Eagles soar over Galway
The Wexford Eagles American football team moved to 3-0 for the season when they defeated the Galway Warriors, 21-6, in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd at the Naomh Eanna G.A.A. pitch in Gorey.
Wexford Eagles 21 Galway Warriors 6
In their three games to date, the Eagles have now outscored their opponents by a combined total of 82-20.
Wexford won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kick-off. A clearly inspired Warriors squad immediately pinned the Eagles deep in their own territory. Then, on just the second play from scrimmage, an almost unheard of event threatened to derail the Eagles' gameplan.
Having taken the hand-off from quarterback Sam Doran, Eagles running back Craig Broom swept to his right, then handed the ball off to wide receiver Terry Carey on a reverse.
The head referee didn't spot the exchange between Broom and Carey, so when Broom was tackled by the Warriors, the referee blew his whistle, ending the play. Carey, in the meantime, was running up the field without a single Warriors defender in sight!
The Wexford side's disappointment, however, was shortlived. On the very next play, Doran threw a short pass to Carey.
To the obvious delight of the home supporters and with an amazing run and some outstanding downfield blocking from Craig Morell and Pádraig de Brúin, Carey went 89 yards for the opening score.
'That one sequence of events pretty much sums up the Eagles,' said coach Kevin Klatt. 'Any time so far this year our team has been faced with adversity, the guys just get back in the huddle, figure something out and overcome whatever bad breaks they've been dealt.'
Carey kicked the conversion, and the Eagles led 7-0. However, the speedy wide receiver was far from done for the day.
In the second quarter, Carey scored another lengthy touchdown, running the exact same play the referee had blown dead at the beginning of the game. Again Carey converted the kick, putting Wexford 14-0 in the lead.
As they had done throughout the first-half, a spirited Eagles defence led by Luke Kenny, Artur Guz and Seán Griffiths forced Galway to punt late in the second quarter. With less than a minute remaining, Doran found tight end Darren Greene near the right sideline.
Greene evaded a number of tacklers before finally being stopped on the Galway twelve-yard line. Wexford running back Liam McLaughlin then rampaged through the middle of the Warriors line for nine yards, and with less than ten seconds on the clock, Doran completed an amazing drive by faking a hand-off to Broom before sprinting into the endzone untouched.
Carey's conversion gave the Eagles an unassailable 21-0 lead at the break.
The second-half saw the Eagles again dominate their opponents on both sides of the line of scrimmage. While Wexford didn't score, they ground down the clock on offence, while the defence continuously harried and frustrated the Galway side.
Halfway through the final quarter, Galway scored their only touchdown on a long pass which barely eluded Eagles defenders Declan Scott and Johnny Kavanagh. When the Warriors regained possession later in the quarter, however, and tried a similar pass, Kavanagh was on hand to break up the play, tipping the ball away from the Galway receiver.
Eagles defensive back Carl Coates was on hand to intercept the tipped pass, handing possession back to Wexford. The Eagles, thanks to strong runs from McLaughlin, Paulie O'Brien and Broom, ran out the clock, leaving Wexford undefeated at the half-way point of the team's first season.
Coach Ivan Lynch summed up the Eagles mentality when he said: 'We will play our way, our style, regardless of the opposition, refereeing decisions, the weather or the crowd. We will control all our own actions and plays for three hours, secure in the knowledge that we will dictate the outcome'.
The Eagles now have an extended break; their next game is on July 10, when they travel to the capital to face the North Dublin Pirates.
The next home game is July 31, versus the Razorbacks of Northern Ireland.