2020 was not a good year for anything, Irish American football included. Various restrictions and lockdowns resulted in all competitive games being cancelled. For the most part, teams couldn’t even officially hold training sessions. That’s how bad things were. Now that vaccines are being rolled out and there’s light at the end of the tunnel, the burning question is: Are we finally gonna get some football this year? We spoke to AFI Commissioner Brian Cleary to find out more.
GG: Do the league anticipate kitted and flag seasons going ahead in 2021?
BC: I think it’s safe to say that everyone is itching to get back to participating in the sport. We are hopeful that we can get football played and we are looking at a provisional kick off date in June. Despite our hope we are unfortunately at the mercy of the Pandemic and the welfare of our members has to come first. I wish I could give you a more definitive answer but all we can do is have the plans in place and be ready to go when it’s safe to do so.
GG: Are you considering running blitz style tournaments as an alternative to reduce travel/contact?
BC: All our clubs were canvassed over the last few weeks for their feedback on how this season should run. We are looking at regional Divisions, two North, two Dublin and a South. The aim is to reduce travel as much as possible while ensuring there isn’t a huge mismatch between teams. We are looking at between 6 to 8 games all going well.
GG: Have any new teams joined the league for the season ahead?
BC: Two new flag team have applied to join the AFI and a vote will take place at the AGM in February. The Thomastown Tigers and the Belfast Lions.
GG: If the season goes ahead, do you have a venue in mind for the Shamrock Bowl?
BC: I don’t foresee a Shamrock Bowl taking place this year. If football gets played we will have 5 Divisional winners.
GG: Are there any other exciting developments or announcements we can expect over the next year?
BC: There is an exciting announcement coming very soon. As you have probably seen from our social media teasers, the AFI have partnered with another organisation. This partnership will provide excellent opportunities for our members, you’ll just need to wait a little longer for the Offical announcement.
We are also still working closely with Irish American Events who are bringing the College games to Dublin over the next few years and there is some exciting plans in place for the AFI in relation to those games.
We’d like to thank Brian for his time and for his dedication to the sport. Subscribe to Gaelic Gridiron below for more Irish American Football updates!