The Airdrie Irish may not have made it to the Alberta Football League (AFL) playoffs, but the team still saw enormous success in their inaugural season.
“We had 29 players that had never played in the Alberta Football League before so it was a lot of growth experience, a lot of guys getting to know each other and new dynamics,” says Matt Squires, Airdrie Irish President. “We came about in the end of the season, coming around with some good competition, with some good teams and ending up with some wins.”
Finishing the year with a 2-6 record, the team had three league leaders in the regular season and four being named to the AFL all-star team.
Offensive lineman Sean O’Donnell and kick returner Alex Saretsky were named to the AFL’s 1st team.
“Sean came to us from Queen’s University, he’s got a great background, he’s got a lot of experience. Alex being with the Calgary Colts and funny enough being the Fastest Cow with the Calgary Stampeders – great personality, great energy and he can hit like a truck with incredible speed behind him.”
Linebacker Gunnar Godhe and slotback Daniel Sparks were named to the AFL’s 2nd team.
Saretsky led the league returning punts and kickoffs, wracking up 282 and 568 yards respectively while Godhe lead the league with 47 solo tackles, and 20 tackles for a loss.
Running back Matt Huntley also made a splash with the Irish leading the league in rushing yards with 687.
Although some, if not most of the players have some experience playing football either at University in the CIS or at the Junior level in the CJFL, Squires says a lot of other players also made an impact.
“We had Cody (Koevoets) who had never played football before in his life, he was a soccer player out in Balzac and he came to the team this year and was a great stud, he was one of the leaders in our league and team for interceptions.”
“Wes (White) came and joined the team at the very end of the year and we almost took down the third place team with him being our quarterback.”
Squires says the Irish had a great first season in the league – now with the all-stars to prove it, but also with a hard working team that hasn’t necessarily played high level football.
“It’s not all about where you played and who you played, it’s the time you put into practice, the dedication you put into the team and the effort you’re willing to put forward and we’ve seen some really good things with kids that have just high school experience and some that some just want to have a really good attitude and want to play ball.”
“In our philosophy here, there is no off-season, we start pre-season here right now. Guys are getting in the gym, getting ready for 2016, being prepared and getting ready for next season.”
On top of their performance on the field, the Irish also hosted two charity events this year, raising $2,415 at their inaugural Real Men Wear Pink Game for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and bringing in 39 donors to Airdrie with their blood drive for Canadian Blood Donor Clinics.
Bradley Jones – firstname.lastname@example.org