The Cork Admirals improved to 4-2-1 on the season by virtue of a 21-14 win over the South Dublin Panthers on Sunday last in Cork Institute of Technology Sports Stadium. The Admirals trailed for much of the game but a three touchdown burst on successive drives commencing late in the third quarter was to prove the scoring difference between the teams. Despite a late rally from the Panthers the Admirals were able to hold on for the win.
This football game was the centrepiece of a huge family fun day called the Stagparty.ie Bowl. The stands and surrounds of the game field were thronged with both seasoned and new football fans of all ages with the hustle and bustle and big crowds lending itself to a great atmosphere around the venue. The sun was beating down and both sides took to the field amid much fanfare feeling eager to put on a show in the fantastic setting.
The Admirals took the ball to start and struggled to make anything happen with the first possession. The drive nearly ended in disaster as the Panthers got a hand in to block the ensuing punt and recover the ball but fell just short of scoring on the return. The Admirals defence was unyielding and after three plays with nothing gained the Panthers were content to kick the short field goal to take a 3-0 lead.
A big return from the ensuing kickoff from Cillian McGillycuddy gave the Admirals a spark. McGillcuddy kept the chains moving on a long third down with a terrific catch and run after a pass from Stephen Hayes. The drive faltered deep in Panthers territory however and the resulting field goal drifted wide of the posts.
The remainder of the half would play out in a similar fashion to the opening few minutes. The Admirals moved the ball well in patches with McGillycuddy proving extremely difficult to contain and Jimmy Diedrich and Keith O’Callaghan racking up the yards on the ground. Two very promising drives came to a halt in Panthers territory after wayward throws were picked off by the Panthers.
The Admirals defence was marshalling the Panthers offence well but one big pass play threatened the line again with safety Dave Healy making a last gasp tackle after a long catch and run. Again the Panthers had to settle for a field goal from a promising position and a 6-0 lead. The South Dublin outfit also generated some momentum on a drive late in the half but veteran John O’Sullivan came away with the ball on a fantastic interception after another shot at the end zone from the Panthers.
The Admirals headed for the changing rooms with a lot of work to do to try and get ahead in the game. The Panthers in contrast would have been reasonably happy with their first half effort and were full value for their six point lead at the break. Meanwhile the crowds were treated to a thrilling half time performance of music and dance from the Montfort College of Performing Arts.
The Admirals were much more settled in the third quarter and after holding the Panthers offence in check went about taking the lead. The Admirals offensive line started to take control of the game which resulted in O’Callaghan and Diedrich making solid gains on the ground. Fittingly it would be McGillycuddy who would get the score catching a fade to the back pylon. Kicker Kieran Murphy added the PAT and the Admirals had the lead 7-6.
The loudest cheer of the day came on the next play when Rookie Sam Lawlor shook off a block to make a huge hit and tackle covering the kickoff. Lawlor’s play and the score got the Cork sideline all fired up and sense of confidence was emerging. Again the Admirals defensive unit kept the Panthers at bay. While the defensive line of Cathal Buckley, Mike Allshire, Bryan O’Brien and Séan Curtin were solid all day the linebacking corps of Harris Monagan, Conor Linehan, John O’Sullivan and Frankie Tshifo were dialled in on the Panthers run game and pressuring the quarterback at every turn.
The next Admirals offensive drive saw an increase in the run game and the Panthers looked in a spot of trouble holding back the red tide. As the clock ticked away in the fourth quarter the Admirals drove the ball down the length of the field. A crucial fourth down conversion from O’Callaghan set up Hayes who capped off the drive finding Paul O’Driscoll in the end zone and after another successful kick the Admirals held a 14-6 lead.
The Admirals were in the ascendancy now and when the following kickoff was allowed to bounce Andrew Lyons was the quickest to react diving between two Dublin players to secure possession. Admirals running Brian MacCarthy stretched the lead on the very next play taking the ball all the way to the house and 21-6 lead for the home team.
It looked like the Admirals were home and dry with just over two minutes remaining but the Panthers hadn’t read the script. They got themselves right back in the game scoring on a big passing play. The Dublin QB stood in the pocket and took a huge hit while delivering a terrific long ball which was gathered by his receiver and ran home. The Panthers went for two and after a poor snap the stand in quarterback was forced to scramble back to recover possession before heaving the ball into the end zone to his receiver who completed the play and kept the game alive at 21-14.
The Panthers went for the onside kick and an excellent kick bounced high before being gathered by the Dublin team. With only a minute left the game was still on. Twice the Panthers went for the deep ball and twice they were denied with Admirals cornerback Paul O’Farrell making a great play to knock away a pass on the goal line. Harris Monagan sealed the game for the home team when he read the quarterback and stepped in front of a throw over the middle for an interception to recover possession for the home team. With that the Admirals could kneel out for the win and draw breath after the Panthers gave the game everything they had in the final few minutes but came up just short of spoiling the party.
What a day! So many people to thank for such a great success - the StagParty.ie Bowl in partnership with Childrens Ward CUH. Our main club sponsor StagParty.ie, our zone sponsors CAB Motor Group and The East Village Bar, Restaurant & Hotel and our programme sponsors Bodibro and Ballincollig Coaches.
Our classic cars from GASCC Great American Steel Car Club.
Face painters and bouncy castles from Active Leisure and The Big Screen Machine Cork for our big screen to entertain our younger supporters.
Our quality food vendors Bad Boys BBQ,Volcano Woodfired Pizza, Doppio Coffee, The Crepe Man, Red Balloon and Swoon - Froyo.
St Johns Ambulance for their superb medical care.
MC Philip Bourke and the Corks RedFM 104-106 patrollers for creating a great atmosphere.
Ciaran O Sullivan for his excellent play by play commentary.
Scan Productions for their audio visual promotions.
Montfort College of Performing Arts for their amazing half time show.
Dara and the Red Bull Wiings team.
Ger Neff, Clive Thompson and Cork Institute of Technology - CIT for providing a superb venue.
Irish American Football Association for their support and supplying officials
South Dublin Panthers for a tough physical competitive game.
Finally and most importantly each and every person who showed up to support our great cause and cheer us on.
Next up for the Admirals is an away trip to face UCD next Sunday in Dublin. The Admirals have also now qualified for the playoffs in our first season back in the Shanrock Bowl Conference and will play away in the wild card round on July 23rd.
Back to the grindstone for the team with the most important football of the year still to be played, but what a day!!!!!!!!!!!