Ireland: Shamrock Bowl XXXIII – Belfast Trojans v. South Dublin Panthers

The main event in the Irish American Football Associations calendar is finally back once again as the four time champions Belfast Trojans take on the South Dublin Panthers for the Shamrock Bowl in its 33rd year. These two teams are well known to each, having faced each other multiple times in recent years. They last played each other on the 9th June 2019 in Belfast, where the Trojans came out 26-16 winners. This would be the first of a string of three defeats for the Panthers to end their regular season whilst the Trojans would win out their remaining four games.
The Trojans finished the regular season as second seeds, gaining home field advantage in the semi-final, of which they overcame UCD 14-0 in a rain soaked game at Harlequins RFC. Both defense’s took advantage of the weather, stifling each other’s offenses as both were finding it difficult to establish an air game in the tough conditions. The Trojans eventually broke the deadlock at the end of the second quarter, ironically through a passing play, before going on to score the games only other touchdown in the second half.
Trojans head coach James McKelvey was happy with his team’s semi-final performance and is really looking forward to taking to the field at the Shamrock Bowl once again:
“It’s been a real journey this year for the Trojans after a good start and winning our first two games but then stalling in the next two. As a team we came together and put in a lot of work to finish the season strongly. Versus UCD we came up against a fantastic team who pushed us in every phase of the game and I was delighted with the win. I can’t wait to play at Energia Park and face a team who I have a ton of respect for.”
It would be fair to say that the Panthers were underdogs in their semi-final when they travelled to the 2018 champions and top seeds, the Cork Admirals.
The Panthers scored on their first drive via a 50 yard run, before extending their lead to 21-0 going into the fourth quarter. The Admirals got one back but the resolute Panthers ensured that that would be their only score, with the game finishing 21-6 and the Panthers securing their first ever Shamrock Bowl appearance.
Panthers head coach Steve Mack was delighted to cause an upset and is confident his team can come out of the Shamrock Bowl as champions
“Obviously a lot of positives and great things achieved this season. Club records on both sides of the ball, Ian Cahill and Eoin Neville setting individual team records too. So a lot of positives. Very happy to have built on last year, getting to the semi-final and beating an undefeated team which is really a testament to the talent this squad has and how hard they work. The Trojans are going to be equally as tough. A lot of people who came into the sport when I did knew them as those groups of perfect teams that could not be beaten and our club and our team has tried to emulate in a lot of ways what the Trojans were doing back then. I’m expecting a very tough game. An entertaining game for the neutral and a great advertisement for our sport in Ireland.”

2019 Key Stats Trojans Panthers

Regular Season Record 6-1-1 4-4
Avg Points Scored Per Game 20.2 20.1
Avg Points Conceded Per Game 9.6 16.0
Shutouts 2 0
Games W/L By Less Than 8 or Less Points 2 5
Previous Head to Head Results
07 May 2017: Trojans 9-0 Panthers
20 May 2018: Trojans 48-0 Panthers
09 June 2019: Trojans 26-16 Panthers