The Belfast Trojans won their first ever National Championship with a 16-14 victory over the University of Limerick Vikings in Shamrock Bowl XXVI. The game was played on front of a large crowd at Tallaght Stadium. The decisive score was a field goal kicked with less than 2 minutes to play in the 4th quarter.
by Nathan James Sharrocks
It was always going to be a good game. But the Belfast Trojans and the University of Limerick Vikings turned Shamrock Bowl 26 into an all out war, leaving everything on the field and leaving themselves battered and bruised.
The Northern Irish team started brighter, kicking the ball off and then bringing out some power blitzes to shake the Vikings’ offence. And it worked. A forced fumble was recovered by Belfast’s Chris Colvin, who expertly scooped the ball up and ran in it in for six easy points. The first extra point attempt of the game was blocked, leaving the Trojans with a six point lead.
The next drive was a similar story, with the Vikings’ offence unable to move the ball, with Colvin bringing up 4th down by batting down a Marc Ashworth pass intended for Sean Goldrick. A great punt pinned the Trojans inside their own ten set up the UL defence to force a 3 and out of their own.
A sack by Belfast’s Chris Weir on Ashworth seemed to suggest the Trojans’ defence was going to have its way with UL’s offence but the Vikings began to tick. A huge pass down to Goldrick, and some good running by the wide receiver, got them down the Trojans’ 5-yard line before a pitch to running back Adrian Garvey on the option play got them in for the score. A successful PAT gave UL a 7-6 lead.
Proceedings began to get fiery. Dayton McPherson brought down Trojans’ Dave Colvin in the backfield before a pass out to the running back brought up a facemask call against Craig Brouder, giving Belfast an automatic first down.
Into the second quarter and the Trojans’ drive continued, with a big pass by James McKelvey reeled in by Benjamin Carr to bring up first and goal. Colvin pounded the ball up the middle to the one-yard line before McKelvey took the ball on the sneak for the score. Alan Orr would make no mistake with this extra point attempt, giving the Trojans a 13-7 lead.
As the half began to tick down the play opened up. After forcing the Vikings to punt, Belfast tried to air the ball out. McKelvey hit David Richardson with a long pass but then threw a pick on the very next play, with Dayton McPherson there to intercept.
But UL couldn’t capitalise, fumbling the ball on the first play of the drive for Belfast’s Neil Graham to scoop up.
McKelvey dropped back again, with the Trojans looking to extend their lead before half time, but he threw another pick, this time Liam Ryan getting up well to grab the ball to end the half.
After the interval the game got a little cagey, with a succession of exchanges in possession. However the Trojans’ Neil Montgomery, who was awarded the MVP award, took the game into his hands, firstly with a huge run and then continued pounding through the centre.
The running back made it down to the one before a false start pushed them back. Electing to kick a field goal, the Trojans took a 16-14 lead.
With time ticking down the Vikings’ offence came out pumped. A Liam Ryan kick return set them up in great stead from midfield before Ashworth’s passing and Garvey’s strong running came into play.
A James Twomey run got UL down to the 17 yard line but a flag drove them back, making it 3rd and 17. A good pass to Craig Switzer got the Vikings to a 4th and 9 situation. It was all or nothing as UL set up for the field goal. If they didn’t make this the Vikings would lose their 3rd straight Shamrock Bowl. A fake! Garvey stood up to pass but it was batted down by Colvin! Turnover on downs!
The Trojans knelt out the clock before their team flooded the field – Shamrock Bowl Champions!
Shamrock Bowl Photos:
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