Review: AFI Gameweek 9

Just 2 games in last weekend’s slate to review today, taking at opposite ends of the island, but with plenty of knock-on effects for the Premier Division picture moving forward. Who took steps forward, who stumbled at the midseason hurdle? Let’s take a look and see!

Craigavon Cowboys  (0-5) 6-28 Cork Admirals (4-0)
Making his debut for the Admirals senior squad after rising through the National Youth Football Champion program, Jake Kennedy had a productive day under center, throwing for 3 touchdowns in a performance that will have a lot of heads turning. Keeping things moving through the air through the likes of Ryan Price and Jack Cronin, the Admirals got the run game going consistently too. Spreading the load between multiple runners, Cork had more than 140 yards from 20 carries Sunday, in a game that shows the Admirals are a well-built unit from top to bottom on offense. That cohesion follows across to the defense too who, through a number of players, recorded 2 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles and a recovery — a performance they will look to replicate this Saturday in Belfast versus the Trojans (2-2).  For Craigavon, Sunday marked another tough day at the office, although there is an upward trend beginning to form here that may see the Cowboys recover just enough to avoid the drop at the end of the season. Starting off strong with an early score against a team like the Admirals will be the type of push the Craigavon coaching staff will be pushing for from their players until the end of June and it might see them come out with an upset victory before too long.

Westmeath Minotaurs (1-3) 8-28 Belfast Knights (1-3)
A great win in front of the Knights who sent their final home crowd for the season home happy as they came away 28-8 victors over the Minotaurs. The Knights opened the scoring gates early with touchdowns on their first 2 drives, and had brought the scoring up to 28-0 before halftime. Daithi McShane, quickly becoming a popular target for Spencer McDowell scored 2 receiving touchdowns on red zone targets, while on defense Johnny Hedley caught his first interception on the season. The Knights are well-known for their force in the trenches in that was at the forefront of this game. The Minotaurs, unable to consistently get push on the Knights on either side of the ball, never truly put the result of the game in doubt in the second half — despite some drives coming close to (and eventually crossing via a Joe Kinahan to Cathal Dunne connection) the goalline. Moving forward, the Knights will be keen on starting a win streak this coming Sunday when they take on the Panthers (1-3). Over their break week before they face the Trojans in Mullingar, the Minotaurs will need to figure out their first-half woes — and get back to more productive offensive performances — if they are to make a last-ditch push for playoff contention, as H2H tiebreaker losses with the Panthers, and (currently) the Knights after last Sunday has them behind the 8-ball on that front.