Ireland U20’s host American Football Worldwide High School Elites in Dublin

The AFW (American Football Worldwide) High School select team put on a masterclass at the sun-soaked National Sports Campus, Dublin as they defeated the Ireland U20’s 54-6 in the Irish side’s first competitive game since 2013.

The Irish team, made up of players from across the IAFL (Irish American Football League) put on a valiant display that showcased the hard work of the last 18 months.

The USA outfit consisted of players that were handpicked from high schools all across the country from Chicago to Kansas City, New York to California. Despite having very few training sessions playing together, their talents were on show for all to see as they put on an excellent performance in front of hundreds of spectators.

Photography by Bob Given.

The American’s got the ball rolling early as they took advantage of some nervous defending from the hosts. Running back, Jahi Stigall found space on the outside as he dashed past defenders for a 40 yard touchdown run. Cameron Diaz converted the extra point to give them a 7-0 lead. The Irishmen continued to pound the ball but to no prevail as the American defence kept them to minimal yards on the opening exchanges.

It took time for the young wolfhounds to find their feet, but a few nice plays from the offence and soon they were playing with confidence. They raised their game to the level of the opponents and managed to stop them on a few of their own drives. The run-game however continued to damage the Irish resolve and soon the ‘AFW Elites’ increased their lead further with rushing scores from both Stigall and fullback, Bailey Badeaux.

Photography by Bob Given.

The Irish u20’s continued to battle after the break, despite the 21-0 deficit. The American’s however reached for another level and punched in a number of quick scores to put the game beyond doubt. Badeaux added his second soon after the restart before Stigall completed his hat-trick with a short yardage run. Quarterback Griffen Johns added to the increasing tally with a long QB draw play. The men in green continued to press for a breakthrough of their own but struggled against a well-disciplined defence.

The scoreline didn’t justify how hard the Irishmen played as they continued to fight tooth and nail, matching the aggression and intensity of their American counterparts. Their efforts over the course of the game were duly rewarded as safety, Tomiwa Oyewo picked off the quarterback and raced clear for a pick 6, sending the Irish faithful into hysterics.

Photography by Terence McCann.

Two late scores from the Elites, courtesy of two pick 6’s from defensive back, Wade Bowmer ran up the score towards the end but despite the 54-6 scoreline, the Irish u20 side can be more than proud of their efforts. They faced an extremely talented side, with many of the Irish playing squad having never faced a team of that magnitude or skill. It will serve a great purpose in helping develop the u20’s team giving them valuable experience that should benefit Irish American football as a whole.

After their week long stay on the Emerald Isle, the AFW Elite team’s journey continues as they now travel to Italy for another competitive fixture against their national team. What’s next in store for the Ireland u20 set-up remains to be seen, but the future is certainly bright for an ever evolving national program.

Photography by Charisse Mae Ducao.

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