This weekend has been a long time coming. Pretty much everybody has been looking forward to a particular match up in the Shamrock Bowl Conference all year and, after it was postponed due to the weather, it has finally come around. Two IAFL-1 games add to the Bank Holiday football goodness!
|Who'll win? Trojans or Rebels? - photo by Ariane Boudias|
Dublin Rebels vs. Belfast Trojans
The one everyone has been waiting for. The last two Shamrock Bowl Champions. The two powers of the SBC North. A couple of weeks ago this game looked a little less mouth-watering as a 7-6 loss to the West Dublin Rhinos threatened to derail the Dublin Rebels’ season but they got back on track with a 62-6 demolition of the Carrickfergus Knights.
|The Dublin Rebels will want to take some power back in the SBC North - photo by Ariane Boudias|
Despite the Knights missing a few players, including number one quarterback Peter Loughran, the 62 points put on them was the highest amount of points scored in Irish football this year. But it was more than that. Before this game all of the Rebels’ offensive touchdowns were scored along the ground but last week Andy Dehenny threw for three touchdowns. This will be important against the Trojans.
Belfast’s defensive line will be a formidable opponent. A big part of Dublin’s offence is the run game, Simon Mackey leads the entire SBC with 9 rushing touchdowns, and if the Trojans find a way of neutralising this then the Rebels will have to take to the air.
The Trojans will be favourites for this though, scoring an average of 48.3 points per game so far in the SBC. The Rebels have the second highest scoring average but trail with 27.5 points scored on average. On the other hand the Rebels have a superior defence, conceding just under 5 points per game compared to the Trojans’ 8.6.
However the Trojans’ winning margins have been so impressive. James Mckelvey has thrown double the amount of passing touchdowns of any other quarterback in the League this year, with less games under his belt. He has thrown scores to 4 different receivers, with David Richardson leading the receiving charts with 3 touchdowns.
|The reigning Irish champions will be a tough team to beat! - photo by Nathan James Sharrocks|
But Belfast are solid along the ground too, with four backs on the scoring charts, with David Colvin scoring 6 across three games (he actually scored all 6 in his last two games). The Trojans can punish on special teams too, with Gary Carr and Alex Newton returning punts for scores this year, making Belfast the only team with ST scores.
This game and the rematch the week after are going to be epic battles. If you’re going to watch any games live this year make sure it’s these.
Drogheda Lightning vs. Waterford Wolves
The Wolves head to St. Olivers to take on the IAFL-1 leading Drogheda Lightning. With just a handful of games played in the new tier of Irish football the Lightning lead by a point but Waterford have played a game less.
|The Lightning lead the IAFL-1 but it's tight!|
The away team’s only game was two months ago and resulted in a tight victory over the North Kildare Reapers, with both scores in their 14-12 win coming along the ground from Eoin Reinhardt and Kevin Butler respectively.
Coach Kerley’s team meanwhile beat new boys, the Mullingar Minotaurs, 20-6 whilst grabbing a 6-6 tie against the experienced Tullamore Phoenix. They’ve been led on offence by Dan Finnamore, with the quarterback scoring one along the ground and three through the air in their two games.
This game will be a battle with the home team probably going in as slight favourites but the Wolves are a well drilled team and are no pushovers.
Tullamore Phoenix vs. Dublin Dragons
A battle of two teams that were in the top division last year! The Phoenix welcome the Dublin Dragons on the back of a tight 8-6 loss against the North Kildare Reapers where a missed 2-pt attempt was the difference between the teams. Their only point in the IAFL-1 this year came from a 6-6 tie on the opening day of the season against the Lightning.
|The Dragons will be looking to go 2&0 but Tullamore stand in their way - photo by Ariane Boudias|
The Dragons meanwhile have only played one game, beating the Meath Bulldogs 2-0 in a defensive battle of a game where a safety split the teams. Whilst that game may be a good judge of their strong defence, having stopped Coach Drake’s well drilled offence from scoring, it wasn’t a very good gauge of their offence.
This game should be a great one for the neutral and the fans alike with both teams vying to get into contention at the top of the IAFL-1.