Irish American Football Association Challenge 1985


Northern Ireland
Bangor Buccaneers1100300+301.000
Craigavon Cowboys1100+11.000
Belfast Blitzers1010-1.000
Belfast Spartans1010030-30.000
Coleraine Chieftains
Marlay Chargers
Blanchardstown Bears
Foxrock Falcons
University College Dublin

Note: *While there are mentions offive Dublin teams in 1985, the Dublin Celts were the only team in Ireland that was fully kitted and only played English opposition, while there is no evidence that the other four mentioned Dublin teams played any matches with the exception of UCD.


DateHome TeamAway Team
1985Belfast Spartans0Bangor Buccaneers30
1985Belfast BlitzersLCraigavon CowboysW
Irish American Football Association Challenge 1985 [Ref: 1-2]


The Belfast Spartans first ever match was in a challenge match in 1985, in which they lost 30-0 to the Bangor Buccaneers. The Craigavon Cowboys also beat the Belfast Blitzers by one point in an unkitted tackle game.

The matches were unkitted, but according to reports in the Belfast Spartans website, it appears to have been a form of “American Rugby”, much like the early Ohio League style American Football in the USA at the end of the 19th and early 20th Century, i.e. Contact Football without padding or helmets, rather than Flag Football (American Football version of Tag Rugby).



[1] Belfast Spartans (2019) Team History | Grinding to a start [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 20 March 2018]

[2] BBC Sport NI Facebook (2020) Video, July 25, 2020 [Comment by player at 1:00-1:10] [Internet] Available from: [Accessed 30 August 2020]

[3] Anon. (1985) “Football Crazy” Irish Times. Saturday, March 16, 1985. pg. 16 [Internet] Available from the Irish Times Archive at: [The Irish Times Archive is a subscripttion service.


[4] Kevin Sharkey “The-Dublin-Celts History” 18 October 2020. Shared with permission by John Gunning via Facebook Messenger 18 October 2020.


Thanks to David Turner, Belfast Blitzers and Kevin Sharkey, Dublin Celts.

About this document

Researched, compiled and written by Enda Mulcahy for the

Eirball | Irish North American and World Sports Archive

Last Updated: 25 October 2020

(c) Copyright Enda Mulcahy and Eirball 2020

You may quote this document in part provided that proper acknowledgement is given to the authors. All Rights Reserved.

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