The IAFA Under 20 Selection had a historic 22-20 win against the Greendell Falcons of Canada in a challenge game played at Westmanstown last night. This marks the first time in the history of the sport that an Irish team has defeated a highly rated team from North America. The IAFA U20 Selection was comprised of young players from IAFL teams, many from the emerging squads who competed in IAFL-1 over the past number of months. The Greendell Falcons team comprised of a mixture of players from their high school (16-18) and college (18-22) aged squads.
This game was marked by an excellent performance by the U20s defence which created four crucial turnovers including 2 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries. The Falcons started well on offense, driving downfield into scoring range on their first possession. However, Dublin Rebels cornerback Senan O’Mahony intercepted a Falcons pass and returned it 80 yards for the games opening touchdown. A 2 point conversion gave the Irish an early 8-0 lead. Greendell responded straight away, moving the ball effectively on the ground and then scoring on a running play to make the score 8-6. Later on in the quarter, the Irish recovered a fumble deep inside the Greendell half, but failed to punch in the ball for a score. The U20s next big defensive play came early in the second quarter when they recovered another Falcons fumble, this time close to midfield. U20s quarterback , Dan Finnamore of Drogheda picked up a first down on the ground and shortly afterwards, North Kildare running back Sean Leamy scored a 25yd touchdown run to give the Irish a 14-6 lead.
The play that sealed the win for the Irish came later in the second quarter, when linebacker Luke Ivers of the West Dublin Rhinos got the U20s second key interception and returned it for a touchdown. Another two point conversion gave the Irish a surprising 22-6 lead close to halftime.
The start of the second half was delayed due to a Greendell player having to be transported to hospital after picking up a serious knee injury on the last play of the second quarter. When it resumed, the U20s faced an aerial onslaught from the Falcons who now had to chase the game. Indeed, Greendell attempted 37 passed in total during the half. On offense, the U20s tried to control the clock by keeping the ball on the ground. The aerial power of the Falcons soon showed with them scoring two passing touchdowns to bring the game back to 22-20 in favour of the Irish. However, the Irish offense did enough to take some time off the clock and the defense put up sufficient resistance to keep the score down and give the Irish an unexpected 22-20 victory.
After the game, the U20s coach squad, led by John Judge, praised the work that the players and coaching squad did during the short time that they have been together.
The Greendell Falcons have a couple of days rest before facing the Bristol Academy Pride in the Gathering Bowl at Tallaght Stadium on Saturday, kick-off 7pm. The Pride is the UKs best U19 club and play in the European US High School league, where they ranked in the top 4 in 2012. This game is expected to attract a large crowd – tickets are free of charge and can be obtained via the link on this website.