Trojans and Vikings victorious on Irish American Football League’s opening weekend

The Belfast Trojans and University of Limerick Vikings were the winners in week 1 of the Irish American Football League (IAFL) but they were made to work for it.

With both games taking place in Dublin, locals were in for a fantastic weekend of action; and they wouldn’t have been disappointed. A whopping 119 points were scored between the two games which will set a high standard to reach for the remainder of they year.

Photography by Ian Humes.

   University College Dublin 34 – Belfast Trojans 49   

When this pair met in the 2016 semi-finals, UCD took the fight to the Trojans but fell short in a 10-7 loss. Those involved with the teams would have expected another close fought battle; not many however could have predicted that it would end as an offensive shoot-out!

UCD hoped to overturn the result from last year but found themselves on the back foot and were made to chase the Trojans throughout. With an offence that went under construction during the off-season, Belfast exploded into life in the opening exchanges with rushing scores from Jonah Siri and Jake Warry plus a touchdown reception each for Aidan Gribbon, Adam Cole and Mohamed Ramadan. UCD did manage to tally a score with halftime looming courtesy of quarterback Tom Donovan who broke through the Trojan defence, but they would face an uphill battle to overcome a 35-6 deficit at half time.

The students sparked into life after the break as a huge momentum shift occurred. Quarterback, Tom Donovan connected with receivers Nicolas Rodriguez Lopez de Haro and Gavin Quirke before running back, Alfie O’Sullivan added a further score that brought UCD back within touching distance. With 8 minutes remaining in the game, it became very tense with both sides knowing the next score would be crucial in deciding the outcome of the match. The Trojans increased their lead again with Siri punching in his second from 2 yards out before completing his hat-trick moments later after a late Trojans turnover. UCD responded late through another Tom Donovan rushing score however the 4 time champions did just enough to ice the game winning 49-34 in a thriller.

The Trojans tough schedule is only starting as they travel back to Dublin in 2 weeks to face Trinity College, whereas UCD remain at home where they will host the defending champions, the Dublin Rebels this Sunday.

 Trinity College Dublin 19 – UL Vikings 21   

Trinity would play host to the Vikings in the annual league opener between the university sides, with Limerick casting the first blow in the battle for division supremacy.

It would be TCD would who strike first however when returning quarterback, Dan Finnamore connected with receiver Conor O’Dwyer on the opening drive. Trinity missed the extra point, allowing the Vikings to respond with a touchdown of their own. A solid drive was executed courtesy of Shane Gleeson’s rushing touchdown, before Gleeson himself added the 2-point conversion. Quarterback Raymond Burke would soon stride in off of a play-action bootleg before the half to give the Vikings a 14-6 lead.

Trinity responded from the restart when a long drive was finished off by running back, Ola Bademosi who scored from 2 yards out. The 2 point conversion failed however as UL remained in the lead at 14-12. Late in the 4th quarter, Limerick would extend their lead further with Burke scoring his second rushing touchdown to give them control of the game with the clock ticking. There was still time for a grand stand finish however as receiver Pavel Rozman returned an 81 yard punt to the house. With the extra point converted, TCD now trailed by 2 points with less than 1.30 remaining in the game.

Unfortunately the comeback would be denied as the Vikings would recover the ensuing onside kick to wrap up the spoils in a close 21-19 victory. The Vikings now wait 3 weeks to host the North Kildare Reapers in Limerick, whilst TCD focus their attentions on the impending visit of the Belfast Trojans on March 26th.

Scott Morrow
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 supports the Green Bay Packers.
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