PREVIEW: 2015 Irish American Football League – North

[tps_title]Preview: Irish American Football[/tps_title]

Ireland - IAFL logo

Shamrock Bowl Conference North Preview

This is it!….this is the final week before the opening kickoff of the 2015 Irish League season! Ten teams will battle it out to make the Shamrock Bowl 29 final and carve their name into the Irish American Football history books. As the league continues to expand and the strength and depth of each team becomes tested; competition in Ireland’s toughest division remains as fierce as ever, and this year promises to be the most competitive and action packed IAFL season to date! We begin our preview of the Shamrock Bowl Conference by analyzing the five teams who will compete for honours in the North division.

Belfast Trojans (7-1 in 2014)

The reigning National Champions have proven over the last three years why they are considered to be the strongest force in Ireland. Back to back championships have made the Belfast outfit the team to beat in the country, and they relish the challenge! Having suffered their first defeat in 26 games at the hands of Trinity College last term, the Trojans went through a temporary transformation that helped them regroup heading into the playoff’s. They eventually went on to defeat the students in last year’s final after a hard fought contest and the Trojans will be looking to head back to Tallaght Stadium once again this year to win their fourth Shamrock Bowl trophy.

Ireland - belfast_trojansWith the unbeaten streak over, the Trojans can now focus on each game without the added pressure. The men in green may have lost a number of key players this year, but after another successful recruitment drive this offseason, they will be hoping the next batch of rookies will be ready to make their mark. The Trojans arguably have their toughest schedule to date, as they face three away games to start off their campaign. Their opening games include visits to the South Dublin Panthers, North Kildare Reapers and rivals the Carrickfergus Knights, whilst also facing a trip to Scotland to take on the East Kilbride Pirates. However, the majority of their end of season fixtures will be at home that will prove a lot more favourable, including hosting their closest rivals the Dublin Rebels at Deramore Park.

Keys to Success: The Trojans are blessed to have numerous talents on the offensive side of the ball as well as an impressive defence, but the key aspect for them this year may be how the offensive line plays. With a number of experienced players missing this time round, including the loss of their offensive line coach, Conor Leckey, the emphasis will lie heavily with the upcoming rookies of last year and present. However, they showed a lot of promise last term in tough situations and should be more than ready to fill the void this season.

Prediction: The boys from Belfast will be early favourites to reclaim a place in this years final, and they still possess one of the most talented squads in the league comprising of James McKelvey, David Richardson, Patrick McElkerney and Neil Graham just to name a few. Teams may not suffer from the same fear factor of old, but when the Trojans are on form, they are ‘almost’ impossible to stop! 1st

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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