It’s the final weekend of regular season football in Ireland for 2019, with all eight SBC teams in action. The Cork Admirals have secured top spot whilst the Belfast Trojans have secured second, so they will host either UCD or the South Dublin Panthers at home in the playoffs – results from this Sunday will decide who plays who (check out our SBC Playoff Scenario post to find out more).
Results in the last two weeks have blown the relegation battle wide open, as the bottom four teams in the table all risk falling to IAFL 1 in 2020. The UL Vikings sit bottom, level on points (3) with the Belfast Knights, whilst the West Dublin Rhinos and Dublin Rebels sit just above them with 4 points apiece. What makes it even more interesting is that no two teams in the top four plays each other, and no two teams in the bottom four plays each other this Sunday.
Belfast Trojans (2nd, 5-1-1) @ Belfast Knights (7th, 1-5-1)
The first fixture that both teams look for when the schedule is released – the Belfast derby. The Trojans have enjoyed a good season so far, most recently recording an 8-0 win against the Rebels. At the opposite end of the table, the Knights have not been so fortunate and are in danger of being relegated, however a well-earned draw on a long road trip to the unbeaten Admirals gives them hope.
A very short road game to finish the regular season for the Trojans, who cannot gain or lose a position in the league table. With a home playoff game already in the bag, Trojans head coach James McKelvey will use this as an opportunity to use his extended squad “This Sunday will be our last regular season game and whilst there isn’t anything on the line for us, it will be a good opportunity to get ready for our semi-final and try some new things out.”
Whilst not favourites to go down, the Knights are very much at risk. Should the Vikings achieve a tie or win and the Knights lose, then it’s the Knights who go down. Knight’s president Kris McCombe is looking his team to decide their own fate by getting the win on Sunday “This is a game we’ve really been looking forward to. The guys are fired up for this Sunday and will be leaving all they have on the field. The draw a fortnight ago against Cork has given us some good momentum that we are looking to take advantage of in this game. The Battle of Belfast is always a good fight and will be well worth the watch.”
Location: Shaws Bridge Sports Complex, Belfast
Kick Off: 2pm
UL Vikings (8th, 2-5) @ South Dublin Panthers (4th, 4-3)
It’s a tough ask for the Vikings, who realistically must win this game to stand a chance of SBC survival. It will be no easy task as they take to the road to face the Panthers, who have had good season to date, having already locked in their playoff spot. They cannot however secure a home playoff game, so they will have to travel to either the Admirals or Trojans on 21st July.
The Vikings have found some form late in the season, winning their last two games which have both been on the road. Last time out, they beat the West Dublin Rhinos 30-0 in a comprehensive victory. Vikings president Conor Whelan will be hoping his team can continue this run and get the win they desperately need “We have the momentum we’ve been looking for all season, we’re in the position we’re in by our own doing and we can only get out of it by our own doing. So it’s really all or nothing for us this weekend.”
The Panthers will be looking to get back to winning ways following defeats in their last two games. A late comeback fell short as they were beaten 27-30 by UCD two weeks ago. Even with their playoff spot confirmed, Panthers head coach Steve Mack will want the win to build on for the upcoming playoff run “Looking forward to a tough battle as ever with UL. They’re really coming on strong at the end of the year and we know we’ll have to play well to come out on top. We know we need a strong performance to close the regular season and everyone is very much focused on delivering that.”
Location: Westmanstown Sports Centre, Dublin
Kick Off: 2pm
UCD (3rd, 4-2-1) @ Dublin Rebels (5th, 2-5)
It’s the second derby of the day as the students of UCD make the short journey to take on the Rebels in an all Dublin affair. UCD are playoff bound and will have to travel to either the Admirals or Trojans in their hunt for a Shamrock Bowl appearance. The Rebels will need at least a point to guarantee their survival, however they are least favourites to be relegated as they sit top of the bottom half of the table.
Yet another successful year for UCD, who have proven to be effective on the road, winning two and drawing one of their three road games. UCD secretary Thomas Fitzgerald is confident his team can get the result here and cause reason for concern to either the Admirals or the Trojans “We’re looking forward to our last game of the regular season versus the Rebels and we are looking to secure the win to gain momentum going into the playoffs. We saw that it was a close game in Belfast last Sunday and even though the weather played a part, we can’t overlook the Rebels defense.”
It’s been a difficult second half of the season for the Rebels, winning only one of their three most recent games. The Rebels are relegation threatened but it is unlikely that they will go down regardless of the result on Sunday. A close game in Belfast last time out for the Rebels, who were beat by the Trojans 8-0. Not the result they were looking but shows that they are certainly competitive and will look to win this game to ready themselves for a Shamrock Bowl run in 2020.
Location: ALSAA Sports Centre, Dublin
Kick Off: 2pm
West Dublin Rhinos (6th, 2-5) @ Cork Admirals (1st, 6-0-1)