Belfast Trojans and UL Vikings reach semi-finals In Ireland

July 17th saw the opening round of the playoffs commence in Ireland, as the quest to reach Shamrock Bowl 30 gets underway. In the early kickoff, the reigning champions the Belfast Trojans did battle with the Carrickfergus Knights whilst Trinity College travelled south to face the University of Limerick Vikings.

thumb_Trojans_Logo_40px  Belfast Trojans 31 – 16 Carrickfergus Knights  thumb_Knights_Logo_40px

Siri breaks through the Knights defence. Photo by Bob Given Photography

Siri breaks through the Knights defence. Photo by Bob Given Photography

With the Irish sun making an appearance over Deramore Park on Sunday afternoon, the Belfast Trojans hosted local rivals the Carrickfergus Knights in the opening wildcard game of the weekend in Ireland. Following on from their earlier 40-6 win in the season, the Trojans were looking for back-to-back scalps against their cross city challengers. As we hinted to in the previews leading up to the games, Wide receiver David Richardson and running back, Jonah Siri were considered the key danger men heading into the fixture. That proved to be the case as both players combined for 4 touchdowns, the latter scoring a hat-trick as the Trojans ran out 31-16 winners on the day.

Siri’s weaving run opened his account for the day — and the Trojans, as Belfast took an early 1st quarter lead. After converting on a long 3rd down, the lead was soon doubled when Richardson reached highest in the corner of the end zone for the touchdown, with quarterback James McKelvey making the pinpoint pass. Siri nabbed his second of the match soon after as he burst in from 15 yards out to stretch the lead to 21-0. The Knights quickly responded with Marty Caskey converting a field goal, before quarterback Adam Devenney found Josh Davis for a score to close the gap.

As the two minute warning struck, so did Siri once again. With the resulting kickoff, the man nicknamed ‘Cheat Codes’ carved open the Knights resolve and scampered his way to the end zone. The Trojans had created a commanding lead that for the rest of the game; never looked threatened. The game became more defensive in the second half as Belfast looked to seal the win. Safety Rick Duffield notched a field goal to add further security for the Trojans, however there was still time for the Knights to rally back. Hard work up front allowed running back, Gareth Miller in to score to keep the game interesting towards the late stages. In the end, the Trojans superiority in the first half was enough for the victory as they finished 31-16 winners. The defending champions will now meet University College Dublin in the Ireland semi-finals on July 24th.

thumb_UL_Logo_40px  University of Limerick Vikings 7 – 6 Trinity College Dublin  trinity_football

Bademosi surges through defenders. Photography by Keith Elgin

Bademosi surges through defenders. Photography by Keith Elgin

For the third time this season, the Vikings got the better of their division counterparts as they scraped by in an intensely fought game against Trinity. Matches between these pair are notoriously close and this was no exception as it took a missed extra point to separate the sides. UL who narrowly missed out on the division title were made to work for their victory as Trinity pushed them to the very limit.

Limerick broke the deadlock first when quarterback, Ian Cahill connected with Ray Burke to put 6 on the board and with the extra point, the Vikes had an important 7-0 lead. TCD linebacker John Quirke was impressive in defence as the linebacker had both an interception and blocked a field goal attempt as Trinity’s D tried to prevent the Vikings from extending their lead.

Last year’s finalists caused pressure of their own with Ola Bademosi running hard in the trenches, but the Vikings defence held them at bay. It was a defensive battle throughout with neither side willing to give in, understandable considering the prize of a semi-final place that would await one of them. Eventually, the Vikings resolve would be broken as Trinity pounded the ball downfield and into the end-zone thanks to Bademosi, who brought the score to 7-6. However, due to the missed XP it would mean the game would be on a knife edge heading into the final stages.

Vikings defence holds on to win. Photography by Keith Elgin

Vikings defence holds on to win. Photography by Keith Elgin

The Vikings knew they only had to keep hold of possession and see the game out to win, whilst Trinity would do their utmost to create another turnover to give them one last role of the dice. Fortunately for UL, they held firm at the end as they edged past the spirited students with a slim, 7-6 victory. Trinity, who have headlined the last two Shamrock Bowl finals, won’t be making the three-peat as the UL Vikings now travel to Dublin to face the Rebels in a semi-final showdown next weekend.

Semi-final fixtures: July 24th in Ireland

Belfast Trojans @ University College Dublin, 2pm.

– UL Vikings @ Dublin Rebels, 2pm.

Scott is an aspiring Sports Journalist who enjoys writing about all things American Football. He is a regular contributor to AFI Review and also writes for both NFL Ireland and Double Coverage, and currently plays for the Belfast Trojans. He also