Author: Paul Grogan

Rebels Reign Ended By Admirals

“Captains”. Photo courtesy of Terence McCann

 

The Big Dance. The Show. The Championship. The Final Showdown. The pinnacle of domestic Irish American Football. 

 

Every team in the preseason believes they can make it, every coach and every player across the country aspires to lift that trophy in August. When it’s all said and done, after all the heartbreak and close games, two teams square off in Tallaght Stadium for the right be called the best Football team on the island of Ireland.

Shamrock Bowl 32 was held August 19th between SBC South champions Dublin Rebels and the Cork Admirals. This season’s third meeting between the two sides with both previous games being won by less than 7, nothing less than a close game could be expected. 

QUICK TRICK KICK TO START

A failed Admiral onside attempt provided the Rebel’s possession for the game’s opening drive. Lead by Quarterback Andrew Dennehy, in search of a historic 10th Shamrock Bowl victory, a feat not reached by any player, the Rebel offence had difficulty breaking through a hard-hitting aggressive Cork Defence, punting on their opening possession. 

 

An energized and hungry Rebel Defence started the game with suffocating pocket pressure, forcing two incomplete passes to force a second put of the day. A good punt pinned the Rebels back to inside their own five yard line, a quick 3 and out meant punting this time from their own Endzone, a trend of Defence beginning to show through in the years biggest game. 

Tackle for loss! Photo courtesy of  Ian Humes Photography

Looking to get the days first first down, the Admirals looked to the air. Completing a pass over the middle to place the ball 10 yard from the Endzone and providing the afternoon’s first Redzone visit. Instant pressure from LB Robert Smith shut down an initial rush attempt. Following a broken pocket and rolling to his left, Admirals QB Stephen Hayes lofted a ball to the back corner of the Endzone, hitting Simon O’Keefe, breaking the tie with 6, a missed extra point put the Admirals up by 6.  

Looking to respond, the Rebels offense, featuring the first drive of the game from young QB Jack Fagan came out swinging for the fences. Fagan left his mark on the game immediately, reading the Defence and rattling off a trademark QB keeper, along with powerful running from one of a two-headed monster backfield, Pete McMahon, exemplified how dangerous they can be.

 

An unfortunate holding call denied a Rebel first down on third down, an incomplete pass brought the punt team onto the field, but the offence had a heartbeat now, and was not going to be kept down.

“SWARM” Photo courtesy of Bob Given Photography

Incomplete passes and penalties forced by the Rebel Defence lead to a quick 3 & out and gave the ball back to the Rebels. 

 

Marching down the field, with a healthy diet of running up the gut of the Defence, both Wellington Omorodion and McMahon gashing through Corks Defence, brought an end to the 1st quarter. However, a fumbled exchange and an incomplete pass forced the Rebels to attempt a field goal, which sailed left. 

 

“You Shall Not Pass” Photo courtesy of Ian Humes Photography

Untimely penalties forcing the ball backwards, coupled with a stalling aerial attack resulted in an interception from safety Keith Foster. The ball back with the Rebels, along with the game’s momentum.  

A holding penalty on the drive’s first play set the offence back, and unable to recover lost yardage, punted to the visitors yet again.  

 

#FORTHEBRAND

In a matchup of the league’s best Defenses, punting was common, shown yet again after the Rebels shutting down the Admirals run game. The Admirals would, in turn, return the favour. Stopping all attempts to gain positive yardage. A bobbled snap on the punt to cap off the drive put Cork in prime position to extend their lead. 

 

Time running low in the first half, and reminiscent of their first score, a lofted pass from Hayes to the corner of the Endzone found its target, Jahn Dasini. A trick 2-point attempt failure to follow, the Admirals took advantage of the field position and extended their lead to 12 heading into the half. 

“Under Pressure.” Photo courtesy of  Terence McCann Photography

A promising Admirals drive to open the third quarter was quickly snuffed out and possession was handed back to the Rebels offence. Penalties reversing any positive play on the ensuing drive lead to the familiar site of the punt team. The return put the Admirals offense into the Rebel half.

THE COMEBACK AFTER THE SETBACK

Photo courtesy of  Bob Given Photography

 

After getting the ball back through a once more unbending defensive effort, a long bomb to WR Cathal Keane to open the final quarter put the ball deep in the heart of Admiral territory, and the best opportunity of the day for the offence. A run from Omorodion and a footrace to the pylon later, and the Rebels have their first points of the day. A successful two-point conversion from Simon Mackey brought the score to 8-12 Admirals.  

“Flash”. Photo courtesy of  Ian Humes Photography

Momentum now fully with the “home” team, and another defensive stop to add to the tally, and the Rebels have the ball. Adhering to the classic, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, QB Andy Dennehy tossed the ball to Omorodion again, weaving past defenders and putting everyone else in his rear view mirror the Rebels put points up again, and took the lead along with it, the 2-point attempt fell short, bringing the score to 14-12 Rebels. 

A balanced approach to the offence from the Admirals, who now found themselves playing from behind for the first time, failed to score, turning the ball over on downs.

“Hops”. Photo courtesy of Terence McCann

More penalties set the Rebel offence back, and with their heals getting closer to their own goal line, a trick punt on 3rd down was blocked, recovered by the Admiral Defence for a score, re-taking the lead, a failed 2-point attempt kept the gap at 4 points. 

 

Needing a score late in the game, and marching down the field, the aggressive Cork Defence would show through once more, intercepting a pass.  

 

Seeing the clock tick down, a defensive stop with under a minute left forced the Admirals to take a safety, cutting the gap to 2, and giving the ball back to the home team. 

 

With over 50 yards to go to the Endzone, Cork prevented anything over the top, forcing a turnover on downs.

One kneel from the Cork QB ran the clock down and gave the Admirals their first ever Shamrock Bowl, winning by 2 points in a hard-fought battle. 

 

 

by Calum Walsh

Rebels head to Shamrock Bowl XXXII

TROJAN WAR

In a repeat of last year’s SBC Semi-Final, and a rematch of a hotly contested regular season matchup, the two most historically successful clubs in Irish American Football history, still playing, squared off in Santry this past Sunday, in a game that promised to be hard-hitting, and electric entertainment. The Belfast Trojans made the trip south to take on the Dublin Rebels.

 

Beginning the game on Offence, the Rebels started strong, moving the ball both through the air and on the ground. A strong Trojan Defence forced a punt, giving the ball to the Trojan Offence, lead by star RB Jonah Siri, who, on the drives 4th play, took an outside run 70 yards down the sideline. The ensuing extra point was missed on the second attempt. 6-0 Trojans.

 

On their second possession of the day, the Rebels Offence was met with white jerseys no matter what they tried, a swarming Defence forcing the second punt of the day, a less than ideal start from the division champions. An equally suffocating Rebels Defence held the visitors to a field goal, DBs Andrei Vlad Vasilescu and Senan O’Mahony breaking up passes to the Endzone to prevent 6 points. 9-0 Trojans.

 

Incomplete passes and little running room forced another punt for an already unusually busy Rebels special team unit to close out the first quarter with the home team down on the scoreboard.

 

After a change in direction, and again backed up to their own 15-yard line, the Rebels Defence became fortified once more, sacrificing nothing and forcing the Trojan Offence into a turnover on downs. Unfortunately, the change in direction did little to help the Offence, punting back to Siri for the 4th time in the opening half, and yet to score.

Dublin Rebels Defense

BATTLE HEATING UP

Looking to gain ground through the air, the Trojans found little success, batted down passes and solid tackling brought the punt unit out for the visitors, giving the home Offence the best starting field position they had seen all afternoon. Powerful running from RB tandem Wello Omorodion and Pete McMahon, set up the Offence in the opposing 10-yard line, incomplete attempts to put points on the board gave the ball back to the Trojans with their heels on their own goal line. Pressure from both defensive lineman and interior rushers caused Trojans QB Mark McVeigh to throw an errant pass, read perfectly by safety Keith Foster handed not only the ball, but the momentum of the game to an Offence hungry to return to the form they displayed to close out the regular season.

 

Finally breaking the seal on the opposing Endzone, QB Andrew Dennehy connected with WR Jonas D’Agostin Kubis down the sideline. A successful 2-point conversion put the Rebels 1 point behind to close out the first half, hoping to carry the momentum forward. 9-8, Trojans at the half.

 

Tough nosed tackling from LB Robert Smith the Defence forced another field goal on the next drive. 12-8 Trojans. The Offence was yet again stifled, putting the ball back into Siri’s hands on a punt, which he would break to the sideline and score. A successful field goal put the game at 19-8 to the visitors.

Dublin Rebels Offence

Returning to the well, Dennehy would once again put the ball in the air to Game Offensive MVP Jonas Kubis D’Agostin, who, after single handedly pinning the ball against the head of a defender to complete the catch, outran three more to cross the goal line for the second time in the game. The 2-point conversion attempt also crossed into the Endzone to cap off the perfect answer and bring the game close yet again. 19-16 Trojans.

SACKING OF TROY

Pressure from edge rushers Simon Mackey and Fabrice Emilien, and penalties on the Offence gave the Rebels the ball yet again in the 3rd quarter, looking to take control of the game.

 

Marching down the field, powered by the running back duo of McMahon and Omorodion and an offensive line creating holes to hit, Dennehy and the Offence found themselves on the doorstep of scoring yet again to close the 3rd quarter. 19-16 Trojans.

 

On the 1-yard line following a completion to TE Ciaran Fitzpatrick, Mackey was brought in as a short yardage RB. Needing 2 yards, Mackey delivered, scoring the TD but being stopped on the conversion attempt giving the Rebels the lead for the first time this game. 22-19 Rebels.

 

Big completions both over the middle and to the sideline set the Trojans up to score, a rollout pass to WR Richardson, providing them with the six point they needed to regain the lead. Adding a successful kick the Trojans went up 26-22.

 

Clock winding down in the game, solid running and a defensive pass interference call moved the Rebels up field. To keep the drive alive, seemingly inhuman man Simon Mackey ran to the 10 yard line to give the Rebels their best chance to score.

 

A fade toward the Endzone resulted in an interception on the Belfast one-yard line, and with the clock not on their side, the Rebels were at their best, backs against the wall and nothing to lose. Hoping to run out the clock and seal the victory, a stout and hungry Rebels Defence forced a 4th down with less than 20 seconds to spare.

TROJAN ACHILLES HEEL 

What was to follow will go down in Rebels folklore;

 

A botched snap.

 

A rushing Defence.

 

A finger-tip tackle.

 

A failed lateral.

 

Rebels ball, 10 seconds, 10 yards from the Shamrock Bowl.

 

The ball is snapped, white jerseys clawing to knock it down, the ball flies, 2 defenders out of reach, ball caught, toes tap the ground, referee runs to the pylon to signal, the sideline erupts…

 

DINHEIRO!!!

 

D’Agostin catches his 3rd touchdown of the game and sends the Rebels to the Shamrock Bowl in the dying moments. Mackey crossed the goal line yet again, providing game changing plays on both sides of the ball all afternoon.

Your Dublin Rebels are headed to Shamrock Bowl 32 in Tallaght Stadium on August 19th to face the Cork Admirals.

 

 

By Calum Walsh