Minotaurs high scoring offense. What is the game plan going into the Bowl game?

“We treat offense, defense and special teams equally as they are all just as important as each other. We have seen what the Minotaurs have but they were missing some players in the previous game, so we know this will be a completely different game. We will be focusing on us, our discipline and playing smash mouth Cowboys football.”

Finally, what advice would you like to give to your team before the big game on Sunday?

“It is a big occasion so soak it all in. Focus on your job and support your team mates. Finally and most importantly, enjoy it!”

Coaching/Volunteer Staff

Head Coach
Greg Loughran
Offensive Coordinator
Christian Cowan
Defensive Coordinator
Mark Beattie
Media Team
Ben Fallon, Kerry Richards, Liam Grimley, Simon Richards

Playing Squad

Number Name Position
01
Neil Maxwell
WR
05
Stephen Finnegan
DB
07
Peter Loughran
QB
09
Luis Alberto
WR
10
David McMichael
DB
13
Padraig Dynes
DB
14
Anton Nulty
WR
15
Christian Cowan
WR
22
Jo Buchanan
LB/RB
23
Lawrence Ruddock
DB
26
Stephen Brennan
RB/K
30
Christopher McLaughlin
DB
32
Gareth McShane
LB
34
John Murray
LB
36
Matthew Alexander
DB
44
Shayne Mone
LB
54
Conor Fearon
OL
56
Scott Buchanan
OL
57
James Loughran
OL
59
Criostoir Lewsley
LB
61
Jonny Magee
OL
63
Manny Bell
OL
77
Peadar McMahon
OL
81
Gavin McConnell
DB
83
Matthew Kelly
WR
84
Modestas Gargasas
DL
87
Peter Lundy
TE
88
Dylan Flanagan
RB
89
Conrad Smith
TE
90
Jason Duddy
DL
92
Joe Marley
DL
96
Micheal McGregor
TE
99
Anthony McArdle
DL

IAFL 1 Bowl: Westmeath Minotaurs

The Westmeath Minotaurs will enter their first IAFL 1 Bowl this Sunday, following an excellent regular season recording six wins and two losses. This was followed by a hard fought 27-22 win over the Wexford Eagles in the semi-final. The Minotaurs offense stood tall above the rest of the league scoring an average of 32.5 points per game during the regular season whilst the defense recorded three shut outs. We spoke with Minotaurs chairman Adam Ó Corcráin to get his thoughts on the season and the Bowl game:

A scintillating start to the season saw the Minotaurs win six games in a row, including three shutouts, before finishing the regular season with two losses and a second place finish in the league. What was the key to such an impressive season?

“Recruitment was key at the start of the season. We recruited eight new players both young and old who added greatly to our squad. Depth allowed us to keep guys in one position and gave them an opportunity to focus solely on that position. Moving Joe Kinahan from RB/SS to QB has helped us greatly. He has a firm grip of our offense and despite being only 20, he has shown great composure and maturity in the position. The final piece to the puzzle was handing our defence over to previous Head Coach Paddy Lally. Paddy put systems in place that allowed our defensive players to excel in their positions.”

The Minotaurs overcame the Eagles in the semi-final through a 27-22 win, thus completing the double over the Eagles this year. What did you think of your team’s performance in that match?

“We were extremely happy with our performance against a very strong Wexford outfit. We never have an easy game against them so to score 27 points on them in a playoff game was a feat in itself. It helped also that we were at close to full strength with players coming back from injury and holidays such as our captain and anchor of our offensive line JO Coyne. That win has given us great momentum going into the final.”

The IAFL 1 Bowl will see the Minotaurs take on the Craigavon Cowboys. Having already played them this season, what are your expectations for the game and how have you been preparing?

“Looking back on past results, we’ve never beaten the Cowboys but that won’t deter us in the slightest. We expect an extremely tough game against such an experienced team and as we all know anything can happen in a final. We know that we will be at full strength so we’ve tweaked what we’ve needed to tweak so it’s a matter of just bring on the final at this stage.”

Finally, what advice would you like to give to your coaches and players taking to the field on Sunday?

“We’ve learned from previous play-off experience not to focus ourselves too much and to be too serious. Being relaxed and going out to have fun is key. Enjoy the scores, enjoy the hits, and enjoy the atmosphere. Sport is about having fun above all else.”

Coaching Staff
Head Coach
Conor Brennan
Offensive Coordinator
Bill Dougherty
Defensive Coordinator
Paddy Lally
Assistant Coach
Adam Ó Corcráin
Playing Squad
Number Name Position
05
Niall King
DE/P
07
Dermot Corroon
DB
11
Cormac Fagan
WR
13
Jack Lynch
WR
14
Niall Folan
DB
15
Dean Core
DB
16
Jordon Lacey
DB
19
Shaun Dalton
WR
20
Jason Owens
DB
23
Colm Sammon
DB
24
Andrew Patton
RB
27
Joe Kinahan
QB
28
Jay Bruton
RB/K
32
Rafael Monteiro
RB/LB
33
David Walsh
WR
34
Padraic Cunningham
DB
45
Niall Corcoran
DE
48
Steven Nally
LB
50
Jayo McBride
LB
52
Darren Sammon
LB
56
Kevin Monaghan
OL
63
Sean McCormack
OL
66
Liam Dougherty
OL
69
Kevin Tempany
DT
70
Ros McAdden
OL
72
Colin Regan
OL
73
JO Coyne
OL
76
Dean Johnston
OL/DT
77
Stephen Goonery
OL
82
Mark Mulvaney
DB
86
Conor Doughtery
TE
92
Luca Valentini
DT
94
Gordon Murphy
DT

IAFL 2 Bowl Preview

What a game we have in store this Sunday as the CIll Dara Crusaders take on the Meath Bulldogs at Newbridge College Kildare for the IAFL 2 Bowl. These teams have clashed twice already this season, with each side coming out with one win apiece so this doubles up as a series decider!

Cill Dara Crusaders vs Meath Bulldogs

The Bulldogs have finished the regular season strong with six wins in a row, whilst the Crusaders have been the most consistent, winning seven of their eight regular season games. The Crusaders have been more explosive on offense, scoring 214 points however they come up against the Bulldogs number one rated defense, who have only allowed 58 points this season. When these teams first met in April, the Crusaders left Athboy RFC victorious following a 21-6 win. The tide would turn in May when it was the Bulldogs turn to cause an upset and beat the Crusaders on their home turf 33-12.

Home advantage will certainly have a part to play this Sunday, but the Crusaders are under no illusion they will need to be at their best to be able to lift the Bowl. It has been an up and down few years for the Kildare outfit, but this season shows what dedication and perseverance can achieve. Crusaders head coach Ken Farrell has his team ready for their biggest game of the year “This has the potential to be an epic battle or blow out for either team as it will come down to whoever can keep their heads and not let the enormity of the fact that this is all or nothing. Nobody wants to take home silver. The Bulldogs had the upper hand in the last game so we are ready to return that favour. Being an ex-bulldog, I know they are a great bunch of lads that fight to the end and will make this a great game. But the Crusaders are more than a team, we are family and hungry to prove to ourselves that being league champions is hopefully only the first step.”

The last IAFL 2 Bowl champions (2017) return to the main stage in an attempt to reclaim their Bowl. A testing start to the season was quickly put aside as the Bulldogs ran wild, scoring 157 points as well as recording two shut outs in their most recent six wins. Bulldogs head coach Mike Zito has enjoyed an excellent first year at the helm so far, but knows that his side will have to be up to the challenge to cap off the season with the IAFL 2 Bowl “The 2019 Bulldogs season has been quite a ride, we didn’t start the way we wanted to. It took a couple of weeks for the team and myself to get to know each other. With that being said, I couldn’t be prouder of this team and what we have put out on the football field. We got better every week, and the hard work has lead us to a shot at the title. We will be ready to play on the 14th, and the expectation is to leave it all on the pitch and see what happens.”

Location: Newbridge College, Kildare

Kick Off: 2pm

Facebook: Cill Dara Crusaders
Facebook: Meath Bulldogs

IAFL 2 Bowl: Cill Dara Crusaders

It has been the season the Cill Dara Crusaders where hoping for, almost going unbeaten (won seven, lost one) on their way to the IAFL 2 Bowl. Of those seven wins, the defense recorded four shutouts finishing second best rated in the league. It is the offense however that has stood out, finishing as the best in the league with an average of 27 points scored per game. Their only loss of the year came via a 12-33 home defeat to fellow bowl competitors Meath Bulldogs. The league champions will be hoping to do the league and bowl double on home turf this Sunday. We spoke with Crusaders chairman Robbie Tighe to get his thoughts on the game:

An excellent season for the Crusaders which saw them finish top of the IAFL 2 table and with the most points scored. What has been the key to your success this year?

“Definitely communication and trust in each of the players to do their role. Keeping a cool head and listen to the advice from the head coach.”

The Crusaders have already played the Bulldogs twice this year, with each team winning one apiece. What have you been focusing on in training to overcome the Bulldogs?

“The Bulldogs are a strong powerful team but I can’t be giving away secrets now! We have a few plays but with the two teams being 50/50 it’s going to be a cracker of a game.”

By winning the league, the Crusaders get home field advantage in the bowl game. How important will this be to your team on Sunday?

“It’s incredibly important to us as a team and as a community in the area. We’re looking forward to the support on the day and hopefully come away with the win.”

Finally, what advice would you like to give to your team for the bowl game?

“Nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said to the team. Keep a cool head, play hard and fair and respect your opponents. It’s been an honour to play by your side.”


Head Coach
Ken Farrell
Number Name Position
01
Jordan Farrell
QB
03
Dominik Pindi
RB
05
Eoin Whelan
WR
06
Senan Keane
K
09
Kyle Dooley
LB
10
Gavin Coyne
CB
13
Matthew O'Meara
TE
14 Finbar Downes
WR
16
Nathan Purcell
RB
24
Mike O'Connell
LB
33
Darragh Moran
LB
36
Ken Dooley
DL
42
Brian O Donnell
S
55
Thomas Brocklebank
DL
58
Oisin Marron
LB
59
Kenneth Byrne
OL
62
Deco Gill
OL
65
Robbie Tighe
OL
66
Patrick Travis
OL
69
Mark Lennon
OL
70
Mark Carey
OL
73
Killian Cullen
OL
78
Dan O Neill
DL
80
James Delaney
WR
81
Tommy Oyewo
WR
83
Jonny Keogh
DL
85
Kealan Farrell
WR
89
Jeff Ganly
CB
92
Bob Curran
DL
96
Mark O'Connell
S
99
Craig Dooley
LB

IAFL 2 Bowl: Meath Bulldogs

The Meath Bulldogs have had an impressive season thus far, winning six, drawing one and losing one on their way to the IAFL 2 Bowl. They have won their most recent six games, including a 33-12 win against fellow bowl competitors Cill Dara Crusaders. This saw the Bulldogs finish second in the league table, with the best defense in the league (only 58 points conceded in 8 games). We chatted with Bulldogs chairman Adam Keating to get his thoughts before Sundays big game:

It was a tricky start to the season for the Bulldogs, a 0-0 draw with the Pirates and a 6-21 loss to fellow bowl competitors the Crusaders in your first two games, what was the key to turning around your season?

“With a new head coach in Mike Zito coming into the team, we knew that it would take time for the new plans and structures to come to fruition but thankfully everyone pulled together quickly and everything started to click once our game against the Causeway Giants came around.”

The Bulldogs have now won six in a row and carry the best form into the bowl game. Which of those six wins was the one that you knew you had a serious shot of reaching the bowl game?

“The team took every game one at a time. The division was extremely close coming into the final round of games with three teams still in contention for a playoff spot so as cliche as it may sound, we weren’t sure until the clock reached 0 in our final home game of the season.”

The Bulldogs defense is the best in the league in terms of allowing the least points scored against, including two shutouts in your most recent games. Does the team focus more on defense than any other area?

“We don’t tend to focus on any area more so than others. Every player on the team has trained in a variety of roles and as a result we have many players who can step up when required. The Bulldogs have always been known for having a strong defense and this year has been no different.”

Finally, what advice would you like to give to your team for the bowl game?

“My advice for the final is the same as every other game – go out and focus on your match-up, win your match-up and the result will follow.”


Head Coach
Mike Zito
Number Name Position
09
Darragh Hogan
WR
12
Adam Keating
QB
20
Andy Lynch
CB
21
Conor Hogan
SS
22
Jonathan Mathon
FB/OLB
23
Cian Minnock
RB
24
Sean Lawlor
FS
27 Gytis Stankevicius
CB
30
William Sebati
OLB
35
Brian Gill
RB
52
Ger O’Brien
MLB
54
Jake Dunne
T/DT
55
Dominic Collins
G/DE
56
Mike Hobbs
DT
66
Michael Cunningham
T
69
Keith Horan
C
80
Shane McGill
TE
81
Jordan Reynolds
WR
83
Rory Smith
TE/OLB
88
Matthew Clarke
WR
92
Dermot McLoughlin
DE
Unavailable
Adam Pyne
Mark McCabe
William Donohoe