We sat down with Coach John Beam of Laney College to talk about his experience of being featured on Last Chance U, as well as his coaching philosophy and much more.
As I sit down to put together this list, it strikes me that I have been involved in Irish American football for over ten years. Ten years of knowing and playing with some absolute ballers. The Gaelic Gridiron Team of the Decade recognises the best players the country has seen in recent times, many of whom will hopefully still be playing long into the future!
Note: This list is based off the author’s personal opinion, memory of past games etc. Your own opinions may vary. Don’t @ me.)
Quarterback: Andrew Dennehy (Dublin Rebels) Dennehy was at the heart of the Rebels Shamrock Bowl dynasty, and is arguably the best QB the country has produced. We were going to include another QB on the list but couldn’t think of anyone who even comes close.
Running Back: Ben Arulogun (South Dublin Panthers) Ben Jamiing, as he’s more commonly known made the national squad as a rookie. A natural athlete who has a bright future in Irish football.
Running Back: Gareth ‘Suntan’ Miller (Belfast Knights/Belfast Trojans) No explanation needed really. Don’t get in his way or he’ll run you over.
Running Back: Rob McDowell (Trinity College) Someone once described Rob to me as a “human frog” in reference to his lower body strength. And if you’ve ever seen him juke or box jump you’ll know how accurate this is. The wings on his lid were pretty bad ass as well.
Wide Receiver: Marty Caskey (Belfast Knights) If you’ve seen this man go full stretch vertical for a high ball then you know that he deserves to be on this list.
Wide Receiver: Sean Douglas (UCD (currently)) Dougie’s quick feet and natural athleticism lend themselves as attributes of being probably the best slot receiver in the country.
Wide Receiver: Sean Devlin (South Dublin Panthers) In his rookie season, Sean Devlin became one of the best vertical deep threats, forming a formidable connection with his quarterback at the time.
Offensive Line: Belfast Trojans. One of the most dominant and forceful units in the country, and a key reason that the Trojans have been so successful over the past few years.
Offensive Line: Barry Bolton (Dublin Rhinos) I once saw this man block a would – be tackler so hard that his head snapped and his soul left his body. An absolutely cracking football player.
Punter/Kicker: Paul Hosford(Dublin Rhinos) Can you say that you kicked the winning field goal in a national championship game? Well, this fella can. His other claim to fame has to do with a stray field goal. Ask him about it.
Linebacker: Eoin Fox (DCU Saints / Dublin Rhinos) Foxy was the Field General for the Saints and if you got popped by him you knew all about it. In all likelihood if he was still playing today he’d be a lock for the Wolfhounds.
Linebacker: Adam Skelly (DCU Saints / Dublin Rhinos) A ferocious tackler, excellent in both run and pass defense, Adam Skelly has been around the league for a long time and shows no signs of slowing down.
Linebacker: Larry Doyle (UCD) Defensive leader, Wolfhound and now Head Coach. Larry Doyle is widely regarded as one of the best defenders in the country.
Linebacker: Aidan Waters (Dublin Dragons) Before he retired to coach receivers in Cork, Aidan was arguably the best Linebacker in the country. I’ll never forget the sole occasion on which I bested him during a tackling drill. On the next rep he made me pay and put me in the ground. And that was the attitude that the brought to the defense; unrelenting and unforgiving.
Linebacker / CB: Conrad Cook ( South Dublin Panthers / Dublin Rebels) Great closing speed, a high motor and aggressive tackling, the Florida native was a great asset to have on the defensive side of the ball. Conrad rightfully belongs on the team of the decade.
Defensive Line: Augustus Zigmantavicius (Dublin Dragons / South Dublin Panthers) Gus was the quietest most unassuming man off the field, but once his helmet was on god help anyone who got in his way.
Defensive Line: Neill Graham (Belfast Trojans) Not so average really, despite what his nickname alludes. In fact the complete opposite. An pure baller.
Defensive Line: Niall Burke (Dublin Dragons / South Dublin Panthers) Niall Burke has been the heart and anchor of the Dragons/Panthers Defense for many years now and has proven to be a force to be reckoned with up the middle.
Safety: Oisin Dowling (Drogheda Ligthning/North Dublin Pirates) The rangy Dowling was a natural from Day 1 with the Drogheda outfit and has continued ball hawking with his current team.
MVP: Fu Fa’aptio (Drogheda Lightning/Belfast Trojans) The Samoan Smasher, all around legend and gentleman. Our team of the decade would not be complete without mentioning Fu. I’ll never forget a practice session where he sent one of his teammates flying with a block. Hailing from California, Fu changed the landscape of football here by forcing teams to prepare for him on all sides of the ball.