Tag: Champs

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INTERVIEW WITH A V…….

ROMANIAN REBEL!

On Saturday November 25th, the 9 time National Champion, Dublin Rebels return to action in the 2017 Atlantic Cup. This will be the fourth time the Rebels compete in the competition, and first time on Irish soil. The opponents for this year are newcomers to the contest, The Bucharest Rebels, themselves 3 time National Champions of Romania.

Unique to this game, one man has played for both teams, Andrei-Vlad Vasilescu. In preparation to the big game, we sat down with Vlad to talk football, and the impending Rebels versus Rebels game.

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Hi Vlad, so you started playing football 10 years ago, what drew you to American Football?

Vlad:     I’ve always enjoyed and played team sports and instantly became a fan of American Football after I watched my first game; Superbowl 36, also, the reason I’m a Patriots fan.

The more time I spent watching the game and understanding the intricacies, the more I loved it.

My grandfather was a great chess player, he taught me to play, and in American football I found a sport where the chess game was brought to the field, where you need to know the strengths, and, weakness of each player, and, how, and where, you should or shouldn’t use it.

 

You previously were with the Bucharest Warriors, followed by this Saturdays opponents the Bucharest Rebels, tell us a little about your time playing in Romania?

Vlad:     I began with the Warriors, the first team in Romania in 2007. We started as a group of guys that met on an online forum and decided we would like to go out in the park and throw the football around.

We progressed into playing kind of a touch football, there was nowhere in Romania to get flags then or now . All of that changed when that summer a guy that had played high-school football in the States joined us and basically told us that there were other teams in Europe that played tackle football and that we should try to form a team.

We ordered our first gear from a store in Germany and by November 2007 we were able to play our first ever game against a team that formed around the same time in a city about 200km from Bucharest. Looking back now it’s actually pretty funny. We had no clue what we were doing, all we knew about American Football was from the one game a week that cable TV was showing, Madden and the movies we saw. People could not believe we were doing that but we kept it up. Our first game jerseys were sewn together by one of the guys’ mother, and we spray painted the numbers and names on the back with stencils. I still have mine.

That might be my favourite jersey story I’ve heard, resourceful!

Vlad:     We won the first 2 Romanian Championships in 2010 and 2011 with the Warriors but then in 2012 when Team Romania played its first, and only up until now, game there was a big disagreement with the management of the Warriors and all players left the team.

We took up the name Rebels, because we rebelled against some concepts that we believed were wrong and did not want to be a part of it. In 2012 the Rebels lost the championship with a point differential after a two game final. In November I managed to get my first major injury when on the first play of a friendly I broke my tibia in 3 places.

At the time I was thinking that that was going to be when I hang my cleats but being on the side lines made me really itch to see if I can play again and so in 2014 started getting back into. We won the Championship for the first time as Rebels that year and I decided the leg was well enough to keep going. I think we went undefeated the next season as well and 2015 culminated with the first game televised on national TV and with the worst score you can have in a game, finishing 2-0 with a safety as the only scoring play.

 

Not the Ideal show for TV. What positions did you play back home?

Vlad:     I started as a Wide-out, being one of the smallest players on the team didn’t actually allow me a wide choice of positions, and also played as a Wing-back in the season where our offensive scheme was changed to a Wing T based one.

I also played Free Safety towards the end of the Warriors period and after I moved to the Rebels. On offense with the Rebels I became a slot receiver as we moved to a spread style offense.

I finished with 4 championships, out of a possible 6, in Romania before moving to Ireland.

 

Not a bad haul, so as you said two years ago, you moved to Ireland, and joined the Dublin Rebels, what were the biggest differences you found from back home?

Vlad:     That’s actually a question I get asked a lot. I think the biggest difference is the experience level the players and coaches have. It’s crazy to see so many players that have been doing this for so long and at a good level from the onset.

League wise the biggest difference I feel is the number of teams involved. But I see a lot of similarities with Romania when it comes to the things that go in the league which I feel encouraging for Romania as it is a much younger league.

Regarding the level of play I see the same intensity, the same passion. I go back to the first point regarding the experience, but I feel the Romanian teams make up with the level of individual athletes that play. I guess we’ll have a first example of the difference, if indeed there is one, on Saturday the 25th

 

You’ve had a couple of nicknames from your football play, are you allowed to disclose their origins?

Vlad:     Hahahahah, the two that I got since playing here are “Lemonade” and “The Impaler”.

Both came about last season. To take them chronologically, “The Impaler” was always floating around since I first joined the team due to my first name being Vlad and the affinity of Irish people and vampires, I still blame Bram Stoker.

But I was told I earned it because of my tackling technique where against bigger guys, which is almost everybody, I get low enough that people have ended up tumbling over their heads or ending up going head first into the ground .

“Lemonade” happened the day before the 2016 Bowl when we went out for dinner with the team. I never drink alcoholic drinks in the week before games and I always try to stay away from fizzy soft drinks so when ordering I asked for Lemonade and having the experience of having been brought Fanta Lemon in the past I may have been a bit too loud in asking for “Freshly squeezed Lemonade”.

 

We ask the hard questions, which one do you prefer?

Vlad:     Most of everybody that knows me from back home knows me as “UFO”, I’ve had this nickname for almost 18 years now, so that will always be my default.

But concerning the Dublin Rebels I can’t really choose as they both mean a lot to me in different ways. “The Impaler” because that represents my on the field persona where I’m not afraid to go against anybody and it shows my teammates know I’ll give everything for them.

“Lemonade” because it represents the family aspect this team means to me and the fact that through all the hard times I’ve had with moving my whole life over 3000kms, the Rebels have always been there to support, to understand and to help.

Very Diplomatic!

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You’ve played on both sides of the ball for the Dublin Rebels, Do you have a favourite play, or even one either side, you’ve had with the Rebels? What about a favourite play with Bucharest?

Vlad:     For the Dublin Rebels my favourite play is by far the pick-6 I had against the Trojans this past season. It happened just as I’d probably imagined it a million times in my head. They ran a play that we had seen before and I had help on the inside from the safety so I knew I was free to try and make a play so when I saw the QB wind up and the receiver plant and turn his body I just broke for the ball. The pass was a little overthrown and so I caught it and all I had in front of me was 40 yards of green grass for a touchdown. It meant a lot for me as I finally felt that the transition to defence was paying off, and scoring is always fun!

For Bucharest, the one that sticks out the most from the last couple of years was in the 2015 semi-final game when I ran a go route and caught a perfectly thrown pass for a TD. It was just one of those plays where everything just clicked, the alignment was just as we hoped with me in the Slot and a LB in man coverage, I had a good get off and enough separation on the bump and the pass came just over the defenders head but high enough that I could track it. The fact that the team considered it the best passing TD in the 2015 campaign made it even sweeter.

 

You’ve now won two National championships with the Dublin Rebels, and get to play in a game you’ve hoped would happen since joining the team, against your home town, Bucharest Rebels, give us your thoughts on that finally happening, and in a European Final no less.

Vlad:     Yes indeed, I’ve been trying to throw small “hints” of making this happen ever since I joined as I felt it would produce a good match-up. The fact that it happens to be in a European Cup Final makes it so much sweeter. I’ve been waiting for the Atlantic Cup since last year when I found out about it I think the week before the Shamrock Bowl.

Really proud of my guys from Bucharest for joining the Atlantic cup even though I know they won’t have a complete squad. It’s a good opportunity for them to develop and I believe they’ll be really motivated about this.

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Who are the Bucharest players to watch out for in the game?

Vlad:     It’s hard to pick but I’ll go for Wide Receiver, number 85, Radu Ene for Offense.

Radu’s the top dog receiver over there with great hands and good route running; he’ll be a great match-up that I look forward to.

On Defence, I’d pick Linebacker, Cosmin Zamfir, no 50. He’s one of the guys that I started playing next to 10 years ago and from the start he’s been known around the league as a “no brakes, hard hitter” and runner when he swaps in at Running Back, on the Offence.

We’ll keep a close eye on those match ups, and thank you for taking the time to chat, and the best of luck on Saturday.

 

Saturdays game kicks off at 1pm in ALSAA Sports Centre in Santry, entry is Free, and the match-up between the Dublin Rebels and Bucharest Rebels to crown the 2017 Atlantic Cup Champions promises to be a great one.

 

Interview by Paul Grogan

DUBLIN REBELS AWARDS NIGHT 2017

On Saturday September 15th, the Dublin Rebels American Football Club held our annual awards night in The Odeon in the heart of Dublin city. The popular nightspot has played host to our yearly Superbowl party for a number of years, and have been hugely supportive to the success of the club in that time.

The night began with a few words from our Chairman, Vinny Dooley, who then introduced Daniel Meehan, from Shadowman Sports, our clubs main sponsors.

Before the awards were given out, Daniel addressed all in attendance about the pride in the partnership, and also combined success of both, Shadowman Sports, and, the Dublin Rebels over the past season and into the future. Shadowman were kind enough to provide all of the main awards to each of the nights winners.

Rookie of the Year

As is now customary for the Rebels awards night, the first award up was the rookie of the year. The winner here, went to the Offensive Line, and ever present Right Tackle, Caolan O’Neill taking the honors. Playing every snap on offense is an impressive feat in itself, doing so as a rookie, on a defending Champion team is even more so, and Caolan did so, impressively.

Offensive Player of the Year

Next up was the Offensive Player of the Year award. In an offense that is absolutely loaded with weapons at the skills positions, and beasts across the O-Line, this is a hugely competitive award, with the award ultimately going to young Tight End, Ciarán Fitzpatrick. Following his heroics in the 2016 Shamrock Bowl final, scoring the game winning Touchdown, he became a key starter and big time player on offense at Tight End.

Special Teams Player of the Year

The award next up for grabs was the Special Teams player of the year, this award went to Sean Douglas, who was unable to attend on the night. Douglas made a number of highlight reel returns in the kick and punt games throughout the year.

“Boob” of the Year

The awards then took a break as we took a look back through some of the more comical plays throughout the season, with a video package to prove the existence of invisible snipers, stealthy ninjas, and some blatant bonehead plays. The room filled with laughter and cheers, to pick out the most ridiculous play of the year.

Most Improved Player

Back to the main awards, and up next is the Most Improved Player award, this trophy went to Andrei-Vlad Vasilescu, who after making the switch from Wide Receiver to Defensive Back late in the 2016 season, led the league in Interceptions in 2017.

 

Defensive Player of the Year

Defensive Player of the Year Award followed, and as many offenses in Ireland will attest to, unsurprisingly went to Simon Mackey. After missing out on the 2016 season due to injury, Mackey returned to beast through Offensive lines all season long and wreak havoc in backfields.

 

Rebel of the Year

The Rebel of the Year award is one that is not solely based on playing ability but rather coupled with your overall contribution to the club. The 2017 Rebel of the Year award was given to Andy Dennehy. While also playing as the starting Quarterback, Andy is also the Head Coach and Offensive Co-Ordinator for the Dublin Rebels. Oh and he has won a few Shamrock Bowls, he’ll be happy to tell you about.

Play of the Year

As the awards evening was coming towards its penultimate award, the main awards took another break, as we looked back through some of the best plays of the season for the Rebels. A video package showing some of the spectacular plays we had throughout the season. The high-tech clap-o-meter was in action, with everyone encouraged to shout for their favourites.

Hall of Fame

The Dublin Rebels are fortunate to have had some phenomenal players, coaches, and club members since its existence. With every year that passes more legends are created and more players put their name forward for contention in to the Rebels Hall of Fame. Some legendary names make up the current Rebels Hall of Fame, which you can see “here”.

This year the man that enters our Hall of Fame, is responsible for the existence of the Dublin Rebels. This years Dublin Rebels Hall of Fame Inductee is Marcus Naylor. There are not enough words to get across Marcus’ contribution to both the Dublin Rebels and to Irish American Football. A founding member and “THE Boss” of the Dublin Rebels, Marcus played on 7 Shamrock Bowl winning teams, has been Shamrock Bowl MVP, primarily playing Safety and Running Back, but has played snaps at every position on the field for the Rebels, and was a huge part of the re-emergence of the IAFL in 2000.

Retired Numbers

Normally the awards would conclude with the Hall of Fame award, but on this occasion, a unique decision was made by the club. Due to their extraordinary contributions to the club, the founding members, Marcus Naylor (#80), Sunday O’Hanlon (#66) and Andrew Flynn (#45) were honoured by having their Jersey numbers retired.

 

With the conclusion of the Annual Dublin Rebels Award Night 2017, so concludes our 2017 season. In a year where we retained our National Championship, winning for a record 9th time, the season was a great success, and plans are being put in place as we prepare to defend our Championship in 2018. We will soon have news on our upcoming Rookie Days, when we look to find the next group of players with the drive and desire to be a National Champion, the next group of Dublin Rebels.

DUBLIN REBELS BEAT CARRICKFERGUS KNIGHTS IN TIGHT GAME

REBELS KEEP ROLLING AFTER TIGHT DEFENSIVE BATTLE WITH KNIGHTS

To say Sunday’s meeting between the Dublin Rebels and the Carrickfergus Knights was a defensive battle would be an understatement. The scoreboard only saw its duck broken in the fourth quarter.

While the reigning Champions defence dominated their side of the ball, the offensive unit made life hard for themselves. Receiving the opening Kick-off, the Rebels offence would take to the field missing several key starters from their line-up.

Pete McMahon, making his first start with his new team, continued where he left off in game one, racking up yardage across the ground, gaining a first down on the first play from scrimmage. From there the Defensive battle would begin. The Knights defence holding firm, led by MLB Spencer McDowell, who would also lead the offence on the day.

CERBERUS??

The Rebels would dominate the ground game throughout the day, the 3 headed monster of McMahon, Sean Douglas, and Dave McMahon rushing for over 180 yards between them on the day. Douglas adding over 100 yards total in the return game also.

Meanwhile the Knights ground attack remained in negative equity at the end of the game. This was due in no small part to an outstanding display from the Rebels defence.

Sacks seemed to be the food the defence would feed on for the day, see they’re hungry. Lead by 2 each total for D-linemen Steve Walsh, and Captain Gary Twamley, the defence would rack up 3 more. The secondary not to be outdone, got involved with sacks for Senan O’Mahony and Kevin Fitzgerald, the latter pairing his sack with an interception on the day.

Another member of the dangerous Rebels secondary would take the Shadowman Sports Defensive MVP game honours, Andrei-Vlad Vasilescu, racking up 4 tackles, 2 for loss, 2 passes defended and an interception.

Dublin Rebels Defensive MVP - Andrei-Vlad Vasilescu
Defensive MVP – Andrei-Vlad Vasilescu

 

Knights quarterback McDowell was under pressure all day long, but did manage some success through the air, having 12 completions for 100 yards.

At the start of the fourth quarter the score remained deadlocked, the Rebels having the ball on the Knights 2 yard line. Having ventured into the Red zone through long completions from QB Dennehy to leading Receiver Cathal Keane, and the hard running of the three headed monster.

SWAN LAKE, ALMOST!

From here the next play would belong more on a Ballet stage than a football field. A running play given to veteran player and possible cyborg, Simon Mackey. The ball handed to Mackey, a bone crunching lead block from Steve Walsh, what happened next stunned the crowd in attendance. Mackey would leap through the air with the grace of Baryshnikov to hurdle a would be tackler, followed by a pirouette the Latvian dancer would be proud to call his own, and crossing the Goal line for the opening score of the game! Click here for video

After another defensive stop from the Rebels wall, Shadowman Sports Offensive MVP for the game Pete McMahon would continue his scoring form, high-stepping past tacklers for the Touchdown, and put the game to rest.

Dublin Rebels Offensive MVP - Pete McMahon
Offensive MVP – Pete McMahon

It wasn’t pretty, but the Champs win their 1st home game of the season and continue their quest for back to back Shamrock Bowls with a hard won victory over the long time rival Knights.

next game…

Our next game is April 30th, when a trip to North Kildare Rugby club to take on home side the North Kildare Reapers is on the cards. Kick off 2pm.

By Paul Grogan

REBELS START 2017 WITH A WIN OVER UCD

CHAMPS GET OFF TO A WINNING START AGAINST STUDENTS

It was fitting that the weekend of Saint Patricks Day would see the return to the gridiron of the reigning Irish National Champions, the Dublin Rebels.

The opponents on the day for the Champs were last year’s Semi-finalist UCD on their home turf at the UCD Sports Campus. The volatile Irish weather, which can’t decide which time of year it wants to be, decided to go through all four seasons during the game. This ultimately had little impact on the game as a spectacle or as a contest.

REBELS GREAT START!

The Rebels would get off to a great start, when after UCD won the coin toss electing to receive. Rebels Linebacker Matthias Durot would strip the ball carrier, and take back the rock. One of two forced fumbles for Durot on Special Teams on the day.

The Rebels offence took over in great field position, but failed to capitalise after some miscues while shaking off the off-season rust.

But the visiting Rebels capitalised shortly after, when Quarterback Andrew Dennehy would open his 2017 account, hitting Tight End Peter Keely for 6. The following PAT was unsuccessful.

‘Andrew Dennehy’ – Photo courtesy of Laszlo Gezco Photography

UCD struggled to move the ball early, the staunch Rebels defence consistently stuffing the run game, and constantly pressuring talented young QB Tom Donavan, racking up 6 sacks on the day, 2 each for Defensive End pairing, affectionately known as Twackey!

As half time drew closer, UCD looked to gain a foothold in the game. After Donavan hit some completions to his receivers, and made some yards on the ground, the red zone opportunity arose. In a strange play, a ball that seemed to be thrown to Donavan’s favourite target on the day, Conor Hanrahan, would pop up off his hands and into the waiting grasp of Steven Culligan for the touchdown. Hanrahan scooped over the PAT to give the students a 7-6 lead going in to the interval.

SECOND HALF!

The second half got under way with a bang. Sean Douglas taking the opening kick-off at speed and bringing the Rebels into great field position. On the very next play Douglas would spring into action again, reversing the field to bypass the UCD defence. With nothing but green grass in front of him, he would bring to life a number of brand new Memes. By simply tripping over nothing and tucking into a forward roll in spectacular fashion.

The Rebels offence would not miss out on the opportunity though. After carries from Rebel debutante Pete McMahon and Douglas, QB Dennehy would strike again. This time hitting young gun Cathal Keane in the end zone, wasting no time in taking up where they left off at Shamrock Bowl 30. Sean Douglas adding the 2 point conversion on the ground.

With a 14-7 lead, and the Rebels defence playing at such a high level. Recording 6 sacks and two interceptions on the day, thanks to Conrad Cook and Andrei-Vlad Vasilescu. This meant the Rebels Offence could take control of the game. Through the running of Douglas, Pete McMahon, and another Rebel newcomer ‘Rev’ Dave McMahon (no relation to Pete J ), coupled with several completions to Sean Leamy, the Rebels offence sustained drive after drive, capping them off with rushing Touchdowns for Sean Douglas, and his first of undoubtedly many for Pete McMahon.

‘Pete McMahon’ – Photo courtesy of Laszlo Gezco Photography

 

A late Alfie O’Sullivan rushing touchdown would bring scant consolation to UCD who drop to 0-2 on the season, but there’s a lot of football to be played yet, and undoubtedly this young team will have a say in where the Shamrock Bowl ends up this year.

next game…

As for the Rebels, a solid victory for the defending champions gets their season off to a strong start, and they can look forward to their next opponents, old foes, the Carrickfergus Knights, in Sportslink, Santry on April 2nd, kick-off is at 2pm.

By Paul Grogan