Tag: Champs

Dublin Rebels – South Division Champs!

Rivalry Suggestions Squashed!

In what may be the shortest travel for an away game for any team this season, and kick-off two hours earlier than usual, the 5 and 2 Dublin Rebels took the field at the National Sports Campus in Blanchardstown for a division matchup against the 3-4 South Dublin Panthers, with a shot at the SBC South title, and a home semi-final on the line for the Rebels.

The stage was set, and as the game kicked off, returner Cathal Keane would set the tone, providing the Rebels Offense with excellent starting field position for the game’s first drive. Behind an O-Line that would control the trenches throughout the day, and coming off a huge game on the ground last week, Pete McMahon ran with vigour, finding holes and exploding through gaps in a porous Defense from the home team.

Combating a holding penalty, with an Andy Dennehy to Paul Grogan connection to regain the lost yardage and setting McMahon on his way to score the game’s first points. The Rebels held the first lead of the afternoon, and would never let up. 6-0, Rebels.

“Raphael ‘Raf’ Meyer” Photo courtesy of Terence McCann Photography

A crunching tackle from defensive end Simon Mackey on the ensuing kick-off gave an already motivated Rebel Defense a standard to live up to. Feverish ball-hunting and a hit from safety Raphael Meyer that wouldn’t be out of place in an NFL highlight reel established a tone for the game that was impossible to ignore. Seemingly instant pressure on every down, lead to an ill thrown pass finding CB Andrei-Vlad Vasilescu for his second INT in the past two games, a defensive showing with a taste of everything they had to offer.

Quite possibly the scariest backfield tandem in the league, QB Jack Fagan and current Shamrock Bowl MVP, Wellington Omorodion took the field less than 20 yards from the opposing Endzone, trading runs to either side, and despite having a score called back for holding, little could be done to stop Wellington as he steam-rolled towards the goal line, carrying any defenders brave enough to grab hold of him into the Endzone. The two-point attempt would fall through the back of the Endzone incomplete. 12-0.

Inspector Clouseau stealing from Pink Panther?

Good blocking and vision on the return gave the Panthers starting field position near their own 40. Seeing the RB fighting for positive yards, Line-backer Matthias Durot saw his opportunity to pick his pocket and ripped the ball from his hands, and placing it right back into the hands of the momentum filled Rebel Offense to close out the first quarter.

Two huge runs being called back due to penalties, and the wet conditions leading to incompletions through the air resulted in a 4th down incompletion and a turnover on downs.

Unhappy with only one forced turnover, Durot saw his opportunity once more, and the game Defensive MVP took it happily, like a carbon copy of the first, wrenching the football away and bringing the Offense back on the field, hoping to see an improvement on the previous outing.

“Wellington ‘Wello’ Omorodion” Photo courtesy of Terence McCann Photography

Running through defenders as often as around them, Omorodion reminded the Panther Defense of the dangers of falling asleep when facing an Offense as heavily armed as the Rebels. Big gains on the ground laid the groundwork for a fingertip grab over the middle from Paul Grogan, strolling through the heart of the Panther defense to walk across the line for the games 3rd score of the day, and the veteran Tight Ends first since returning from a long injury layoff. A bobbled snap forced the conversion attempt to fail. 18-0 Rebels.

A Bird? A Plane? No it’s Mackey!

Carrying on from a great performance last week, the Rebel Defense gave up no yardage on the ground or through the air, LB Robert Smith slicing and dicing through the line to get into the backfield on almost every play to force a punt. In a change from what many regular humans can do, Special Teams Swiss Army Knife Simon Mackey ghosted through the punt teams line and after a Superman-like take off, blocked the punt. Mackey then came inches away from recovering the very same ball he laid out to block. The Rebels Offense being gifted the best field position of the season through incredible defensive effort.

Pete McMahon came close to his second TD of the game, being tackled twice on the 1-yard line, that 1 yard would be covered by a QB sneak from Dennehy to add to the first half score line. Adding to his rushing total, Dennehy walked in the two points from two yards out on the following play. 26-0

Swallowing up anything in their path the Defense forced another punt, this one bouncing out of bounds at the 5-yard line.

Backed up at the 5 yard line, the Champions took to more dominant running, led by Offensive MVP Alfredo Meneses the Rebels domineering O-Line gave the offense some breathing room. Incompletions and solid tackling from the home Defense brought out the Rebels punt team for the first time in the game.

The change of possession didn’t last long.

An errant throw from the Panthers QB Ian Cahill would fall gracefully into the hands of Meyer for yet another takeaway for the Rebels Defense. Incompletions, not helped by the rain soaked game, and a lack of running room forced the Rebels into a rare 4-and-out, giving the ball back to the home team.

The home offense continued to struggle to get any yardage versus the monstrous defense, and a bad snap on a 4thdown punt play, placed the Rebel offense deep in scoring position.

Keeping the game on the ground, and with a good lead, Omorodion punched in his second TD of the day, extending the lead further. 32-0.

Consistent tackling and air tight coverage forced the home team to punt yet again.

Continuing to show the depth of the Rebels squad after a plethora of changes, and facing third and long, Dennehy threw a rainbow to rookie WR David Duffy, who rose to make a spectacular high point grab at the 6 yard line and energize the Rebels side-line. McMahon followed through on Duffy’s big play, crossing the goal line to add to his tally for the season, 38-0.

“Conrad Cook” Photo courtesy of Terence McCann Photography

Determined to get in on the scoring party, and get the Defence on the scoreboard, LB Conrad Cook plucked an interception out of the air, and took off like he was running the 40 at the NFL combine, took the ball all the way back for 6 points. Omorodion followed up his teammate, and fellow Team Bicep member and converted the two-point attempt. 46-0.

So Close But So Far…..

Not to be outdone by his defensive teammate, stalwart Ross McCooey saved what should have been the play of the day for last. With 2 seconds remaining on the clock and the Panthers finally knocking on the door of the Rebels Redzone, a tipped pass looped high into the air, falling into the arms of the waiting McCooey on his own 21 yard line. Number 51 took off towards the sideline, a powerful stiff arm followed, then a high step to avoid a diving tackle, it looked like McCooey would take it to the house, but the wheels seized up, and despite tacking the return 78 and a half yards, the final few inches eluded him to finish the game without the score the play thoroughly deserved.

“Ross ’51’ McCooey” Photo courtesy of Terence McCann Photography

The Dublin Rebels finish the regular season 6-2, winning the SBC South, earning a bye and home field advantage for the play-offs, and going on to host the winner of the Belfast Knights versus Belfast Trojans Wildcard game next week,  in a Semi-final on the 5th of August at Sportslink in Santry.

By Calum Walsh

REBELS VERSUS KNIGHTS 2018

Like Old Friends

A rematch of Shamrock Bowl 31 took place in Sportslink last Sunday, when the defending Champion Rebels welcomed the renamed, Belfast Knights, to Dublin for a scorching day of hard-hitting football.

The game commenced with the Knight’s offense rattling off 4 runs in a row, handing the ball to power runner Darren Montgomery. Physical Rebels defence and an incomplete pass concluded the Knights initial drive with a punt, allowing the Rebel’s offence to take possession at their own 15. Three consecutive incompletes, two tipped at the line, brought out Rebel punter and veteran receiver, Paul Grogan, returning for his first play since last year’s championship game.

Flags for both the visiting offence and home defence as well as quick penetration from a stout Rebel defensive line called the Knight’s punter on for the second time in 2 drives, both teams struggles for yardage in the first three possessions would foreshadow a theme for the rest of the contest.

An un-fielded punt would call dynamic dual-threat QB Jack Fagan to take the field for the first time today, joined in the backfield by Wellington Omorodion who would make his presence felt with a 7-yard gain on 1st down. Fagan soon showed just how dangerous he is, a QB option providing him with the space for a 13-yard rush.

While an obvious progression from the drives seen earlier in the game, the away defence stood tall and forced yet another punt in the opening quarter.

A three and out following a WR sweep being called back forced the Knights into 4th down. Misjudged timing by the home team, on a block attempt, lead to an offside call on the punt, giving the Knights another attempt to ignite any semblance of an offense. Eventually, a seam was found, ending the 1st quarter on the visitors’ first big-gain play of the afternoon and leading us into the second period.

If It Ain’t Broke…

With new running back Alastair Nixon in, the Knights offence began to move the ball on the ground, going run heavy they held no secrets in what they wanted to accomplish, putting together 5 running plays in a row to gain yardage.

The Rebels Defence bent slightly, but thanks to big stops from Raphael Meyer, and Matthias Durot, they refused to break, only giving up a Marty Caskey field goal to hold the visitors to 3 points, taking the game’s first lead.

Veteran quarter back Andy Dennehy provided a steady hand for the Rebel’s offense, marching the ball down the field through the big boys up front and star running back Pete McMahon, rightly capping it off with a touchdown. The point after attempt failed to be converted.

With Spencer McDowell now in at QB for the Knights, their devotion to the ground and pound style was stronger than ever, designed quarterback runs and powerful inside handoffs were mainstays of a now behind Knight’s team.

The Rebels defence matched fire with fire and stuffed multiple attempts from the Knights, giving the ball back to the offence through a 4th down punt. Despite attempts to get the ball deep and in a scoring position, there was insufficient time left on the clock to add anything for the Rebels, as they breached the Knights Red-zone. 6-3 Rebels at the half.

A Fight to the End!

Receiving the ball to begin the second half, the combination of Fagan, McMahon and Omorodion proved difficult for the Knights to handle, seemingly dancing through tackles to manoeuvre downfield. A taxing drive which included only one pass, which fell incomplete, the rebels made their way to inside the five-yard line. An aggressive and blitzing defence held firm and forced a turnover on downs, Rebels coming out with no points on their most promising drive of the game.

Backed against their own Endzone, the Knights strung a few plays together before sending a deep punt into Rebel territory. Good punt coverage forced the offence onto the field with very little room to work with. Forceful play by the Dublin O-line, ensured enough space to allow for a first down to close out the quarter and give the home team some breathing room. As seemed to be common between both teams the Knights forced a punt to give them their best field position of the day and a chance to score in the final quarter. Going with power running throughout the entire drive using every big body available to them the Knights ran in for a touchdown from McDowell, their first and only of the day. The ensuing field goal attempt was blocked by Linebacker Robert Smith bursting through the line.

With time running low and the majority of the field to cover, a new life seemed to fuel the offense, with big plays coming from both the running and passing games, culminating in a touchdown thrown to Jonas D’Agostin to put the Rebels ahead by 3.

The Rebels Defence lead by the ever disruptive bookends of Simon Mackey and Steve Walsh decided that’s where the game ends, and the game was iced thanks to an interception by the always ball-hawking Andrei-Vlad Vasilescu, taking Defensive MVP honors on the day, to ensure a Rebel victory.

The final score in Sportslink, Dublin Rebels 12-9 Belfast Knights.

The win takes the Rebels to 4-2 on the season, and on to the next match up again in Sportslink, where they will face the UL Vikings on Sunday 8 July in a rematch from the season opener.

By Calum Walsh

Vlad 1

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.

Vlad 2

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!

Vlad 3

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.

 Vlad 1

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.