The opening weekend of football in Ireland kicked off with a light schedule. There was only two games on the card as the reigning champions, Dublin Rebels headed down the M7 to face one of 2017’s most exciting teams the University of Limerick Vikings. The trend in recent times has been that the earliest games of the year are usually filled by the college teams, the Capital saw a clash between University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin.
The last time the Rebels and Vikings met the SBC south champions were crowned and perhaps the destination of the Shamrock Bowl was determined. The Rebels came out on top this weekend as it that matchup in July 2107. UL have had a transition this off season with many of their senior players moving on and a new crop of Vikings taking the reins. Starting rookie quarterback Jack Litherland, taking the spot from Ray Burke who is now plying his trade in Europe, took home the Vikings game MVP award but the Champions running back Wello Omo will claim the mantle of this game’s outstanding performer.
20-0 was the final score and Omo had a hand in every point. The powerful back rushed for two scores. Then, on a half back option, passed to receiver Jonas D’Agostin for another score. Omo capped his day by adding a successful 2-point attempt. A good start for the champions whose next game comes against the Panthers on the 25th of March.
UCD and Trinity clashed on a chilly Dublin afternoon with a good sized crowed in attendance. Early exchanges of scores saw UCD arrive at half time with a one score lead 16-8. This game was a tale of two quarterbacks, with UCD’s Tom Donovan deploying his elusive running style resulting in his first rushing score of the year and Trinity’s Ben Dowling dishing the ball to his dominant receivers resulting in a score for one of Ireland’s best, Conor O’Dwyer, before the half.
The game was slower going in the 2nd half and UCD will feel they should have been further ahead twice turning over the ball on Trinity’s goal line by the time the game had ended. Trinity weren’t able to capitalise on these turnovers as UCD’s defence rallied to snuff out promising drives limiting them to just a field goal and leaving the win with the home side 16-11.
This weekend will see the second tier of Irish football begin when IAFL2 champions of 2017 travel to one if Ireland most promising teams the Wexford Eagles and two IAFL2 alums, the North Dublin Pirates and NI Razorbacks meet in Belfast.
As with most years the IAFL 1 will be highly competitive and hard to predict. The favourites for promotion this year will have to be the Craigavon Cowboys, given the talent of their roster, but after a number of years of really promising development the Eagles must be aiming for the bowl game in august and the coveted spot in the Shamrock Bowl Conference.