The Belfast Trojans return home to Deramore Park for the first time this season as they take on division rivals, University College Dublin this Sunday. The Trojans are off the back of a tough road game against the University of Limerick Vikings in which they came out 16-3 victors and their target is to extend that momentum with a win this weekend.
The four time Shamrock Bowl champions primary goal this season is to reach the final once again, having been narrowly defeated in the semi-finals last term. Captain and Trojans Quarterback, Mark McVeigh fully expects the team to be in contention for the title this season as he hopes to guide the team that one step further. ‘My ambition for this season is to lead the Trojans to a winning performance in the bowl game. I think we have the talent to compete with any team in the league. The expectation for the season ahead is for us to develop that talent and learn from our mistakes; if we can do that consistently we will be a tough team to beat.’
The Green Machine had their ups and downs in 2017, but McVeigh firmly believes that the team can overcome those misfortunes and continue to improve as the season progresses. ‘A 4-4 season and ultimately losing in the semi-final was a disappointing result given the standards that had been set in previous years. We were unable to offer a consistent, high-level performance for an entire game. At times, we played some very good football that teams struggled to deal with but we also made too many mental mistakes and costly errors.’ ‘The coaches addressed this in the offseason and have put an emphasis on knowing your assignment and executing when given the chance. There is a great atmosphere around the group this year and a desire to right the wrong of last year.’
The Trojans have big aspirations for the season ahead and McVeigh believes that the team is capable of achieving great things. A lot of the pressure will fall on his shoulders, as he aims to lead the team back to the Bowl game this summer. By working on his own personal goals, he hopes that it can transcend into success on the field. ‘I want to continue to earn the respect of my teammates and solidify myself as the leader of the team. I hope to set the example both on and off the field of what is required and what is expected of them as a Trojan. On field, I want to continue improving my fundamentals. Every quarterback wants the ball in their hand with a chance to make plays but how consistently you can make the throws hinges on good consistent footwork and solid mechanics.’
The challengers on Sunday come in the form of UCD, a team who are enjoying their own recent success as they sit atop the Shamrock Bowl North division with a 3-0 record. The students offence has been particularly explosive this year and it will provide a difficult challenge to the Trojans. On Sunday, only one team will have their unbeaten record still intact come the final whistle. ‘I’m excited about the game against UCD. They are unbeaten so far and offer a strong test on Sunday. This is our first home game of the season and our first chance this year to take to the field in front of a home crowd. Come Sunday I have no doubt that we will be ready to play and put out a strong performance on the field.’