PREVIEW: 2015 Irish American Football League – South

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

[tps_header]West Dublin Rhinos (3-5 in 2014)[/tps_header]


A thrilling end to the 2014 season saw 4 teams battle it out for the last remaining wildcard spot in the playoffs; a spot the West Dublin Rhinos would eventually claim. With key victories over the North Kildare Reapers and Carrickfergus Knights (in a match in which the second half was replayed) the Rhino’s were able to clinch their birth on the last game of their season and thus, their first playoff appearance since 2012.

west_dublin_rhinosDespite the tough road they took to get there, the hard work was ultimately undone as they lost to the Vikings. Many will associate the Rhino’s with their hard work ethic and tough as nails mentality, and with some good fortune, the Rhino’s could make another potential run at the playoff’s in 2015.

The Rhino’s were able to turn their season around after a poor start to 2014. Consecutive defeats to Trinity, UL, Craigavon and Belfast left the Dublin side on a downward slope as they slipped to (0-4). However, arguably the defining match of the season for the Rhinos came with victory over the North Kildare Reapers that sparked them into winning 3 of their remaining 4 fixtures. Another challenging schedule in 2015 awaits as they face the Reapers, Vikings and UCD first. The Rhino’s commonly face 3 of the North Division teams, however two of those games this year will be away from home at the Craigavon Cowboys and Belfast Trojans, just to make things a tad trickier.

Keys to Success: Opposition teams respect the Rhino’s for how they play the game, with commitment and heart and defensively, they have that in abundance. Offensively however appears to be were they struggle most. Without a distinguished running-game, stand in QB Arun Mooney was relied on heavily to get the team moving forward, and with only 3 receiving touchdowns from Wide Receivers last year, there will be a lot of work needed! They were able to recruit plenty of players in the off-season so hopefully the offense will have more joy this season and allow players like Dan Breslin and Paul Hossford to flourish.

Prediction: The Shamrock Bowl Conference gets harder every year, and the SBC South may be as tough as its ever been! So the Rhino’s will have to work extremely hard if they are to earn their place in the playoff’s again. If they can knick a few wins outside of their division like last year, they will have a shot! The odd’s will be stacked against them, but if anyone can defy the odd’s; its the West Dublin Rhino‘s! 4th

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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