North Kildare remain in Championship hunt.

Courtesy of Greg Barrett of the Waterford Wolves

Waterford arrived at North Kildare Rugby Club knowing that a win or draw was all it would take to put the final cherry on their fairy-tale rookie season. This game was considered to be the Championship game for IAFL 1 and it was going to be a battle royal. The Reapers themselves very much part of the title race and were not going to be a statistic against this Wolves juggernaut.

Photo by Siobhan Hennessy

North Kildare won the toss, opted to receive and started slowly with a three and out, as the Wolves offence started to head back towards the Reapers end zone. The Reapers stood firm though eventually stopping the Wolves. Deep in their redzone, the Reapers offense took to the field only to fumble the ball and have it recovered on the 8yd line by #6 Eoin Reinhardt playing at Linebacker today. The Wolves took full advantage with #21 Kevin Butler punching in for the 6 points and #37 Aaron Walsh connecting with #12 David Kelly for the subsequent 2 point conversion. The 1st quarter finished with the Wolves leading 8 to 0.

The 2nd quarter began with #6 Eoin Reinhardt sacking North Kildare’s Quarterback and things seemed to be going well for Waterford. The Reapers weren’t going to lie down and take it though and fought back. #28 Matthew Kavanagh breaking through the Wolves defence for 6 points with seven and a half minutes left in the half. The game went tit for tat again until just before the two minute warning #72 Michéal O Coinn got a hand to the ball which Frankie Tchifo then took for his first interception of the season and took it agonisingly close to give Waterford another six points. The half finished with Waterford leading 8 to 6.

The third quarter was a tense affair but The Reapers offence pushed hard against the Wolves defence, with the Reapers eventually getting into the Wolves endzone again through a quarterback sneak, Luke Bailey getting the score and taking a 8 to 14 lead after the subsequent two point conversion was successful. The Reapers started the fourth quarter with their tails up and again and again pressed the Waterford defence with Vitaly Levdonski finally getting into the endzone again to increase their lead and following another 2pt. conversion the Reapers were now in a commanding 8 to 22 lead.

Photo by Siobhan Hennessy

Things were grim for the Wolves, but they didn’t quit, they fought back and with seven minutes left on the clock #25 Brian Sullivan broke through the North Kildare defensive line to give the Deise Men a glimmer of hope. This was quickly extinguished by the Reapers running back #28 Kavanagh, who to be fair had an excellent game as he took the ball back into the Waterford endzone inside the last two minutes of the game.  The score gave North Kildare a 28 to 14 lead and effectively ended Waterfords hopes at the IAFL championship.

The game finished with Waterford losing 28 to 14, and with it their fairy-tale ending. North Kildare aren’t champions yet though and still have to beat Drogheda Lightning in a match that had to be rescheduled. A win will give them promotion, but a loss will bring the Dublin Dragons into the picture for the coveted promotion place.