Irish American Football League

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Irish American Football League
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2013 IAFL season
IAFL logo.tif
Sport American football
Founded 1984 in Dublin, Ireland
Inaugural season 1986
No. of teams 17
Country Ireland
Most recent champion(s) Belfast Trojans
Most titles Dublin Rebels (7 titles)
TV partner(s) Setanta Sports
Official website

The Irish American Football League (IAFL) is an amateur American football league in Ireland. Founded in 1984, it consists of 17 teams competing in two conferences, the Shamrock Bowl Conference and IAFL-1. The 2013 season will run from February through to July, when two teams will contest the league's championship game, the Shamrock Bowl. The Belfast Trojans are the current league champions, having won Shamrock Bowl XXVI.

A separate College Bowl tournament among collegiate members of the league took place between 2007 and 2011; its final champions were Trinity College. The four collegiate teams now compete in the South division of the Shamrock Bowl Conference.[1]


1980s and 1990s[edit]

The first Shamrock Bowl game was played in 1986 between the Craigavon Cowboys and the Dublin Celts. The Cowboys won the first title played in Dublin.The Celts then went on to be the number 1 team in Ireland for the next 10 years, winning the Shamrock Bowl 5 times. The Celts were also the First Irish team to represent Ireland in the Euro Bowl – the then Champions league of European American Football.


During 2000, plans were made to resurrect the IAFL. The only fixture to be played in Ireland that year was an Irish selection against a visiting high school team - Mount St. Josephs from Maryland USA. In 2001, the Carrickfergus Knights, Dublin Dragons, Dublin Rebels and University of Limerick Vikings played a full league season of football. The Dublin Rebels defeated the Carrickfergus Knights in Shamrock Bowl XV, which was played in Carrickfergus.

All four teams participated in the reformation of the Irish American Football League (IAFL). A new league structure and administration was put in place and the IAFL helped form the Irish American Football Association (IAFA) - the new national governing body for the sport. During 2002, the sport found a new lease on life in Ireland. Again, four teams contested the league with the Carrickfergus Knights defeating the UL Vikings in Shamrock Bowl XVI. However, during the course of the year there were some significant developments. Firstly, three development teams applied to join the league for 2003. Secondly, an Irish team won an International club competition for the first time ever. In June, the Dublin Rebels travelled to Belgium and won the Charleroi Trophy against the Charleroi Cougars and two French teams - Reims Champs and Forbach Taupes. The season finished on a high note with the visit of Team Canada, the Canadian U21 team. The Carrickfergus Knights played Team Canada in Dublin and performed well in a 34–6 defeat.

2003 turned out to be one of the best years ever for Irish American football. Three more teams – Cork, Belfast & Craigavon – joined the IAFL bringing the total up to seven. The Carrickfergus Knights, Cork Admirals, Dublin Dragons and Dublin Rebels played in Division 1. The Belfast Bulls, Craigavon Cowboys and UL Vikings played in Division 2 which was created to help development teams get competitive game experience.

Membership in the IAFL increased significantly and the standard of play was higher than in previous years. In June 2003, the Dublin Rebels returned to Belgium to defend their Charleroi Trophy title. They were joined in Belgium by the Carrickfergus Knights. The Rebels won the Charleroi Trophy, defeating local team, the Charleroi Cougars in the Tournament final. The Knights came third, ahead of French team, Celtes de Mitry.

The Knights finished first in the league to qualify for the Shamrock Bowl. The Rebels beat the Cork Admirals in the semi-final and then defeated the Knights 24–12 in a spectacular Shamrock Bowl XVII, played at Suttonians RFC in Dublin. The game attracted a large crowd and some media attention - highlights were broadcast on TV3 in Ireland and Sky Sports throughout Europe. The Belfast Bulls won the Division 2 title. The season finished with the first ever IAFL Allstar game in which the North defeated the South 7–0.

During the 2003/2004 off-season, Coach Phil DeMonte (ex-Oxford University Cavaliers) was appointed as the Head Coach of the Irish National Team and IAFL Allstars. Coach DeMonte will also help with the education of coaches throughout Ireland. 2004 promised to be the best season ever for Irish American football both on and off the field and did not fail to deliver. 6 teams played a full competitive league schedule and the standard of play was higher than at any time in the previous 10 years. IAFL membership reached an all-time high of more than 300 registered players. All teams had bigger rosters and most of the rookies were in the 17–21 age group. The Dublin Rebels defeated the Carrickfergus Knights 24–22 in Shamrock Bowl XVIII. The game, which attracted a record attendance for an IAFL game, is regarded as the best ever Shamrock Bowl. 2004 also saw the return of the Ireland team. The team played two fixtures including the inaugural Celtic Classic against John Carroll University from Ohio, USA.

In 2005 the same six teams competed for the Shamrock Bowl. Again the Rebels ran out victorious with a tough fought win against the Belfast Bulls in the big game. The 2006 season saw the addition of new teams the DCU Saints and Dublin Marshals to the IAFL making the total number of competing teams, 8, the highest it had been in many years. The UL Vikings faced the Rebels in the Bowl game, which the Rebels won, making it their fourth consecutive Shamrock Bowl win.

The 2007 season was contested by nine teams, following the addition of the Belfast Trojans and the Tallaght Outlaws to the league. The 2007 Shamrock Bowl was won by UL Vikings.

After the 2008 season, the Tallaght Outlaws decided to stop playing in the league, after playing two full seasons in the league.


The IAFL consists of eleven senior teams and two development teams. For the 2012 season, the IAFL will consist of:[2]

  • An 8-game, 16-week regular season running from February to early June
  • A six-team, four-week single elimination playoff tournament beginning with the wildcard round in June and culminating in the Shamrock Bowl in July


From the 2013 season onwards, the teams have been aligned as follows:

Development teams[edit]

Defunct teams[edit]


2007 season[edit]

Further information: 2007 IAFL season


In 2007, to cope with the growing number of teams, a divisional format was introduced to replace the old league format. In it, the existing teams were divided into three divisions, Northern, Central and Southern, three teams in each. The idea of the divisional format is that any new teams, such as the up-coming development teams, will easily fit into the divisional format without dramatically increasing the length of the season, which currently runs from February/March to Early August. The top team from each division all go into the play-offs and the two second placed team with the highest amounts of points playing a wildcard game for the 4th spot. The winners of the playoffs battle it out for the Shamrock Bowl.

Northern Division Central Division Southern Division
Belfast Bulls Dublin Rebels UL Vikings
Belfast Trojans Dublin Dragons Cork Admirals
Carrickfergus Knights DCU Saints Tallaght Outlaws

The 2007 IAFL season, complete with new divisional format was due to begin on March 4 with the College Championship game between DCU Saints and UL Vikings, but the game was delayed due to rain, so the season proper began on March 25 when the Cork Admirals beat the Belfast Bulls, the UL Vikings beat the Tallaght Outlaws and Dublin Rebels (then Shamrock Bowl Holders) beat the DCU Saints. The season continued throughout April and May, with the IAFL College Championship Game eventually been rescheduled on June 3, with the UL Vikings beating the DCU Saints 50–2.

During the course of the regular season, two non-league games were played against foreign opposition, with CMS College Stags beating the Tallaght Outlaws 67–0 and, in the Claddagh Classic on June 2, the Team USA All-Stars beat the Carrickfergus Knights 26–0.

Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties

Northern Division

Position Team W L T Pts
1 Belfast Bulls 4 3 1 9
2 Belfast Trojans 3 3 2 8
3 Carrickfergus Knights 3 4 1 7

Central Division

Position Team W L T Pts
1 Dublin Rebels 7 1 0 14
2 Dublin Dragons 2 6 0 4
3 DCU Saints 2 6 0 4

Southern Division

Position Team W L T Pts
1 UL Vikings 7 1 0 14
2 Cork Admirals 6 2 0 12
3 Tallaght Outlaws 0 8 0 0

The play-off positions were decided on the last day of the regular season, with the Belfast Bulls, Dublin Rebels and UL Vikings securing their respective Divisional titles and the Belfast Trojans and Cork Admirals as the wildcard teams. Cork Admirals won the wildcard game and set up a play-off tie with the Dublin Rebels, strongly fancied to retain the Shamrock Bowl for the 5th consecutive time. However, Cork managed to win a close fought 8–6 victory and secured their first ever bowl appearance against UL Vikings, who beat the Belfast Bulls 44–2 to set the stage for the first ever all-Munster Shamrock Bowl. The UL Vikings won a close game 22–14 to win Shamrock Bowl XXI and claim their first ever title.

2008 season[edit]

Further information: 2008 IAFL season

An AGM held on the 25th of November decided the format for the 2008 season. It was decided to gradually phase out under 18 kitted players and start a junior (i.e. 16–18 age group) league. It was also decided to run a DV-8's league, where development teams and entrants from already established teams can field rookies in 8 a side matches. This would also help teams who are just starting out to get some playing time and reduce the pressure to find new players, which has plagued new IAFL teams in the past.

It was decided to keep the league format the same. The same teams will compete in the same divisions, with the exception of the Dublin Rhinos, a spin-off from the Dublin Dragons, who will replace the Dragons in the IAFL Central. The league for 2008 looks like this.

Northern Division Central Division Southern Division
Belfast Bulls Dublin Rebels UL Vikings
Belfast Trojans Dublin Rhinos Cork Admirals
Carrickfergus Knights DCU Saints Tallaght Outlaws

The Development League (DV8) consists of the following teams.

DV8 League
Craigavon Cowboys
Cork Admirals 2nd
Dublin Dragons
Trinity Thunderbolts
Edenderry Soldiers
Dublin Rebels 2nd

2009 season[edit]

Further information: 2009 IAFL season

It was decided to continue running the DV-8's league, where development teams could learn and improve on the basics of football in a competitive league setting. This would also help teams who are just starting out to get some playing time and reduce the pressure to find new players, which has plagued new IAFL teams in the past.

The IAFL format was changed to a single division rather than the previous North, South and Central divisions in which each team would play eight matches, seeded to make the league more competitive. the top four teams would go to the playoffs in which the number 1 seeded team would face the number 4 seeded team, and the number 2 seeded team would face the number 2 seeded team. both winners would then play in the shamrock bowl. the league looks like this:

Dublin Rebels
UL Vikings
Carrickfergus Knights
Belfast Trojans
Cork Admirals
West Dublin Rhinos
DCU Saints

The Development League (DV8) consists of the following teams.

DV8 League
Craigavon Cowboys
Dublin Dragons
Trinity College Dublin
Edenderry/Midland Soldiers
Erris Rams

2010 season[edit]

Further information: 2010 IAFL season

The 2010 IAFL season, has returned to the divisional format. There are now an unprecedented number of teams competing in this fast growing league with a total of 11 teams taking part in the senior IAFL and 3 teams plus a number of rookie teams provided by some of the larger senior teams in the DV-8's. The league format will look like this:

Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties

Northern Division

Position Team W L T Pts
1 Carrickfergus Knights 6 2 0 12
2 Craigavon Cowboys 4 4 0 8
3 Belfast Trojans 3 5 0 6

Central Division

Position Team W L T Pts
1 Dublin Rebels 8 0 0 16
2 West Dublin Rhinos 3 3 2 8
3 DCU Saints 2 5 1 4
4 Trinity College 2 5 1 4

Southern Division

Position Team W L T Pts
1 UL Vikings 6 1 1 13
2 Cork Admirals 5 2 1 11
3 UCD 2 6 0 2
4 Dublin Dragons 0 8 0 0


Position Team W L T Pts
1 Tullamore Phoenixes 0 0 0 0
2 Castlebar/Erris Rams 0 0 0 0
3 Carlow Chargers 0 0 0 0
4 Dublin Rebels 2nd Team 0 0 0 0
5 UL Vikings/Carrickfergus Knights 2nd Team 0 0 0 0

2011 season[edit]

Further information: 2011 IAFL season

2012 season[edit]

Further information: 2012 IAFL season

League MVP award winners[edit]

Year Winner Team Position
2005 Erin Wagner Belfast Bulls Running Back/Defensive End
2006 Simon Mackey Dublin Rebels Running Back/Defensive End
2007 Seamus Hogan UL Vikings Safety/Running Back/Kick Returner
2008 Jim Davis UL Vikings Offensive Tackle/Defensive End
2009 Liam Ryan UL Vikings Quarterback/Safety
2010 Aaron Smith Dublin Rebels Running back
2011 Rob McDowell Trinity College Running back


External links[edit]