Irish Football Previews

Cover photo courtesy of Dave Bradshaw Photography

Shamrock Bowl Conference

Belfast Trojans vs. Carrickfergus Knights

How exciting for these players! A game dubbed the Independence Bowl, the match will be played under the Friday Night Lights, on Independence Day and, if the strong media campaign the teams have jointly put together with Media 401 Productions is anything to go by, should be in front of a large crowd at Deramore Park.

Not only that but the game also means a lot in the League too! The Carrickfergus Knights can sew up their playoff spot with a win, before they even play the second half of their game with the West Dublin Rhinos, but they face off against a Belfast Trojans team who know they still need a win to clinch the division and an automatic playoff semi-final berth. Expect a tough game.

Game Promo courtesy of Media 401 Productions

These teams met way back in March, when the Trojans walked out of Carrickfergus RFC with a 13-28 win, a much closer win than many (including us) predicted. The Knights gave them a hell of a battle that day, and with their large squad and a season of experience under the rookies’ belts, they could give the boys in green an even closer run for their money come tonight.

There’ll be a tailgate event from 6:30pm with a barbeque, beer promotions from the Trojans’ sponsors Budweiser and the rookie initiation events.

Double Coverage Predicts – Belfast Trojans win. 

Dublin Dragons vs. Craigavon Cowboys 

The Dublin Dragons are safe and secure in the knowledge that they’ll be playing Shamrock Bowl Conference football in 2015. Their head to head tiebreaker over the Wolves means Waterford cannot leapfrog them even with a win and a Dragons’ loss.

Craigavon are essentially safe too. Due to their massive points difference over the Waterford Wolves there’d have to be a highly improbable points swing at weekend for them to go down. Even if they lost and the Wolves won by enough of a points difference (a 93 point swing), the West Dublin Rhinos would still have to beat Carrickfergus for the ‘Boys to go down. Highly, highly unlikely.

Will that stop either of these two teams going into this game aiming for nothing less than a win? Not a chance.

Both teams will want to prove beyond doubt that they belong in this division. Both teams have made strides this year, the Dragons stepping up from the IAFL-1 and far from disgracing themselves against the big boys whilst the Northern Irishmen have once again contended with injury issues but mixed it with some of the best in the League, and blooded their young team at the same time.

Double Coverage Predicts – a close one but experience wins. Craigavon W.

North Kildare Reapers vs. Dublin Rebels

Has any team had a more difficult close to a season than the North Kildare Reapers? They faced Trinity and the Vikings before hosting the Dublin Rebels and are winless since their 68-0 drubbing of Waterford back in May.

But they’ve taken massive steps. Their team is set up to make a challenge in the near future with experienced coaches, a talented roster and fantastic off-field work. They can still make the playoffs if the West Dublin Rhinos fail to beat Waterford and/or the Carrickfergus Knights or if they themselves beat the Rebels on Sunday.

Standing in there way is a Dublin team that could still clinch the SBC North crown. They’ll know before kick off whether they can or not, since the Belfast game is played on Friday night, but if Carrickfergus do manage to upset the Trojans then look for Dublin to come out with all guns firing on Sunday.

This will be a difficult game for NKR but they pushed the Vikings last time out, turning around a 49-0 deficit in the first game and holding UL to just an 18-0 win last time out. Can they go one better and topple the Rebels?

Double Coverage Predicts – a Rebel W. 

West Dublin Rhinos vs. Waterford Wolves

This game is everything. The Wolves know that they must win to stand any chance of staying in the Shamrock Bowl Conference whilst the Rhinos are still in the very curious position that they can be relegated or gain playoff football this year (or land somewhere in the middle). Waterford would need the Rhinos to lose their second half game against Carrickfergus too and hope the Dublin Dragons beat the Craigavon Cowboys. This would leave the Wolves and Rhinos alone on a 1&7 record with Waterford holding the head to head tiebreaker needed to stay in the division. If the Dragons were to also lose, there would be a three-way tie and the Wolves would be eliminated from the division on the points differential (barring a massive and unlikely points swing).

West Dublin still maintain hopes of post season football. If they beat Waterford and then go on to beat the Knights in the game they already lead 8-0 in, and the Reapers lose to the Dublin Rebels, the team from Castleknock will leapfrog NKR into a wildcard berth. Quite an achievement considering it was only a few weeks ago they were labelled as relegation fodder.

Double Coverage Predicts – the West Dublin Rhinos’ D will be too strong and they’ll be able to tag a few points on the Wolves’ leaky defence. WDR W.


Meath Bulldogs vs. Mullingar Minotaurs

Another Friday Night Lights game that promises to be a spectacle of football! The Meath Bulldogs will be playing their first competitive game without Garland Drake as Head Coach, after he decided to step away from the team last week.

It’ll be a strange game this. Both teams could still make the IAFL-1 Bowl, with the Bulldogs needing to win by 9 or more points in order to keep their fate in their own hands. If they win out after that then they face UCD in the Bowl Game.

The Minotaurs meanwhile will hope to continue to press the Cork Admirals all the way with another win. If the Minotaurs do claim a victory they’d eliminate the Bulldogs. If they then beat Drogheda and Cork beats Meath it would set up a tantalising “playoff” game between Mullingar and Meath on the final day of the season with the winner playing in the IAFL-1 Bowl.

Intriguing. Meath’s offence has been poor this year, scoring just 18 points in 4 games. Mullingar’s strong defence could see them shut the Bulldogs down and repeat the victory they claimed over the team back in May. But don’t count out the power of home field advantage.

Double Coverage Predicts – once again the IAFL-1 is unpredictable. We’ll go for a Minotaurs W. A close one.