PREVIEW: 2015 Irish American Football League – North

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

Craigavon Cowboys (2-6 in 2014)

Although they finished 2-6 in 2014, the Cowboys still showed a lot of promise throughout the season and were still very close to clinching a playoff berth as their season drew to a close. With a fine balance between youth and experience, the Cowboys were still able to compete against the likes of the Knights and Trinity College early in the season, before injuries and player fatigue took there tole on a depleted squad. They were able to get victories against their closest challengers whilst also showing fight against the top sides in the league, and with a very promising u19’s side; the future looks bright in Craigavon.

Ireland - Cowboys logoThe Cowboys will open their schedule with a home fixture at Portadown Rugby Club against the Carrickfergus Knights, who snapped the final wildcard berth just ahead of the Cowboys last season. They then face two tricky games against the Dublin Rebels and West Dublin Rhinos which will prove to be a competitive opening schedule for the ‘Boys’. The closest contest potentially for Craigavon could come down to the game against the now rebranded South Dublin Panthers, who they defeated 24-21 when they were formerly known as the Dublin Dragons. There will be a number of fixtures this term that Craigavon may feel they can get something out of, and with a few key victories they might be within touching distance of the playoff’s again.

Keys to Success: The Cowboys have a number of individual talents on their side, but struggle when it comes to squad depth. Peter Loughran will prove to be the catalyst of the team once again, but after a number of first team appearances, big things may be expected from the upcoming stars like Peter Cowan and Luis Alberto. Craigavon had the tendency to fade away late in the fourth quarter last year, so if they can remain in games and solidify the defence, the Cowboys could turn heads this campaign.

Prediction: Losing the experience of defensive end Chris Bell to retirement will be a major loss to the defence, but maintaining him in a coaching role was a major step forward. The Cowboys have an excellent future ahead of them with a great youth set-up in place and plenty of talent coming through the ranks, however with a lot of younger players still gaining playing experience, this season may prove to be an experimental one for the Cowboys. 5th

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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