Good news and bad news in the Irish leagues this week. Heads have been put together at the Irish American Football Association to reschedule the majority of the games that were called off due to adverse weather conditions earlier in the season, and they’ve done so without the need of extending the season.
|Photo by Ash O'Flanagan - (ashoflanagan.tumblr.com)|
Shamrock Bowl North
Carrickfergus Knights – West Dublin Rhinos
What an interesting game this could be. The two squared off against each other earlier in the year with the Knights coming out 2-0 victors in a game split by a single safety.
The Knights are 2-2, having lost to the Dublin Rebels and Belfast Trojans (watch the highlights, courtesy of Annie Vea @ Media 401, HERE) in their last two games. Meanwhile the Rhinos are the “form team” having won their last bout, against the Rebels no less, in a 7-6 encounter.
The Rhinos have been a notoriously low-scoring team for a couple of years now but those 7 against the Rebels were their first in their 4 games so far. It proved decisive as their defensive unit is solid but they if they want to make the playoffs they’ll need to put more points on the board. Will that start against the Knights?
There’ll be more points in this one than in their previous face-off, but who’ll come out as victor?
Craigavon Cowboys – Dublin Rebels
The Rebels will no doubt be smarting from that unexpected, close loss to the Rhinos, which could hurt their final standing in the division and they’ll no doubt head North feeling like they have a point to prove.
They should feel good about where they are though. They’ve scored second highest points average per game in the division, behind the free scoring Trojans, and have the best defence in the entire league, conceding just over 4 points per game on average.
|Photo by Ariane Boudias|
All their touchdowns have been scored along the ground though, except for one pick six by Kevin Finnegan, and five out of six of those rushing TDs were scored by Simon Mackey. If the Cowboys can isolate him, is that the key to them winning this match up?
The Rebels have other weapons too of course, Andy Dennehy is one of the most respected quarterbacks in the League after all, but their run game is definitely proving to be their key feature this year.
Meanwhile the Cowboys are languishing on a 1-3 record, having conceded 27 points per game and having scored just over 10 per outing. However the stats can be deceiving. They’ve played the rampant Trojans twice, and the Carrickfergus Knights on an awful pitch in bad weather. Their win was an impressive 23-0 win the Rhinos.
Peter Loughran at quarterback has been a revelation, having rushed for four touchdowns himself whilst also passing one to Ryan Brolly. This match-up should be more than the form book suggests.
Mullingar Minotaurs – Meath Bulldogs
Two weeks have passed since the Minotaurs first ever competitive game. They will be buoyed by that start, a 20-6 loss to the more experience Drogheda Lightning, where they kept the Lightning at bay until the 3rd quarter.
They look strong on defence, and if match experience brings the stamina and concentration to stay solid for four quarters, which training just cannot achieve in the same way, then they could be a formidable force this year.
|Photo by Ariane Boudias|
Meath on the other hand lost by a mere two points in their first and so far only outing this year against the Dublin Dragons. A 2-0 loss to the oldest, and probably most experienced, team in the division is no tragedy and the well-drilled Bulldogs will be well up for bouncing back.
Coach Garland will have his players motivated for this one, it’s been 6 weeks since that game in Dublin after all. Could we see the first away win of the IAFL-1? It’ll be a close, low scoring game that could swing either way with a great play or a bad mistake.