The views and opinions expressed in this article in no way reflect those held by American Football Ireland. The below article is intended to be entertaining and promote around American Football Ireland games.
With the first gameweek since the Easter break in the rear mirror, the midpoint of the season is fast approaching. With players looking to impress the Irish Wolfhounds staff scouting for talent for the upcoming camp, and (more importantly) teams looking to take the next step towards playoffs or away from relegation, there was plenty to play for last Sunday. How did teams get on? Let’s break each game down.
#7 Belfast Knights (0-4) 7-30 #2 Dublin Rebels (3-0)
The Rebels continued their undefeated streak last Sunday with a big win over the winless Knights. Much has been said (on these previews and reviews, as well as podcasts like The Domestic Game) about Dublin’s passing attack, but it was the run game that truly shun at the weekend. Long-time Rebels RB Wello Omorodion ran in 2 of Dublin’s 4 rushing TDs on Sunday, including a 90-yarder that saw multiple broken tackles and the domination on the line of scrimmage, at least in the run game, that set the tone for the rest of the day. Their strength on the line of scrimmage was on Dublin’s defense, who earned 2 sacks and, due to that pressure, 4 interceptions, with one of each coming from defender Kenny McCarthy. The Rebels sit #2 in Premier Division at 3-0, already having beaten their 2019 win total this early into the season.
The Knights, on the other hand, were outmatched for most of the day in this one, although did have some moments they can look back on and look to replicate for the rest of the year: already noted was the Rebels ability to control the line of scrimmage in the run game, but the Knights got after QB Ty Henry for most of the game, creating 4 sacks (2 of them by DE Danny Moll, his first and second on the year). QB Spencer McDowell was picked off twice by the Rebels defense, but did make sure to throw for a TD to avoid the shutout loss. The Knights came close in their last 2 games, but are clearly a step below the top of the division. While this loss all but rules them out of sneaking in the back door for the playoffs, they have (at least according to the standings) passed through the hardest part of their schedule, and will be eager to strike the 0 from the win column in the second half of their season.
#3 South Dublin Panthers (3-0) 17-0 #8 Dublin Rhinos (0-3)
To be quite honest, it’s hard to have many takeaways from this game, other than the defensive effort put forward by the Rhinos considering recent results. The hosts sacked Panthers QB Ian Cahill 4 times, with DE Gary O’Rourke picking up 3 of them. They also picked off Cahill once, with Matt Mays taking away a Panthers score with an interception in the endzone. That efficiency was not matched by the Rhinos offense, who struggled to get the ball moving all day (a trend that has haunted them through every game so far this season). The Rhinos have not yet found what works for them this year, having not scored since Week 1 vs the Cowboys — their lone touchdown of the season. They have also given up their 10th turnover in 3 games, and need to change those fortunes quick. They currently sit #8 and in the relegation spot, and with dates against Craigavon and UCD on the horizon, their schedule isn’t exactly getting any easier.
South Dublin, still recovering from some knocks picked up from their game 2 weeks ago, did not pick up the type of win they likely were looking for going into this one. QB Ian Cahill threw for 2 more TDs (one apiece for WRs Ryan Eccles and Josh Clarke), and DEs Evan Allen and Antony Burke collected 2 sacks each on defense. The dominance was still there for most of the game from the South Dublin side, but with injuries to key positions they were tamer than what many would have expected on paper. Still, the Panthers continue their winning streak despite some injuries, and now have a few more weeks to recuperate before a date with the Admirals on May 15th.
#6 Cork Admirals (0-2) 0-20 #1 UCD (4-0)
A somewhat similar story from Belfield, as UCD win despite a more pedestrian day on the scoreboard, at least by their standards. QB Arun Mooney connected with WR Conor Hanaran twice for TDs, while RB Sean McVeigh ran one in on the ground with McVeigh and RB partner Jack Finnegan combining for 177 yards. The Students’ defense, while not being overly aggressive, impressed in a big way: allowing less than 100 yards of total offense and only allowing Cork complete 5/28 passes, UCD shut out the Admirals defense not just on the scoreboard, but on the field in general.
The Admirals, meanwhile, now sit 0-2 without score to this point, and now need to self-reflect on what needs to be done to start giving themselves chances to win. The defense made some plays in the pass game, sacking and intercepting Mooney twice, but not capitalising on those turnovers and big plays will cost the Admirals games further down the line. Playing away to the Panthers in three weeks will be a big test.
#2 Causeway Giants (2-1) 6-0 #5 North Dublin Pirates (0-3)
A difficult watch at Trinity Sports Grounds with the lone score in this one coming in the fourth quarter. This game ended up being the complete opposite of the first matchup between these two, a 31-16 win for the Giants. North Dublin’s struggles continue in Division 2, currently winless and after giving up their series with the Giants. The Giants move to #2 in the division at 2-1, and while they are in that position for the time being, the Gameweek 1 forfeit to the Razorbacks may come back to haunt them when it comes to sorting out playoff positions at the end of the year.
Unfortunately no stats or reports were submitted for this game, though both teams will surely be happy with their performances on defense. Work will need to be done to fix offensive deficiencies moving forward in order to keep competing in the division, whether that be for playoff positions or to avoid bottom place. The Pirates have a quick turnaround as they play the Mavericks this Sunday, while the Giants have until mid-June to prepare for the Jets.