Saturday, 18 May 2013

Irish Football Preview

Time is ticking in the Shamrock Bowl Conference and the divisions are lining up. There's not as much to play for as there was a couple of weeks ago but the nature of the sport will see some incredibly competitive matches yet again this weekend. The IAFL-1 meanwhile sees one of the most experienced teams face off against one of the least, with the Meath Bulldogs playing their first 11-a-side season along with quite a few teams in the division.

Photo by Nathan James Sharrocks

Shamrock Bowl Conference

Carrickfergus Knights vs. Belfast Trojans
The Trojans head to Carrickfergus on the back of their convincing 35-0 win over Dublin last week that was called off midway through the third quarter. They will no doubt now be aiming for an undefeated season but they must keep their feet on the ground, after all the Knights are no pushovers.

With the likes of Adam Devenney at quarterback and Darren Montgomery at running back as well as a fearsome O-Line and a good crop of rookies, wide receiver Chris Ireland being particularly impressive this year, Carrickfergus have the weapons and experience to put points on any team.

Dave Colvin is one touchdown behind Simon Mackey at the top of the rushing TD charts,
does he catch him this week? - photo by Nathan James Sharrocks

Belfast, however, are starting to look unbeatable in this division. They've swept the rest aside with no smaller points margin than 20, and with the likes of Dave Colvin (three games with three touchdowns in each this year) and James McKelvey running the show on offence, you'd expect them to score several touchdowns in this game.

The last match up between these two ended in a 41-6 victory for the Trojans. Carrickfergus have since beaten the West Dublin Rhinos 14-7 to consolidate third place in the division whilst Belfast have taken down the Rebels twice in that time. Belfast however have scored more than four times on average the amount of points per game that the Knights have, and conceded half the points per game too. This could be a tough day for Carrickfergus, but they are capable of causing an upset too. If they can open up on offence and get the ball out to their receivers quickly then they have a chance of neutralising Belfast's fearsome defensive line. Their defence will have to step up too, but they have the experience. This will be a more intriguing game than it looks on paper.

University College Dublin vs. Trinity College Dublin
These crosstown rivals teamed up in midweek, along with the UL Vikings, to face off against NCAA Division III outfit, the Ohio Northern University. They lost 43-0, a much closer scoreline than was expected. There'll probably still be some battered and bruised bodies out there this weekend so it may not be a high a paced game as it usually would be but it will still be competitive.

Trinity QB Alex Gurnee passes during the 21-0 win over UCD last time out - photo by

Trinity have impressed this season. Quarterback Alex Gurnee has stepped up well and scored two through the air and three with his feet. Rob McDowell will also be one to watch, as he always is, having notched up four rushing touchdowns in what has been a broken SBC South campaign.

UCD however will be tough opponents, and will definitely want revenge for the 21-0 hiding that Trinity gave them earlier in the year.

The team will no doubt look to quarterback Colin O'Meara and receiver Paul Geraghty to open up their attack but it must be noted that UCD have only managed to score against the now defunct Cork Admirals side, having been shut out by both Trinity and UL this year. They must adapt to be able to put points on the tougher teams and give their strong defence some hope. However they are well drilled in the option offence and they can cause problems to any team. They won't rollover, especially against Trinity, with University pride to fight for.


Meath Bulldogs vs. Tullamore Phoenix
The Bulldogs welcome the Phoenix to the first ever competitive 11-a-side game at Navan Rugby Club. The Phoenix are flying high after slaying the Dublin Dragons 15-12 in their last game out but the Bulldogs are yet to get their teeth into the campaign, having narrowly been beaten by the Dragons and then tying with the new boy Minotaurs from Mullingar.

However Coach Drake will have drilled his team well in preparation for this game and no doubt the offence will be ready to take on the Tullamore defence.

They have in Eddie McMahon a quarterback that can pass and make plays with his feet. He'll be one to watch in this game and if Tullamore don't get a grip on him early then he could pull the strings for Meath.

Tullamore however have had no trouble spreading the offence out, scoring with two quarterbacks and two receivers, as well as a score from full back Finbarr Glynn. Their defence has conceded twice the amount of points per game as Meath though and could be a worry if the Bulldogs get rolling. Meath will want to get back into contention at the top of the division whilst Tullamore could go top of the IAFL-1 with a win.

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