Ireland’s most prestigious team, the Dublin Rebels defeated the three-time winners the UL Vikings on Sunday to book their place in Shamrock Bowl 30 on August 7th. Their opponents for the Waterford Crystal Bowl will be none other than the defending champions, the Belfast Trojans who were made to work for their slim 10-7 victory over UCD. The semifinals lived up to expectations, showcasing both the talents of all four teams and how much the quality of football in Ireland has improved over recent years. The games took place at Sportslink, Santry in Dublin as part of a double-header event with the final returning to Dublin in two weeks time.
DUBLIN REBELS 20 – 12 UL VIKINGS
The seven-time national champions came into Sundays game as the 1# team in the country, having finished (7-1) in the regular season. They would face a difficult encounter with the UL Vikings, a team they have had plenty of history with over the last decade.
The SBC North winners got off to a fast start, opening the scoring in the 1st drive of the game as the prolific Wello Omo broke containment and burst through the defence for a rushing touchdown. The Vikings weren’t alarmed however and replied early in the 2nd quarter as their offence began to make a statement. Quarterback Ian Cahill connected with Finn Kearns to bring them level after a solid drive. Further scoring opportunities presented themselves for the Vikings throughout, only for penalties and mistakes to undo the good work, which proved costly. Matters were made worse when Cahill would soon relinquish play-calling duties through injury, so Ray Burke stepped in at quarterback for the remainder of the game.
In a physical contest between two sides of this magnitude in Ireland, every inch counts. After driving the length of the field, the Rebels were perched a yard shy of the Vikings end zone. Quarterback Andrew Dennehy followed his blockers up front and squeezed in for a quarterback sneak that would give them a 14-6 lead at the break.
With little separating the sides long into the second half, the Rebels increased their lead further deep in the 4th quarter. Running-back Sean Leamy rushed in for 6, before adding the resulting 2pt conversion to heap the pressure on Limerick. The Vikings continued to push for an answer and found one inside the final few minutes when stand-in QB Ray Burke found Sean Goldrick for a touchdown pass to add late tension. With the clock winding down and successfully weatherly a late Vikings surge, the Rebels controlled the football in the final stages to see out the game and book their place in Shamrock Bowl 30.
BELFAST TROJANS 10 – 7 UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN
UCD tried their best to keep the champions at bay, but ultimately fell short as the Belfast Trojans narrowly escaped as 10-7 winners. The Trojans controlled most of the possession throughout, but struggled for large parts to find a breakthrough against a resolute and spirited UCD side, that more than matched the heavyweights.
Multiple turnovers from the students including interceptions from Lewis Barrett and Cian Lawlor kept frustrating the ‘Green Machine’ as the score remained deadlocked at half time. Persistence and perhaps vital experience this late in the competition eventually worked in the champions favour. Fullback Neil Montgomery who has been a critical player in key situations in the past, found breathing room and stretched in for a rushing touchdown that gave Belfast the lead. With offences stalling and defences prevailing, any points would have been crucial in settling the tie. More solid defensive work from UCD forced the Trojans to settle for a field goal as Rick Duffield increased their advantage to 10-0 as the game entered a pivotal period.
The students pressed for a reply but found the Trojans defence equally stubborn to break down. Inside the two minute warning and with the game on the line, UCD were given hope as quarterback Tom Donovan connected with receiver Danny Lucas-Johnston for a well deserved score. The last roll of the dice would be an onside kick, one that they needed to recover. However fate would not be on their side on this day as the Trojans recovered the ball and saw out the game to clinch a nervy, but hard earned place in the final.
Buy tickets for Shamrock Bowl 30
The Shamrock Bowl 30 final between the Belfast Trojans and Dublin Rebels will take place at Tallaght Stadium, Dublin on August 7th at 3pm. Tickets for the event are already available and can be purchased here.