PREVIEW: 2015 Irish American Football League – North

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

Dublin Rebels (7-1 in 2014)

The most prestigious American Football team in Ireland, the Dublin Rebels have won the Shamrock Bowl a record 7 times and have been a constant presence at the top of the IAFL, as they set to commence their 20th season in the league! The Dubliners have always been challenging for trophies since they were founded back in 1995, but their last domestic triumph came at Shamrock Bowl XXV in 2011. The most recent final appearance for the Rebels came two years ago, when they were defeated by the Belfast Trojans in 2013. However with exceptional talent and experience throughout the squad, the Rebels have been knocking at the door in recent years as they look to clinch their 8th Shamrock Bowl title!

Ireland - dublin_rebelsThe Rebels have been a dominant side for decades, particularly in the years between 2003 and 2006 when they won four national championships in a row, and this is the kind of form the Rebels will be looking to return to this year. Having missed out on the final last season after defeat to Trinity College in the semi-finals, the Rebels will be looking to go one step further and reach the Bowl game in 2015. Their first match will give them the taste for revenge as they host Trinity at Seapoint Rugby Club, which will be closely followed by games against the promoted UCD and the Craigavon Cowboys. With three games on the bounce, the Rebels will have a quieter end of season stretch before finishing off with two home fixtures against the Carrickfergus Knights and South Dublin Panthers. After a series of second placed finishes, the North Conference could once again come down to the Rebels and Trojans. If they can head up North and defeat the Trojans on their home turf, the Rebels could be considered favourites to take the division.

Keys to Success: Scoring. It’s not often the Rebels will be highlighted for a lack of scoring, but this season may prove more problematic than most. With two huge losses on offence with wide receiver Chris Purdy leaving and running back Simon Mackey potentially missing most of the season after undergoing surgery, quarterback Andrew Dennehy will have less offensive weapons to work with. More pressure will be added to the shoulders of new running back Sean Leamy and the reliable tight end Paul Grogan to rein in the points. The Rebels failed to register any defensive touchdowns last year, so scoring points on defence will be crucial in order to help out the offence!
Prediction: With a number of key absentees out on both sides of the ball, the Rebels may look a little weaker on paper, but they still have bags of experience and individual talents who know how to get the job done. Games against the Trojans, Trinity and the Knights will be crucial, but they will be fully expected to reach the playoff stages once again, and it would be foolish not to back the seven time champions on making yet another Shamrock Bowl bout. 2nd

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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