CHAMPS GET OFF TO A WINNING START AGAINST STUDENTS
It was fitting that the weekend of Saint Patricks Day would see the return to the gridiron of the reigning Irish National Champions, the Dublin Rebels.
The opponents on the day for the Champs were last year’s Semi-finalist UCD on their home turf at the UCD Sports Campus. The volatile Irish weather, which can’t decide which time of year it wants to be, decided to go through all four seasons during the game. This ultimately had little impact on the game as a spectacle or as a contest.
REBELS GREAT START!
The Rebels would get off to a great start, when after UCD won the coin toss electing to receive. Rebels Linebacker Matthias Durot would strip the ball carrier, and take back the rock. One of two forced fumbles for Durot on Special Teams on the day.
The Rebels offence took over in great field position, but failed to capitalise after some miscues while shaking off the off-season rust.
UCD struggled to move the ball early, the staunch Rebels defence consistently stuffing the run game, and constantly pressuring talented young QB Tom Donavan, racking up 6 sacks on the day, 2 each for Defensive End pairing, affectionately known as Twackey!
As half time drew closer, UCD looked to gain a foothold in the game. After Donavan hit some completions to his receivers, and made some yards on the ground, the red zone opportunity arose. In a strange play, a ball that seemed to be thrown to Donavan’s favourite target on the day, Conor Hanrahan, would pop up off his hands and into the waiting grasp of Steven Culligan for the touchdown. Hanrahan scooped over the PAT to give the students a 7-6 lead going in to the interval.
The second half got under way with a bang. Sean Douglas taking the opening kick-off at speed and bringing the Rebels into great field position. On the very next play Douglas would spring into action again, reversing the field to bypass the UCD defence. With nothing but green grass in front of him, he would bring to life a number of brand new Memes. By simply tripping over nothing and tucking into a forward roll in spectacular fashion.
The Rebels offence would not miss out on the opportunity though. After carries from Rebel debutante Pete McMahon and Douglas, QB Dennehy would strike again. This time hitting young gun Cathal Keane in the end zone, wasting no time in taking up where they left off at Shamrock Bowl 30. Sean Douglas adding the 2 point conversion on the ground.
With a 14-7 lead, and the Rebels defence playing at such a high level. Recording 6 sacks and two interceptions on the day, thanks to Conrad Cook and Andrei-Vlad Vasilescu. This meant the Rebels Offence could take control of the game. Through the running of Douglas, Pete McMahon, and another Rebel newcomer ‘Rev’ Dave McMahon (no relation to Pete J ), coupled with several completions to Sean Leamy, the Rebels offence sustained drive after drive, capping them off with rushing Touchdowns for Sean Douglas, and his first of undoubtedly many for Pete McMahon.
A late Alfie O’Sullivan rushing touchdown would bring scant consolation to UCD who drop to 0-2 on the season, but there’s a lot of football to be played yet, and undoubtedly this young team will have a say in where the Shamrock Bowl ends up this year.
As for the Rebels, a solid victory for the defending champions gets their season off to a strong start, and they can look forward to their next opponents, old foes, the Carrickfergus Knights, in Sportslink, Santry on April 2nd, kick-off is at 2pm.
By Paul Grogan