Week 14 Previews

Shamrock Bowl Conference

Craigavon Cowboys vs. Carrickfergus Knights

Well, all of a sudden the playoff race has become a little bit interesting hasn’t it? With both these teams still in with a massive shout of reaching the post-season this should be an epic battle between two Northern rivals.

Meeting at Carrickfergus RFC just three weeks ago, the Knights ran out narrow 26-24 winners. Last year the teams shared the spoils, winning one game each in the two matches that they met. Could we see the same this year?

We are still awaiting to hear the decision about the called off game between the Knights and the West Dublin Rhinos, which was halted due to an ambulance having to leave and being unable to return. The Rhinos led 8-0 at the time and if that is called as a result the playoff picture changes dramatically, leaving Carrickfergus in a position where they could really do with a win in this one. [IAFA – further details on the result of this game will be released soon].

Both teams have experience, both teams have impressive youth set-ups to bleed youngsters into the senior team and both are strong, physical sides that do not give anything less than 100% throughout the entirety of their games. This one is going to be a cracker, and a difficult one to predict.

University of Limerick Vikings vs. North Kildare Reapers

The UL Vikings hit the field again, looking for their 5th straight victory, as they host the North Kildare Reapers, who they beat 0-49 in the reverse fixture just a few short weeks ago.

The Vikings have found their feet after a rocky start, with the offence, defence and special teams all firing on all cylinders, but they are still flying somewhat under the radar with the likes of Trinity, the Belfast Trojans and the Dublin Rebels all being touted as potential candidates to lift the Shamrock Bowl ahead of them. That won’t bother the team one bit, but the side does need to be respected in the same League as the three teams above them. Only two teams in the entire SBC have scored more points, whilst only one has conceded less.

Meanwhile the Reapers will be looking to guarantee at least a .500 season. Coming off back-to-back defeats, the team will want to turn their fortunes around and look to secure a playoff berth that looks increasingly unlikely after looking good a few weeks ago. The North Kildare team have taken steps forward this year following their IAFL-1 winning campaign in 2013, and at times have mixed it well with the big boys of the SBC. However, their three wins have come against fellow IAFL-1 graduates and if they truly want to succeed in the top tier they have to beat the other teams competing for post-season football.

This isn’t a knock. It’s the Reaper’s first SBC season and they’re one of the youngest clubs in the division. They have solid foundations to build on and, with patience and hard work, they’ll be a successful team for years to come, but maybe 2014 was a little premature for playoff aspirations.


Cork Admirals vs. Drogheda Lightning

This IAFL-1 season has been another fantastic one! The unpredictability has made the division a pleasure to cover. Can we see another twist to it this weekend?

Cork have looked fantastic at home, but less so on their travels, succumbing to a 16-0 loss against the Mullingar Minotaurs last time out. So they’ll be happy to return to CIT and host the Drogheda Lightning who are still looking for their first win of the campaign.

With home field advantage, a high octane, pass-heavy offence and a defence that shut out Drogheda 0-6 last time these two met, back in May, it looks like the Admirals have the upper hand.

But the Lightning will not be rolling over. They’re a tough team that have gone through some rough times in the last two years, and look to come out on this side as a stronger unit. Adding to that, the team has some good talent too and it wouldn’t be too big of a shock to see another IAFL-1 upset here.

University College Dublin vs. Meath Bulldogs

The Bulldogs handed UCD their first defeat this year, holding out for a 2-0 win back in April, at a time when it looked like the students could grab hold of the division by the scruff of the neck and run undefeated.

Meath haven’t had it their own way though, since that victory. They’ve scored just 10 points in their 3 games and sit on a 1-2 record, struggling to put points on the board and grind games out as we came to expect of them from last year. Upheavals on the offensive side of the ball, on both coaching and playing rosters, has seen their production stutter at times, but the talent is still there. Can they put up some scores and do the double over UCD?

The home side have had no such issues with scoring, putting up a massive 166 points in their 6 games so far this year, with quarterback Dave Murphy leading both the passing and rushing scoring charts.

This one swings on the Meath defence. If they bring the fire and stop UCD’s high octane offence like they did last time then it could be a close game and potentially a Bulldog win. But if they cannot then it’s highly doubtful that the Meath offence will be able to keep up with UCD’s.

This article has been syndicated from Double Coverage and any opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinion of IAFA. Any references to non-IAFA websites are provided for convenience only and do not in any manner serve as an endorsement of those websites.