PREVIEW: 2015 Irish American Football League – South

[tps_title]Irish American Football League – South[/tps_title]

[tps_header]University of Limerick Vikings (6-2 in 2014)[/tps_header]


The 3-time Shamrock Bowl Champions have been a mainstay in Irish American Football since 2001. After winning championships in 2007, 2008 and 2009, the Vikings have been one of the strongest teams to have ever graced the IAFL and have came close to adding another title to their name over recent years. After falling to defeat against the Belfast Trojans in Shamrock Bowl XXVI, the Vikings have made it as far as the semi-finals in the last two seasons, losing out to the Trojans on both occasions. UL have been putting in a lot of work this offseason, including organizing an exhibition game with the Granada Lions in Spain, in order to give them an edge as the 2015 campaign looms.

ul_vikingsAfter starting off with defeats to Trinity College and a gut-wrenching last second defeat to the Dublin Rebels, The Vikes went on to win their remaining 6 games that set them up with a home tie against the West Dublin Rhinos in the wildcard round. They were met by familiar opponents the Belfast Trojans in the semi’s and came close to toppling the champions in what is quickly becoming a fierce rivalry between the two heavyweights. This year, the season kicks off similar to the last for UL with an opening game against Trinity. Two away fixtures against UCD and the Rhinos quickly follow before facing the North Kildare Reapers at the UL Sports Grounds. Their regular season will finish off against the South Dublin Panthers on June 21st.

Keys to Success: Defensively, the Vikings are amongst the best in the country! John Mullen, Sean Sheehy and Craig Switzer all returning to ensure the UL defence is tough to breakdown! They aren’t to shabby on offence either. With Adrian Garvey and Sean Goldrick in the side and Ian Cahill now under centre, they will always threaten to score points and with plenty of new rookies, the squad is looking very healthy. Perhaps the biggest challenge for the Vikings this year will be overcoming the hurdle that faces them in the semi-finals if they make it.

Prediction: It’s too early to really call how the SBC South will turn out, but the Vikings now have UCD to worry about alongside Trinity, so their place in the top 2 may no longer be guaranteed. They do however have plenty of offensive weapons and a rock-solid defence that will give them a great chance to top the division. UL’s opening two games could determine how they finish the year. 3rd

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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