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Trinity College Dublin American Football

Trinity College Dublin American Football

Trinity College Dublin American Football (competing as Trinity College; formerly known as the Trinity Thunderbolts) is the American Football team of Trinity College Dublin.

Trinity College Dublin American football
First season2008
Head coachGarland Drake
3rd season, 9–7 (.563)
StadiumTrinity Sports Ground, Santry
Field surfaceGrass
LocationDublin, Ireland
ConferenceSBC South
Bowl record020 (.000)
ColorsRed and Black

First established as the Gridiron Society in 1993, a competitive team was formed in 2008. The team's first season was played in the Irish American Football League (IAFL) Development League. Since then they have competed in the Shamrock Bowl Conference (SBC) South.


Dublin University Gridiron Society

Trinity College Dublin American Football class of 2009
A Trinity College cornerback rises to intercept an errant pass against the Craigavon Cowboys

The club was first established in the early nineties as the Dublin University Gridiron Society. It went on to play flag football under the name Trinity Thunderbolts for one season but soon folded due to lack of numbers and interest.[1]

2008 season

In 2007, the club was reinstated by new club captain Conor O'Shea, once again as the Trinity Thunderbolts. IAFL commissioner Darrin O'Toole was recruited as coach. In their first year of full contact football, the Thunderbolts formed part of the new IAFL Development League (also known as the DV-8 league). Their season began with successive losses against the IAFL's oldest team, the Craigavon Cowboys. Another loss followed against the Dublin Rebels, the eventual league winners. The team then scored what would be its only victory of the season against the Dublin Dragons, in a 51–20 blowout. The Thunderbolts then lost to the Cork Admirals and the Rebels again to leave them at 1–5.[1]

2009 season

Following the conclusion of the 2008 season, the team undertook moves to become an official Trinity College club, as required by college rules, renaming itself the Dublin University American Football Club. After the departure of Darrin O'Toole, injured captain Conor O'Shea became head coach. The club went on a recruiting drive to increase its squad size, looking to improve on its 1–5 record.[1][2]

The moves proved successful, as in the club's first match of the 2009 season, it defeated the Edenderry Soldiers on a scoreline of 56–0, which would prove to be both the highest margin of victory in the league that season, and the first of seven shutout victories for Trinity.[3] Trinity's only loss of the season came in their second game, against the UCD Sentinels. They followed this quickly with two victories against the Sentinels, followed by victories against the Craigavon Cowboys, the Dublin Dragons, and two against the Erris Rams, to leave the team with an unassailable record of seven victories and one loss.[4]

2010 season

In 2010, Darrin O'Toole returned as head coach, and the club looked to continue its success in the DV-8 league by moving into the main IAFL league. Trinity was placed in the IAFL Central division, alongside collegiate rivals the DCU Saints, the West Dublin Rhinos, and the league's most successful team, the Dublin Rebels. Despite a strong showing in early season games, including inaugural victories over the DCU Saints and the Belfast Trojans, the club suffered from poor form during the middle of the season, culminating in a 36–6 loss to the Saints in what would transpire to be their last competitive game before folding the following season.

2011 season

2011 began brightly for the club, as they captured the IAFL College Bowl for the first time in spectacular fashion. Facing the UL Vikings in Limerick, the game finished 12–6 after triple overtime (7 quarters) and 3 hours and 45 minutes of play; an IAFL record for match length. The victory was sealed in the third quarter of overtime with a touchdown from Rob McDowell. Linebacker Stephen Carton was named game MVP.[5] This form continued into the full IAFL league, as the club recorded three victories in its opening four games: against UCD, the Dublin Dragons, and the West Dublin Rhinos. However, the season would end poorly: the club was forced to withdrew from the league in early June due to a lack of players (the college's term having finished in May, many students became unavailable after this time). Despite forfeiting three games, running back Rob McDowell would go on to be named the 2011 IAFL league MVP.

2012 season

Trinity hosted a preseason charity game in November against rivals UCD, with Trinity coming out on top 7–0 thanks to a Rob McDowell touchdown. But more importantly the game ensured the children in Temple Street hospital received presents that were donated by both sets of fans and players.[6] Competing in the newly formed IAFL South division, following the restructuring of the IAFL's divisional system, Trinity was set to embark on their 2012 campaign with early match-ups against the top three-seeded teams in the country.

In their season opener, Trinity endured a crushing 55–8 defeat at the hands of the second-ranked UL Vikings. This was immediately followed by a 52–18 loss to the reigning league champions, the Dublin Rebels. Having begun the season 0–2, Trinity sought to redeem their poor start with a win against the number three-seeded Carrickfergus Knights. Trinity sprang to an early 12-point lead and would hold on to beat the Knights 19–16.[7] Trinity went on to dominate the rest of their season, ending 6–2 and setting various offensive records. The club concluded its season with an exhibition game on 2 June against the New England Ironmen, a collection of graduating seniors from a number of NCAA Division III football programs located mainly in the New England region, including Endicott College, UMass Dartmouth, Juniata College, Curry College, and Worcester State University.[8]

2013 season

Trinity competed in the South division of the then newly formed Shamrock Bowl Conference (SBC) in the 2013 season.


The captain of the club is the team's central figure. He, along with the committee, decides team policy and procedure according to the club's constitution and previous precedents. The committee appoints the team's Head Coach and resigns football related matters in the club to him. The current captain is Rory O'Dwyer.

Name Years
Conor O'Shea
2007 – 2009
Matt McGrath
2009 – 2010
Stephen J Fallon
2010 – 2011
David Barker
2011 – 2013
Stephen Carton
2013 – 2014
Alexander Gurnee
2014 – 2014
Dan Finnamore
2014 – 2015
Ola Bademosi
2015 – 2016
Conor O'Dwyer
2016 – 2017
Le'endert Jeb Lang Dalsen
2017 – 2018
Patrick 'Pond' Sullivan
2018 – 2019
Rory O'Dwyer
2019 – 2020


2014 season

Winning all eight regular season games, Trinity won the south division of the Shamrock Bowl Conference. En route to their undefeated year, Trinity's offence set league records in nearly every category. As well, Trinity had three players leading in the Shamrock Bowl Conference individual statistical categories in the 2014 season (QB Dan Finnamore, WR Daniel Murphy and K Conor McGinn).[9] On 25 May 2014 they defeated the Belfast Trojans 18–0, bringing an end to their two-year unbeaten streak. After the regular season they matched up with the Dublin Rebels in the semi-finals of the playoffs. Trinity got the best of the Rebels with a dominant 41–8 win. The students then faced the Belfast Trojans once again in Shamrock Bowl XXVIII. In a rain-soaked matchup in Tallaght Stadium, the Trojans eked out a 7–0 win to capture their third Championship in a row.

College Bowl

Final scoreTeam record
1 17 NovemberUL VikingsW 13–00–1Santry

Regular season

Final scoreTeam record
1 9 MarchUL VikingsW 34–91–0Santry
2 23 MarchWest Dublin RhinosW 27–02–0Santry
3 6 AprilCarrickfergus KnightsW 27–183–0Santry
4 13 AprilCraigavon CowboysW 25–164–0Craigavon
5 25 MayBelfast TrojansW 18–05–0Deramore Park
6 8 JuneNorth Kildare ReapersW 52–216–0Santry
7 15 JuneWaterford Wolves W 36–07–0Waterford
8 29 JuneWest Dublin RhinosW 53–68–0Castleknock College


1Trinity College800
2UL Vikings620
3North Kildare Reapers450
4West Dublin Rhinos350
5Waterford Wolves080

Shamrock Bowl Playoffs

Trinity received a first-round bye in the playoffs and matched up against the Dublin Rebels in the semi-finals. After a commanding win over the Rebels, Trinity went on to play in Shamrock Bowl XXVIII against the Belfast Trojans. In a rain-soaked Tallaght Stadium, Belfast capitalised on a crucial Trinity turnover for the only score, and their second Shamrock Bowl win in a row.

Final scoreTeam record
Semi-final 27 JulyDublin RebelsW 41–81–0Dublin Rebels
Shamrock Bowl XXVIII 10 AugustBelfast TrojansL 0–71–1Tallaght Stadium

2015 season

Trinity followed its undefeated campaign with a 7–1 record. They lost the first game in a slow, muddy affair in UL. Following that they got a pair of unconventional wins including a scrappy 21-point comeback win at the Dublin Rebels. In a truly memorable game, the Rebels became the only IAFL team in history to squander such a large lead. Trinity drove to score the winning touchdown and capped it off with a successful 2-point conversion to WR Alex Gurnee. Their season rolled on much like their previous undefeated season with a defence that began firing on all cylinders to match their high-powered offence. A game against the Dublin Rhinos involved a jersey mishap where Trinity wore the Rhinos jerseys for the duration of their win. Some matches this season also took place at ALSAA due to scheduling issues. Trinity advanced to the playoff where they once again matched up with the Dublin Rebels. During the rainy match Trinity's offence couldn't be stopped and they advanced to Shamrock Bowl XXIX with a commanding 22–0 win over the rival Rebels. In the Dalymount Park rematch of the previous bowl game Trinity was stopped by the best team in Ireland. the Trojans got the victory by beating the students 28–14 and earning their fourth Championship in a row.

College Bowl

Final scoreTeam record
1 23 NovemberUCDL 20–260–1UCD Astro

Regular season

Final scoreTeam record
1 8 MarchUL VikingsL 0–140–1UL
2 23 MarchDublin RebelsW 29–281–1Dublin Rebels
3 29 MarchSouth Dublin PanthersW 7–22–1Santry
4 24 MayUL VikingsW 22–33–1Santry
5 31 MayNorth Kildare ReapersW 34–34–1Santry
6 14 JuneUCDW 23–145–1UCD
7 28 JuneWest Dublin Rhinos W 42–76–1Castleknock College
8 5 JulyUCDW 45–217–1UCD


1Trinity College710
2UL Vikings620
4North Kildare Reapers350
5West Dublin Rhinos170

Shamrock Bowl Playoffs

Trinity received a first-round bye in the playoffs and matched up in a rematch of the regular season classic with the Dublin Rebels. In the away match at a neutral venue, Triniy held the high power Rebels to a shutout. Advancing to the Shamrock Bowl, Trinity played a rematch of last year's Shamrock Bowl against the Belfast Trojans.

Final scoreTeam record
Semi-final 26 JulyDublin RebelsW 22–01–0Deramore Park
Shamrock Bowl XXIX 9 AugustBelfast TrojansL 14–281–1Dalymount Park

2016 season

On the back of a second Shamrock Bowl loss Trinity's 2016 season never got off the ground: a paltry 2–6 record was all the students had to show. Coming into the campaign Trinity lost a core part of the team to the expatriation of Offensive Coordinator Craig Marron, Offensive Weapon Rob McDowell, OL Kieran Coughlan, QB Dan Finnamore, WR Alex Gurnee. Beleaguered, Trinity went into the season trying out different offensive combinations none of which provided for a stable week in week out team like the previous years. The season began in November with an 8–6 loss to UL in the College Championships. Beginning the SBC season Trinity lost away to UCD 22–0. They rebounded the next week against Craigavon at home. A close home loss to UL followed. Then an ugly loss away to North Kildare in a game overshadowed with penalties made for a 1–3 record at the halfway point. The students gained back some players from key injuries and recorded a 31–0 shutout win in a home rematch with North Kildare. It would be their last win during a season marred by inconsistent play on both sides of the ball. Trinity nevertheless faced a strong UL team in the first round of the playoffs and lost by a missed XP 7–6, ending their 2016 regular season. Emerging from the 2–6 season was Conor O'Dwyer who with a strong season at Tight End, was named to the Irish National Team. Trinity also played an international fixture against the visiting NYPD Finest Football team.

College Bowl

Final scoreTeam record
Semi 7 NovemberUL VikingsL 6–80–1University of Limerick
Third place 7 NovemberCork AdmiralsW 8–31–1University of Limerick

Regular season

Final scoreTeam record
1 6 MarchUCDL 0–220–1UCD
2 20 MarchCraigavon CowboysW 26–201–1Santry
3 3 AprilUL VikingsL 13–151–2Santry
4 24 AprilNorth Kildare ReapersL 24–251–3Kilcock
5 29 MayNorth Kildare ReapersW 31–02–3Santry
6 5 JuneDublin RebelsL 18–382–4Santry
7 19 JuneUL Vikings L 6–202–5UL
8 3 JulyBelfast TrojansL 7–402–6Deramore Park


2UL Vikings611
3Trinity College260
4North Kildare Reapers260

Shamrock Bowl Playoffs

Trinity received a Wild Card spot in the playoffs against UL Vikings. In the away match, RB Ola Bademosi scored the lone touchdown, but a missed extra point led to a Vikings win, and the end of Trinity's season.

Final scoreTeam record
Wild Card 17 JulyUL VikingsL 6–70–1University of Limerick

Overall records

YearWLTRecordFinishPlayoff Results
20081500.1675th IAFL Development LeagueN/A
20097100.8751st IAFL Development LeagueN/A
20102510.2503rd IAFL CentralN/A
20113500.3752nd IAFL CentralN/A
20126200.7503rd IAFL SouthLost in Wild Card Round
20135200.7142nd SBC SouthLost in Semi-finals
20148001.0001st SBC SouthLost in Shamrock Bowl XXVIII
20157100.8751st SBC SouthLost in Shamrock Bowl XXIX
20162600.2503rd SBC SouthLost in Wild Card Round
20173410.4384th SBC SouthN/A

Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties


  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 21 October 2003. Retrieved 23 June 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. "Irish American Football League :: I A F L ::". Archived from the original on 2 October 2011.
  4. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 July 2009. Retrieved 23 June 2009.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. "Trinity College win College Championship". 20 November 2010.
  6. "Trinity Players visit Temple Street Hospital". 15 December 2011.
  7. "2012 IAFL Schedule Published - New Format Announced". 9 January 2012.
  8. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 August 2011. Retrieved 17 January 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. "Irish Football Round-Up | Double Coverage". Archived from the original on 11 July 2014.
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