Following defeat in the IAFL 1 Bowl Game in 2015 the Cork Admirals immediately set about getting back to that final again in 2016 and now the club now finds themselves one step away from achieving that goal with a semi final match up against the Westmeath Minotaurs on Sunday at 2pm in Dolphin RFC.
The journey started with the assembly of a new coaching setup under the stewardship of head coach Alan Lomasney and many training sessions in the preseason winter rain moulded the squad of players, including many rookies, into a team.
The season began with strong win a 30-3 away against Waterford Wolves followed by home and away wins against South Kildare Soldiers 24-0 and 50-0. A broken leg for quarterback Stephen Hayes threatened to halt the run but Jimmy Diedrich stepped into the breach and kept the prolific offence rolling. The games got tighter and tougher and the Admirals kept the winning streak alive with a last minute touchdown and two point conversion in Mullingar against Sunday’s opposition just enough to finish 20-13 winners. A comfortable 36-14 home win against the then undefeated West Dublin Rhinos set up a chance at running the table. Another strong finish away to the Meath Bulldogs saw The Admirals recover from another deficit to win 30-13 and go 6-0. Barry Rafferty took over at QB and even though The Louth Mavericks led at the half in game seven Rafferty steered The Admirals to come from behind to win 22-9. In the final regular season game at home against last year’s bowl game tormentors the Waterford Wolves it was touch and go right to the end with Paul O’Driscoll navigating the Admirals to victory at 14-7.
And now the Admirals are back to where they want to be. The club have been aiming and striving all year to be in this position. The two teams in this playoff match up know each other well and it’s the fourth meeting between the pair in the last two years. Cork have had slightly the better of the exchanges but won’t be taking the game for granted in the slightest.
The Cork side will look to offensive playmakers like Paul O’Driscoll, Cillian McGilicuddy, Brian McCarthy and Nic Coffi to put up some points. The offence has been built on a strong offensive line anchored by Admirals veteran Rob Hennessey at center and coached by Trevor O’Connell. On the defensive side of the ball Coach Séan McKnight will trust in Harris Monagan who is the heartbeat of the unit at middle linebacker with Ayo Mumuni also having a storming season at safety.
The game promises to be an exciting affair between two well matched sides that can both run and throw the football. Kickoff is at 2pm on Sunday in Dolphin RFC.