Dublin Celts 1987

Irish American Football League 1983-1989

Early Irish American Football League Logo [Reference: 13]

Irish American Football League 1986

DateHome TeamAway Team
Shamrock Bowl I
1986Craigavon Cowboys6Dublin Celts2
[Reference: 3]

Irish American Football League 1987

Tara Conference
*Dublin Celts1010001.000
*Craigavon Cowboys10820.800
*Belfast Giants10730.700
Belfast Spartans10460.450
Bangor Buccaneers10370.300
Jordanstown Jaguars100100.000
Mourne Conference
*Belfast Blitzers10910.900
Carrickfergus Cougars10550.500
Dublin Tornadoes10550.500
Coleraine Chieftans10280.200
East Side Jets10280.200
[Reference: 3]
DateHome TeamAway Team
12.09.1987Belfast Blitzers20Craigavon Cowboys28
12.09.1987Dublin Celts43Belfast Giants0
Shamrock Bowl II
27.09.1987Craigavon Cowboys25Dublin Celts43


Irish American Football League 1988

National Conference
*Belfast Blitzers651013651.833
*Dublin Celts541011833.800
*Craigavon Cowboys63308074.500
Dublin Tornadoes615058123.167
Irish Conference
*Labatt Belfast Spartans53118099.700
Carrickfergus Cougars41306758.250
Coleraine Chieftans403139140.125
References: [1][4][Adjusted]
DateHome TeamAway Team
14.08.1988Belfast Blitzers26Craigavon Cowboys12
14.08.1988Dublin Celts45Labatt Belfast Spartans6
Shamrock Bowl III
21.08.1988Belfast Blitzers6Dublin Celts34
References: [5][6]

Combined Gridiron League Irish Conference 1989

Duke Premier Division
*Dublin Celts8800242431.000
Belfast Spartans8440113202.500
Craigavon Cowboys8350127160.375
East Antrim Cougars817038206.125
Baron First Division
*A26 Bulldogs87108828.875
NI Giants853012384.625
Dublin Tornadoes808008.000
References: [7]
DateHome TeamAway Team
Shamrock Bowl IV
1989Dublin Celts7A26 Bulldogs6
References: [8]


In 1983 two teams played an American Football match in Banbridge Rugby Club. The Redskins and Yankees were Rugby Union players specially trained for the occasion, it was not, however until 1985 that the Irish American Football League really got started. [Reference: 10]

The first contact / kitted Irish American Football Team was the Dublin Celts, formed in 1985 in the Phoenix Park, after playing matches for the first season against English teams there were enough teams in Ireland in 1986 for an informal league at the end of which the top two were invited to play in Shamrock Bowl I, which the Craigavon Cowboys won 6-0 over the Celts. The Belfast Blitzers declined to take part in the first Shamrock Bowl as they considered themselves already Champions having won both the League and Cup. [Reference: 11-12]

The Following year, 1987, saw the first full season, 11 teams organised into two conferences, playing a 10 game season, with Semi-Finals and the Shamrock Bowl. The Celts went through the season undefeated, beating the Cowboys 43-25 in Shamrock Bowl II.

1988 saw a drop in the number of teams to seven, and again the league was divided into two conferences, with Semi-Finals and a Shamrock Bowl, which was won by the Celts again, 34-6 over the Belfast Blitzers.

In 1989 the teams played in an Irish Conference in the Combined Gridiron League, which was a league set up to unite all the various competing leagues in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. At the end of the season, as well as competing in the CGL playoffs, the two division winners, the Dublin Celts and new team, the A26 Bulldogs, met in Shamrock Bowl IV, which the Celts again won by the slimmest of margins, 7-6.

It was around this time that a new organisation – the American Football association of Ireland took over the running of the sport.

Dublin Celts 1987 Shamrock Bowl Champions [Photo Credit: Dublin Celts Facebook Page] [Reference: 9]



[5] (1988) “Ireland” American Football News. 18 August 1988. pg.

[6] (1988) “Shamrock Bowl report” American Football News. 29 September 1988. pg. 22


[1] Britball Now (2016) Results Section [1986] [Internet] Available from: http://www.britballnow.co.uk/history-index/results-section.html [Accessed 23 March 2017]

[2] Britball Now (2016) Bangor Buccaneers [Internet] Available from: http://www.britballnow.co.uk/History/Britball%20Teams/BangorBuccaneers.htm [Accessed 23 March 2018]

[3] Britball Now (2016) Results Section [1987] [Internet] Available from: http://www.britballnow.co.uk/history-index/results-section.html [Accessed 23 March 2017] [7] Britball Now (2016) Historial League Tables [1989] [CGL] [Internet] Available from: http://www.britballnow.co.uk/history-index/historical-league-tables-in/ [Accessed 27 February 2017]

[8] Irish American Football Association (2018) Shamrock Bowl History [Internet] Available from: hhttp://www.americanfootball.ie/american-football/shamrock-bowl-history/ [Accessed 23 March 2018]


[9] Dublin Celts American Football Team | Facebook (2017) [Internet] Available from: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10213260818544676&set=gm.457477981311995&type=3&theater&ifg=1 [Accessed 21 January 2019]


[10] Anon. (1994) “Shoot-out at Rifle Park” Belfast Telegraph. Wednesday, August 17, 1983. pg. 34 [Internet] Available online at the Irish Newspaper Archive at: https://www.irishnewsarchive.com/ which is a subscription service.

Social Media

[11] Belfast Blitzers | Facebook (2019) Comments on Post by David Turner, August 12-17, 2019 [Internet] Available from: https://www.facebook.com/belfastblitzers/posts/2244208692356940 [Accessed 17 August 2019]

[12] Belfast Blitzers | Facebook (2019) Comments on Post by David Turner, September 72019 [Internet] Available from: https://www.facebook.com/belfastblitzers/posts/2286790341432108?comment_id=2287705898007219&reply_comment_id=2292185984225877&notif_id=1568031304420635&notif_t=feed_comment [Accessed 9 September 2019]


[13] Eirball Facebook (2020) Photo, 6 June 2020: “Poster of Irish American Football Teams Colours 1985-1999. Given to me by Cillian Smith (IAFL Commissioner) around 1999.” [Internet] Available from: https://www.facebook.com/2226857640959926/photos/a.2235377026774654/2492486431063711/?type=3&theater [Accessed 6 June 2020][Cropped]


Thanks to John Malone, Declan Mulvey, Gareth Quigley & John O’Reilly.

About this document

Prepared and maintained by Enda Mulcahy for the

Eirball | Irish North American and World Sports Archive

Last Updated: 17 September 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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