Timeline of Significant Events
|19 August 1983||Redskins v Yankees game at Banbridge between two teams of specially-trained Rugby players|
|October 1984||Dublin Celts formed by Sean McAlinden and Joe Moore|
|December 1984||Coleraine Chieftains formed by William Armstrong|
|January 1985||Tyrone Tornadoes formed in Omagh by Steve Stacher|
|March 1985||Belfast Blitzers formed by David Freland|
|March 1985||NIAFA (Northern Ireland American Football Association) formed at meeting of three existing clubs|
|April 1985||Ballymena Wolfhounds formed and joined NIAFA|
|April 1985||Bangor Buccaneers formed and joined NIAFA|
|28 April 1985||Tyrone Tornadoes defeated Coleraine Chieftains in Flag Football match at Omagh, Co. Tyrone|
|Mid-Summer 1985||Craigavon Cowboys joined NIAFA|
|Summer 1985||Tyrone Tornadoes, having internal problems and with a number of GAA players having left to play their own game during the summer disbanded and formed the IAFRA (Irish American Football Referees Association) headed by Steve Stacher|
|late 1985||Craigavon Cowboys defeated Belfast Blitzers in Final Flag Football Game of 1985|
|late 1985||Dublin Celts had become fully kitted and declined to play unkitted Belfast Blitzers team|
|January 1986||Jordanstown Jaguars formed|
|January 1986||Belfast Blitzers played Jordanstown Jaguars in Friendly Match|
|January 1986||NIAFA and IAFRA decide to affiliate with IAFA (Irish American Football Association), which was founded by Aiden Prendergast|
|March 1986||Ballymena Wolfhounds withdraw from NIAFA due to internal problems|
|Kitted American Football|
|October 1985||Dublin Celts defeat Bristol Packers 32-0|
|March 1986||Belfast Blitzers, Coleraine Chieftains and Cragiavon Cowboys announce they will become fully kitted and no longer play unkitted teams|
|March 1986||Dublin Celts defeat Wirral Wolves|
|March 1986||Belfast Blitzers defeat Craigavon Cowboys in first fully kitted game featuring two Irish teams|
|April 1986||Dublin Celts defeat Newcastle Senators|
|April 1986||Carrickfergus Cougars formed and join NIAFA|
|April 1986||Belfast Spartans formed and join NIAFA|
Early Irish American Football really begins with the formation of the Dublin Celts in late 1984. There was a previous game played in August 1983 between two teams of specially-trained Rugby players, but it was a one-off game for an All-American Festival in Banbridge.
In December of 1984 Coleraine Chieftains were formed and in early 1985 the Tyrone Tornadoes were formed as were the Belfast Blitzers, these three teams forming the NIAFA (Northern Ireland American Football Association) and playing the first ever match between two Irish teams: Tyrone Tornadoes defeating Coleraine Chieftains. These early teams and games were all unkitted and later Ballymena Wolfhounds, Bangor Buccaneers, Craigavon Cowboys, Jordanstown Jaguars, Carrickfergus Cougars and Belfast Spartans were to join.
By October 1985 Dublin Celts became fully kitted and announced they would only play other fully kitted teams, defeating the Bristol Packers 32-0. In January 1986 NIAFA joined up with the IAFA and by March 1986 Belfast Blitzers, Coleraine Chieftains and Craigavon Cowboys announced they were fully kitted and only going to play other fully kitted teams.
The first match between two fully kitted Irish teams took place at Shane Park between the Belfast Blitzers and Craigavon Cowboys with the Blitzers winning. The first Irish American Football League season started later that year, in May 1986, featuring Dublin Celts, Belfast Blitzers, Craigavon Cowboys, Coleraine Chieftains and Carrickfergus Cougars.
 Anon. (1983) “Shoot-out at Rifle Park”, Belfast Telegraph. Wednesday, August 17, 1983. pg. 34 [Past editions of the Irish Newspaper Archive are available to view online at: https://www.irishnewsarchive.com/ ]
 Steve Stacher (1987) “AN OFFICIAL HISTORY OF AMERICAN FOOTBALL IN IRELAND” Receiver, 1987. pg. 25.
Thanks to David Turner (Belfast Blitzers) and Anton “Pippo” O’Grady.
ABOUT THIS DOCUMENT
Researched, compiled and written by Enda Mulcahy for the
Eirball | Irish North American and World Sports Archive
Last Updated: 5 September 2021
(c) Copyright Enda Mulcahy and Eirball 2020-2021
You may quote this document in part provided that proper acknowledgement is given to the authors. All Rights Reserved. The Logos and Photos used in this article remain the property of the organisations and individuals which own the copyright and are used here for educational and information purposes only.