Last Sunday saw the culmination of months of preparations for three teams as our Junior Football season kicked off in Mullingar Rugby Club, hosted by the Westmeath Minotaurs. The Minotaurs took on the South Kildare Soldiers and Craigavon Cowboys in pretty miserable conditions with the heavy rain and high humidity making it a tough day for the players, coaches and spectators alike.
First up was the South Kildare Soldiers against the Westmeath Minotaurs in what turned out to be a defensive battle. The bad weather helped no one as the game started with a number of punts from one side and a number of turnovers from the other but despite the rain, the Soldiers were the first to score with Quarterback Jordan Farrell connecting with Wide Receiver Aaron O’Neill in his debut appearance for the Soldiers. The Soldiers scored again with a long run from their own 10 yard line courtesy of Tommy Oyewo. The Minotaurs struck back with a pass from Quarterback Joe Kinahan to Wide Receiver Jack Lynch, but hopes of a late comeback were dashed with a strip sack from a quick Kealan Farrell.
Final score: South Kildare Soliders 12 – Westmeath Minotaurs 6
The second game of the day was between the Craigavon Cowboys and the South Kildare Soldiers, with the Cowboys looking to defend their 2015 Junior Football title. The Soldiers found success early with another long run from Oyewo, this time from his own 30. After early drive misfires, a brave Cowboys offense found it hard to swing the momentum their way, making ground on runs but ultimately not finding their way into the endzone. A long pass hauled in by the Soldier’s Aaron O’Neill over three Cowboys defenders kept a drive alive and helped lead the Soldier offense to the end zone where Tommy Oyewo caught another touchdown pass, followed by a two point conversion ran in by Jordan Farrell.
The Cowboys never gave up fighting, but a very impressive display up front by the defensive line proved too much at times. The Soldiers’ pass attack was finding rhythm and a fourth score on the day for Oyewo in the form of a deep pass reception, capped off with a two point conversion caught by Tight End Nathan O’ Leary.
Final Score: South Kildare Soldiers 22 – Craigavon Cowboys 0
Our final Game of the day was between the Westmeath Minotaurs and the Craigavon Cowboys, with the sun making a welcome appearance. The game started out with great displays of a solid running game by both teams, with some excellent work under center from Minotaurs’ Quarterback Joseph Kinahan who was composed in the pocket and executed the ‘hand off’ like a seasoned senior player. Some excellent runs from Running Back Marcel Stanisz gave the Minotaurs some excellent balance offensively. While a number of Cowboys players from the 2015 side have moved to the senior programme, we were given a look at that typical Cowboy hard hitting fundamental style football. Ruben Larmour secured the Cowboys’ first points of the 2016 season from a skinny post route where he was forced to reach out and haul in the catch and then converted for two points.
Final Score: Weastmeath Minotaurs 22- Craigavon Cowboys 8
This blitz was the start of what will become an epic battle for the 2016 Championship. All three teams have build on the solid foundations they put down last year, and it was very noticeable in the returning players just what practice, sound coaching and ‘reps’ can do. I have the pleasure of working with a number of these guys with the Ireland Under 20’s program and they all should feel immensely proud of the athletes they are becoming
Special notes of mention go to the fantastic officiating crew on the day as well as to James Rolston of the Craigavon Cowboys, Joseph Kinahan of the Westmeath Minotaurs and Tommy Oyewo of the South Kildare Soldiers who already leads the Scoring charts with 4 TDs on the day.
Our next Junior football day is in Edenderry as the Soldiers host on October 2nd