Category: Youth Football

Posts related to Junior football

Preview: 2022 AFI Youth Football Playoffs

This Sunday November 6th the Sport Ireland Campus in Blanchardstown, Co. Dublin hosts the 2022 AFI Youth Football Playoffs. 4 teams will showcase the best U-18s athletes AFI has to offer, all in a bid to be crowned National Champions. The schedule for Sunday is as follows:

12:30#1 Cork Admirals (4-0) vs #4 Donegal / Derry Vipers (1-2-1)
13:30#2 South Dublin Panthers (2-1-1) vs #3 Belfast Knights (2-2)
15:00Youth Football Final

With just a few days until our 2022 National Champions are confirmed, let’s take a quick look into each team and what strengths they will rely on to bring home the big one!

#1 Cork Admirals (4-0)
The reigning National Champions picked up where they left off last season and have continued their dominance in the league. Outscoring the remaining playoff teams combined, as well as boasting a defense that has conceded just 1 touchdown all year, the Admirals are a true force that seems difficult to stop. With star RB Neil O’Leary paving the way on the ground, and a turnover-happy defense that includes FS Daniel O’Sullivan, any team facing Cork will need to play a near-perfect game to keep up with the juggernaut from the south.

#2 South Dublin Panthers (2-1-1)
The Panthers are a well-drilled side that has always played hard, competitive football. Tying with the Vipers at the start of the year, the Panthers have pitched 2 shutouts this season as well as beating their #3 ranked opponents in their previous outing. South Dublin have a knack for pulling off big results and will definitely fancy themselves in their bid for the title. Repeating their result against the Knights will put them on the right track momentum-wise.

#3 Belfast Knights (2-2)
The Knights finished this season .500 which earned them this #3 seeding and a rematch with the Panthers. Starting off hot with 2 tight wins over the Vipers and Trojans, Belfast’s black and gold lost to both the Admirals and Panthers in the final gameday coming into these playoffs. Still, combine a coaching staff that will have made adjustments following the previous result with South Dublin with a promising up-and-coming roster that includes Maxwell Scott on offense and Issac Searle on defense, and the Knights have more than a fighter’s chance to come home from Blanchardstown with the championship in hand.

#4 Donegal / Derry Vipers (1-2-1)
Facing a formidable opponent, the Vipers are more than their 28-0 loss to this weekend’s opponents at the beginning of the season. The Vipers defense proved itself to be a big strength for the team, conceding just 12 points after that game vs Cork in week 1 and forcing 2 shutouts. A strong defensive line that is bolstered by the likes of Dylan Coyle has the ability to slow offenses right down and keep games within reaching distance for the Vipers. Donegal / Derry will be looking to use more of what worked for young QB Jack McGowan in his 2 TD performance against the Trojans, and create consistent gaps for RB Gavin Weatherall to get the team on the scoreboard more consistently. If they can do that, the Vipers may very well cause an upset in the semis.

Attendance at the Sport Ireland Campus on Sunday November 6th for the 2022 AFI Youth Football Playoffs is FREE, so make sure to come down and watch the showcase of the next generation of Irish American Football!

ON SALE NOW: Coach Rod Woodson Clinics September 3rd-4th

Tickets for the U-18 (Saturday September 3rd) and Senior (Sunday September 4th) football clinics hosted by Coach Rod Woodson in partnership with HOPE Through Football, #sharetheknowledgeuk and AFI — and sponsored by the Pittsburgh Steelers and DirecTV — are on sale NOW! AFI are privileged to help deliver this clinic to an American football community that has grown at an unprecedented rate over the last 10 years, and we are excited to learn from some of the best to ever play and coach the game!

Youth football clinic — Sport Ireland Campus, Blanchardstown, Co. Dublin, 10am – 5pm
Athletes must be aged 15-18yrs old
Training shirt and lunch provided.
More information and tickets available here.

Senior football clinic — Sport Ireland Campus, Blanchardstown, Co. Dublin, 10am – 2pm
Training shirt provided.
More information and tickets available here.

2020 Youth Season Cancelled

American Football Ireland has taken the decision to cancel the 2020 youth season in its entirety following todays announcement regarding County Dublin.

Whilst we know this will be a huge disappointment for many, it is the action that has to be taken in response to the rapid rise of COVID-19 cases.

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

The 2020 flag football season is currently under review.

Youth 2020: Volunteers and Officials Needed

AFI requires volunteers and officials for the upcoming 2020 youth season, which sees the next generation of American football players take to the field and compete – do your part to help facilitate the games!

Games will take place on 20th Sep, 4th Oct & 18th Oct from 1pm to 5pm at the Sport Ireland Campus, Dublin. Volunteer roles include chain crew, scoreboard operator, camera persons as well as officials.

If you are interested in volunteering or officiating, please complete the form below. The form will close at 8pm on Thursday 17th Sep.

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 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

Youth Football 2020: Schedule Update

Following a meeting last night with representatives from each youth team, the schedule was voted to be adjusted.

Gameweek 1 will now take place on Sunday 20th September, with the following game weeks taking place on Sunday 4th October and Sunday 18th October.

Further details will be released in due course.

SportNI Safeguarding Children and Young People – Online Workshops Now Available

Sport Northern Ireland have launched their new online version of the Safeguarding Children and Young People course. This will allow Northern Ireland coaches and volunteers to gain the required safeguarding certification they need to coach/volunteer with persons under the age of 18 (flag and youth football). The first dates have just been announced – please find these and further information at

Spaces are limited so if you as a coach or volunteer need this certification, please sign up as soon as possible.

Quick reminder that coaches and volunteers must also be vetted (find out how to here:

Statements Of Intent (Flag & Youth)

A reminder to all clubs that statements of intent (non-binding) to compete in the 2020 flag and/or youth seasons should be sent to AFI by the deadlines set below:

  • For flag football, by 8pm on Thursday 18th June. This should be sent to
  • For youth football, by 8pm on Monday 22nd June. This should be sent to

Significant Increase In Membership 2018/19

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

Unique Members
% +/-

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

Overall Memberships
% +/-


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

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

Youth Kitted

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

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

Senior Kitted

Statistics collected using the IAFA registration system (Azolve).

Youth Championship Day 2019: Admirals Are Champions

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

Cork Admirals IAFA Youth Champions 2019

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

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

Louth Mavericks Youth Team 2019

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

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

Admirals & Knights after the championship game

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

MVP: Admirals QB Michael Hand

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

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

Youth Championship Day 2019: Cork Admirals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Youth Championship Day 2019: Belfast Knights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Youth Championship Day 2019: Louth Mavericks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Youth Football: Westmeath Minotaurs Joe Kinahan

In our continuing series of interviews focusing on youth American football here in Ireland, we chatted with a former youth player and now starting senior level quarterback, Joe Kinahan from the Westmeath Minotuars, to get his thoughts on the importance of youth American football.

Could you first tell us how you became interested in American football? 

“It happened by accident, to be honest. I got bored of FIFA, as does every 11-year-old with the attention span of a doughnut, and started looking up free soccer games online. I stumbled across a game called Speedback one day, gave that a go thinking it was to do with soccer, and suddenly found myself fascinated with this new American sport. We had Sky at home so I begged to have control of the remote for that Sunday for a few hours. Safe to say, I haven’t looked back since!”

How did you find out about the Minotaurs youth program and what convinced you to give the sport a try? 

“When I joined the club, there wasn’t actually a youth program in place. In fact, I don’t think there was a youth program in place for any team in Ireland, and there certainly wasn’t a league setup like the one we have now. My mam saw an ad for the Minotaurs in the paper recruiting senior members not long after the club was established, and I decided to show up one session in January. That training really lit a fire in me, even at 12 years old, and I got the sense that this may be something that I’m going to love for a long, long time. When I finally got into pads when the youth program started a few years later, it was 100% confirmation, so I’m grateful it did eventually get setup.”

Joe in action earlier this year

What were the early training sessions like and what was your main motivation to stick with it as a youth?

“The early days of training were very focused on fundamentals of tackling and blocking, as I believe it should be when you’re coaching young people. I think too many coaches try to bypass this and overlook poor technique in the hope that “they’ll get better” so they can move on to scheming. The coaching staff we had looking after us made sure to emphasize the basics of football to make sure we became better players. I think it was a combination of that and everything else you mentioned there that kept myself and the rest of the lads coming back for more.”

Looking back on your youth football career, how important do you think that experience was to help you earn the starting QB job on the senior team?

“More important than I can ever stress. I know that’s a clichéd thing to say, but I mean it. The staff that my class, if you will, had coaching us were there not just to stay involved in the game for their own good, not only to teach a new generation of footballers this wonderful sport, but to make every single one of us better football players than they were. Having someone like Coach Conor Brennan, who I’m surprised isn’t sick of dealing with me at this stage honestly, there to answer every football question under the sun made me a better quarterback. Having someone dedicate themselves to teaching me how to throw a football, how to move in and out of the pocket, and how to command an offence… if I turned out to be no good it certainly wouldn’t have been the programmes fault!”

The Antrim Jets and Dublin Rebels in action in the 2019 Youth League

Last year the Minotaurs had their best season ever, making it to the IAFL1 final and unfortunately suffering a loss in a very tight game. How important do you think the Minotaurs youth program was to last year’s success? 

“I think if you look at our squad and you look at how many have come through the youth programme, there’s no question as to how important the programme is. Myself at quarterback, Rafael Monteiro at running back and linebacker, Jack Lynch at receiver, David Walsh as our flex-type, Liam and Conor Dougherty at guard and tight end, Dean Johnston at tackle, Ross McCadden on the D-line… all of us started at nothing, and now we’re all starters. I think that sums it up quite well.”

We hear you’re now coaching the Westmeath youth players. We understand that your youth team is not competing this year but is still training. What is the long-term goal of your youth programme and will you compete next year?

“The short-term aim is definitely to compete next year anyway. We have been working well and I’m very pleased with that I’ve seen from the lads so far. When you have a group of young players that have athleticism to spare and an ability to soak up new information like sponges, though, I guess it’s no surprise that I’m impressed! Even in the short time we’ve worked with each other, I have a feeling that we’ll be adding to that list of youth-graduates-turned-senior-team-starters sooner rather than later. I guess that’s the endgame: to make sure at least some of these guys become staples of our senior team. If we can do that, then we’ve achieved our goal.”

The Cork Admirals and South Dublin Panthers youth teams after a match in the 2019 Youth League

What would you say to a club that is thinking about investing the time, effort, and resources into a youth program? Is it worth the effort? 

“Let me put it to you this way, as a graduate, as a current player and as a coach: would you rather spend a couple of hundred euro on a few extra footballs that you don’t really need, a few tackle bags to add to the collection that’s already gotten too big, and a few new fancy water bottles; or, would you rather spend that money on a few coaching courses and pitch rental to develop what will a) make you a financial profit within the next year, and b) be your starting line-up within the next three? I know what my answer is anyway!”

Ireland Under 20’s seeks Players

Ireland Under 20’s 

Ahead of March 31st game v AFW the first Team Ireland U20’s training session will take place on Saturday, February 17th in Westmanstown Garda Rugby Club, near Lucan in Dublin.  Eligible players will be:

  1. Registered with an IAFA Team (Senior or Junior).
  2. Be between 16 & 20
  3. If under 18 have played at least one season of Junior Football. 

Sign-up desk opens on the 17th of Feb at 10 am.  Interested players are asked to bring their kit (IAFA rules cover playing kit – Helmet/Shoulder Pads/ Soft Pads) and Team Jersey & Football Pants.  Dress code for the sign-up meeting is Black pants/tracksuit ends & plain white T/Polo shirt.  Players should bring a packed lunch & a minimum of two litres of water. 

Session 1 as above Feb 17th

Session 2 March 3rd

Session 3 March 10th

Session 4 TBC March 19th

Game March 31st.  

All sessions will finish at 4:30 pm 

All players meeting the above criteria are encouraged to attend.  Questions on any details you need to know should be emailed directly to Head Coach Ciaran O’Sullivan at  .   Team Ireland Under 20’s sessions are open for all IAFA Members to attend.  Coaches are welcome to visit from all of our clubs. 

Junior Football 2016 Champions

At today’s Team Ireland U20s training session, the South Kildare Soldiers were presented with their trophy as 2016 Junior Football Champions.

Junior Football Director Russell Kerley presenting the trophy to Tomiwa Oyewo and Jordan Farrell

Receiving the trophy on behalf of the Soldiers was Tomiwa Oyewo and Jordan Farrell from Director of Junior Football Russell Kerley. The Soldiers finished the season with a perfect 6-0 record against the Craigavon Cowboys and Westmeath Minotaurs.

“This has been a great year for junior football and congratulations to the Soldiers and Coach Farrell on a fantastic season”, said Russell Kerley at today’s presentation. “Next year we’re focusing on expanding the number of clubs competing in the junior league as well as compete in International games and leagues. 2017 will be a massive year for Irish football”.

South Kildare Soldiers’ Head Coach Ken Farrell with his players

So you want to play American Football in Ireland?

American Football in Ireland is back from its break, and Teams up and down the country are gearing up for the 2017 season. Rookies are being recruited, gym sessions are kicking off and helmets are getting dusted off. With a long winter of preseason ahead for Irish American Football, now is the time to get stuck into the fastest growing sport in Ireland.

Why should I play American Football in Ireland?

There are so many reasons why you should get involved with American Football in Ireland. Firstly, the sport here is played for love, not money. All the American football players and coached in Ireland dedicate their time and energy for free. They play American football simply because they want to. Irish American Football players have a passion for the sport and put their heart and soul into playing.

Secondly the game here is played to the highest of standards. Players wear all the gear and don’t hold back on the hits. If you play American football in Ireland you get to be part of a live game every Sunday. Imagine playing in a full contact game on a Sunday afternoon and after, going home to watching your favourite team on TV . Now we’re not saying you’ll be the next Tom Brady, but you will get to experience what American Football is like in real life.

And finally, the Irish American Football League boasts some of the best players in Europe. In September of 2016 we sent a squad to play an international game against the Dutch National Team in Holland. Every year, the National Champions go to the Atlantic Cup, where they play against some of the top clubs in Europe. The standard of American Football in Ireland is always on the rise, and now is the perfect opportunity for you to get involved.


How do I get involved?

There are American football teams in every province in Ireland. Dublin has the highest concentration of teams; boasting the Rhinos, the Panthers, the Rebels, The Pirates along with College teams in UCD and Trinity. In Wexford you can find the Eagles, While in Waterford and Galway you can play for the Wolves and the Warriors respectively. Further south in Limerick and in Cork are two stalwarts of Irish American Football in the UL Vikings and the Admirals. On your way back up North you will come across the North Kildare Reapers and the South Kildare Soldiers.

Northern Ireland is a stronghold for American Football in Ireland with the likes of the Trojans, the Cowboys, the Knights and the recently crowned third division champions the Donegal/Derry Vipers.Also based in the North are the Antrim Jets and the PSNI Razorbacks .And lest we forget the Titans, the Mavericks, the Bulldogs and the Minotaurs: based in Tyrone, Louth, Meath and Mullingar! Phew! That’s a lot of teams for such a small island and a whole lot of opportunity’s to play here, no matter what corner of the country you come from.

All of these Teams are now actively recruiting for their 2017 seasons and would love to heat from you. If you want to play American Football in Ireland in 2017 then now is the time to get involved!


2016 Junior Football Season Kicked Off

Last Sunday saw the culmination of months of preparations for three teams as our Junior Football season kicked off in Mullingar Rugby Club, hosted by the Westmeath Minotaurs. The Minotaurs took on the South Kildare Soldiers and Craigavon Cowboys in pretty miserable conditions with the heavy rain and high humidity making it a tough day for the players, coaches and spectators alike.

Game 1

First up was the South Kildare Soldiers against the Westmeath Minotaurs in what turned out to be a defensive battle. The bad weather helped no one as the game started with a number of punts from one side and a number of turnovers from the other but despite the rain, the Soldiers were the first to score with Quarterback Jordan Farrell connecting with Wide Receiver Aaron O’Neill in his debut appearance for the Soldiers. The Soldiers scored again with a long run from their own 10 yard line courtesy of Tommy Oyewo. The Minotaurs struck back with a pass from Quarterback Joe Kinahan to Wide Receiver Jack Lynch, but hopes of a late comeback were dashed with a strip sack from a quick Kealan Farrell.

Final score: South Kildare Soliders 12 – Westmeath Minotaurs 6

Game 2

The second game of the day was between the Craigavon Cowboys and the South Kildare Soldiers, with the Cowboys looking to defend their 2015 Junior Football title. The Soldiers found success early with another long run from Oyewo, this time from his own 30. After early drive misfires, a brave Cowboys offense found it hard to swing the momentum their way, making ground on runs but ultimately not finding their way into the endzone. A long pass hauled in by the Soldier’s Aaron O’Neill over three Cowboys defenders kept a drive alive and helped lead the Soldier offense to the end zone where Tommy Oyewo caught another touchdown pass, followed by a two point conversion ran in by Jordan Farrell.

The Cowboys never gave up fighting, but a very impressive display up front by the defensive line proved too much at times. The Soldiers’ pass attack was finding rhythm and a fourth score on the day for Oyewo in the form of a deep pass reception, capped off with a two point conversion caught by Tight End Nathan O’ Leary.

Final Score: South Kildare Soldiers 22 – Craigavon Cowboys 0

Game 3

Our final Game of the day was between the Westmeath Minotaurs and the Craigavon Cowboys, with the sun making a welcome appearance. The game started out with great displays of a solid running game by both teams, with some excellent work under center from Minotaurs’ Quarterback Joseph Kinahan who was composed in the pocket and executed the ‘hand off’ like a seasoned senior player. Some excellent runs from Running Back Marcel Stanisz gave the Minotaurs some excellent balance offensively. While a number of Cowboys players from the 2015 side have moved to the senior programme, we were given a look at that typical Cowboy hard hitting fundamental style football. Ruben Larmour secured the Cowboys’ first points of the 2016 season from a skinny post route where he was forced to reach out and haul in the catch and then converted for two points.

Final Score: Weastmeath Minotaurs 22- Craigavon Cowboys 8

This blitz was the start of what will become an epic battle for the 2016 Championship. All three teams have build on the solid foundations they put down last year, and it was very noticeable in the returning players just what practice, sound coaching and ‘reps’ can do. I have the pleasure of working with a number of these guys with the Ireland Under 20’s program and they all should feel immensely proud of the athletes they are becoming

Special notes of mention go to the fantastic officiating crew on the day as well as to James Rolston of the Craigavon Cowboys, Joseph Kinahan of the Westmeath Minotaurs and Tommy Oyewo of the South Kildare Soldiers who already leads the Scoring charts with 4 TDs on the day.

Our next Junior football day is in Edenderry as the Soldiers host on October 2nd

Start of Junior League 2016

This Sunday the 2016 season of our Junior League kicks off in Mullingar RFC. The Junior Football league is a full contact football league for players aged 16 – 19 and was started last year thanks to the continued demand for the sport in Ireland. This weekend’s games are the first of three competitive  before the end of the year.

All three teams involved in the Junior League will be playing this weekend with the schedule as follows:

11am: South Kildare Soldiers vs Westmeath Minotaurs

1pm: Craigavon Cowboys vs South Kildare Soldiers

3pm: Westmeath Minotaurs vs Craigavon Cowboys

Good luck to everyone!

Junior League Results – 18th October 2015

The South Kildare Soldiers can out on top in the second round of Junior League fixtures, which took place at Peoples Park, Portadown on Sunday. They defeated Craigavon and Mullingar in close contests. All three fixtures played were close – only one score between the teams. There was also a very noticeable improvement in the performance of each team since the first round of fixtures last month. The Cowboys and Soldiers are now tied at the top of the standings.

 The third round of fixtures will take place in Mullingar next month.


 South Kildare Soldiers 18-12 Craigavon Cowboys.

 South Kildare Soldiers 18-14 Mullingar Minotaurs.

 Mullingar Minotaurs 12-20 Craigavon Cowboys.

Junior League Kicks Off

This Sunday sees the start of the first ever Junior Football League in Ireland. Three teams are competing this weekend to kick things off with a blitz – the South Kildare Soldiers, the Mullingar Minotaurs and the Craigavon Cowboys:

11am – Soldiers vs Minotaurs
1pm – Soldiers vs Cowboys
3pm – Minotaurs vs Cowboys

Hosted by the Soldiers, the games take place in Oaklands Community College, Sister Senan Avenue, Edenderry, Co. Offaly and entry is free.

Junior League – Dates, Rules & Details Announced

The dates for the inaugural Junior League season have been announced as follows:

October 19th – Dublin.

November 9th – Venue to be confirmed soon.

November 29th – Drogheda.

Each team entering will have the opportunity to play two fixtures on each of the above dates. Each of these two fixtures will be two normal quarters long thus ensuring that each team gets the equivalent of one full game on each date. Points will be awarded to the winners of each shortened game. Those teams who opt to play on all 3 dates will get a total of six games. Teams not able to play a full schedule will also be catered for. A league table will be kept and the team with the most points will become the new National Champion.

Junior League will use 9-a-side rules and will be open to all players over the age of 16 who are born in the years 1995 to 1998 (as per International norms). Participation is strictly age based – both experienced and inexperienced players will be catered for.

New online Registration system.

The IAFA is piloting a new online registration system for the Junior Kitted league thus relieving team managers of a lot of the administrative work associated with collecting player details and registration fees. Players can register using the following link: [Password can be obtained from team managers].

Junior League Playing Rules:

Junior Leaguel will be played under 9-a-side rules. Full NCAA rules will be used with the following modifications – (i) only 9 players permitted on the field; (ii) there are no offensive tackles i.e. 2 less on the o-line and (iii) no blocking below the waist in any circumstances.