Preview: Dublin Rebels @ Tullamore Phoenix

Tullamore Phoenix host two-time defending Shamrock Bowl champions, the Dublin Rebels, on Sunday, May 27 in Tullamore Rugby Club.

It has, without doubt, been a very difficult opening season in the IAFL for Tullamore Phoenix. After two years of dominating the DV8s league, we started our first senior campaign with an efficient 19-0 home win over Dublin Dragons.

However, since then, Phoenix have lost four consecutive games and were forced to forfeit a road trip Belfast due to an extensive injury list.

It would be very easy to blame injuries and a difficult schedule (three away games in four weeks) for Tullamore’s struggles this season but excuses are not something this Phoenix team will ever hide behind.

The simple fact is Tullamore have faced better players and better teams this year and everyone involved with the club will come out of 2012 knowing exactly what needs to be done to ensure 2013 is a more successful season.

Over the past few weeks I’ve read various reports that the Phoenix schedule ‘doesn’t get any easier’ facing, as we do, Ireland’s top two teams over the past decade in the next fortnight. That’s correct, but it’s equally true to say the Phoenix coaching staff and players put in all this work over the past three years because we want to play teams like the Rebels and Vikings.

With Coach Judge away on IAFL business, I’ll (Steve) be head coaching this weekend for just the second time ever. I can think of no better opposition I’d like to face for my first home game as HC than the Rebels. They play good football and still need a win to ensure home advantage in the wild card game.

However, I also know what a healthy Tullamore is capable of and anyone coming to the game can expect a hard fought, physical, encounter with some good quality football thrown in for good measure.

If you can make it, kick off is 2pm and you might even get a suntan thrown in.

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