Review: 2023 AFI Kitted Gameweek 7

Sunday’s Gameweek 7 had a few blowouts — a recurring feature this season — but there were some tight games that provided some tense moments and big highlights. With 6 games taking place across all 3 divisions, there’s plenty to talk about and how it will impact the next couple weeks of action. Let’s take a look at what went down.

Division 2
North Dublin Pirates (0-2) 7-8 Causeway Giants (2-0)
The scoring opened up at Limepark in the first quarter early, with the visitors getting on the scoreboard after an Adam Keating touchdown run and an extra point conversion by Casey Nannery. The Giants responded quick, getting downfield and scoring on a 70 yard rush from Nathan Chapman. Perhaps sensing they could end up in a tight game, the Giants went for a 2-point conversion, successful due to the efforts of Peter McCaughin on the ground. A defensive battle ensued, with both sides limiting the other to very few opportunities to get into scoring range. Both sides blocked a field goal, and the Giants finished the game with possession of the ball killed the clock until the final whistle went. There may have been an expectation of the Giants to do more damage in this one, but it’s hard to not credit the Pirates for putting up a game as close as this, with it being a long time since they’ve put in a performance as competitive as this. Might things be quietly on the rise in North Dublin?

Division 1
Cill Dara Crusaders (2-1) 48-6 Antrim Jets (0-5)
The Jets suffered another big defeat Sunday, this time to the Crusaders who go up to 2-1 on their 2023 campaign. Jordan Farrell and the Cill Dara offense took off on Sunday, putting up 6 touchdowns. The Jets have struggled this season and have had few positives to speak of performance-wise, but getting on the scoreboard and bringing the points conceded down a bit. 

Premier Division
Cork Admirals (3-0) 22-12 Belfast Knights (0-3)
The Admirals continue their game of “Keep Up” at the top of the table with the Rebels after travelling near the length of the island to take on the Knights. Stephen Hayes yet again threw 3 touchdowns — one each to Aaron Hogan, Ryan Price and Jahn Dasini — for a statline that seems to be as consistent as the sun rising. It’s been a staple of the Admirals’ game for as long as they’ve been in the Premier Division, and yet it so rarely have they been stopped on offense. The defense, not to be forgotten about, more than played their part, sacking McDowell twice, forcing and recovering a fumble through Matthew Sibanyoni and limiting the hosts to just 12 points. The Admirals are on course for another playoff appearance this season, while the Knights need results soon to stay away from the bottom of the division and a potential relegation battle.

UCD (2-2) 28-13 Westmeath Minotaurs (1-2)
UCD got back on track with a win over the Minotaurs in Mullingar. Things started well for the Students who took a 22-0 lead going into halftime, with rushing touchdowns from Sean McVeigh and an Arun Mooney connection to Darragh Mooney. The second half told a different story, with the newly-promoted Minotaurs challenging the National champions through the air. QB Joe Kinahan threw a touchdown each to WRs Alan Campbell and Shaun Dalton (separated by Mooney throwing for his second touchdown, this time to Sean Douglas), as Westmeath threatened to claw the game back. A goalline fumble by the Minotaurs late in the fourth quarter killed any chance of a comeback, with UCD emerging victors from an entertaining game. UCD get a big surge of momentum before their matchup with Craigavon in Gameweek 8, while Westmeath put a good fight up against the National Champions as they build towards their busy May slate.

South Dublin Panthers (1-2) 6-61 Dublin Rebels (4-0)
This one got out hand. The Rebels dominated in a game we had tipped to be a bit more of a back-and-forth, with Rebels QB Ty Henry throwing for 5 TDs and rushing for one himself. Greg (x2) and Dave Johnson, Dave King and Jack Basquille were all on the end of Henry’s passing scores, while RB Wello Omorodion punched in 2 on the ground and Joe Krause twice picked off Finn Kearns, housing one for 6 points. All over the Panthers in all 3 phases, the Rebels stretched their record out to 4-0. HC Ross McCooey has got to be impressed with the product on the field this season, not just winning games but dominating in them. Averaging fifty points per game, the Rebels don’t seem to be in any mood to slow down any time soon.