Playoff Football hits Belfast

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On Sunday 17th of July the Irish American Football post-season hits Belfast with a bang and the Trojans are right at the heart of it all.

Deramore Park plays host to not one but two playoff matches across two of the three national divisions. The first match of the day is the IAFL1 Semi-Final which kicks off at 11:00am with the visiting Louth Mavericks, the number two seed in the IAFL1 North, taking on the Belfast Trojans 2nd’s who defeated the Mavericks in Dundalk last weekend to claim top spot in the division. It’s all to play for as the winner will earn the right to face either the Cork Admirals or the Westmeath Minotaurs in the IAFL1 Bowl in Cork on Sunday August 14th.

Once the dust has settled on the IAFL1 Semi-Final, the road to the Shamrock Bowl begins with the SBC North Wildcard Playoff. Kick-off is scheduled for 2:00pm. The Trojans are in their first wildcard playoff game in five years and face stiff opposition in the shape of local rivals, the much improved, Carrickfergus Knights. The Trojans have never won a Wildcard game in their history and despite a 40-7 victory over the Knights earlier in the year they know that they must be at their very best to fight for the right to take on SBC South winners University College Dublin in the SBC Semi-Final in Dublin on July 24th.

Can the Trojans claim victory not once but twice this Sunday and take a step closer to the chance of post season glory? Be sure to get down to Deramore Park this Sunday July 17th from 11:00am to find out. There’ll be all the usual gameday entertainment with live commentary, music, barbecue, outside bar, merchandise and of course free pizza from our gameday partners Pizza Co.

Make sure you don’t miss out!

History beckons for Trojans as playoffs loom

The Belfast Trojans aim to make history as they look to win their fifth consecutive Shamrock Bowl title.

However the reigning champions will have to do it the hard way with a tough wildcard matchup with Carrickfergus coming up in less than a fortnight.

The Trojans finished the regular season with a 6-2 record, meaning they finished only second in the SBC North behind the Dublin Rebels; the first time in five years that the Trojans failed to top the division. It was a bright start to the season for the Trojans powering their way to a 4-0 start, highlighted by a dominant 62-7 win at home to the South Dublin Panthers and a fantastic 25-8 road victory over the division-topping Rebels.

However Belfast fell to their first defeat of the season in Limerick against the Vikings, a tough 16-13 loss at the end of May where quarterback James McKelvey was forced to miss out due to unavailability. Mark McVeigh stepped in admirably under centre and just failed to lead a fourth-quarter comeback.

A 40-6 win over Carrickfergus ensured the Trojans bounced back to winning ways quickly but it was to be a second defeat of the season two weeks later as the Rebels claimed their best victory of recent times, a narrow 8-7 win at Deramore Park in desperate conditions. In a sloppy game played in torrential rain, the Trojans turned the ball over twice on the Rebels two-yard line and couldn’t find a way back into the game, despite the defence stifling the Dublin offence the majority of the game.

A few home truths were told following the second loss of the season and with the Rebels beating the Vikings, they wrapped up top spot meaning the Trojans now must strive to win the Bowl coming from a wildcard spot. The final game of the regular season against Trinity however showed Belfast back to their very best.

Despite missing David Colvin and Neil Montgomery on offence and Connor Whitla on defence, the defending champions fired a warning shot across the league, beating the students 40-7 in a replay of the last two Shamrock Bowl finals. On offence the Trojans were back to their very best, with McKelvey finding Dave Richardson for two touchdowns through the air and rookie runner Sam Kelly getting on the scoresheet.

The defence did their part as well with Michael Kane and Alex Kusimerek each having interceptions to lead Belfast past TCD.

The Trojans now take on the Carrickfergus Knights at Deramore Park on 17 July in the Wildcard game before a potential semi-final clash with SBC South winners UCD.

PHOTO: PixlFlix

Trojans team up with The Botanic Inn.

The Belfast Trojans are delighted to announce that the historic Botanic Inn has come onboard as a major sponsor for the 2016 & 2017 seasons.

“The Bot” is a bona fide Belfast landmark , one of the city’s most vibrant night spots and the premier venue to watch live sports. This partnership will see the Botanic Inn become the social home of the Trojans and their growing army of supporters.

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The partnership, which also involves The Botanic Inn’s sister property the Wellington Park Hotel, offers the opportunity for the Trojans to grow their following within the Belfast area whilst also offering accommodation opportunities for the increasing number of international teams that are keen to come to Northern Ireland to take on the four-time national champions.

The Trojans are also delighted to announce that in 2017 we will be bringing the incredible Belfast Trojans Super Bowl party to the Botanic Inn and Wellington Park Hotel. Ireland’s biggest event of it’s kind and the first true standout party of the year will be bigger, better and accessible to an even greater number of the burgeoning community of American Football fans across Northern Ireland.

We are immensely excited by this opportunity to grow hand in hand with a Belfast institution like the Botanic Inn, we are sure that the partnership will see the Trojans continue to go from strength to strength.

Pictured: Botanic Inn manager Gerry Webb shakes hands with Trojans Chairman Barry Keil outside the famous venue.

Vikings defeat Trojans in Limerick

The Belfast Trojans fell to a narrow 16-13 defeat to the University of Limerick Vikings to drop to 4-1 on the 2016 season.

In just their second SBC loss in five years, the Trojans fought hard but were forced to rue mistakes at critical times losing a nail biter to the Vikings squad at the UL Sports Ground.

Mark McVeigh made his first start for Belfast at quarterback and led the team admirably in the absence of James McKelvey, throwing two touchdowns, both to David Colvin, but it wasn’t enough as a Sean Sheehy field goal with less than six minutes remaining would be enough for the hosts.

Both defences dominated early, but it was the Vikings who got on the board first, with some power running from Shane Gleeson and some shoddy tackling by the Trojans D allowing UL to move into the redzone. From there, Ian Cahill found his wide receiver on a slant route and he crossed for six to take the lead.

The Trojans responded midway through the second quarter. On a third down and long, the pass protection held up superbly and McVeigh heaved one up and Colvin miraculously came down with the ball despite being blanketed by three Viking defenders and he took it the rest of the way to kick start the Trojans offence.

There was still time for UL to retake the lead before the half, a strong run up the middle making it 13-6 at the break to the hosts.

The second half became a stop-start affair with a number of penalties disrupting play. Late in the third quarter the Trojans would respond. After a fumble recovery by Mark McGrath gave Belfast great field position, McVeigh found Colvin whose defender slipped allowing him space to weave past another two men and draw the Trojans level.

Into the fourth quarter and it was UL who would ease ahead with a superb 30 yard field goal from Sheehy. There was still ample time for the Trojans to respond and they did superbly driving up the field with solid running from Jona Siri and Matt Armstrong. However there would be a fumbled exchange on one hand off caused by disruptive linebacker Adrian Garvey and that gave back the ball to Limerick.

Credit the Belfast defence though they would conjure up a fantastic three-and-out with linebackers Neil Graham and Jonny McConnell stuffing the run and Alex Kusmirek breaking up a pass on third down.

So with less than two minutes to go the Trojans knew a touchdown would give them the win. A roughing the pass call was a big help to the Trojans which was followed by a nice swing pass to Siri out the backfield to move them well into UL territory. Another 15 yard penalty followed and the second ejection of the game for a Viking player after an unnecessary roughness call on Dave Richardson going over the middle.

However an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Trojans wiped out that penalty and on the next play that would be all she wrote. McVeigh looked left on the single coverage to Jack Millar with a deep ball but the pass was short and inside and easily picked off by defensive back Sheehy sealing the victory.

Limerick notched their first win over the Trojans in their fifth attempt to move to 5-0 on the season. If all goes to plan and the Trojans bounce back to winning form we could be set for an epic Shamrock Bowl in August.

Champions stand firm & shutout NKR.

The Belfast Trojans strengthened their grip in the SBC North division as they beat the North Kildare Reapers 48-0 at Deramore Park.

Despite resting a number of starters on defence after a tough game with Sewanee college last week the unit performed superbly, shutting out a useful Reapers offensive attack. It was David Colvin who opened the scoring for the Trojans, hauling in a short pass on third down before eluding a would-be tackler and scampering another 60 yards for the first touchdown of the day.

Soon after and it was David Richardson getting on the board after a perfectly thrown pass by James McKelvey, the receiver hauling in a textbook over the shoulder grab and crossing for six. Colvin added his second of the game midway through the second quarter with McKelvey locating the single coverage and dropping it over the top with precision to make it 20-0. More stout work from the Belfast defence allowed the Trojans another offensive drive and a trademark short yardage plunge from Neil Montgomery made it 27-0 at halftime.

Although there were some early mistakes in the second half the Trojans soon the specials teams took over, with Jona Siri scoring yet another punt return touchdown after some fantastic running and downfield blocking. The Trojans spread the scoring around with Matt Armstong finally notching halfway through the final quarter and there was time for rookie back Jake Warry to get on the scoresheet to round off the Belfast domination.

There were signs of a flat performance from the reigning champions, coming so soon after the epic clash with Sewanee and upcoming game the UL Vikings , however the result was never in doubt and the Trojans will be ready to fire on all cylinders when they travel to Limerick for the game of the season so far on Saturday 28th May.

PHOTO: Bob Given Photography

Tigers tame Trojans in epic encounter at Deramore Park.

The Belfast Trojans fell to a narrow defeat this past weekend, losing 27-20 to visiting American college team the Sewanee Tigers.

It was a valiant effort from the four-time reigning champions, a performance and scoreline that will go down in the history of the game on these shores. The NCAA Div III Tigers were impressive with both sides of the ball performing at a level rarely seen in this country. Their defence gave the Belfast offence difficulties all day, while their offence was relentless in pounding the ball as well as finding tall receivers on the outside.

It was Sewanee who opened the scoring a superbly thrown deep ball caught by a wide receiver in the corner of the endzone. In the 2nd quarter and it was 14-0 on a similar play, with again their receiver who eclipsed the 6 foot mark going up and snagging the ball despite the blanket coverage by Trojans cornerback James Gallagher. However the Trojans showed they weren’t here to be in awe of the American squad and responded before the break. James McKelvey found rookie Jack Millar in the corner of the endzone and the rookie did the rest to cut the deficit. Into the 2nd half and it was the Tigers who added to the scoreboard first, with a tough run from their running back punching it in from close.

The moment of the game, however, was soon to follow and if you see a better touchdown in any form of football this year you will be doing well. On the ensuing kick off, Matt Armstrong fielded the ball and took a few steps forward. He then hit the brakes and laterally passed the ball to Jona Siri on the other side of the field. Siri then put the foot on the gas and weaved through the Tigers kickoff unit with some fantastic blocking. The home crowd went wild and Siri’s highlight went viral. David Colvin scored with less than two minutes remaining to make the score 27-20 to Sewanee, a smart grab on a post route with McKelvey putting the ball on a dime.

That was all she wrote, though, as Sewanee ran out the clock, handing the Trojans their first loss of the season, albeit a heroic performance from Belfast against a team with such resources and knowhow. A fantastic day was had by all the visiting Tigers squad, staff and parents and indeed the hundreds of spectators that enjoyed their day out at Deramore Park watching American Football in Ireland.

The Trojans return to SBC action this Sunday at home to the North Kildare Reapers with kick off at 2pm.

PHOTO: IAN HUMES