The Belfast Trojans put on a show in front of their fans, moving to 4-0 on the season with an emphatic 43-8 win over the Dublin Rebels at Deramore Park.
The reigning champions were playing at home for the first time this season and produced their most polished performance of the campaign so far to ease past an under-par Dublin outfit.
Belfast started with the ball on offence and it was back to the ground and pound as Neil Montgomery and David Colvin took advantage of a 6-man front running the ball into the redzone. A McKelvey to Richardson connection took the ball to the one yard line, with the quick-thinking quarterback sneaking in on fourth down to open the scoring.
Rick Duffield intercepted an errant Andy Dennehy pass on the first Rebel offensive series and early in the second quarter David Colvin would cross for six after a lung-bursting run from Montgomery took it down to the one. Greg Gibson booted a 40-yard field goal to make it 16-0 at the break.
In the second half the Trojans kicked it up a gear, with the defence once again standing firm and the Trojan offence taking advantage of a tiring Rebel front four.
Montgomery finally got on the board with a 35-yard scamper early in the third quarter, before McKelvey put the ball where only Richardson could get it, beating double coverage and plucking it out of the air in the endzone for his league-leading fifth touchdown of the season.
The touchdown of the game came halfway through the final quarter, as Rick Duffield intercepted another wild Dennehy pass. The safety ran the ball to the Dublin 30 and lateral passed the ball backwards to Chris Mikhael before being tackled and his fellow safety took it the rest of the way to send the watching fans into raptures.
Promising rookie James Lynn got his first Trojan touchdown late on, reeling in another delicious ball from signal caller McKelvey.
Even a late Dublin touchdown on a powerful run from Sean Leamy couldn’t take the shine off what was a fantastic home opener for the champions.
There will be no respite for the Trojans as they get straight back to work this coming Sunday, hosting the Carrickfergus Knights at Deramore Park, kick off 2pm.
The win is tinged with sadness for us as we say goodbye to legendary Trojans Linebacker Rob Lyttle. Rob has been a feared competitor, loyal player and loved brother. We are weaker for his loss on the pitch but stronger for having him in our lives.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF DAVE BRADSHAW