Celtic Classic III

Team Ireland 8-35 Coventry Cassidy Jets
Venue: Butts Arena, Coventry

Team Ireland put in their best performance of recent years against the semi-pro Coventry Jets team in Celtic Classic III, played in Coventry on Sunday 15th October. The Jets are the current British Division 1A Champions and are unbeaten over the past 3 seasons. Their roster includes several Great Britain Internationals and players with professional experience. The Celtic Classic was sponsored by the Cassidy Group who also sponsor the Jets. Erin Wagner was Team Ireland’s MVP after making numerous tackles and picking up some first downs on the ground while rotating in on offense.

Ex-NFL Europe star, wide receiver Mark Cohen, was instrumental in the Jets victory, scoring two touchdowns and making several first down receptions. The other scorers include the Jets 2006 MVP, Jeremy Simms and running back Anthony Perkins. Perkins got the opening score of the game mid way through the first quarter after making a number of first down runs during the Jets drive. Team Ireland responded with an 80 yard drive with Simon Mackey, Chris Flinn and Erin Wagner picking up first downs in a long drive. Team Ireland got to the Jets 6 yard line, but good defensive play by the Jets just managed to keep them out of the end-zone. The Jets had two scoring drives in the second quarter. One was set up by a spectacular sideline catch by Cohen inside the Irish 5 yard line. Cohen also caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Tim Spaull after he and Team Ireland cornerback Willie Coyne both came down in the endzone with their hands on the ball. The Irish had another opportunity to score in the second quarter when quarterback Adam Devenney led them on another long drive into scoring range, picking up several first downs on the way. However, the Irish were again stopped by the Jets on fourth down.

The Team Ireland defence opened the third quarter strongly, making several tackles for losses. James Kay, Chris Weir, Erin Wagner, Glen Carr and Kenny Hudson all made tackles. However, the Jets got the ball in scoring range after recovering a fumble. Team Ireland nearly stopped the drive when Ross McCooey came close to making an interception, but the Jets managed to score a few plays later. Team Ireland continued to have a strong third quarter, moving the ball against a strong Coventry Jets defense which was led by Adrian Newey. The Irish appeared to get stronger as the game went on in spite of the Jets kept their star players such as Cohen, Newey a nd Simms on the field right the way through the fourth quarter. Early in the fourth quarter, with Conor Buggle now at quarterback, Team Ireland put together another drive and after getting first and goal, running back Sam Hodgins scored on an inside run. Simon Mackey got the two point conversion after hurdling over the Jets defensive line. The Team Ireland defense also came up with a turnover forcing a fumble which was recovered by Darragh Farrell. The Jets got their final score in the fourth quarter when GB Lions QB Tim Spaull threw a long touchdown pass to Jeremy Simms. Team Ireland caused another turnover and also got the ball in the endzone for an apparent score during the fourth quarter when Willie Coyne recovered a muffed punt and sprinted into the endzone, however, the officials ruled that the Jets returner never had full possession of the ball thus it could not be advanced, however the Irish retained the ball.

Team Ireland Head Coach Marcus Naylor was happy with the teams performance. The team, which was only selected a week earlier, played better than expected in spite of having a new coaching staff and new team management and very limited practice time.Team management were also impressed with the team’s friendly and well behaved attitude off the field. A rematch is being scheduled in Dublin in 2007.