Week 2 of the Irish American Football League (IAFL) established the beginning of a new era for a number of teams this week.
The Dublin Rebels began their quest for a record 9th Shamrock Bowl by opening their campaign for the year and the Cork Admirals, one of Ireland’s oldest sides, made their triumphant arrival back into the Shamrock Bowl Conference.
Dublin Rebels 28 – 13 University College Dublin
The Rebels got their title defence off to the perfect start on Sunday with a 28-13 win over city rivals UCD. Despite trailing at half time, the defending champions rallied in the second period to steer clear despite a late comeback from the home side. Having squared off in a 49-34 shootout with title challengers the Belfast Trojans the weekend before, UCD were hoping to make amends from their previous bout.
It would be the Rebels that would strike first when veteran quarterback, Andrew Dennehy linked up with Peter Keely to open the scoring. The missed extra point however allowed UCD to respond and they did so when signal-caller Tom Donovan connected with receiver, Steven Culligan for 6 points. Kicker Conor Hanrahan converted the extra point as UCD led 7-6 at the break in a defensive battle.
The 8 time Irish Champions kicked it up a gear in the 3rd quarter by scoring 22 straight points as they capitalised on UCD turnovers. Firstly, Dennehy found Cathal Keane in the end-zone with Sean Douglas crossing the plain for 2 points. Douglas scored his second shortly after with a rushing touchdown before new signing Pete McMahon rounded out the scoring for the Rebels with a rushing score and 2pt conversion.
Despite the Rebels second half resurgence, the students didn’t give up and continued to attack the Rebels defence. Their efforts were answered when running-back, Alfie O’Sullivan rushed in for six in what appeared like a late game comeback. Unfortunately, UCD couldn’t pull off the miraculous escape and were left facing another knock in the loss column.
Both sides will resume play on April 2nd when the Rebels welcome playoff hopefuls the Carrickfergus Knights to Sportslink, whereas UCD will complete a trio of home games when they take on the South Dublin Panthers.
North Kildare Reapers 6 – 22 Cork Admirals
Cork’s return to the top flight was rewarded with victory as they dispatched the Reapers 22-6 in their debut back in the Shamrock Bowl Conference. It was their first win since 2013 in the SBC as they showed off their potential in a solid performance against a resolute Kildare side.
The Admirals wouldn’t take much time in opening their account for the year when punt returner Jimmy Diedrich went 60 yards to the end zone to give Cork a 6-0 lead. The Reapers replied in the second quarter when John Kelly tied the match at 6-6, bringing North Kildare back into the game.
The Cork offence soon found some momentum and began to separate themselves late in the game. A 3-yard touchdown run by Brian McCarthy got the ball rolling before adding his own 2pt try. Fellow Running-Back, Vlady La Greca added a second moments later before quarterback, Stephen Hayes found rookie receiver Jahn Dasini for the resulting 2 extra points.
The Reapers brought a physical battle to Cork but couldn’t keep up with the multi-talented offence that the Admirals possessed. They more than matched the Admirals for long periods and may fancy a reverse scoreline in the return leg on June 11th.
With the first win in the books, the Admirals will be glad to get the early pressure off their shoulders as their schedule only gets more competitive from here on out. The Reapers must now switch attentions to yet another long trip south to face the UL Vikings in two weeks whilst the Admirals return to action at home against Trinity College on April 9th.