AFI and our member clubs have so far received just under €70,000 in COVID sustainability funding from both Sport Ireland and Sport Northern Ireland, with a further €14,336 raised in the Super Bowl Super Raffle earlier this month. We will continue to assess and advise our clubs on any further funding opportunities.
The “Super Bowl Super Raffle”, hosted by American Football Ireland and GalaBid, provides a safe way for clubs to raise much needed funds in what has been a very challenging year, with great prizes on offer – support your local club!
This fundraiser was created in lieu of Super Bowl parties not being allowed to take place this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. Super Bowl parties are critical events for our clubs as they provide the main source of fundraising income each year.
All member clubs will have their own Super Bowl Super Raffle link to sell tickets, with 72% of funds raised going directly to the club. Ticket sales will close at 8pm on Sunday 7th February 2021 with the draw taking place later that evening. Winners will be notified by email and the results will be posted on www.americanfootball.ie
SUPER BOWL SUPER RAFFLE 2021 Prizes
Two Night Stay For Two People At The Crowne Plaza Blanchardstown
A two course evening meal on one night and breakfast each morning included
2 x Aer Lingus College Football Classic Tickets
Compliments of corporate.ie
€50 One4All Voucher
Compliments of Garland Drake
American Football Themed Food Hamper
Compliments of Garland Drake
Emerald Sports Bundle:
– Signed Jersey by Super Bowl winner William Perry
– Jimmy Garoppolo 49ers Jersey
– €30 Emerald Sport Breaks credit
Compliments of Emerald Sports Breaks
£25 EP Sports Voucher
Compliments of EP Sports
set of 4 Take & Bake Cookie Jars
Compliments of Amarc Catering and Events
£100 Advanced Overwatch Voucher
Compliments of Advanced Overwatch Ltd.
$50 NFL Shop Voucher
Compliments of Paddy Pigskin Podcast
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.
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
- Change Management
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.
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.
Donegal Derry Vipers
South Dublin Panthers
West Dublin Rhinos
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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!
We are one step closer to declaring champions as the quarter final stage has now been completed! Well done to Jonathan Hedley of the Belfast Knights who scored the most points in this round as well as in the entire championship series so far with 87. Jonathan and Killian O’Loughlin of the MU Hurricanes both won by the largest margin in this round with 52 whilst Killian, along with Ross O’Neill of the Downpatrick Saints, put on defensive masterclasses and didn’t allow their opponents to score a single point.
Be sure to follow us on Twitch (twitch.tv/americanfootball_ireland) to catch the live streams of the games!
At this stage of the tournament, only 8 clubs remain represented, each with 1 competitor left. The quarter finals saw the UL Vikings and West Dublin Rhinos bow out of the championships.
Now we enter the semi final stage, which will take place between 1pm and 5pm this Sunday (14th June). See below the match-ups for each championship!
Round 2 saw 32 competitors fall to 16 across the two championships, with a wide array of score lines! Well done to Rory O’Dwyer of Trinity College who scored the most points with 65, to Killian O’Loughlin of the MU Hurricanes who won by the largest margin with 49 and to Chris McCallum (Belfast Trojans) and James Smyth (South Dublin Panthers) who shut out their opponents.
Be sure to follow us on Twitch (twitch.tv/americanfootball_ireland) to catch the live streams of the games!
|Playstation 4 Round 2 Results|
|UCC Raiders||James O’Driscol||14-63||Killian O'Loughlin||MU Hurricanes|
|Trinity College||Eoin Maguire||41-28||Eoin Hughes||Craigavon Cowboys|
|Cork Admirals||James Hogan||17-14||Nathan Hearty||Louth Mavericks|
|Dublin Rebels||Wello Omo||37-65||Rory O'Dwyer||Trinity College|
|Galway Warriors||Johannes Ritter||14-30||Jahn Dasini||Cork Admirals|
|Belfast Knights||Jonathan Hedley||30-7||Padraig Fitzsimons||Downpatrick Saints|
|Donegal/Derry Vipers||Mike Naulty||38-24||Alan Campbell||MU Hurricanes|
|West Dublin Rhinos||Pat Gahan||21-10||Ryan Eccles||South Dublin Panthers|
|Xbox One Round 2 Results|
|South Dublin Panthers||Matthew O'Meara||28-9||Karl Fanning||West Dublin Rhinos|
|Belfast Trojans||Conor O'Neill||23-8||Daniel Noctor||Wexford Eagles|
|MU Hurricanes||Aidan Ryan||7-35||Jamie O'Brien||UL Vikings|
|Craigavon Cowboys||Peter Loughran||0-9||Chris McCallum||Belfast Trojans|
|Belfast Knights||Paul Crothers||0-27||James Smyth||South Dublin Panthers|
|MU Hurricanes||Luke McIntyre||24-13||Peter Phillips||Causeway Giants|
|Louth Mavericks||Jack Compton||10-33||Ross O’Neill||Downpatrick Saints|
|Donegal/Derry Vipers||Darren Quinn||43-13||Anthony Morris||NI Razorbacks|
At this stage of the tournament, only Trinity College has managed to retain their initial competitors, with both making it through to the quarter finals. We bid farewell to a further 8 clubs in round 2, meaning that only 10 of the initial 22 clubs remain represented across the two championships.
|Club||Round 1*||Round 2*||Quarter Finals*|
|Cill Dara Crusaders||4||0|
|Cork City Outlaws||2||0|
|North Dublin Pirates||3||0|
|South Dublin Panthers||3||3||2|
|West Dublin Rhinos||2||2||1|
The draw for the quarter finals of both championships will take place at 9pm tomorrow night (Wednesday 3rd June 2020) on our Facebook page.
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|
|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|
|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*|
|Cill Dara Crusaders||4||0|
|Cork City Outlaws||2||0|
|North Dublin Pirates||3||0|
|South Dublin Panthers||3||3|
|West Dublin Rhinos||2||2|
The draw for round two of both championships will take place at 9pm tomorrow night (Wednesday 27th May 2020) on our Facebook page.
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.
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
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.
AFI will look to have streaming capabilities in place by 20th May. Further communication on this will follow.
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.
Any disputes will be determined by the AFI Board and the decision will be final.
IAFA is delighted to announce our partnership with Aulo Fitness for the upcoming Youth Championship Day this Sunday.
Aulo is an online global fitness marketplace designed to help people from all over the world find their perfect online personal coach and achieve their unique fitness goals. If you are looking for your next online coach, check them out at www.aulofit.com
Thank you for supporting the next generation of American football players in Ireland!
Sundays games will take place at the Sport Ireland Campus, Dublin with the schedule as follows:
Game 1, 10:30 – Cill Dara Crusaders v Dublin Rebels
Game 2, 11:30 – Antrim Jets v Dublin Rebels
Game 3, 12:30 – Antrim Jets v Cill Dara Crusaders
Game 4, 13:30 – Semi-Final 1, Belfast Knights v Louth Mavericks
Game 5, 14:30 – Semi-Final 2, Cork Admirals v South Dublin Panthers
Game 6, 15:30 – 3rd Place Game (semi-final losers)
Game 7, 16:30 – Championship Game (semi-final winners)
Entry is free with parking available on site – please see below map for directions.
Here’s some nostalgia – if you’re one of our alumni; or history if you’re currently playing. We’ve looked through some of the picture archives at some snaps from yester year. From the pioneering era of Irish football, when you had to be a real trailblazer to play the sport. Not all the uniforms match – this was before internet shopping and the advent of equipment stores in Europe. The fields may not have been as good many today. But, in spite of appearances, some great football was played by some very committed players. Apologies for the quality of some of the pictures – these were all taken on real cameras with film in them. No auto focus or touching up. Enjoy!
Above is the oldest picture in this batch. Dublin Celts (green) versus Craigavon Cowboys (black) in 1991. Two of the original teams who started playing competitive football in Ireland in the 1980s. Both played in Europe during this era. Greg Loughran, the current Cowboys coach was probably on the field in this game.
This is from the first ever American football game played on the historic campus of Trinity College Dublin. The game was part of the festivities for the colleges 400 year anniversary celebrations in 1992.Dublin Tornadoes (white) defeated Antrim Bulldogs (purple/yellow) with a field goal as time expired. The game was organised by our current Commissioner Cillian Smith during his college days. Interesting piece of trivia – this game took place before the first ever GAA game was played on campus later the same year.
In this picture, we see a familiar face to todays IAFA members. Kevin Sharkey – currently on the Wexford coaching squad and formerly of North Kildare – is player number 67 playing for the Dublin Celts against Dublin Tornadoes in 1993.
The Dublin Tornadoes 1993 Shamrock Bowl winning team. This is the Tornadoes first of 3 consecutive Shamrock Bowls. They were coached by the late Dave Curran (centre wearing blue/white shirt), who previously led the Dublin Celts to Shamrock Bowl success.
Picture of the Dublin Lightning huddle in 1997, when the team was defending its Shamrock Bowl title in the last full season of football before the start of the big shut down in the late 1990s. The opponents were Dublin Bulls – seen in the background – the only company team ever to play in Ireland. They were owned by the Gateway Computing who used to have a large plant in Dublin.
The mid to late 1990s saw flag football come to prominence with the very competitive Irish Flag Football League being played in various parks around Dublin. The league, which had 11 teams playing a 10 game regular season at its peak, played a 7-a-side version of semi-contact flag football. Pictured above is the Northside Devastators team, who won the title in the late 1990s.
A rare photo from the year that competitive football returned to Ireland in 2001. Dublin Rebels (black) play Dublin Dragons (burgundy) in Ringsend Park in Dublin.
Another rare snap from 2001 featuring the other two teams who made up the four who restarted in 2001. This is Carrickfergus knights at UL Vikings – believed to be the Vikings first ever home game. Note the blue scrimmage vests with painted numbers – the Vikings first uniforms did not arrive until later in the season.
And finally, from August 2002, Carrickfergus Knights (yellow) versus Team Canada. The Knights, as Irish Champions, represented the league against the touring visitors in a challenge game, which was played at St. Vincents GAA in Dublin.
The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport in partnership with Local Sports Partnerships is organising a series of workshops on How to make an application under the 2017 Sports Capital Programme. For information on the seminars and to make a booking click on the links below.
Limerick: Thomond Park Conference Center, Monday 06/02/17, 7-9 pm. Book:
Athlone: AIT Main Building, Business Section. Tuesday 07/02/17 7-9pm. Book:
Dublin: Conference Center, National Sports Campus, Wednesday 08/10/17 6-7.30 pm & 8-9.30 pm. Book:
Cork: Cork Constitution FC, Churchyard Lane. Friday 10/02/17 7-9 pm
Sligo: Sligo RSC, Cleveragh. Monday 13/02/17 7-9 pm
The Sports Capital Programme (SCP) is operated by the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and provides grants to assist in the development or refurbishment of sports facilities and the provision of sports equipment.
The Programme aims to foster an integrated and planned approach to developing sports and physical recreation facilities throughout the country. In particular, its stated objectives are to:
- Assist voluntary and community organisations, national governing bodies (NGBs) of sport, local authorities and Education and Training Boards and schools to develop high quality, accessible, safe, well-designed, sustainable facilities in appropriate locations and to provide appropriate equipment to help maximise participation in sport and physical recreation.
- Prioritise the needs of disadvantaged areas in the provision of sports facilities.
- Encourage the sharing of local, regional and national sports facilities by clubs, community organisations and national governing bodies of sport.
Grants are available to sports clubs, voluntary and community groups, national governing bodies of sport and local authorities. Third level colleges, Education and Training Boards (ETBs) and schools may only apply for funding jointly with sports clubs or organisations.
All applications must be made online at www.sportscapitalprogramme.ie
The deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 24 February
For more information on the Programme including a YouTube guide to application process and a sample application form visit www.sportscapitalprogramme.ie
How The Pro’s Do What They Do!
By Shane Carberry – Guest Writer.
I was described as many things during my short, amateur, football career; fast, quick, aware, protective; but not once was I ever called a heavy hitter! Don’t get me wrong I got the job done, but I don’t think I ever left someone feeling like they just had their lungs forcefully evacuated by some monstrous being overpowering their respiratory system. Being just 150lbs, and easily one of the shortest on the Tullamore Phoenix team, that isn’t surprising. Thankfully I had some semblance of speed and change of direction capabilities to be of reasonable use to the team, even if it was only from time to time.
One thing I could do though was take a hit. Coming up against some of the older teams – especially The Cowboys, Rebels and Knights – always gave rise to some heavy hitting games, but I never felt like it was beyond me. You take the contact, get up and get ready for the next snap; It’s just a part of the game that all players in the league love!
This fact was something we, my fellow Phoenix and I, talked about a number of times during our post game pints down in the local. These conversations always left me wondering what would it be like to get hit by a “real” footballer – a professional NFL player!
I was always of the opinion that yeah, it might be a totally different experience than anyone in the IAFA could produce, but it wouldn’t be something that was beyond my capabilities. Sure, I’d not be getting back up any time soon, and taking multiple impacts in a short period of time was anything but likely, but not something that would cause me to wish my life was over or start singing Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence”!
I found it surprising that I was always alone in that thought: everyone else was happy that no players in the Irish leave had been practicing padded contact from a younger age then eighteen! Still, I was happy thinking that a bit of fun between myself and John Lynch wouldn’t result in me adopting the fetal position, and afterwards we could go hit the local sports bar to devour wings and beer for the night!
Man oh man how my mind has changed!
Right now I’m writing to you from the staff office of “The Athlete Factory” here in Calgary, Canada. The factory, my place of work for the last number of months, is a strength and conditioning facility where we work with professional and aspiring professional athletes from a range of different sports, some of which are of course football (Both American and Canadian Variants). On our roster we have three current professional CFL players, one of whom got drafted with the Panthers a few years ago, unfortunately having to drop out due to injury.
Watching these guys train has been an eye opening experience for a million and one reasons. They are incredibly powerful, strong, and fast, and are completely dedicated to getting better at their sport. It has expanded my outlook on what I think is possible within strength training and general sports performance, and I’ve learned a hell of a lot even from just watching them train every day.
The most important lesson I’ve learned? Taking contact from these guys would be, on a scale of 1-10, negative 100 levels of fun. Thanks, but no thanks. I’m happy just sitting here drinking my beer and over telling that mediocre highlight reel of mine to anyone who’ll listen!
All joking aside, having played the wonderful sport that is full contact football and working with these guys as they train has been an amazing experience: an experience there is a lot to learn from. Because, honestly, professional athletes attack their training totally different than any amateur player does.
This isn’t because of the weights they lift, which are huge, or their abilities to transfer that strength into real world movement, which is insane, but it’s their mindset when it comes to each and every training session. Their focus is on truly maximizing every single rep, of every single set, of every single session, and it’s astounding because they know that each rep is an opportunity to get better – an opportunity to make their dreams a reality.
What can we learn from the Pro’s?
Until you’ve witnessed this first hand you won’t fully understand what I’m talking about. I used to think I worked hard. I pushed myself to the “limit” and did my best to improve every single time I stepped into the gym or onto the field – hell for three years straight I didn’t miss a single training day – but these guys bring something more. Something much more!
It’s almost as if they see each rep as the most important rep of their lives; as the rep that will make or break their career. It is this one rep that will be seen by every Head Coach in the league, and based on that rep and that rep alone, their entire future will be decided. They attack it with everything they have, knowing full well that doing anything else is deciding to throw away their potential dream career.
It is astounding.
What can us Irish football players take from this? It really is the age old advice of Working Harder. Football is an amazing sport, but it’s also a difficult one to excel at – especially given the fact that the majority of players in Ireland also hold day to day jobs, too! But that shouldn’t stop us from trying to maximize our return on the time we do spend at football. Although it is a recreational league, nothing sucks more than losing a game you know you should have won – especially for those of you spending hours in the gym and on the track specifically training to be better football players.
But just imagine what football in Ireland could be if every player in the league approached their training this way. Our beautiful, small, cultured country would quickly become one of the best outside of north America to play this wonderful sport, and every single one of us would be the reason for it!