Saturday, 6 April 2013

Shamrock Bowl Conference Preview


Fixtures! The downpour has let up long enough for there to be some football to be played! 

South

It’ll be hard to find a team chomping at the bit more than the Cork Admirals who are yet to kick off their season after postponements. Their game at UCD is an intriguing one.

These two should have squared off previously had the match not been called off because of the weather, a match that would have told us more about where these two are heading in the season. The Admirals have very much kept themselves to themselves this off season and not much news has come out of Cork whereas UCD have only played one game, a very solid 11-0 loss to the UL Vikings, which showed off a stubborn defence.

UCD will be looking to take the game to the Admirals - photo by Ariane Boudias
With a few weeks off UCD’s coaches have no doubt attempted to hone the offence to get more points on the board. We’ll see if it has worked come tomorrow. On the other hand Cork have no match experience to draw from this season. Running drills in practice can only take a team so far before they require competitive action to take them further. Will the long lay off be positive or negative for Cork?

Staying in the SBC South we have a game that, even this early in the year, could potentially be a season changer. A repeat of the game on March 3rd, the UL Vikings will be looking for revenge over the upstart Trinity team that shocked them 20-0 last month.

The Vikings have not looked the same team as the one that went undefeated until the Shamrock Bowl last year. They’ve had a lot to deal with, including the retirements of Head Coach Ciaran O’Sullivan and veteran Liam Ryan and injuries to key players. UL have relied heavily on Adrian Garvey stepping up to the quarterback role in the absence of injured starter, Marc Ashworth.

Will Ashworth return for UL? - Photo by Nathan James Sharrocks
If Ashworth returns this week it could be a different story to their previous encounter with Trinity. The offence under their starter utilises the talented wide receiver corps UL possesses more and also has the advantage of allowing Garvey to move back in to his preferred role at running back where he is so dangerous.

Trinity meanwhile will be looking to repeat their upset earlier in the year and take a firm hold in the division. Back in that game, quarterback Alex Gurnee had a game to remember, passing one touchdown to tight end Phillip Williams and running two more in himself. Trinity will no doubt be looking to him again to try and grab a couple of quick scores whilst letting the strong defence absorb UL’s offence.

Either way this one has all the makings of a cracker.


North

Heading North we have a game between two winless teams. The Craigavon Cowboys take on the West Dublin Rhinos in a match up that could mean a lot come that end of season battle for the playoff spots.

The Cowboys opened their season with a 46-13 loss to the reigning champions, a match they’ll take heart from as few score 13 points on the Trojans. However, a 20-0 loss to Carrickfergus, albeit on a horrendous pitch, was not on the cards and they’ll be looking to bounce back against the Rhinos.

The Craigavon Cowboys (orange) will be looking to pick up their first win. The Rhinos (red) will be too! - photo by Ariane Boudias
With Chris Bondi gone, Craigavon looks to Peter Loughran to lead their offence. And the quarterback impressed against Belfast, scoring a couple of touchdowns with his feet. Will he be able to repeat this feat and grab a win against the stingy Rhinos defence?

This game could hinge heavily on the Rhinos offence. Their defence is strong, holding the dynamic Dublin Rebels to 22 points and stopping the Knights entirely, with the 2 points conceded being a safety.

However the offence hasn’t scored a point in their two games, already being shut out more in their first two games than the entirety of last season. Can they grab some points this weekend and register their first W of the season? Time will tell.

The final game of the weekend sees the Carrickfergus Knights head to Sportslink to take on the Dublin Rebels. Both are undefeated, both have scored 22 points and both have conceded nothing. However the Rebels have only played one game as opposed to the Knights’ two, and will be looking to show their dominance of old, having been slightly overshadowed by the Belfast Trojans of late.

This match up is a game between two seasoned teams in the Irish Leagues. The Knights and Rebels are two of the oldest teams in the League and have met many times before, including in three Shamrock Bowls (3-0 to the Rebels).

Will the Rebels challenge the Trojans this year? The Knights will have something to say first! - photo by Ariane Boudias

The game is a tough one to call. On paper it should be the Rebels coming out on top but the Knights are experienced and with the running power of Darren Montgomery anything could happen. Carrickfergus will have to stop the experienced Andy Dennehy though. The quarterback has been pulling the Rebels’ offensive strings for years now, winning several Shamrock Bowls along the way.

Here’s hoping for the full set of fixtures to go ahead this weekend. And here’s hoping for some hard-played, injury-free games. Best of luck teams! 

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