PREVIEW: 2015 Irish American Football League – North

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

South Dublin Panthers (1-7 in 2014, as Dublin Dragons)

After undergoing a revaluation at the end of 2014, the Dublin outfit decided it was time for a change, and rebranded themselves from the historic Dublin Dragons, to the flashy new South Dublin Panthers. A lot of work has gone on in the offseason in order to improve upon a (1-7) season and many will be expecting big things from the Panthers this year, particularly themselves! After a huge recruitment frenzy and bringing in some of the most respected coaches in Ireland, with the likes of Russell Kerley previously of Drogheda Lightning joining the defensive ranks, the team has built a formidable coaching staff to bring out the best in the players this season. Much has been made about how the Panthers will perform this year, but they have huge ambitions to improve not only on last seasons performances, but to rival the best teams in Ireland!

Ireland - South Dublin Panthers logoFormerly as the Dublin Dragons, having been one of three teams to be promoted from the IAFL-1 in 2013, the Dragons suffered a reality shock being back in the top division, as they only picked up one win all season against the Waterford Wolves. At times they did show signs of resilience and spark, particularly in the ‘game of the season’ against the Cowboys when they lost 21-24 in a thrilling encounter. The Panthers first era in the IAFL will be a difficult one, as they host the reigning champions the Belfast Trojans in Westmanstown in their debutant game before taking on Trinity College and the Carrickfergus Knights. With two games against the Dublin Rebels and further fixtures against UCD and the UL Vikings, the Panthers have their work cut out for them! However they will be in a much better position this year to tackle an incredibly tough schedule.

Keys to Success: Last year, the Dublin side conceded four times as many points as they scored! So improving their offensive production and stabilising the defence will be the obvious improvements needed. They had one of the biggest squad sizes last year and if they can make adjustments across all phases of their game, the Panthers may have a success in the 2015 campaign.
Prediction: Its too early to call how well the Panthers will do this season, but they are heading in the right direction. It’s great to see the high ambition across the team but whether those ambitions are fulfilled this year remains to be seen. They do have strong foundations to work from and with the majority of the Dragons backbone still intact and a new offensive scheme in place, the Panthers do have the ingredients to be a success story in the IAFL. 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