The current Irish National Champions, the Belfast Trojans will be travelling across the Irish Sea this weekend to face the elite side of Scottish Football, the East Kilbride Pirates.
With the IAFL season well underway and the BAFANL only a week young, this was a great opportunity for the Trojans to pit their talents against one of the best sides in the UK. The Belfast outfit have already picked up were they left off last season, by winning their opening two games against the South Dublin Panthers and North Kildare Reapers respectively.
However, after winning back to back trophies, the 3 time champions felt it was time to test themselves against the best and to really find out how they measure up to the top sides in the UK and perhaps even Europe.
The team they will be facing are the East Kilbride Pirates who have fortified themselves as the top side in Scotland and one of the premier teams throughout the UK. The team was formed in 1985 and are both the longest serving and most successful Scottish football team to date. Interesting fact, the Pirates team name was decided through a local newspaper competition despite East Kilbride having no historical link to Pirates and being miles away from any coast line.
The Pirates won the first ever National Championship in their history by defeating the Leicester Falcons 62-23 in 2011. Since then they have been regular attendees in the post season after winning their respective division. They have reached the semi-final stages in the last 3 campaigns, however they were defeated by the powerhouse, London Blitz on each occasion.
The Trojans and Pirates have a lot in common, despite having never played. The Belfast outfit have registered two perfect seasons in their history, going 8-0 throughout the regular season in both 2012 and 2013, before capping it off with Shamrock Bowl victories in each campaign. The Pirates on the other hand have completed three seasons unbeaten, going 10-0 in each, however they have only won 1 National Championship. However, one very impressive achievement is that the Pirates have gone 17 seasons without losing to a fellow Scottish team!
With the Trojans 2-0 already in the 2015 campaign, they will be feeling confident heading into the unknown with two victories under their belt, whilst the Pirates are yet to open their campaign. That momentum could prove beneficial as the Shamrock Bowl Conference North leaders will be feeling game ready after two dominant displays. However they will be more than aware that the opposition they will be facing will be like no other. This could be the toughest game the champions have ever faced. This will certainly prove if the Trojans are capable of hanging with the big boys and if they deserve to be mentioned in the same sentence as some of the elite sides across the United Kingdom.
It’s going to be a fantastic game for the neutrals, promising to be a blockbuster! The Pirates have a wealth of experience and a very talented roster across all phases of the team, with many of their roster established members of the Great Britain National side. The Trojans have their own weapons though, and the Pirates would be silly to take them lightly. For arguably the first time, the Trojans will be considered the underdogs in this one!
They have more than enough quality to hold their own however, but key players will need to raise their game as this is a step-up in competition. Quarterback James McKelvey and wide receiver David Richardson will need maintain their near psychic connection to break down a stout Pirates defence that only conceded 23 points in the 2014 regular season. The ‘Walls of Troy’ will also face an incredibly difficult challenge trying to prevent a punishing Pirates run-game, however if anyone is capable of stopping the East Kilbride offence, it would be the Trojan’s D.
Regardless of where you are from in Ireland and no matter what team you represent, keep a very close eye on this match as the Belfast Trojans will be going all out to make a statement for Irish American Football this Saturday. This will be a guaranteed colossal game of football between two heavyweight sides and it will be a comparison of Ireland’s finest against Scotland’s finest.
Kickoff is 2pm at Hamilton Rugby Club, be sure to follow Twitter and Facebook for score updates. Twitter: @
Feature photo by Ariane Boudias