South Dublin Panthers and Belfast Trojans seal home wins in Week 10 of Irish American Football League

As we cross the half way point of the Irish American Football League (IAFL) regular season, the South Dublin Panthers and Belfast Trojans improved their playoff chances with home victories against fellow playoff hopefuls, the North Kildare Reapers and Carrickfergus Knights respectively.

With only a handful of games left and little to separate the sides in the Shamrock Bowl North Conference, playoff football and the division title is very much up for grabs.

   North Kildare Reapers 0 – South Dublin Panthers 37  

Photography courtesy of Laszlo Geczo Photography.

The Dubliners managed to get their season back on track with a comprehensive win over the Reapers in Westmanstown on Sunday. After struggling offensively over the previous two encounters against Trinity College and the Belfast Trojans, the Panthers came firing out of the blocks and didn’t let up as they compounded more misery on their opponents.

The Reapers who languish at the foot of the Shamrock Bowl South Conference have failed to score in 3 of their 5 games this year, totalling only 12 points offensively. Often travelling with a small squad, they were simply outsized and outnumbered by a Panthers team looking to make amends.

Mick Duncan deputised at quarterback and had an excellent game standing in for Tosan Memuduaghan. He passed for one touchdown and rushed for another, whilst the defence also contributed to the score in the 37-0 rout. Star receiver Sean Devlin scored his first touchdown in 3 games whilst running back Murillo Padua added a rare rushing score for the Panthers as well as a 2 point try.

The defence did a remarkable job in shutting down the Reapers aerial attack as Defensive Back, Eoin Whelan had two interceptions on the day, one of which he returned for a pick 6. Linebacker Brian Devlin, brother of receiver Sean, also notched a pick 6 as the Dubliners killed all momentum from Kildare. Mick Duncan rounded out the points with 2 PAT’s and a field goal. There was even time for linebacker Ryan Hewitt to step in at quarterback and lead a scoring drive in what was a solid day for Panther football.

After a confidence boosting win, the Panthers will aim to bring that momentum with them next Sunday as they host University College Dublin in a critical battle with the playoffs approaching. The Reapers meanwhile remain winless and struggling for positives must now wait until June 11th to overturn their fortune as they welcome the Cork Admirals to the Kildare Sports Grounds.

  Carrickfergus Knights 3 – Belfast Trojans 26  

Photography copyright of 2nd shooter.

The Trojans enacted an element of revenge from a month ago over their cross city foes as they overturned a 19-17 defeat into a 26-3 victory in Belfast on Sunday. It was an extremely close match, particularly in the first half, but a resilient second period display from the hosts helped them overcome their bitter rivals.

In a quiet first half, little progress was made by either team as possession was traded throughout the opening two quarters. Turnovers and penalties kept halting any forward progress as it appeared a defensive battle would ensue. As the opening exchanges drew to a close, the Knights cracked the deadlock by slotting away a late field goal by Marty Caskey to give them a slender 3-0 lead at the break.

Whatever was said at halftime sparked the 4 time champions into life as the Trojans returned to the field a completely different side. The defence raised their game even further as they countlessly stifled all forms of rushing and aerial threats from the Knights, pegging them deep inside their own half. Football is a game of inches, and the positive field position the defence was providing greatly benefited Belfast’s offence.

Firstly, James Gallagher would tie the game with a field goal at 3-3 to get the Trojans off the mark. 23 unanswered points followed as reliable RB Neil Montgomery stormed in for a trademark touchdown up the middle to give Belfast the lead. The defence were soon rewarded for their perseverance as a culmination of LB Neil Graham and DE Ross Thain caught quarterback Spencer McDowell in the end zone for a safety.

With the game stretching further away from Carrickfergus, they were forced to launch the ball deep in search of an answer. Unfortunately for the visitors, in didn’t pay off as Defensive Backs, James Gallagher, Scott Fischaber and Alex Kusmirek all had interceptions throughout the day. A late barrage of scoring from the Trojans courtesy of Montgomery and returning wide receiver, Jack Millars touchdown grab from QB Mark McVeigh saw the Trojans move to 3-2 on the year.

Belfast now have the small task of facing travelling American college side, Centre College from Kentucky this coming Saturday before returning to league action against the UL Vikings. The Knights will hope to get back to winnings ways in the North division against UCD on June 11th.

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