The Cork Admirals won their seventh game on the trot this year in the IAFL Division 1 last Sunday when they defeated the Louth Mavericks 22-9 at Carrigaline RFC. The game was a tough physical encounter with the defensive units on both sides dominating for long periods. The scoreboard was close throughout and the result was in the balance deep into the fourth quarter. The Admirals recovered from a 9-6 half time deficit scoring two second half touchdowns to take the win.
The sun was shining following the morning rain and a strong breeze was blowing straight down the field. The Admirals were starting the game without quarterback Jimmy Diedrich who was recovering from a shoulder injury picked up in the previous outing. Barry “Baz” Rafferty was under center for the Admirals in his first start in the position. The Mavericks defence was in the ascendency early picking off two passes on the first three drives and setting up great field position for Louth. The Mavericks were playing aggressive defence and the Admirals offence was having trouble getting out of first gear.
Lucky for the Admirals though was the fact that the defence hit the ground running and snuffed out any early opportunities. Defensive end Chris Allen had a huge hit on a sack on third down to finish one drive and Harris Monagan broke up a pass on another third down to force a field goal attempt. The Mavericks kicker nailed the attempt from forty yards and they took the lead at 3-0. The Mavericks threatened the Admirals end zone again on the following drive. On a second and goal from the four the Mavericks quarterback was flushed from the pocket and attempted to find a receiver in the corner of the endzone. Admirals’ safety Ayo Mumuni somehow managed to get in front of the receiver to catch the ball and keep his feet in bounds for a spectacular play, denying the Mavericks a score and recovering possession in the process.
This was the kick start play the team needed. The offence was beginning to find their feet and put together a huge drive. Eighty eight yards, thirteen plays and five first downs later the Admirals were on the board. Running backs Jason Dowling and Brian McCarthy ground out some tough runs. Barry Rafferty picked up a crucial first down on his feet along the way. The play of the game got the ball in the end zone. Following a holding call the Admirals were facing a third and long. Wide receiver Cillian McGillycuddy caught a low pass by the sideline and maintained his balance to spin inside the defender. Tight end Paul O’Driscoll and left tackle James O’Brien produced two huge blocks and McGillycuddy wove his way between them and sprinted past the cover to score from nineteen yards out. It was a fantastic catch and run that took a lot of pressure off the team and saw the Admirals lead 6-3.
But that lead was to be short lived, the Mavericks didn’t have much time to work with but took the lead on a short pass that turned into a very long score. The Mavericks receiver picked up a short pass by the sideline broke a tackle and won the foot race with the Admirals cover to retake the lead for the Mavericks at 9-6 and it was hard to say they weren’t full value for their three point lead at the half.
The second half had a much different feel for the Admirals. The Admirals defence began to exert their influence on the game in a big way. Defensive linemen Cathal “Soup” Buckley, Bryan “Bob” O’Brien and Rob Fitton were very prominent all day putting a lot of pressure on the Mavs passing game and Chris Allen was flourishing in his move to D End. On the third play from scrimmage in the half Allen got into the backfield and unleashed a big hit knocking the ball loose in the process. Linebacker John Madden was on hand to scoop up possession and hand a short field to the Admirals. Rafferty took care of the rest and a series of runs from the QB resulted in the second touchdown of the day for the Admirals. Rafferty in greedy mood added the 2PAT himself also and the Admirals held a 14-9 lead.
The Mavericks were struggling to move the chains on offence now. Two successive Louth drives went three and out and the clock ticked over into the fourth quarter. Another long Admirals drive stretched the lead and ate up the time that Louth needed. Vladamir La Greca had some good carries at running back and Brian McCarthy was tenacious with the ball in hand. Wideout Andrew Lyons popped up for a big reception taking a big hit but holding onto possession as is becoming his habit. The drive finished with McCarthy taking the ball around the edge and into the corner of the endzone for a well deserved score. Rafferty connected with O’Driscoll for the 2PAT and the Admirals had some breathing room at 22-9 with just over two minutes remaining.
The Mavericks hadn’t travelled all that way to go off quietly in the fourth quarter and to their credit they put together their best drive of the half in an effort to salvage the game. A string of completions saw them move into Admirals territory but the drive petered out when Ayo Mumuni knocked down a couple of passes and Harris Monagan had the last tackle stopping the Mavs short of a first down. There was just enough time for the Admirals to pick up the one first down they needed to kneel out the game.
The Admirals will be glad to have this one in the books as the Mavericks came to Cork and gave a really solid display. It took two huge plays from Ayo Mumuni and Cillian McGillycuddy in the first half to keep the Admirals in the game. The performance of the offensive line following the first quarter was also a difference maker for Cork. The Admirals were able to rely on the group of James O’Brien, Eoin Spillane, Rob Hennessy, Séan Tynan Stuart Donaldson and Séan “Countdown” Cooke to take control of the line of scrimmage and set the tone for a pair of long scoring drives. Worrying again though will be the accumulation of even more injuries with running back Jason Dowling going down again and the Admirals fourth quarterback of the year Barry Rafferty not able to finish out the game either.
The Admirals now move to 7-0 for the season and are building towards a run in the playoffs and a return to the IAFL Division 1 Bowl. The Admirals have never had an undefeated regular season and victory over the Waterford Wolves on July 3rd would deliver a great achievement. Lots of work to do still for the Admirals.