The Belfast Trojans fell to a narrow 16-13 defeat to the University of Limerick Vikings to drop to 4-1 on the 2016 season.
In just their second SBC loss in five years, the Trojans fought hard but were forced to rue mistakes at critical times losing a nail biter to the Vikings squad at the UL Sports Ground.
Mark McVeigh made his first start for Belfast at quarterback and led the team admirably in the absence of James McKelvey, throwing two touchdowns, both to David Colvin, but it wasn’t enough as a Sean Sheehy field goal with less than six minutes remaining would be enough for the hosts.
Both defences dominated early, but it was the Vikings who got on the board first, with some power running from Shane Gleeson and some shoddy tackling by the Trojans D allowing UL to move into the redzone. From there, Ian Cahill found his wide receiver on a slant route and he crossed for six to take the lead.
The Trojans responded midway through the second quarter. On a third down and long, the pass protection held up superbly and McVeigh heaved one up and Colvin miraculously came down with the ball despite being blanketed by three Viking defenders and he took it the rest of the way to kick start the Trojans offence.
There was still time for UL to retake the lead before the half, a strong run up the middle making it 13-6 at the break to the hosts.
The second half became a stop-start affair with a number of penalties disrupting play. Late in the third quarter the Trojans would respond. After a fumble recovery by Mark McGrath gave Belfast great field position, McVeigh found Colvin whose defender slipped allowing him space to weave past another two men and draw the Trojans level.
Into the fourth quarter and it was UL who would ease ahead with a superb 30 yard field goal from Sheehy. There was still ample time for the Trojans to respond and they did superbly driving up the field with solid running from Jona Siri and Matt Armstrong. However there would be a fumbled exchange on one hand off caused by disruptive linebacker Adrian Garvey and that gave back the ball to Limerick.
Credit the Belfast defence though they would conjure up a fantastic three-and-out with linebackers Neil Graham and Jonny McConnell stuffing the run and Alex Kusmirek breaking up a pass on third down.
So with less than two minutes to go the Trojans knew a touchdown would give them the win. A roughing the pass call was a big help to the Trojans which was followed by a nice swing pass to Siri out the backfield to move them well into UL territory. Another 15 yard penalty followed and the second ejection of the game for a Viking player after an unnecessary roughness call on Dave Richardson going over the middle.
However an unsportsmanlike penalty on the Trojans wiped out that penalty and on the next play that would be all she wrote. McVeigh looked left on the single coverage to Jack Millar with a deep ball but the pass was short and inside and easily picked off by defensive back Sheehy sealing the victory.
Limerick notched their first win over the Trojans in their fifth attempt to move to 5-0 on the season. If all goes to plan and the Trojans bounce back to winning form we could be set for an epic Shamrock Bowl in August.