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