With only a few weeks remaining of the regular season in Ireland, the Irish American Football League is starting to heat up. The mighty Belfast Trojans suffered their first defeat in two years while Trinity College earned a much-needed victory over the North Kildare Reapers to stay in playoff contention.
Belfast Trojans 13 – UL Vikings 16
The Trojans made the four hour trip to Limerick to take on the Vikings in arguably the biggest game of the season so far. Both teams entered the game unbeaten with sights set on taking the top seed in the playoff race and as far these two go, this inter-divisional clash was expected to be an intense affair. It didn’t disappoint as the usual friction and bad blood between them was ever present in a game that had two ejections, numerous penalties and countless late hits. The Vikings would strike first as quarterback Ian Cahill connected with the reliable Ray Burke for a touchdown to break the deadlock, as Sean Sheehy converted the PAT.
The Trojans would strike back however as David Colvin who’s been impressive of late reeled in a bobbled catch to tie the game. Running back, Shane Gleeson replied just before the break with a rushing score to give the Vikings a 13-6 lead at halftime. The Trojans, who were missing several starters on the day through injury, including quarterback James McKelvey still had plenty of talent on show as back up signal caller Mark McVeigh performed admirably in his league debut. It would be McVeigh that would bring Belfast back into the game as he found Colvin for his second touchdown levelling the score at 13-13 late in the 4th quarter.
That’s when the drama ensued; after being penalised on the potential game-ending drive, the Trojans were forced to pass inside the Vikings half only for defensive back Sean Sheehy to intercept the ball on his 8 yard line and take it all the way into Trojans territory. The same man gladly dispatched the game winning field goal to continue the Vikings unbeaten streak and end their long wait for a victory against the Trojans. UL now reside on (5-0) and in full control of the SBC South, while the Trojans will look to get back on track after their first defeat of the season.
North Kildare Reapers 0 – Trinity College 31
Trinity College kept their playoff hopes alive by dispatching division rivals the North Kildare Reapers on Sunday. The Reapers who came from behind to defeat Trinity 25-24 in the previous game couldn’t pull off a similar comeback as their own playoff contentions took a fatal blow. The students were in control of the game from the beginning and never looked like letting up. Quarterback Miguel Angel Moran picked apart the Reapers secondary finding both Eoghan O’Dwyer and Conor O’Dwyer for receiving touchdowns with the latter also claiming a 2pt conversion.
Last season’s star running back, Ola Bademosi also got on the scoreboard with a rushing touchdown and two 2pt conversions of his own, whilst defender Gers Halloran added a nice touch with a pick 6 to close out the scoring. Luca Migliardi had an interception and a stand-out performance from Daniel McCarthy-Edwards showed TCD had improved on recent outings. The Reapers were Trinity’s closest challenger in the playoff race and the win adds separation between the pair with only a few games remaining. Trinity now lay claim to third place in the SBC South with a game in hand over North Kildare, meaning one more victory should be enough to clinch a playoff berth for the students.
Craigavon Cowboys 8 – Carrickfergus Knights 24
The Knights continued their chase of the Rebels and Trojans in the North division whilst delivering another loss the Cowboys. The Knights have been in tremendous form this season and continued that trend with a 24-8 win over their local rivals. The home side opened the scoring with running back Darren Montgomery finish off a solid drive with Marty Caskey adding the extra point. Quarterback Adam Devenney then found Caskey himself in the end zone to increase the tally and with the converted PAT, the Knights lead looked healthy at 14-0. The points continued to flow before the half as a pick-6 from Jonathan McComb and a Marty Caskey field goal extended the score to 24-0 after two quarters.
The Cowboys looked to add pressure in the second half and did just that as quarterback Peter Loughran found receiver Ryan Whiteside to close the gap. Despite Luis Alberto converting the 2-point try, the damage had been done in the first half as Craigavon couldn’t prevent another L in their column. The Knights have won 3 games in succession as the Cowboys continue their season without a win as the divide between the top and bottom of the SBC North widens. The Black and Gold have all but sealed their place in the playoffs ahead of the Trojans visit on June 5th, whilst the Cowboys face an uphill battle to avoid a last place finish.
University College Dublin 25 – South Dublin Panthers 0
The Panthers failed to register a score for the third time this season as UCD ran out comfortable 25-0 winners in Dublin. The sun was shining in this cross conference game as UCD’s high-octane offence got to work. The dynamic Tom Donovan continued his fine work under centre by adding a rushing touchdown to his resume as he now leads the league in with over 20 combined touchdowns. Daniel Lucas and Gavin Quirke stretched the students lead further while Lewis Barret added another pick-6 to his collection to compound the Panthers misery. UCD’s defence ranks 2nd in the SBC and they proved why with their second shut-out performance of the year and look to be keeping power with their dynamic offence.
The Panthers woes are becoming increasingly difficult to overturn and whilst the floodgates open on defence, the offence has struggled to register points all season. After a promising start in 2015, the Panthers will need to rebuild in the offseason to better their hopes next year. UCD meanwhile are becoming a dark horse in the playoff race and could steal a march on top spot if they can defeat the unbeaten UL Vikings this Sunday. The Cowboys will visit the Panthers in two weeks time to ultimately determine who finishes last.
Week 12 games:
– Dublin Rebels @ Trinity College : 2pm
– UL Vikings @ University College Dublin : 2pm
– Belfast Trojans @ Carrickfergus Knights : 2pm