Wednesday, 19 June 2013

SBC Wildcard Playoff Preview: Gary Sommerville of the Dublin Rebels

Yesterday we brought you an interview with UCD's Head Coach Eoin Cunningham. Today we head to the SBC North Wildcard Playoff game as Double Coverage (DC) caught up with Dublin Rebels' wide receiver, Gary Sommerville (GS):

Dublin Rebels' Gary Sommerville chats with Double Coverage - photo by Nathan James Sharrocks

DC: The Dublin Rebels have had a good season, finishing with a 5-3 record. How do you rate the year as a team?

GS: It was an up and down season for us but we were expecting that as we are in a transition period this year. Roughly half of our squad this season are rookies which is fantastic from a recruitment standpoint but it takes time for these guys to learn and gel into the team. We are in the playoffs with a home wild card game so we gotta be happy with that.

DC: One upset was the 7-6 loss to the West Dublin Rhinos. How did you go about bouncing back from that?

GS: The Rhinos loss was definitely a shock to the system. Considering they were 0-3 without a single offensive TD we were confident going into that game.. However their defense played very well and prevented our offense from getting any momentum. Being stopped on the 1 as time expired was probably the toughest loss I've experienced as a Rebel. We just regrouped, analyzed our mistakes and bounced back with authority in the next game against the Cowboys so that restored some confidence.

DC: The Belfast Trojans have somewhat dominated the SBC North, including two wins over the Rebels. Do you believe you can beat them if you meet in the Shamrock Bowl?

GS: The Shamrock Bowl starts with a clean slate and the form book goes out the window. We have to believe we can beat the Trojans otherwise you're already beaten before you step on the field. When we played them at home in Santry it was pretty much level going into the 4th quarter so we know we can mix it up with them. We were in a similar scenario in 2011 when we met an unbeaten Vikings side in the final and we snatched a win in the 4th quarter so the favorites don't always come out on top in the Bowl.

DC: You've beaten your wildcard playoff opponents twice already this year. Do you believe you have the Carrickfergus Knights well weighed up?

GS: We have faced the Knights numerous times at the playoff stages over the years so we certainly know a lot about each other. One thing I can guarantee is that they will be out to avenge the defeat 2 weeks ago.. It will be a hard fought game, as always when you play the Knights but hopefully we have enough in our arsenal to advance to the semis.

DC: What will your important match ups be in the game? Where will the game be won and lost?

GS: For us we need to establish our ground game early on and get Simon Mackey the ball. He's a bit peeved at not winning the league MVP (he gets very emotional) so he will be running extra hard on Sunday. Our new look O-Line has been good to him this year so if they perform again our running game could put up big numbers. For the Knights I feel QB Adam Devenney needs to have a big game, he completed a lot of passes against us 2 weeks ago and I feel this will be essential to establish offensive momentum for Carrickfergus. It sounds cliche but I guess you could say the battle will be won or lost in the trenches.

DC: Who are the players that your team will be looking to to lead them in the hunt for a Shamrock Bowl place?

GS: Like I said Simon Mackey is huge for us, he's been putting up crazy numbers all season so we need more of the same if we are to get to the Bowl. Our receiver corps needs to step up aswell to lighten the load if our running game encounters a few speed bumps.. Defensively. Linebacker Kevin Finnegan has been a stud all year.. He's the life of the defensive unit and he gets the whole team jacked up when he makes a big play so no doubt he will be looking take it to the next level in the playoffs.

DC: What were your aims at the start of the year and have they changed now considering the position you are in?

GS: To be honest our aim was to get to the playoffs and play it by ear.. As this was a real transition year with several veterans retiring and a lot of new faces we really didn't know how well the new squad would gel.. But now we are in the playoffs our aim is to bring the Bowl back to the Dublin.

DC: A game against Trinity awaits the winner of this game. Have you had chance to scout or plan for them?

GS: We haven't really had a chance to see much of Trinity this year.. This hasn't been helped by them only having 5 league games but we will get a good look at them at the Atlantic Cup next week. From their results against Limerick they have certainly kicked on from last season so they will provide a stern test for whoever meets them in the semi finals.

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