Ireland: Cork Admirals historic in 1st ever Shamrock Bowl triumph

The Cork Admirals captured their first ever Irish championship title when they defeated the Dublin Rebels 18-16 in Shamrock Bowl XXXII at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin.

With the wins in both playoff games and the championship game, the Admirals avenged regular season losses to all three post-season opponents. Cork first downed the South Dublin Panthers in the quarterfinal round of the Shamrock Bowl Conference, and then edged University College Dublin in the semifinals before finally disposing of the Rebels in the final.

The Admirals had reached the Shamrock Bowl once before in their 16 year history, in 2007, but came away empty handed after losing to the UL Vikings.

The defending champion Rebels did not make it easy but the Cork defense, led by Game MVP, linebacker Harris Monagan, held strong when they needed to and the offense did enough to win.

Cork Admirals WR Simon “Kit” O’Keefe scored a TD Photo: Bob Given

Quarterback Stephen Hayes threw touchdown passes to Simon O’Keefe and Jahn Dasini while strong safety Daniel Sheedy blocked a punt in the end zone and pounced on it for the game’s winning touchdown. Running back Philyp Walters had an outstanding day running the ball.

For the Rebels, running back Wellington Omorodion was outstanding, scoring both touchdowns in the second half, one on a 65 yard run, while Simon Mackey added a two-point conversion. The defense forced a safety as well.

Capitalizing on a huge punt midway through the first quarter, Cork struck first, pinning the Rebels deep in their own zone and gaining excellent field position. Hayes then connected with O’Keefe for a touchdown and the Admirals took a 6-0 lead.

Another special teams play late in the second quarter led to the Admirals second touchdown. With two minutes left, Dublin’s punter watched helplessly as the snap sailed over his head landing at the Rebels 17 yard line.  Cork took over with a minute and a half left in the second quarter and Hayes drove his team down to the five yard line and then hit Dasini for a touchdown giving the Admirals a 12-0 lead at halftime.

Cork Admirals QB Stephen Hayes Photo: Charise Mae Ducas

The third quarter saw neither team able to move the ball effectively but early in the fourth, Dublin’s offense came untracked. Behind the power running of Omorodion, the Rebels marched down to the Cork two-yard line and Omorodion scored with Mackey added the two points and suddenly the score was 12-8.

Nerves became an issue soon after as the Dublin defense stiffened and the offense gained momentum. Midway through the fourth quarter, Omorodion broke three tackles and then raced 65 yards for the go-ahead touchdown and the Rebels sensed victory.

With Dublin leading 14-12, both defenses took control but special teams became a factor again. On a third and 35 inside their own 10 yard line, Dublin’s punter tried a surprise quick punt but instead managed to kick the ball into his own linemen. On his second attempt after picking the ball up, his punt was blocked by Sheedy who promptly fell on the ball in the end zone and with four minutes left, Cork was back in front, 18-14.

Neither team could mount much offense after that and Cork wisely surrendered a two-point safety with just over a minute left. Dublin could not respond and the Admirals began celebrating a historic win.

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