Category: General

Posts related to IAFA activities (also general category)

Appointments Made To Key Management Roles

American Football Ireland have further strengthened our management team by appointing some keys role within the Communications Team. As a board, we are pleased to announce the following appointments after a successful recruitment campaign, in which the quality of applicants where of a very high standard.

Cecilia Saba has been appointed as the Chief Communications Officer. Cecilia has extensive experience in marketing, communications and event management having worked with a large leisure company, a high-profile boxing gym, two sports leagues and a major social media platform. Cecilia has a degree in Sports Business Management and is a passionate sports coach, currently in the position of head coach of the UCD Trampoline club. AFI are confident that Cecilia’s experience will help AFI to flourish as we exit these uncertain times.

David McMichael and Joe Kinahan have both been appointed as IT & Web Admins. David has been a member of the Craigavon Cowboys since 2017 and a board member with the club since 2018. David is currently studying Computer Science at Ulster University and is looking forward to getting started on quality of life upgrades across our systems and maintaining the websites.

Joe has been involved in the running of both the Westmeath Minotaurs and the MU Hurricanes in recent years, serving as President of the latter from 2018-20. Joe understands the importance of engaging social media content for the promotion of AFI clubs and of the association and is eager to expand the AFI’s reach on all our social platforms.

AFI Board Member Jo Buchanan stated “These are appointments that are essential for our growth as a sport. Cecilia, David and Joe all bring unique strengths through their education and experiences which will hugely benefit our clubs and association, particularly as we exit from the pandemic. My fellow board members and I are delighted with these appointments and look forward to working with Cecilia, David and Joe.

AFI to Fill Key Management Roles

American Football Ireland have further strengthened their management by filling some keys role within their Administration and Directorship. As a board, we are pleased to announce the following appointments after a successful recruitment campaign in which the quality of applicants were of a very high standard.

Shane Hawthorne has been appointed as AFI administrator. Shane has many years’ experience working within the sports sector including Dublin City Council and other sporting projects. His knowledge and experience in coordinating projects and events while working with multi diverse groups will help AFI further develop into a premier NGB on the island of Ireland.

Gavin Nelson has been appointed as AFI Director of Development. Gavin brings with him a long proven record of working on and leading, national community and sports development projects in multiple countries. Gavin has vast wisdom working for and with multiple NGB’s and developing and supporting sports clubs. He is currently the Club and Community Development Officer with the Irish Football Association, we are confident that Gavin’s experience will help AFI to flourish as we exit these uncertain times

Ty Henry has been appointed to the Development Department as an assistant and has great experience within the remit of developing and promoting football. An all American collegiate athlete for Western Colorado University, Ty’s experience of American football will be paramount as we look to grow the sport nationally. While living in Australia Ty has been accredited to the development and start up a number of teams.

AFI President Aidan Maguire has stated “the continued appointment of experienced professionals to key roles within AFI will only benefit our members and the wider community. I am very excited to work with Gavin, Ty and Shane as AFI navigates our way back to football. These are exciting times for AFI and the support from our members has allowed us to seek out and appoint the best people to help grow American Football Ireland”.

Stay tuned for more exciting announcements which are coming soon!

The Northwestern Wildcast will take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Aviva Stadium!

A WELCOME BOOST FOR IRELAND’S HOSPITALITY & TOURISM SECTOR AS DATE ANNOUNCED FOR THE 2022 AER LINGUS COLLEGE FOOTBALL CLASSIC

-THE NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS WILL TAKE ON THE NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS IN THE AVIVA STADIUM-

  • Northwestern (Chicago) will take on Nebraska in the Aer Lingus College Football Classic on Saturday, 27 August 2022 at the Aviva Stadium Dublin.
  • The profile Big Ten Conference fixture is scheduled for week zero and will open the 2022 College Football Season.
  • 18,000 US fans and 5,000 European fans are expected to travel for game week in Dublin 2022.
  • It is expected to generate a massive €63 million for the Irish Economy next year. There will also be the benefits of a live US TV audience of 3 million viewers.

May 20th, 2021: A joint announcement in the US and Ireland has today revealed that Northwestern University (Wildcats) will take on the University of Nebraska (Cornhuskers) in the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, 27 August 2022. The Aer Lingus College Football five-game series was due to start in 2020 but was disrupted due the pandemic so this announcement is a significant milestone in getting the series back on track.

This is the first time that either team has ever travelled to play in Ireland and so, were thrilled to accept the invitation to take to the field and open the 2022 College Football Season at the world-famous Aviva Stadium. Nebraska was set to travel to Dublin later this summer for their game against Illinois, however, it was postponed because of Covid-19.

As Nebraska is one of the most successful American College Football teams in history, and with such strong Irish ties to the city of Chicago where the Wildcats are based, the game is sure to be a huge draw to sports fans here in Ireland as well as across the US and Europe. It is expected that it will also generate a massive €63million for the Irish Economy next year, providing a much-needed boost for the country’s Tourism and Hospitality sectors.

The wholly anticipated fixture is scheduled for week zero, and as both teams are a part of the famed Big Ten Conference, over 18,000 US fans and 5,000 European fans are expected to travel for the game that will be a major international, post-covid event for Ireland. The Series principal stakeholders are Aer Lingus, Failte Ireland, Tourism Ireland and Dublin City Council.

Dan & Susan Jones Family Head Football Coach, Northwestern University, Pat Fitzgerald said: “This is an incredible opportunity for our entire University community, from student-athletes to coaches, alumni and fans. We are thrilled that our program will get to immerse themselves into the beautiful Irish culture, while we continue to help grow the game of college football on a global stage. It’s an honor to be included in this once-in-a-lifetime experience and can’t wait to have the Northwestern faithful join us in one of the world’s most amazing settings.”

Nebraska Athletic Director Bill Moos said: “We are excited to reschedule the trip to Ireland for our football program. The young men in our program have been looking forward to this trip and we are happy to provide them this memorable experience. I know our great Husker fan base will be excited as well and the opportunity to travel to Ireland to see their team compete on an international stage will truly be special. I also want to thank Irish American Events for being a great partner throughout this process the past couple years. We were pleased Northwestern was willing to move a home game to Ireland and look forward to a great season opener in Ireland in 2022.”

Taoiseach Micheál Martin commenting on the announcement: “The past year has been a very difficult one for us all in Ireland and in the United States. With our vaccination rollout advancing at pace, we are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, and we can begin to look forward with optimism to welcoming visitors safely back to our shores. When we do, we will have a very special welcome ready for the teams and their supporters when they visit us for the Aer Lingus College Football Classic on the 27th of August 2022.”

Padraic O’Kane from Irish American Events Ltd. said: “The announcement of next year’s game marks a major milestone in both the recovery of major tourism and sporting events for Ireland along with the wider economy. On behalf of our stakeholders, we are delighted to welcome the Northwestern Wildcats, Nebraska Husker’s game, and later this year we plan to announce a further game for 2023, the second in the five-game Aer Lingus College Football series. As organisers in consultation with our stakeholders, the absolute priority is to ensure that players, staff, alumni and fans will be awarded our famous Irish welcome within a safe environment for their visit to Ireland next year.”

David Shepherd, Chief Commercial Officer, Aer Lingus, said: “Today’s announcement is a welcome beacon of hope for travel on both sides of the Atlantic.  As proud sponsor of the Aer Lingus College Football Series, we look forward to flying the Northwestern Wildcats, Nebraska Huskers and their respective delegations to Ireland next summer, and to promoting our airline to our valued US market.”

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Hazel Chu said: “I am thrilled with the announcement of the 2022 Aer Lingus College Football Classic in the Aviva Stadium. The benefit for our city, both economically and socially, will be immense, providing a welcomed boost for the tourism and hospitality industries. Such events strengthen our ties with other great nations, showcasing Dublin as a premier hosting destination and after a challenging year gives great optimism to the Country for the months ahead.”

Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive of Tourism Ireland, said: The announcement of the Aer Lingus College Football Classic for August 2022 is really good news. As we get ready to restart international tourism to the island of Ireland, the game between the Northwestern Wildcats and the Nebraska Huskers will deliver a very welcome boost for tourism from the United States, with about 23,000 people expected to travel here from the US and Europe. Our message to the teams and their fans is that we cannot wait to roll out the ‘green carpet’ and welcome them to Dublin and Ireland. I am confident that the Aer Lingus College Football Classic will be a truly wonderful opportunity to showcase Ireland and, more generally, the many attractions we offer as a holiday destination.”

Paul Keeley, Director of Regional Development, Fáilte Ireland, said: “This announcement will provide a welcome boost for the tourism and hospitality sector especially in Dublin which has been hit hard by the pandemic. We will be thrilled to welcome the teams and their supporters to our capital city when they visit in 2022.  These games are of critical importance to our economy, not just in Dublin but regionally too, as fans will travel and visit other parts of Ireland. The millions of fans watching the game in the US will also provide Ireland with a valuable opportunity to showcase our ability to host large-scale international sporting tournaments while also reaching out to viewers – and potential visitors – in one of our key markets.”

The University of Nebraska fans are renowned for taking over stadiums, home and away, with their famous “Sea of Red”, and so with this trip to Dublin, natives can expect to see more red than ever before in the country.

The Northwestern Wildcats are also known as “Chicago’s Big Ten Team” due to its proximity to Chicago which makes for a great celebration amongst the Irish spectators, with the high number of the population with close connections and roots in the US city that are so highly valued.

The specially commissioned Waterford Crystal trophy is the perpetual prize for the Aer Lingus College Football Classic. The Keough-Naughton trophy bears the names of two powerhouses of Irish America, Don Keough and Martin Naughton.

Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile

Ticketing / Hospitality & Travel Packages
Hospitality packages for the 2022 game are on sale now through the official corporate hospitality game partner Corporate.ie. Travel packages are on sale through the official travel partner On Location in partnership with Abbey Group Ireland. Corporate group ticketing opportunities will also be launched towards the end of the year. General ticketing information to be released in due course, with a pre-sale sign-up option available on the official game website.

The health and safety of those travelling to Dublin for this not to be missed event is at the forefront of all plans for Ireland. Over the next 15 months the nation will be continuously working behind the scenes to ensure a safe environment for all visitors in the late summer of 2022.

The Aer Lingus College Football Series will be bringing the usual college football fanfare with it, so attendees can expect lots of fun events including marching bands, cheerleaders and tailgating parties. For exclusive information see www.collegefootballireland.com and follow College Football Ireland on Twitter @CFBIreland, Facebook @CollegeFootballIreland and Instagram @CFBIreland with the official game hashtag: #MuchMoreThanAGame

New AFI Commissioner Appointed.

While sport in Ireland on both sides of the border gradually begins to open up, the importance of having the right person at the helm of the AFI’s Administration is paramount.

Following a successful recruitment campaign and subsequent interview process, American Football Ireland are pleased to announce that Erin Brown has been appointed as the new Commissioner of American Football Ireland. A successful project and events manager with World Rugby, Erin brings with her great experience and a skillset that will help guide AFI through the remainder of these uncertain times and back to fulltime american football. NGB management is nothing new to Erin either, as she previously sat as an external board member on the board of Softball Ireland. As a result, Erin has great knowledge on good governance compliance and the role and responsibilities of those charged with governance, leadership and embedding a good culture within a national governing body.

Speaking in relation to the appointment, AFI President Aidan Maguire stated, “We are delighted to appoint Erin Brown to the role of Commissioner within American Football Ireland. This is a momentous occasion, as Erin Brown has now become the first female Commissioner of American Football Ireland. As a board, we are excited to learn from Erin’s wisdom, experience and ultimately grow as the National Governing Body of American Football. We look forward to closely working with Erin and providing her with the necessary supports and development opportunities needed to fulfil her duties as Commissioner”.

Erin Brown stated on her appointment, “I am extremely honoured and excited to be joining the team at AFI and supporting its mission to grow this fun, inclusive, and increasingly popular sport. I look forward to engaging with the AFI community to support football’s return to play after a long absence as a result of the pandemic and helping to promote this vibrant and dynamic game”.

The appointment of Erin Brown as Commissioner marks the beginning of a number of key roles being filled within AFI Management in the very near future. Stay tuned to our website and social media platforms for further appointments.

Thank You Commissioner Brian Cleary!

On Saturday 8th of May, Mr. Brian Cleary fulfilled his term as Commissioner with American Football Ireland, marking the end of a 5+ year run of involvement within the sports’ management team. His positive impact has certainly been felt in all levels of AFI, and he will be missed going forward. In a recent correspondence with AFI members, Brian wrote,

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your support over the last five years. It’s amazing looking back to see how far we have come in such a short space of time and it wouldn’t have been possible to make the changes we did without your support. I won’t mention any names, I think I’ve already mentioned them at the AGM, but I would like to thank the board members and directors past and present who fought the good fight, worked hard and continue to work tirelessly to improve our association and its reputation. I have no doubt that the current management will continue to develop and grow our association, there is some exciting times ahead and I wish them and you every success.”

On this, AFI President Aidan Maguire issued the following statement,

“Brian has been a part of AFI management since 2015 and throughout his time he has shown a commitment and an unyielding dedication to promoting American Football in Ireland. At all times he has acted in good faith with the best interests of all AFI members at heart. His commitment and love for the AFI and its members has been second to none.

The last number of years has brought about some significant changes within AFI. As a board member and as Commissioner, Brian can hold his head up high known that the endless hours of hard work he has put into our sport, as a volunteer, has played a huge part in AFI’s growth and development. As Interim Commissioner and Commissioner of AFI, Brian has brought a strong sense of impartially across the board when dealing with teams or gameday issues/queries.

Going forward, I am confident that the systems which Brian will leave behind as Commissioner will pave the way for his successor in a way that will ensure a smooth transition of power. On behalf of the American Football Ireland, I would like to thank Brian for all his hard work over the last number of years.”

From all in AFI; thank you Brian, for your years of dedication and hard work given to the development of AFI, without which we wouldn’t be as far along as we are today.

We wish you every success for your future endeavours!

Super Bowl Super Raffle – Winners Drawn

The Super Bowl Super Raffle, hosted by American Football Ireland and GalaBid, has now concluded and winners have been drawn. A total of €14,316 was raised for our member clubs – many thanks to everyone who supported the raffle and American football here in Ireland.

All winners have been contacted by email (please check Junk/Spam folder).

Women In Sport Leadership Programme 2021

Last October, Sport Ireland endorsed a Women in Sport Leadership Programme which was being ran by Swim Ireland. As a result, AFI recommended 3 female candidates who were accepted onto the 8-week programme and who successfully completed the course.

Now this same opportunity has arisen again for 2021 and AFI would like to put forward more female candidates to participate in this prestigious programme. Please see further information about the course as well as testimonials below.

This programme is open to all female members of AFI. Participation in this programme will be funded by AFI pending successful completion of the course.

Due to time restraints, interested candidates should complete the form at this link and submit it by 10pm on Monday 18th January 2021.

This eight-session course will take place online over an eight-week period from 7pm – 8.30pm.

  • Course 1 – Commences Monday 1st February and finishes on Monday 22nd March
  • Course 2 – Commences Tuesday 2nd March and finishes on Tuesday 20th April

The aim of the course is to provide training, guidance and expertise to support women to thrive in leadership positions in sport. The interactive practical classes allow each participant to work and focus on their own development while learning from others as part of a team over an extended period. There will be some group and individual exercises during the programme and the size of the class is limited to 16 to ensure everyone has the opportunity to fully engage and reach their full potential.

 

The course is specifically designed for female leaders within your organisation. Those selected should already be in a leadership position or be a female recognised by your organisation as having the potential to take on a leadership role in the near future.

 

Course Content

The course modules include the following core topics:

  • Leadership and Values
  • Networking and Collaboration
  • Handling Challenging Situations and Developing Resilience
  • Crisis Management and Influencing in leadership
  • Communications and Developing Your Personal Brand
  • Wellbeing
  • Change Management
  • Governance

Participants will also receive a one-on-one coaching session and support in producing their own Personal Development Plan. Modules will also include inputs from guest speakers relating their own personal leadership experiences.

Frieda Gallagher, Donegal/Derry Vipers & AFI Diversity and Inclusivity Committee Member

A lot of effort was put into this course from Lisa Clancy and Sarah O’ Shea. Well researched and interesting guest speakers attended every class. Each session was a networker’s heaven, with so many NGB’s represented on the course. It gave female leaders and administrators the tools, techniques and skills necessary to undertake senior positions efficiently and a greater confidence within clubs, leagues, regional and national level.

 

Helen Smyth, Belfast City Lions & AFI Flag Football Committee Member

The course was really good! I got a lot more out of it than I expected and it was useful for career/personal development kind of things too, not just sports related things. Lisa and Sarah who ran it were great and really helpful and all the guest speakers they had on were all so interesting and had a lot of brilliant advice. It was so nice to get to meet lots of other women from different sports and backgrounds and I've definitely made connections that will hopefully be useful for flag and I think some of the girls would be up for giving flag a go too! Was honestly such a good experience!

Kelly Dwyer, Louth Mavericks & AFI Officiating Committee Member

Throughout the course, I was impressed with the level of knowledge, experience, openness and honesty of the women delivering the course; Sarah O’ Shae and Lisa Clancy. I felt the course content was educational and empowering  for participants. I enjoyed that the course was delivered through a variety of means including zoom, one-to-one mentoring, guest-speaker talks, group tasks; thereby keeping engagement and interest in the course content high. Having completed the course, I feel that my contribution to AFI will be more impactful, refined and better-informed. Overall, I felt the course was as follows:

  • Excellent in educating, upskilling and preparing it’s participants for leadership roles.
  • Excellent in tackling and dismantling some barriers to female participation in sport and leadership, examples include low confidence and Imposter Syndrome
  • Excellent fostering many positive relationships within the Irish's sport community and within the AFI female community.
  • Excellent at motivating it’s participants to continue and increase their engagement with sport.
  • Excellent at encouraging it’s participants to take up leadership roles within sport and/or professionally.

COVID-19 Supplementary Funding for Sport

AFI is pleased to announce we have been awarded a total of €58,000 from the COVID-19 Supplementary Grant Scheme with €36,000 awarded to AFI as part of the NGB Resilience Fund and €22,000 between 7 ROI clubs as part of the Sports Club Resilience Fund.

Club

Award

Donegal Derry Vipers

€7696.93

Dublin Rebels

€4561.75

Louth Mavericks 

€905.25

South Dublin Panthers

€5809.58

West Dublin Rhinos

€710.00

Westmeath Minotaurs

€776.39

Wexford Eagles 

€1552.59

Strategic Plan 2021-2026 Release

AFI is delighted to release our 5-year strategic plan. This plan intends to give the management team and members of American Football Ireland (AFI) a focus for the development of American football in Ireland over the next five years and to build upon the existing achievements of AFI.

With thanks to Charmaeducs Photography, Terrance McCann Photography, Ian Humes Photography and Keith Elgin Photography for use of their fantastic images throughout the document.

The plan is built on 4 key pillars:

  • Growth of overall membership – Increase the number of playing and non-playing members from 1650 to 3000.
  • Safeguard the future of our sport – Increase the number of members aged under 21 from 500 to 1000.
  • Be a leader in governance – Excel in Sport Ireland compliance. Have the necessary tools in place to be able to run the association as efficiently as possible.
  • Build our reputation with IFAF – To be included in proposed international games and championships each year at senior kitted, youth kitted and flag football levels.

One of the predominant themes throughout is to increase female participation at all levels as well as developing our youth and flag programmes to increase participation of under 18-year olds. Please see the full plan below or at this link.

AFI Strategic Paln 2021-2016

AFI Sports Capital Grant Webinars

American Football Ireland is delighted to announce two exciting club grant sessions for our clubs. The first session will focus on the Sports Capital Programme for our ROI clubs while the second will look at the relevant grants for our NI clubs. Details are as follows:

  • ROI Sports Capital Programme: Tuesday 17th November 2020, 7pm-8.30pm
  • NI Grant Landscape: Thursday 19th November 2020, 7pm-8.30pm

AFI encourages as many clubs as possible to register for these events.  By attending the online forum, you will be well-positioned to apply for new funding for your club, in a competitive environment. Recordings of the webinar and supporting documents will be made available to attendees following each event.

Each club has been sent details on how to register for the appropriate session – if your club has not received this email, please email jo@americanfootball.ie

Resignation of Orla McAleese

Orla McAleese, Ireland General ManagerOn behalf of the American Football Ireland board, I wish to inform you of the resignation of our president, Orla McAleese due to unforeseen circumstances.

First of all, I would like to acknowledge the tough decision Orla made to step away from a sport and a membership which I know she loved.

Most people in life strive to achieve success. While in her role as president of AFI, Orla has far exceeded success. Her dedication and commitment to American Football Ireland is unmatched and undeniable. In 3 years, Orla has worked tirelessly to develop strong relationships within AFI and with our external stakeholders. As a result, this has really set up AFI for continued growth and success long into our future. She has given up her free time to run and promote our association at all levels. She is a key figure and reason why AFI are on a journey of governance compliance.

On behalf of the AFI board, our administration, our directors and our membership, I wish to say a huge thank you to Orla for all she has done for American Football Ireland over the past 3 years.

Aidan Maguire
Interim AFI President

Wolfhounds Flag Football: Squad Selection

The Irish Wolfhounds Flag Football coaching staff has finalized the selection of the first 32 athletes to train with the Wolfhounds Flag Football squad in 2021.

The selected athletes will be given a training plan to follow over the next few months in order to prepare for squad training beginning in 2021. The plan will cover strength and conditioning, nutrition, regular check-ups, individual position-based and skill-specific drills, and when possible (within COVID-19 guidelines) group drills.

The coaching staff are keen to reiterate that if you were not selected on this occasion, keep working hard to improve your game – chances to be selected for the squad will arise in the future.

The 32 athletes selected are listed below:

2020 AFI AGM Announced

The American Football Ireland AGM will NOT take place as previously advertised on the 8th November 2020.

The new date for the AGM is Sunday 6th December 2020. It will take place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Northwood Park, Santry Demense, Dublin at 2pm (same venue as the 2019 AGM).

We are Constitutionally bound to advertise our AGM before year end and this date is subject to Covid restrictions being appropriately lifted.

We will have a Presidential election and a number of board positions becoming available so in the interim please share this notice with your members who may wish to consider joining the management of AFI.

Further information on submission of proposals and election nominees will be forwarded in due course.

Brian Cleary
Commissioner
American Football Ireland

2020 Flag Football Season Cancelled

American Football Ireland has taken the decision to cancel the 2020 flag football season in its entirety following the Irish Governments announcement earlier this week regarding all Irish counties entering level 3 restrictions. Results from any games played in the 2020 season will be null and void.

We understand that participants will be disappointed, particularly after the season got underway in many parts of Ireland, but the risk to our members welfare has become too great with the latest resurgence of COVID-19.

Those who have purchased flag football membership for the 2020 season will have their membership extended for the 2021 flag football season. If there are any queries regarding this, please direct them via email to brian@americanfootball.ie

Training within clubs can continue in line with Government restrictions and clubs risk assessments. For further information on restrictions, please see gov.ie

Coronavirus Update – August

Yesterday evening, the Irish Government introduced new measures. As a result, all fixtures scheduled for this coming weekend have been postponed. No games will take place until the government has given the green light which will be the 13th September at the earliest.

Furthermore, no practice sessions should take place unless it meets the new guidelines set out below:

  • strict avoidance of gatherings, including social gatherings, before or after events.
  • strict adherence to 2 metre physical distancing before and after events during breaks in play, on the sidelines and avoidance of team huddles.
  • limits of 15 apply to groups outside including training sessions .There should be no mixing between groups.

Teams based in Offaly, Laois or Kildare must NOT engage in contact practice sessions. Non-contact sessions are permitted.

For more information, please refer to this gov.ie update.

Teams based in Northern Ireland may continue to practice as normal as no new restrictions have been introduced.

If you have any queries please contact your clubs. Club managers please contact your relevant Director of Youth/Flag Football with any scheduling queries.

Brian Cleary, Commissioner, American Football Ireland

AFI Madden Championship Games Results 2020

The inaugural AFI Madden Championship Series has come to an end! A total of 62 games were played across the two championships, with 64 players from 22 clubs competing but only 2 could prevail as champions! Here’s what happened in each final.

PS4 Championship Game

In probably one of the best Madden games you will ever see, Jonathan Hedley of the Belfast Knights took on Jahn Dasini of the Cork Admirals. Jonathan started the game on fire and had built up a 17-0 at the end of the first quarter, with most people thinking that this would be a blowout. Jahn then settled into the game and got onto the scoreboard in the second quarter, giving himself a chance as the score at halftime was 17-7 to Jonathan.

Jahn would then continue to build momentum, recovering an onside kick to start the second half and scoring on the resulting drive to bring himself well back into the game. The lead then swapped between the players several times with Jahn having a 35-31 lead with 13 seconds left on the clock. Jonathan then executed what has to be the clutch play of the tournament to score a touchdown and regain the lead with only 8 seconds left on the clock. Jahn was unable to score in the remaining time and the game finished 38-35 to Jonathan who was crowned the inaugural AFI PS4 Madden Champion!

Xbox One Championship Game

The second final of the day saw Darren Quinn of the Donegal/Derry Vipers face James Smyth of the South Dublin Panthers in what was another close game with the lead changing sides on multiple occasions. It was a lively start to the game with Darren getting on the scoreboard first and taking a 14-7 lead into the second quarter, with James adding a field goal in the second quarter to take the score to 14-10. A key point in the game saw Darren sack James QB at the end of the second quarter whilst in Darren’s’ red zone, meaning that time would run out and James getting no points to close the second half, when it was highly likely he would get a 3 points through a field goal. Half time score: 14-10 to Darren.

Undeterred, James came out the second half and scored on the first drive to take the lead. The lead would change several more times. James was chasing the game at 4 points down with less than 2 minutes to go when the play of game saw Darren intercept James at the 50-yard line, effectively ending the game. Darren managed to add another score before the full-time whistle, with the game finishing 35-24 to Darren who was crowned the inaugural AFI Xbox One Madden Champion!

Huge thanks to our two special guest commentators: Gary Sommerville (Paddy Pigskin Podcast) and Chris Simpson (twitch.tv/trumpetmonkey) for the past two weeks – awesome job, the NFL Network will surely be calling soon!

Open Letter from AFI President, Orla McAleese

To our membership,

I wanted to write this open letter to all of you, our members, in light of recent events that occurred inside and outside of our football family.

We are living in strange times; COVID-19 has made us look at how we live and how we go about our daily lives differently, and it is becoming the “new norm”.

It has affected our sport and we are putting the plans in place, with a roadmap, to return to play so you can enjoy football again.

It is a slow process but, like everything we have done as a board over the past three years, it will be done to the best of our abilities, with the outside expertise we need from our sporting partners, and with the greatest ease and safety for you and your clubs.

Over the last few weeks there has been a global movement against racism. As an association we have not responded. I wanted to take my time to think about what I would say but my lack of words has spoken louder than anything I could have said. I have always considered AFI as a progressive and inclusive association and I am proud that our membership is made up of such a diverse group of people.

I have seen so many words, in the past couple of weeks, to explain how people are feeling including statements from departments within our own association. The words I wish to see more the use of are respect when we practice diversity and inclusivity, and integrity in doing the right thing even when no one is looking.

It has become evident to me that we need to be doing more. As an association, we need to reinforce our core values and beliefs, we need to provide a safe and welcoming environment for everyone who takes part in our sport.

To many it may look like that, as an association, we are not doing anything and are staying silent, but the board has been working together for many weeks to introduce a new diversity project and for that we need your help.

Over the coming weeks, we will be contacting our members to learn about your experiences while participating in the sport. We will be appointing a workgroup to consider the feedback and use those learnings to develop an action plan to ultimately promote and grow respect for diversity within our association, starting within our clubs upward. We want to establish a safe and supportive environment and platform for our members to express their views.

I understand that we need to do better. We, as a national governing body, need to be leaders in setting the standard. Campaigns come and go; social media posts and profiles change daily and there will always be another good cause to support. Our plan for diversity will live on and become part of our association. It will become part of who we are, and we will speak as one voice across the different elements of our association. I call on you all to help us and make it a living reality.

Orla McAleese

President

American Football Ireland

Special Guest Commentators: AFI Madden Championship Series 2020

We are delighted to announce our special guest commentators for both the semi-finals and finals of the 2020 AFI Madden Championship Series!

Gary Sommerville
Gary is a former Dublin Rebel who now lives in Boston, USA. You may recognize his voice during commentary as he is the host of two podcasts; Paddy Pigskin which discusses all things football on both sides of the pond, and Barstool Biology which breaks down popular scientific topics over a beer with experts in their field.

Chris Simpson
Chris is also a former Dublin Rebel who is now a Partnered Twitch Streamer with over 10,000 followers on his channel twitch.tv/trumpetmonkey. Chris is also an EA Gamechanger and reigning Twitch Rivals Madden Superstar KO Champion!

Gary and Chris will be providing live commentary on the matches as well as chatting to players pre and post-match. Thanks to Gary and Chris for coming onboard, we can’t wait!

Round 1 Results: AFI Madden Championship Series 2020

What a round one we were treated to as 64 competitors became 32 across the two championships! Well done to Jack Compton of the Louth Mavericks who scored the most points (77) and won by the largest margin (56 points) and to Padraig Fitzsimons (Downpatrick Saints), Jahn Dasini (Cork Admirals) and Luke McIntyre (MU Hurricanes) who shut out their opponents.

Playstation 4 Round 1 Results
Club Name Score Name Club
Trinity College Eoin Maguire 33-22 Aidan Clarke Cill Dara Crusaders
Galway Warriors Colin O'Halloren 7-22 Nathan Hearty Louth Mavericks
West Dublin Rhinos Pat Gahan 33-10 Karl Tizzard Donegal/Derry Vipers
South Dublin Panthers Ryan Eccles 49-10 Pat Travers Cill Dara Crusaders
MU Hurricanes Alan Campbell 54-21 Rob Caldwell Louth Mavericks
Downpatrick Saints Padraig Fitzsimons 24-0 Ross McKenzie Causeway Giants
Causeway Giants Adam Wilson 29-36 James Hogan Cork Admirals
Belfast Trojans John McGinnis 14-38 Rory O'Dwyer Trinity College
Wexford Eagles Michael Hasset 10-28 Johannes Ritter Galway Warriors
North Dublin Pirates Shane Greaney 17-45 Mike Naulty Donegal/Derry Vipers
Craigavon Cowboys Neil Maxwell 3-42 Wello Omo Dublin Rebels
Belfast Knights Jonathan Hedley 40-7 Danny Quilter UL Vikings
Craigavon Cowboys Eoin Hughes 21-19 Niall Houlihan UL Vikings
North Dublin Pirates Daragh Maher 0-17 Jahn Dasini Cork Admirals
Belfast Trojans Max Hardy 24-38 James O’Driscol  UCC Raiders
MU Hurricanes Killian O'Loughlin 28-10 Peter Murphy UCC Raiders
Xbox One Round 1 Results
Club Name Score Name Club
Donegal/Derry Vipers Darren Quinn 17-13 Liam Ryan UL Vikings
Antrim Jets Odhran McCool 20-43 Matthew O'Meara South Dublin Panthers
Louth Mavericks Declan Mulvihill 14-23 Daniel Noctor Wexford Eagles
NI Razorbacks Anthony Morris 22-7 Callum McCurry Donegal/Derry Vipers
Cork City Outlaws Wolf Gallagher 24-30 Paul Crothers Belfast Knights
Cork City Outlaws Ronan McAleenan 10-24 Peter Phillips Causeway Giants
Cork Admirals Ayo Mumuni 3-19 James Smyth South Dublin Panthers
Cill Dara Crusaders Paul Furlong 21-77 Jack Compton  Louth Mavericks
West Dublin Rhinos Karl Fanning 44-14 Ben Prizemam UCC Raiders
Craigavon Cowboys David McMichael 14-27 Jamie O'Brien UL Vikings
Downpatrick Saints Darren Rooney  17-27 Aidan Ryan MU Hurricanes
Dublin Rebels Ross McCooey 6-45 Conor O'Neill Belfast Trojans
Belfast Knights William Boal 11-47 Chris McCallum Belfast Trojans
North Dublin Pirates Darragh Lyons 21-28 Peter Loughran Craigavon Cowboys
Cill Dara Crusaders Jordan Farrell 6-31 Ross O’Neill  Downpatrick Saints
MU Hurricanes Luke McIntyre 38-0 David King Dublin Rebels

Credit to the MU Hurricanes who were the most successful, with all 4 of their competitors making it through to round two, whilst the South Dublin Panthers saw their 3 entrants make it through also.

Out of the 22 clubs represented in round one, there will only be 18 represented in round two with the Cill Dara Crusaders taking the worst blow, losing all 4 of their competitors whilst the North Dublin Pirates lost all 3 of their competitors.

Club Round 1* Round 2*
Antrim Jets 1 0
Belfast Knights 3 2
Belfast Trojans 4 2
Causeway Giants 3 1
Cill Dara Crusaders 4 0
Cork Admirals 3 2
Cork City Outlaws 2 0
Craigavon Cowboys 4 2
Donegal/Derry Vipers 4 2
Downpatrick Saints 3 2
Dublin Rebels 3 1
Galway Warriors 2 1
Louth Mavericks 4 2
MU Hurricanes 4 4
NI Razorbacks 1 1
North Dublin Pirates 3 0
South Dublin Panthers 3 3
Trinity College 2 2
UCC Raiders 3 1
UL Vikings 4 1
West Dublin Rhinos 2 2
Wexford Eagles 2 1
*Competitors

The draw for round two of both championships will take place at 9pm tomorrow night (Wednesday 27th May 2020) on our Facebook page.

Coaching Course: Mental Health Awareness for Sport & Physical Activity

AFI is delighted to inform you that through UK Coaching, coaches can access the online course ‘Mental Health Awareness for Sport & Physical Activity’ for free!

Usually £18, the course is accessible via the organisation’s learning and development platform and will remain free of charge until the 31 August 2020.

The mental health of the population is being challenged during this isolating time. Through this course, coaches will be able to increase their knowledge of mental health, and confidence when applying the learning into their coaching practice.

Specifically, learners will be able to:

  • Welcome and support people living with mental health problems in their sport and physical activity sessions
  • Increase their knowledge of mental health problems
  • Apply the learning in their coaching practice
  • Make their club or organisation more inclusive.

All you need to do is click here where you will be able to purchase the course for free.

AFI Madden Championship Series 2020

American Football Ireland is delighted to announce the first AFI Madden Championship Series! There will be two championships in this series – one for PlayStation 4 players and one for Xbox One players, with Madden 20 as the chosen version of the game on both platforms. The winner of each championship will receive a €50 voucher!

Please note: this is open to AFI members only, not the general public.

How will it work?

AFI member clubs will hold their own internal club tournaments to decide a club champion for each platform (i.e. PlayStation and Xbox). The club champions will move on to the AFI Madden Championship Series, where they will face champions from other clubs in a knockout format.

We also ask for a runner up to be provided for each platform from each club, who may also make it to the AFI Madden Championship Series, depending on the number of club champions we receive. Should runners up be required, they will be selected by random draw.

The AFI Madden Championship Series will be managed by AFI and a live draw for each round will take place on Facebook. Players will then have 3 days to arrange a day and time to play and also to play the game. For example, if the draw takes place at 8pm on a Wednesday, the players will then have until 9pm Saturday of the same week to play the game – it is up to the players to arrange the game between themselves. The final will be a day and time agreed by AFI and both players.

What do we do next?

Every club administrator has been contacted by email with further information – please check your junk/spam folder if it does not appear in your inbox. Clubs will each devise their own way of determining a club champion and runner up – details of club champions and runners up must be sent to AFI no later than 6pm on Wednesday 20th May 2020. Failure to return the form by then will result in your club not participating in the championship series – late returns will also not be accepted. The live draw for the first round will take place at 9pm on Wednesday 20th May 2020.

The below is an initial list of championship series rules to help you complete your internal club competitions. AFI reserves to right the amend/remove/add to these rules.

Match Rules

We will be using the following rules when the championship series begins, so we recommend that you also use the same:

  • Fatigue: On
  • Injuries: Off
  • Even Teams: Off
  • Quarter Length: 6 Min.
  • Game Skill: All-Pro
  • Accelerated Clock: 20 Sec
  • Weather: Off

Team Selection

Players can pick any of the 32 NFL standard teams – Pro Bowl/Ultimate Team/Any Other cannot be used. If players are using the same team, please ensure that the uniforms are different – at a very minimum, using a different jersey colour. Players are permitted to change teams for each round of the championship series.

Live Streaming

AFI will look to have streaming capabilities in place by 20th May. Further communication on this will follow.

Behaviour

Players are expected to show good conduct at all times. Any threatening behaviour, foul language, or any unsportsmanlike conduct may result in disqualification from the championship series.

Disputes

Any disputes will be determined by the AFI Board and the decision will be final.

COVID-19 Statement

Statement from AFI Commissioner Brian Cleary

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

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

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

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

New Commissioner Appointed

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

Congratulations Brian and best of luck in the position!

Commissioner: Brian Cleary

Press Release: American Football Ireland

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

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

Official logo of American Football Ireland

2020 Senior Kitted Schedule Announced

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fixtures

Shamrock Bowl Conference

IAFL 1

IAFL 2

Notice of SGM

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

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

20×20: Frieda Gallagher

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

What sparked your initial interest in American football?

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

How did you get involved with your club/IAFA?

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

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

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

What is the American football environment like in Ireland?

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

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

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