Irish American Football League returns for Week 3 with Double-Header in Dublin

A double-header takes place in Dublin this Sunday as the Irish American Football League returns for Week 3.

The South Dublin Panthers and Carrickfergus Knights face off in Westmanstown to kickstart their 2017 seasons whereas former Shamrock Bowl finalists meet once again as the Belfast Trojans take on Trinity College Dublin.

   Belfast Trojans v. Trinity College Dublin   

Photo: Bob Given Photography

The Trojans make a return trip to Dublin this weekend to face a familiar foe. Trinity College welcome the 4 time Irish Champions to Dublin as the former 2014 and 2015 Shamrock Bowl finalists collide in an early season encounter. Recent battles between the pair have produced some spectacular games that includes the Trojans thrilling 7-0 Shamrock Bowl final victory against Trinity in 2014 and also Trinity’s 18-0 shutout against Belfast that ended the Trojans 2 year unbeaten streak.

There is a lot of history in this fixture but recent score-lines have proven well in the Trojans favour. Two final victories and last seasons 40-7 trouncing of the students have given Belfast the mental edge. Trinity, after a few years reworking and rebuilding their squad are starting to look a lot more like their familiar selves.

Despite their narrow 21-19 loss to the UL Vikings, TCD were more than able to cope with the physicality of Limerick. Their speed and agility both through the air and on the ground will create problems for the Trojans defence, particulary on deep ball threats. Quarterback, Dan Finnamore will be looking for both Conor O’Dwyer and Pavel Rozman to leak into the secondary in the hope of creating a big play. Defensively, stopping Jonah Siri will be high on the agenda.

Belfast on the other hand got their season off to a winning start, but made life difficult for themselves in the second half. A 49-34 victory against a tough UCD side would be a great result for many teams, but the Trojans will disappointed to have conceding as many points as they did. A win is a win, however Trinity will create similar issues that UCD did with their quickness, so Belfast must remain focused. The offence moved the ball well on the opening week, so it will be up to the defence to improve in what will be an equally difficult match.

   Carrickfergus Knights v. South Dublin Panthers   

The Knights and Panthers commence their footballing calendar for the year in this Shamrock Bowl North Conference clash. With division rival University College Dublin slipping to (0-2) this gives a great opportunity for both teams to get a head start on the competition as clinching a playoff berth will be the top priority.

The Panthers suffered a dismal (0-8) campaign in 2016 and only just avoided demotion by the skin of their teeth. A busy off-season has seen a big recruitment drive and a host of coaching changes take place in a bid to spark life into a team that expects more of themselves. The rebranding phase is completed, the team is set; its time to go to work. The Panthers have the benefit of starting their campaign with 3 games in Dublin to start, so victories in those could set them up nicely before they make the longer away trips.

Carrickfergus will have set themselves the goal of surpassing the wildcard round of the playoff’s, after falling at that hurdle on the last few occasions. To achieve that however, they will need victories against the likes of the Trojans and Rebels over the course of the year. The Rebels switch to the Shamrock Bowl South Conference improves the Knights chances of challenging the North division title, but their credentials will be tested in the opening three games of their season. The Trojans and Rebels quickly follow their trip to the Panthers, so where they finish at the end of the regular season could depend on the outcome of those games.

The Knights have a number of senior Irish internationals across their squad that should give them plenty of quality to build upon. The Knights have been steadily building a championship winning team and have been on the cusp for years, but haven’t quite managed to surpass that hurdle of toppling the top sides in Ireland. As for the Panthers, they won’t want replicate the result of last season and will be hoping their new additions will transition quickly. The race for the 2017 Shamrock Bowl final is just starting and both sides will have expectations of making it there.

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