CFL players make their 2023 Grey Cup predictions, leaning toward Winnipeg vs. Toronto in the Grey Cup. Photo Credit: Facebook/CFL
Two local kickers break it all down
The calendar has officially flipped to November, which means one thing when it comes to football on this side of the border – It’s Canadian Football League (CFL) playoff time.
And who better to break it all down than one current CFLer, and one former Grey Cup Champion and current NFL Free Agent.
Did I mention they both call St. Catharines home?
Mike Domagala is a current kicker with the Ottawa Redblacks, while Lirim Hajrullahu is a two-time CFL All-Star, league champion, and has played with four National Football League (NFL) teams including the Dallas Cowboys.
Saturday’s two semi-final games feature the (8-10) Hamilton Tiger-Cats at the (11-7) Montreal Alouettes at 3 pm EST in the East, followed by the (12-6) BC Lions home to the (6-12) Calgary Stampeders at 6:30 pm in the western semi.
Both Domagala and Hajrullahu have played for Hamilton.
“It’s one game, I think it’s split 50/50, it may come down to special teams,” said Domagala, a Holy Cross Secondary School graduate, who started the CFL season in Edmonton with the Elks.
“Obviously I have a number of buddies on Hamilton, hopefully they get the outcome.”
The Alouettes are a perfect (3-0) against the Tiger-Cats this season, and have won five in a row entering the postseason, but that doesn’t matter come playoff time according to Governor Simcoe High School grad Hajrullahu.
“I strongly believe Hamilton is due,” Hajrullahu said. “Hamilton and coach O (Orlando Steinhauer) have a lot to prove, but like Mike said it’s who shows up that day.”
As for the west, “I think if Vernon Adams (BC quarterback) shows up, the caliber of player he’s been this season, it will be tough for Calgary to have a chance,” explained Hajrullahu.
“If Vernon Adams shows up, BC should dominate that game.”
“The Lions have all the weapons, they should dominate like Lirim said,” Domagala added.
The (16-2) Toronto Argonauts await the East winner, while the (14-4) Winnipeg Blue Bombers were the West Division regular season winners.
The 1989 Edmonton Elks are the only other CFL team to record 16 wins in the regular season.
Hajrullahu and Domagala both predict it will be Winnipeg and Toronto battling for the Grey Cup come Sunday November 19 at Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, and both kickers think the west is the best here in 2023.
“Coach (Mike) O’Shea has really created a culture in Winnipeg, and a lot of those guys have that experience of playing in the Grey Cup. I think experience is going to trump everything, they’re used to playing in cold weather games, and I think there will be a lot more Winnipeg fans at that Grey Cup game, and it will be tough for Toronto to battle that” Hajrullahu.
Domagala’s explanation to pick the winner of the Grey Cup was short and sweet.
“I don’t want to pick anyone from the East, so I’m going to go with Winnipeg.”
Rod Mawhood is a lifelong Niagara native who has had the pleasure of working in all three mediums – Radio, Print and TV – for over 20 years. His first announcing gig was with the then St. Catharines Stompers. Since then he’s worked in radio and TV in Toronto, and currently is the announcer for the Niagara IceDogs and Niagara River Lions.
Rod also covers the Buffalo Bills for FOX Sports and the Buffalo Sabres for NBC Sports.