Eagles are still flying high

Published 30/07/2016 | 00:00

Members of the Eagles squad
Members of the Eagles squad

In an utterly dominant performance, the Wexford Eagles continued their unbeaten run in their first-ever season when they completely overwhelmed the North Dublin Pirates, 40-7.

Eagles 40 Pirates 7

The game was played in windy conditions at the Malahide Rugby Club. The win over the Dubliners guarantees the Wexford side a place in the IAFL2 Bowl at the end of the season, where they will face the Donegal-Derry Vipers.

Wexford kicked off to start the game, and it soon became clear that Dublin were in for a long and difficult afternoon. The Eagles front line of Dylan Gregan, James Crean, Seán Griffiths, Henry Foxton and Thomas O'Reilly continually stopped the Pirates' running backs for little or no gain.

On the odd occasion a Dublin player did break free, they were met with ferocious tackles from the Eagles' Johnny Kavanagh, Carl Coates, Declan Scott, Artur Guz, Killian Magee and Michael Hassett.

Once the Pirates were forced to kick the ball away, the Eagles offence took over. Wexford can now boast the most prolific offence in the IAFL2 division, and they quickly showed why.

After opening with a short run from Paulie O'Brien, on the second play, Sam Doran threw downfield to tight end Darren Greene who made a spectacular catch in spite of the close attention of no fewer than three Pirate defenders.

Four plays later, running back Craig Broom took a hand-off from Doran and swept to his right, before handing the ball off to wide receiver Terry Carey on a split end reverse. Carey sprinted around the left end, and with the help of some exceptional downfield blocking by Doran and Paddy Bissett, raced into the endzone for the game's first score. Carey also kicked the conversion to make the score 7-0 to Eagles.

The rest of the first-half continued in the same vein. The Eagles defence was absolutely unrelenting, and the offence continually shredded the Pirates defence. Wexford's second touchdown drive, which ended with a perfect pass from Doran to Greene, took only two plays. By half-time, the Eagles led 27-0.

At the start of the third quarter, Dublin made their first serious drive of the game, finally breaking down the Eagles' tenacious defence and scoring their only touchdown. Not content to sit on their lead, however, the Eagles immediately hit back.

On the very next drive, they pounded the ball upfield, featuring some outstanding runs from Liam McLaughlin. The drive ended with Broom's five-yard touchdown run, his first as an Eagle.

That score seemed to completely deflate the Pirates, but the Eagles were not finished. Eager to reach the 40-point mark for the first time, they found themselves with outstanding field position after Johnny Kavanagh returned a punt deep into Pirate territory. The drive ended with Greene scoring his fourth touchdown, and Carey's extra point sealed the 40-7 victory.

'We came here today knowing that a win would give us a spot in the Bowl game,' said coach Kevin Klatt. 'Getting to that Bowl game was one of our key goals at the start of the season, but we're not done yet. This team is good enough to go undefeated for the season, something no "rookie" team has ever done in the history of the IAFL (Irish American Football League).'

When asked for his reaction to the game, coach Ivan Lynch stated: 'Teamwork is the key to our success. Discipline in training and on the field is at the forefront of what great teams are made of, and the Wexford Eagles have those things in spades'.

The Eagles next take on the Razorbacks of Northern Ireland. That game will be played on Sunday, July 31, at the Naomh Eanna Garden City G.A.A. grounds in Gorey. Kick-off will be at 2 p.m., and the Eagles are hoping for a huge turn-out.

'We are in the Bowl game, but before that we still have two regular season games we want to win,' said defensive captain Artur Guz. 'We want to play that Bowl game as an undefeated team, and nothing gives us that extra boost more than our supporters, who are our 12th player, that most important player, which we need now more than ever!'

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