2017 Season starts with a win.

The Belfast Trojans kicked off their 2017 season with a thrilling 49-34 victory over University College Dublin.

The game was a rematch of the 2016 SBC semi final, but in stark contrast to that low-scoring 10-7 Belfast win, this was an offensive shootout with both teams piling up the yards and points.

Both quarterbacks were firing on all cylinders, with Trojans’ Mark McVeigh and UCD’s Tom Donovan finding receivers with precise accuracy.

It was the Trojans who opened the scoring on their first offensive play from scrimmage. It was 2016 MVP Jona Siri who got his year off to the perfect start. The running back bounced a run off right tackle to the edge, before displaying his trademark speed to out run a number of UCD defenders and open the scoring from over 60 yards out. The Trojans defence continued their good start to the game with Neil Graham notching a sack of Donovan. A good punt pinned the Trojans deep but a fantastic 85 yard drive was capped when full back Jake Warry ploughed in from close range to double the lead.

Belfast would add to the lead in the second quarter. McVeigh was spreading the ball around nicely with rookie Aidan Gribbon catching a ball in the endzone and expertly dragging his feet, meaning his first career catch went for six points. It would soon be 28-0 when another new boy Adam Cole snagged a ball in the endzone to cap another smart Trojans drive. UCD bounced back soon after though, Donovan leading the students down the field to get off the mark.

The halftime score was 35-6 though as Mohamed Ramadan added to the offensive outburst catching an out route before taking it in from close range to score his first career touchdown. After the break UCD came back with a bang. The 28 point deficit was quickly reduced to seven with around 9 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Donovan was on fire in the second half, evading pressure, scrambling for yards as well as keeping his eyes downfield and finding and open receiver.

The Trojans offence though took over, after a stuttering third quarter. Jona Siri returned to the game after leaving just before halftime and he sparked the offence back to life with some solid running. McVeigh found David Richardson deep down the right sideline and the veteran was shoved out of bounds at the two yard line, with an unfortunate injury being suffered by a UCD defender. Siri took it in from two yards to restore the two score advantage before a 40 minute stoppage as the injured UCD player could be taken to hospital.

After the restart the Trojans turned the ball over on the very first play. A botched handoff between Donovan and his running back saw rookie defensive lineman Ross Thain dive on the loose ball giving the Trojans excellent field position to kill the game. Siri again made no mistake and brought up his hatrick with another strong run to cap a fantastic day for the star running back. Not even a late UCD consolation score could take the shine off a great start to the season for the Trojans, as they look to climb back to the top.

Belfast will be back in action on Sunday 26 March as they make another trip south to take on student opposition in the form of Trinity College Dublin.

Photo: Bob Given Photography. 

Bowl streak halted by Rebels

Ireland has new Shamrock Bowl champions after the Dublin Rebels beat the Belfast Trojans 12-7 in Shamrock Bowl 30 at Tallaght Stadium.

As is typical with finals in the majority of sports nowadays, the game was a nervy affair with so much at stake. However it was the Rebels who would make the timely play with just 13 seconds remaining to win the game. Dublin Quarterback Andy Dennehy slotted the ball between two Trojan linebackers to receiver Ciarán Fitzpatrick on an inside seam route and he took it in from 18 yards out to spark wild celebrations on the Rebels sideline. With 10 seconds left on the clock the game was effectively over, and with it the Trojans four-year reign as Irish Champions.

The game was littered with Trojan turnovers. First David Colvin had the ball knocked out after taking in a swing pass, before miscommunication between David Richardson and James McKelvey led to two interceptions. Of all the times for the Trojan offence to splutter, this couldn’t have been a worse time.

The Rebels took the lead near the end of the first quarter. Despite getting down to the goal line, the Rebels offence ran into the stiff wall of the Trojans defence as they tried to run the ball in, but on fourth down Dennehy went to the air and found his receiver on an in route for the opening touchdown. It was 6-0 at the break and the Trojans were in desperate need of finding a spark.

However it was a completely different tale the second half. Out came the Trojans firing on all cylinders to score on their opening drive and take back momentum. An 80 yard drive, with Jona Siri and Neil Montgomery churning out tough yards the ground was capped by Montgomery as he ploughed over from in close to put the Trojans up 7-6.

A tight defensive battle ensued but the Trojans were still finding a way to help the Rebels, with a fumble by Montgomery once again giving the Dublin outfit excellent field position. The Belfast defence, despite being put in tough situations all day, were outstanding however, keeping the Rebels out of the endzone.

The turning point in the game came inside two minutes. Another untimely fumble by the Trojans signal caller McKelvey meant the Rebels would get the ball back with a chance to win the game. They moved the ball down to 22 yard line before facing a fourth down. A hand off to Wello Omo over the left side was met by a hoard of Trojan defenders and it looked as though the running back was short of the line to gain. However the chains were brought on and the Rebels had picked up the first down by the nose of the football. It meant the drive continued and Dennehy put the final nail in the Trojans coffin as he found Fitzpatrick to put the Rebels 12-7 ahead and end Belfast’s four-year domination.

The Trojans, forever humble in defeat, clapped the new champions up to the podium as they lifted the Shamrock Bowl trophy in front of a decent crowd at Tallaght.

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They may be down but they certainly aren’t out. European competition beckons for the Trojans at the end of September in Luxembourg, before an autumn of rest ahead of the start of the 2017 season where the four-time champions will aim to make the climb back to the top and prove themselves a true dynasty.

PHOTOS: PixlFlix

Trojans secure a place in their fifth consecutive Shamrock Bowl

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The Belfast Trojans booked a place in Shamrock Bowl XXX with a hard fought 10-7 victory over SBC South Winners UCD at Sportslink in Dublin. The win means that the Trojans have made it to their fifth consecutive national championship game and will take on the Dublin Rebels, Ireland’s most successful American Football Club, who defeated the University of Limerick Vikings 20-12 in the other SBC Semi Final.

Shamrock Bowl XXX takes place at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin on Sunday August 7th, Kick off is 3:00pm.

Tickets are available now and you can get yours here

https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/shamrock-bowl-30-tickets-25474904124?aff=trojans

We hope to see you there as the Green Machine tries to secure their fifth national championship

#driveforfive

One step closer…

After a 31-16 win over the Carrickfergus Knights at Deramore Park, the Belfast Trojans advanced to the Shamrock Bowl semi-finals.

The four-time reigning champions will now travel south to take on UCD, who won the SBC southern division.

It was scorching hot day in Belfast for the wildcard encounter with the Knights and it was the Trojans who stormed out to a dominant 14-0 lead inside the first quarter.

Jona Siri was once again the Trojan hero, notching a hat-trick of touchdowns on the day, the first a superb outside run handing off two would-be tacklers before crossing from 40 yards out. It was soon 14-0 when James McKelvey found David Richardson with a trademark pass with the wide receiving showing nifty feet in the back of the endzone to extend the lead.

Fantastic work on defence, when a Rick Duffield interception set up short field position for Belfast, meant Siri again rushed for a touchdown after moving into the redzone.

It was another fantastic drive from the Trojans offence with the running game hitting stride as David Colvin returned to the backfield for the first time this season. After the slow start, Carrickfergus hit back through a Marty Caskey field goal and a Adam Devenney touchdown pass to Josh Davis.

However Siri again took the wind right out the Knights sails on the ensuing kick off, following his blockers 100 yards for another textbook return touchdown.

Into the second half and the game became scrappy with a number of penalties halting any flow to the game. Indeed a Rick Duffield field goal in the third quarter was the only Trojan score of the 2nd half with a number of penalties killing drives, mistakes that simply won’t do against a top-class UCD squad this coming Sunday.

A late Gareth Millar score for the Knights closed the gap but the result was never in doubt as the Trojans got the job done to move on to the SBC Semi-final.

UCD awaits for the Trojans on Sunday, a clash that has been long in the making given that the teams haven’t squared off in any of the Trojans last four title-winning campaigns.

Quarterback Tom Donovan is the premier dual-threat signal caller in Ireland and will test the Trojans’ defence while the UCD defensive unit, as with most student squads, will be fast and athletic.

It should be fantastic semi final with a place in the showpiece Shamrock Bowl final at stake.

PHOTO: BOB GIVEN