Preview: AFI Gameweek 2

Joe Kinahan

The 2022 AFI Kitted Season continues this Saturday and Sunday with 4 games taking place across the country. Premier Division is represented by games in Dublin and Cork, Division 2 kicks off in Limepark, while Athlone plays host to an international club friendly for charity.

Another great week of football lies ahead — let’s have a look at what’s in store!



Philadelphia Blue Flame @ Westmeath Minotaurs — Athlone GAA Club, 2pm
Raising money for Cancer Support Sanctuary LARCC, the Minotaurs host the Police and Fire Department of Philadelphia. The Blue Flame have previously travelled to Ireland for football, playing UL Vikings more than 10 years ago, and have raised more than $270,000 for several charities. The game serves as a preseason game for both teams, and it is dedicated to long-time Blue Flame player Sgt. Patrick McDonald, who killed on duty on September 23rd 2008. Both teams will be looking to fine-tune their schemes going into their competitive schedules — the Minotaurs will be eager to bring their defensive form from 2019 (#3 in points allowed) and 2021 (8 points allowed in 2 games). LB Jay McBride will certainly rally his defense around him to put up a big defensive effort, while an offense highlighted by a strong running game and a WR corps led by Jack Lynch will look to be as explosive as we’ve seen from the Minotaurs in recent memory.

The game has already raised over €2000 so far for LARCC —  if you are interested in donating, get in touch with the Minotaurs on their socials.



AFI Premier Division

Belfast Trojans @ UCD — UCD Sports Campus, Belfield, 1pm
As if this matchup wasn’t interesting enough before last weekend (2019’s #3 seed vs 2019’s Shamrock Bowl winner is a great sell on its own), UCD only went and put 58 points on the Knights. While the Trojans will certainly be a different test for the Students, it’s hard to ignore that type of offensive production and not expect at least some of that to carry over. QB Arun Mooney had a career day last weekend and he will be looking to push his offensive weapons down the field in much the same way. Belfast must be keen to stop UCD’s momentum early, and having defenders like LB Shane Leckey definitely helps you do that. Take into account the Trojans offense is also a National Championship-winning offense, and it makes for an incredibly exciting matchup. 

This writer won’t be mad at you for predicting either team to win. Another one-score game may well be on the cards.

Dublin Rebels @ Cork Admirals — Old Christians RFC, Glanmire, 1pm
Don’t overlook this one either. The Rebels will be the first to tell you that their 2019 season was a disappointment, finishing with a 2-6 record. QB Ty Henry may well be the difference the Dublin outfit need though, infusing a spark that was perhaps lacking in 2019. The Admirals, meanwhile, will look to find the groove that brought them to an undefeated regular season in 2019. While they were unable to play in the time since due to the pandemic, they have been steadily recruiting from their youth program. Two teams with drastically different campaigns in our last full season, two teams looking for a big win to start the year

AFI Division 2

North Dublin Pirates @ Causeway Giants — Limepark Playing Fields, 1pm
An intriguing matchup taking place in Limepark. The Giants debut year in 2019 was more successful than most new teams’ debuts, especially considering the fact that the club survived the pandemic after just 1 win in that season. They did, however, have a great 2021, competing in the Donaghy Group Invitational Cup, going 2-2 and finishing #3 in the tournament. The Pirates were a lot quieter during the pandemic, but recently saw an upward spike in membership created by the Bulldogs’ removal from 2022 competition. Some strong pieces join a quietly competitive Division 2 squad, so it’s hard to completely rule out a team that, as a cohesive unit, we don’t know an awful lot about. Keep a close eye on this one.

Quickfire Score Predictions
Blue Flame 18 – 21 Minotaurs
Trojans 27 – 24 UCD
Rebels 20 – 27 Admirals
Pirates 14 – 20 Giants