Ireland – Mid-season Report On The SBC North Teams – Part 1

As we come close to reaching the mid-point of the IAFL season, team form and league positions have gradually started to take shape. Week 9 comes as a bye-week for the top tier in Irish Football so this article will used as a way to break down current trends on team performances and how that could impact final position rankings in the Shamrock Bowl Conference

SBC North

thumb_Trojans_Logo_40pxBelfast Trojans

Ireland - Belfast Trojans action 2016

The Trojans are the defending champions of Ireland, and have successfully been for the last 4 years. So far, that trend doesn’t look like stopping as they have steamrolled their way to the top of the SBC North.

Sitting at 3-0, the Trojans got off to a fast start with 60+ point victories against the Craigavon Cowboys and South Dublin Panthers in the opening weeks, before grinding out a slim 25-8 win against rivals, the Dublin Rebels. With those victories, the Trojans have defeated three of their division opponents so far giving them an excellent head-to-head advantage.

Those wins could prove vital as their final stretch of games includes the Vikings, Rebels and Trinity College. The familiar names of James McKelvey, David Colvin and co. have excelled on offence, with rising talent Jonah Siri putting in star performances. The defence has continued to shut-out opponents and maintain their spot as the top defence in the league.

Although the task to go unbeaten will be a tricky one this year, the Green Machine will be much fancied to finish top of the SBC North, particularly when they’ve amassed 150 points scoring and only 15 against in 3 games.

thumb_Rebels_Logo_40pxDublin Rebels

Ireland - Dublin Rebels action 2016

The Rebels were the storied franchise in the IAFL for many years, when they dominated the sport for the best part of a century.

That dominance had led them to seven Shamrock Bowl wins and now they are looking to reach the pinnacle of the Irish game once again. They’ve always remained a consistent playoff team, despite their decline in recent years which hasn’t seen them win a Bowl game since 2011.

Saying that, they still have great experience throughout the team with Andrew Dennehy at quarterback and the likes of the multi-talented pairing of  Ross McCooey and Paul Grogan in the line-up. With upcoming rookies and a number of new signings, they’ve certainly improved the roster during the 2015 off-season. So far, they sit in second position behind the Trojans in the SBC North with a solid (3-1) effort.

They too have also been putting up big performances having defeated the Panthers 60-6 and the Carrickfergus Knights 36-0. Despite defeat against the Trojans, the Rebels improved the following game with another standout 56-13 victory over the Cowboys. They have shown great progression from last year and and aren’t too far off where they feel they should be.

With end of season fixtures against the Vikings and Trojans again, the Rebels must continue their current form right to the end to have any chance of catching the Trojans, without having to look over their shoulder as well.

thumb_Knights_Logo_40pxCarrickfergus Knights 

Ireland - Carrickfergus Knights action 2016

After an abysmal 2015 by their standards, the Knights have dramatically improved off the back of a season that saw them finish without a single win. That won’t be replicated this year as they find themselves just behind Rebels in third on points difference with three wins under their belt.

The Knights have beaten the South Dublin Panthers twice so far, both consisting of shut-outs whilst also defeating the North Kildare Reapers 26-16. They still haven’t managed to get the better of the Dublin Rebels, and in order to really improve on previous years, that’s the step they need to make.

It’s difficult to not let complacency slip in, but with the Cowboys and Panthers struggling, the Knights could be a few weeks away from clinching a playoff spot with more than half the season to go. In years past they’ve struggled to put teams away in the latter stages, but this season they have been able to finish games strongly, as they rank mid-table in both points scored and against across the entire SBC.

They’ve also found a number of outlets in regards to scoring, with both running back Gareth Millar and receiver, Marty Caskey becoming regular contributors. The second half of the season will be where it matters most for the Knights with a double-header against the Cowboys and home ties with both the Trojans and UCD, but there’s no reason the Knights can’t finish with at least three wins from those games.

The Knights have the potential to finish very highly this season, and could perhaps finally leapfrog the Rebels in the standings.

Scott is an aspiring Sports Journalist who enjoys writing about all things American Football. He is a regular contributor to AFI Review and also writes for both NFL Ireland and Double Coverage, and currently plays for the Belfast Trojans. He also