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.
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.