DUBLIN REBELS DEFEAT CORK ADMIRALS IN RAIN SOAKED BATTLE
The forecast fluctuated all week, and no-one was sure prior to game day what weather would greet the teams as the Cork Admirals would make the road trip to Dublin to take on the Dublin Rebels.
But this is Ireland, so obviously, rain.
And rain it did, the entire first half of the game would have a consistent downpour throughout, and that led to a hard hitting and old school style affair. Games like these, with conditions like these, are usually decided by the turnover battle, and that proved as true as ever.
The Rebels received the opening kick-off, but after some tough running from Tailback Pete McMahon, the Admirals forced the punt.
On their first drive of the game the Admirals took advantage of their possession. After being stuffed on first down, a face mask penalty gave them great field position, and from there Cork QB Stephen Hayes hit Team Ireland under 20 receiver Jahn Dasini for the opening score. The touchdown going in from 40 yards out. The Admirals tacked on the PAT to take an early lead against the reigning champions.
Old school Slugfest
The first quarter remained a slugfest from there, with both teams trading short runs, incompletions and punts to bring it to a close, neither Defence breaking or bending.
As the second quarter got underway, with the Dublin team in possession, the turnover battle began to heat up. An errant throw from veteran leader Andrew Dennehy gave Cork their second interception of the day, the first being a long bomb earlier in the game, which could be considered more as a successful punt.
That brought the Rebels Defence back on to the field. Some hard hitting, and key tackles from DBs Kevin Fitzgerald and Andrei-Vlad Vasilescu, as well as Linebacker tandem Matthias Durot and Aybars Bayram made life difficult for the Admirals Offence, and gave the ball back to the men in black.
Starting the drive on their own 27, the Rebels would maintain possession for most of the remainder of the half. Meticulously moving the ball through the running of duo Pete McMahon and Shamrock Bowl MVP Wellington Omorodion, combined with some passes from Dennehy to Tight End Ciarán Fitzpatrick, and Wide Receiver Andrej Barlafa. The Rebels were deep into the Cork redzone, but could not break the plane. Going for it on 4th down, the Admirals Defence stiffened, and did not let up.
A quick 3 and out from the Admirals, and great field position from a short punt, gave the Rebels one more opportunity before the half. Some good pressure from the Admirals D-line, hitting Dennehys hand mid throw led to a 3rd and final turnover for the Rebels Offence for the game. The Cork side kneeling out the half from there. The turnover battle at the half read 3-0 to Cork, and the scoreboard reflected it, the Admirals up 7-0.
Adjustments needed to be made at Half Time, and they were.
Second Half – Different Game
The second half had the visiting side receiving the ball, the rain easing off slightly. A short kick gave the Admirals a good starting point. However that’s when the returning 2016 Rebels Defensive MVP Kenny McCarty would make his presence known. A tackle for loss and the first sack of the game for McCarty on consecutive plays, forced the Cork team to punt.
The Rebels offence came out onto the field, this time with heir apparent, Jack Fagan under centre. Fagan called his own number, and broke his first play of the game for a 65 yard run to kick start the Dublin offence. Two players later the young QB would hit favourite target and fellow Podcaster Ciarán Fitzpatrick for the Touchdown. The wet conditions causing the Rebels to go for 2, was unsuccessful.
After the ensuing Kick Off, the Rebels defense wanted in on the scoring party, and after a tackle for loss from combined “Team America” members McCarty and Conrad Cook, the next play the Dublin side pounced.
After being picked off twice by Cornerback Ricky Paisley in last years meeting, Cork QB Hayes, had wisely not targeted his side of the field all game, until now. A mistake. Paisley jumped the flat route like a cheetah pouncing on its prey, clean hands with the catch, and gone racing for 6, to give the Rebels the lead. The scoreboard this time dictating, go for two. Game Offensive MVP Pete McMahon, punched the ball in to give the Rebels the 14-7 lead.
A 1-2 punch just after half time that shook the Cork team.
The Rebels Defence had bought themselves a ticket back on to the field after the kick off, thanks to their score, but they wanted off. So on the very next play, they reacted quickest to a dropped hand off, and Conrad Cook came away with the ball to even up the turnover battle at three a piece.
However, the Cork Defence was not ready to give in, and made a strong goal line stand to stop the Rebels from gaining daylight on the board. McCarty had other ideas, and picked up his second Sack of the game and forcing a punt from inside the Admirals Endzone.
A booming punt sailed over the returners head, having adjusted his position from the games earlier, much shorter punts. As the readjustment was made to the ball however, it ricocheted off his foot, and the Admirals recovered. Hayes then targeted Paisleys side of the field just once more, but the Game Defensive MVP had his second interception of the game. That’s what Paisley does when Cork throws his way, he catches it. Get out of jail card cashed in after the muffed punt.
The slugfest continued from there, with both teams trading blows, but neither offense gaining much ground. One extraordinary play, when Cork had a quick completion on a short route, Cornerback Raphael Meyer punched the ball out, the returning McCarty managed to contort his body mid air to pluck the ball down. Fumble recovery or Interception? Answers on a postcard, either way it epitomized his game, and brought it into the 4th quarter.
Back in position, Fagan looked to move the chains and the clock. After runs from McMahon and Omorodion, and hitting BFF Fitzpatrick with some short completions, the Rebels punted.
Yet again that Defence wanted more turnovers, and on a tipped pass, Safety Keith Foster showed his safe hands, clutching the ball down, safely, out of the air. A 3rd Interception, and 5th turnover of the game for the Dublin side.
Fagan was back at it again, this time calling his own number to churn the time. And after an initial good tackle from the Cork Defence to stop the play, the Admirals #65 came crashing in from behind on the signal caller, extremely late, leading with his helmet and cracking the back of Fagans head. The referee made the targeting call and #65 was ejected from the game, meaning he will miss the return game in 2 weeks time in Cork.
A little more time off the clock thanks to the automatic first and some runs from Omorodion, including hitting the truck stick, ate up some more time, and a booming punt from Game Special Teams MVP Sean Butler, had the Cork team pinned inside their own 5.
The Admirals proved they were for real, and would not have their spirit broke. Some quick passes, and runs up the middle got them out of initial danger, but that man McCarty again, a Tackle/Forced Fumble/Fumble Recovery, triple combo would give the Rebels offence the ball back, and surely end the game?
Some more hardnosed running from the McMahon/Omorodion tandem brought the game down close to the two minute warning, and after Butler again pinned the Admirals into their 5, the warning was called.
The Cork team was not done, and on the first play inside the two minutes, Hayes dropped back into his own Endzone, and threw a dart, hitting Dasini again, in stride, and it was a foot race. Dasini took off and went 85 yards for the score, and an opportunity to change the result.
The Cork side admirably went for 2, but the Rebels said No.
The ensuing onside kick was chipped up into the waiting hands of Tight End Peter Keely, who claimed the ball, and gently lay down to put the game to bed.
One final kneel down brought the final whistle, to take the Dublin Rebels to 2 and 0 on the season, and a place on top of the divisional table.
The next Rebels game is another home tie, on April 22nd against division opponent, Trinity College. The game is due to kick off at 2pm in Sportslink.
By Paul Grogan