Dublin, Cork to host second week of Irish American Football League
Week 1 of the Irish American Football League (IAFL) opened with a bang as the Belfast Trojans and University of Limerick Vikings opened their accounts for the season with victories against University College Dublin and Trinity College respectively.
This weekend see’s the defending champions the Dublin Rebels kick off their campaign with a cross city trip to visit UCD, whilst the Shamrock Bowl Conference’s (SBC) latest entrant the Cork Admirals host the North Kildare Reapers.
Dublin Rebels vs. University College Dublin
UCD suffered an opening week defeat at home to division rivals the Belfast Trojans, falling 49-34 in a high-scoring contest. They must now quickly switch focus to the impending visit of the reigning Shamrock Bowl Champions, the Dublin Rebels who will look to get out of the blocks quickly.
The students almost pulled off a second half comeback last week but were ultimately undone by a slow start that saw them trail 35-6 at the break. They can’t afford to replicate that performance as they face arguably the highest powered offence in the league, courtesy of the Dublin Rebels. Quarterback Tom Donovan and co. will be confident they can attack the Rebels as they proved successful in putting up 34 points against the Trojans defence, something not many teams have accomplished. However the defence will need to match the offences intensity if they are to defeat the champions.
This Sunday will be the Rebels first competitive fixture, seven months removed from clinching their 8th Shamrock Bowl championship. The Dubliners will have a huge target on their back this year and have therefore recruited heavily over the off-season as they aim to defend their title against competitors from all parts of the country. The return of popular veteran Simon Mackey will add strength to both sides of the ball whilst the signing of Pete McMahon from the Meath Bulldogs will gift quarterback Andy Dennehy another offensive weapon to target.
UCD have more than enough weapons to cause the Rebels discomfort and hand them their first loss of the year. However the students must be aware that falling 0-2 could prove critical in their own playoff hopes.
North Kildare Reapers vs Cork Admirals
The Admirals make their long awaited return to the top flight after a series of campaigns in Ireland’s division one league. Having won the IAFL-1 championship last year, Cork is making the step up to Shamrock Bowl Conference level for the first time since 2013. Their first opponents will be the North Kildare Reapers, the team that replaced them in the SBC.
The Reapers have been a stable member of the Shamrock Bowl Conference since 2014 and despite the odds seemingly against them every year, they still manage to not only avoid demotion; but also pull off a number of upsets in the process. Their small roster has not be broken under battle and continues to find themselves on the cusp of playoff football year after year. After a number of seasons finding their feet, 2017 may well see the Reapers fulfil their potential.
Cork are one of the longest established teams in the Ireland, so its only fitting they find themselves back in the mix of competing for top honours. In 2013, the teams ability to stay afloat came into question as fears of the team discontinuing became a big concern. Nonetheless, the Admirals fought back from impending extinction by rebuilding themselves over the course of 3-4 years and have gone on to reach success with a number of division one championship appearances, including victory in the 2016 final. This weekend will see them complete the life cycle as they face the Reapers in their first game back in the SBC.
The Admirals have the makings of a really exciting team to watch, with a number of players being called up to the Ireland National squad. Stephen Hayes, the Admirals Quarterback, is just one of a number of exciting prospects throughout the Admirals side to look out for. North Kildare will turn to familiar veterans throughout the team to help elevate them to the next level of their teams development. It should be an exciting game of football between two teams that are yet to face each other in their tenure.