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!