Irish American Football League prepares for playoff football as regular season comes to a close

With the Irish American Football League regular season now on the back-burner, teams who have been successful in their hunt for playoff football will begin prepping for the post-season with the wildcard round set to kick-off on July 23rd. Those who surpass the first knockout stage will contest the semi-finals scheduled for July 30th, with the coveted Shamrock Bowl 31 Final due to take place on August 13th at Tallaght Stadium, Dublin. (TBC) 

Only two fixtures took place on the final week on the Irish football calendar, but both games had huge significance with division titles and prospective playoff spots still up for grabs. The Dublin Rebels finished 7-1 on the season as they scored late to defeat the previously unbeaten UL Vikings 22-14. That victory for the defending champions saw them leap ahead of UL on points difference to clinch the Shamrock Bowl South Conference division title and claim the #1 seed in the playoffs.

In the other fixture, University College Dublin took the spoils in a shootout with the Cork Admirals, coming 42-26 in a score-fest. The win however wasn’t enough to see UCD reach the post-season as they finished 3-5 for the year. The defeat for Cork however proved little in affecting their playoff chances as they reached the knockout stages in their first appearance back in the premier division by finishing with a solid 4-3-1 record.

Below is how the playoff schedule will play out heading into the post-season.
*# seeding

Wildcard match: July 23rd

#4  Belfast Trojans (4-4) vs. #6  Trinity College Dublin (3-4-1)

The Belfast Trojans late 14-13 defeat to the Rebels on the penultimate week of the season saw the Trojans fall to 4-4, and thus having to settle for a home tie in the wildcard round. The Trojans will hoping to reach their sixth straight final, but will have to do it the hard way if they are to headline the Bowl game once again.

Their opponents in Belfast will be a former foe in Trinity College. TCD and Belfast contested the final in both 2014 and 2015 with the Trojans coming out winners on both occasions. Trinity have come out of their rebuilding phase and will be targeting another run to the final. In the most recent contest between these sides, Trinity held off a late Belfast fightback to win 14-12 earlier in the campaign.

Wildcard match: July 23rd

#3  University of Limerick Vikings (7-1) vs. #5 Cork Admirals (4-3-1)

The Cork Admirals impressive return to the Shamrock Bowl Conference has been rewarded with another chance of adding to their recent haul of silverware. In two weeks they will travel across the south of Ireland to face the UL Vikings, who surrendered the top seed on the final week.

The Cork outfit claimed wins against the North Kildare Reapers, South Dublin Panthers and Trinity College on their way to the fifth seed and will be considered dark horses in their bid to reach the final. The Vikings went most of the season unbeaten but must face an extra game on their schedule if they are to prove themselves worthy contenders. They were the most dominant team throughout the season and will be a dangerous side to face. UL edged out the Admirals 23-22 in a defensive battle back in April.

#1 seed –  Dublin Rebels (7-1)

The Rebels 22-14 win over the Vikings see’s them clinch the SBC South division title, and with it a first round bye and top seed in the playoff’s. Their sole defeat came at the hands of the Vikings earlier in the season, but they will be much fancied favourites to defend their championship. The Rebels will host either the #4 seed or #6 seed in the semi-final.

#2 seed-  Carrickfergus Knights (5-3)

The Knights 16-10 win against Trinity, coupled with the Trojans defeat at the Rebels saw the Knights claim their first division title since 2011. Carrickfergus will now be granted a first round bye in the playoff’s, with home field advantage a huge factor having gone unbeaten at home this season. The Knights will contest the winner between the #3 seed and #5 seed in the semi-final.

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