Saturday, 8 June 2013

Irish Football Preview


The final week of the Shamrock Bowl Conference! That's come around quickly hasn't it? This weekend we have a repeat game of last weekend that means little in terms of final League position but means a lot in terms of pride. We also have a game that could have meant everything but now means very little, but neither team will want to lose it. And finally we have a game that decides everything in terms of home field advantage in the wildcard playoffs. It should be a great weekend of football!

Meanwhile in the IAFL-1 we have the Minotaurs wanting revenge on the Reapers for the drubbing they received a fortnight ago and a Phoenix side wanting a result against Waterford after losing their Head Coach. Another week of the competitive IAFL-1 is in store!
Can Simon Mackey catch David Colvin at the top of the rushing charts? - photo by Nathan James Sharrocks

Shamrock Bowl Conference

North

Belfast Trojans vs. West Dublin Rhinos

The opposite fixture of last weekend’s 38-6 Trojan win in Dublin sees the Rhinos head north to face off against the very impressive Belfast. Sitting pretty at 7-0 and looking for back-to-back undefeated seasons, the Trojans are going to be a tough team to beat, not just for the Rhinos this weekend but by anybody this year. 
James McKelvey will be wanting to build on his 10 passing touchdowns this year - photo by Nathan James Sharrocks
That old cliché of once you make the playoffs anything can happen does loom over the Belfast side but they have shown such domination in the League that it’s hard to back against them.

The Rhinos however will be looking to salvage some pride. They don’t have to win to do that, just make Belfast work hard against their solid defence, and maybe score a couple on offence.

Will Belfast have one eye on the Atlantic Cup during this game? Are the Rhinos capable of another upset? We’ll see come tomorrow afternoon.


Carrickfergus Knights vs. Dublin Rebels

In terms of what games mean in the regular season, this could be the difference between one of these teams making the Shamrock Bowl or not. Whoever wins hosts the wildcard game between these two in the playoffs, and both will want that badly.
Dublin's Simon Mackey bursts through the line - photo by Ariane Boudias
The Rebels got the win earlier in the year in Dublin but it’s a different story in Carrickfergus. The Knights have picked themselves up since then, dusted themselves off and got back within a point of Dublin, who sit in second place.

The battle to watch will be both teams’ number one running backs against their opposing defensive lines. If Carrickfergus can hold the impressive Simon Mackey, who has 11 touchdowns this year, then they’ll have a chance of winning this game. And similarly goes for Dublin, if they can stop Darren Montgomery from churning out yardage, after his hat trick of scores last weekend, then they’ll probably be favourites to win.

This is going to be a close, hard fought game and definitely one to watch.


South

University of Limerick Vikings vs. University College Dublin

This game could have been the South’s reply to the Knights-Rebels game in that it could have meant everything, even the chance for UCD to oust Trinity at the top of the division and claim the South for its own. But that was before UCD pulled out of their game last weekend and handed the title to their cross-city rivals.

Now this game means nothing in terms of League standing, but everything in terms of pride. Both will want to head in to the playoffs on a high and in form. They’ll both want to have that win over their opponent come the next time they meet in the wildcard game.
Marc Ashworth can still lead UL to a fifth consecutive Shamrock Bowl - photo by Nathan James Sharrocks
UL haven’t been the same team they were when they reached the Shamrock Bowl undefeated last year. They’ve struggled somewhat with injuries and failed to adapt to some key retirements but the core is still there and they’re still capable of hurting any team. The same names of Marc Ashworth, Adrian Garvey and Sean Goldrick are capable of putting points on the board whilst their fearsome offensive and defensive lines can cause all kinds of trouble and disruption.

Meanwhile UCD have opened up on offence this year and used the option effectively. Quarterback Colin O’Meara has had a decent year, throwing for a joint second five touchdowns, whilst rushing for another two. His favourite target has been wide receiver Paul Geraghty who has three scores of his own. Could Geraghty be hoping for another big game and push Belfast’s David Richardson, who has five touchdowns, at the top of our scoring charts?


IAFL-1

North Kildare Reapers vs. Mullingar Minotaurs

The Reapers and Minotaurs meet again just a fortnight after North Kildare put a 40-6 beat down on the new team in Mullingar. The Minotaurs will no doubt want to avoid a similar result and will have worked hard in training last weekend to make sure they do so but the Reapers will have done so too and their strong rushing attack will be hard to stop, especially with home field support.

The Minotaurs will be looking for a better result than last time out - photo by Ariane Boudias
The Reapers have three players on our rushing scoring chart, including joint leader Matthew Kavanagh, whilst two out of three Mullingar touchdowns have come through the air and the other being a pick six! It’s not often you see positive air attack, especially from a new team, but if the Minotaurs can make it work then they could have a chance of some revenge against this Reapers side.

Tullamore Phoenix vs. Waterford Wolves

This will be Tullamore’s first game since John Judge stepped down as Head Coach and it will certainly be interesting to see how they respond. The Wolves will be on the attack early, scenting blood, but can the Phoenix rise from the flames and grab a win?

These two sit next to each other in the League with Tullamore holding a 1-2-1 record to Waterford’s 2-1. The Wolves will desperately want to bounce back from their 14-2 defeat at the hands of the Dublin Dragons, the only team that Tullamore have beaten this year, whilst the Phoenix will have the same mentality having suffered a 19-6 loss at the hands of the Meath Bulldogs.

This will be an intriguing game and could show a lot of insight as to where these two will finish up come season’s end.

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