Flag Football is a Non-Contact Coed/Mixed version of American Football Similar to Tag Rugby, where players wear a flag attached to their waist which must be pulled off in order to tackle them. Scoring is as American Football, although under current rules there is no kicking, and is played on a smaller field with 5 players (In the Irish Flag Football League of the 1990s there were seven players per team and kicking was allowed.
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Irish Flag Football League & Blitzes
The first Flag Football Leagues in Ireland were in Northern Ireland in the mid-1980s. Then in 1991 members of the Dublin Tornadoes American Football Team started a league in Dublin to grow the game. The league became the Irish Flag Football League with addition of teams in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, and lasted until 2000.
From the mid-1980s to 2000, there were two separate development bodies under the IAFA/AFAI: The Northern Ireland American Football Association & Irish council of American Football (Republic of Ireland) charged with developing Flag Football, Junior Football & 8-a-side DV8 Football.
Flag Football was restarted in 2001 as a series of Challenge Games held Nationally. This grew into a National Series of Blitzes, with approximately four Bowls held annually until the formation of the second Irish Flag Football League in 2007, this time a National one. It lasted two seasons before the blitz system was re-introduced. All of these iterations of Flag Football Leagues and Tournaments were under numerous Irish Flag Football Association banners.
In 2014 the Irish American Football association took over the running of Flag Football, and the Irish Flag Football League was re-instated, with the League named the Emerald Bowl Conference. A second level, the Glas (Green) Bowl Conference is being introduced in 2019.
Other Flag Football
A number of other Flag Football Competitions have taken place in Ireland besides the Irish Flag Football League & Blitzes, and International Competitons. The most prominent of these would be the Junior Flag Football & Two-Touch Football (prior to Ireland getting Flags from America, teams had to rely on a system whereby the ball carrier was ‘tackled’ if he was touched with two hands. There has also been College / University and Schools Flag Football Tournaments, and Indoor Flag Football Tournaments (the rules differ due to the walls of the Indoor Hall impinging on play).
In addition to the Northern Ireland American Football Association Flag Football League (1985 to 1986) and the Irish Flag Football League (Greater Dublin Area) which started in 1991-92, there have been a number of Summer Bowls and Summer Leagues which have been run by various regional development bodies such as the Jack Daniels Summer Bowl, held in aid of Third World charities, the Irish Collegiate American Football Association Summer Bowl (1993-1994) and the Irish Flag Football Association Summer League (1995-1997).
International Flag Football
Ireland International Flag Football
Ireland has been playing International Flag Football since 1997 at least, when friendlies against England were arranged. These continued until 2007. In 2009 the European Flag Football Championships were held in Belfast, with Ireland entering a team. In 2010 Ireland’s Under 13s (a Coed team) entered the European Championships for the first time and returned in 2012, along with an Under 15s team (also Coed). in 2013 the Senior team again entered the Championships. 2016 was a significant year for Irish Flag Football, when, a year after the establishment of the Irish Flag Football League, an International Series was held in Gormanston, Co. Meath, featuring Ireland as well as European National Teams and the Ramstein Mayhem club side from Germany.
International Club Flag Football
Irish teams have been playing International matches since the first charity bowl in the 1980s in aid of GOAL (an Irish International Development Agency) – the GOAL Heroes v RTE Raiders. Following on from that the Drimnagh Cycos played in the Anglo-Irish Flag Football Challenge for 9 years against the Leicester Europa Eagles, and then another charity event, the Irish-American Flag Football Classic, was held between two teams representing the US Ambassador’s Residence (Phoenix Park Pirates) and the American Embassy (Dublin 8s).
The Celtic Bowl was held in 2015 between 8 Irish teams and two Scottish teams to celebrate the 30th anniversary of American Football in Ireland. In 2016 Ireland hels an International Tournament featuring National Teams and also the Ramstein Mayhem from Germany. In 2017-18, the Kaiserslautern Screaming Eagles entered one of the Four IAFA Blitzes, which has been included here in the Irish International Club Flag Football section.