REBELS GET SEASON STARTED WITH AWAY WIN AGAINST UL VIKINGS
Football is back. That is to say Irish American Football is back. A busy “Off” season had the Dublin Rebels win their first Atlantic Cup trophy, as well as adding a new Head Coach in Brian Dennehy. Sunday saw the first game of the 2018 season kick off with a road trip to Limerick for the defending champion Dublin Rebels.
The opponents were old foes, the University of Limerick Vikings.
The Vikings this season have moved their home games to the UL Bohemians Rugby Club, and that was the venue for the game between two of Irish Footballs powerhouses. The Rebels were missing a number of key starters from the team that won last seasons Shamrock Bowl for the trip down south. The Vikings had a number of retirements in the off season, paired with some key players transferring to other clubs, and star Quarterback Raymond Burke now plying his trade in mainland Europe. This was a chance to blood a number of rookies on both sides of the ball for both teams, alongside some of their largely experienced veterans.
The first quarter was all about the run game for both teams, with Limerick relying heavily on young power back Adam O’Mahony, while the Dublin Rebels countered with the One-Two punch of Backs Wello Omorodion and Pete McMahon. And it was the Rebels that would strike first, with Omorodion going in for 6, after a long drive, dominating the time of possession. The PAT was unsuccessful.
The Rebels Defence continued to control the game, led by perennial badasses Ross McCooey and Simon Mackey causing constant pressure, racking up tackles and making life difficult for rookie signal caller Jack Litherland. Things got more difficult for the young player, when Center Graham Murtagh went out for the game, after having his leg rolled up on by a UL player, after being tackled.
After a change of possession and subsequently a change of ends at the quarter, Omorodion showed off his arm. Ironic that it be coated in camouflage, and usually invisible to the naked eye. The running back completed a strike to Wide Receiver Jonas Kubis D’Agostin for a 60 yard touchdown to double the Dublin teams lead. Again the PAT failed.
The lead gave the Rebels a chance to get their own young Quarterback Jack Fagan into the game, taking over from usual conductor Andrew Dennehy. The Vikings front, led by John Mullen, made life difficult for Fagan, and as the half came to a close, he was picked off by longtime Viking Linebacker Darragh O’Callaghan.
Same again please
Having deferred the option of the ball to the second half, the Rebels opened up the third quarter on Offence. Again, running was the name of the game, and McMahon and Omorodion continued to make first downs, churning up the yards and churning up the clock. With the Dublin side both figuratively and literally running the game, several rookies made their Rebels debuts, contributing plays on both sides of the ball for the travelling side. With Fagan continuing to orchestrate the Offence, he was helped out with some additional possession, thanks to an interception from Conrad Cook on the Defence for the men in black. The score remained unchanged until that man Omorodion scampered into the Vikings endzone for his second rushing touchdown. Not to take all the glory, Wello was quick to celebrate with his Offensive line, key to which on the day was the Game Offensive MVP, Lewis Cummins, making huge vital blocks in the run game, and a wall-esque performance in the passing attack. Omorodion would punch in the 2 point conversion over the turf.
The third quarter finished out as a battle in the trenches, as much of the day had been, and went back and forth in the middle of the field of play for most of the remainder of the game.
The Rebels Defensive front did not let up throughout the game, and were determined to hold on to their shut out. They were made to work for it. After pinning the Rebels on the edge of their own endzone, and exchanges of possession, the Vikings Offence made a rare redzone visit, after some short completions and runs, facing fourth down, the Game Defensive MVP, Andrei-Vlad Vasilescu, picked off the pass.
With Fagan in at Quarterback, two plays later the Vikings D would return the favour, with Craig Switzer picking off the pass and seeming to return it for 6. However the score was called back after a targeting penalty flagged on the Vikings after the interception. This lead to the change of possession standing, but the player penalized for targeting ejected from the game by rule, and further unsportsmanlike penalties taking the Vikings back into their own half.
On the very next and penultimate play of the game, Conrad Cook came up with his second pick of the game to cement the win, and allow Fagan to kneel out the clock.
The final Score Dublin Rebels 20-0 University of Limerick Vikings.
By Paul Grogan