The Cork Admirals got the regular season underway last Sunday when they got the better of Munster rivals UL Vikings winning out 35 -3 in PBC Sportsgrounds in Dennehy’s Cross. After a long and hard preseason players and coaches were eager to get games underway. While this was the Admirals first game of the new year UL came into the game on the back of a defeat two weeks previously to the Dublin Rebels.
Conditions were ideal for a game of football. Even though a shower of rain threatened to dampen the proceedings for a few moments at kickoff time the sun shone and the warm temperatures were a much welcome change from the polar conditions of previous weeks.
The two sides had faced off twice during last season’s campaign and it was the Limerick side who had claimed the spoils on both occasions including ending the Admirals run in the playoffs. Cork had reloaded during the offseason. Along with a strong core of veterans returning several new players joined the roster with some graduating from the ranks of the Admirals Youth team.
The Admirals were the first to open the scoring. After a punt from Kit O’Keeffe on the opening drive pinned the Vikings deep the Cork defence swarmed the UL quarterback in the end zone with Jimmy Diedrich coming up with the sack for a safety. A short kick-off out of bounds had the Admirals in good field positon and after some good offensive play mixing run and pass, quarterback Stephen Hayes found receiver Kieran Kiely who finished the play diving for the line to beat the defender and get the score. The resulting PAT was blocked and the Admirals led 8-0.
The Vikings then had their best period of the game. Following a first down the Limerick QB found space to break out a big run but was chased down for only a thirty yard gain when a score looked on. A completed deep pass put the Vikings in striking distance inside the ten but the Admirals defence held firm and following a pair of negative plays the Vikings elected to kick a field goal and the scoreboard read 8-3 just a few seconds into the second quarter.
That second quarter was tit for tat. The Admirals had the better of field position and threatened the UL line on two occasions but couldn’t add to the lead. The Admirals defence had stiffened up considerably and the Vikings were finding it much harder to move the chains. The Admirals defensive line of Aaron Hogan, Bryan O’Brien, Mike D’Angelo and Jimmy Diedrich were proving tough to handle. Inside the two minute warning the Admirals looked like they were going to get the next score but a pass into the end zone was dropped when a score looked more likely. On the resulting possession the Vikings elected to try and play hurry up to get ahead before the break but with only seconds left in the half Cork Admirals Strong Safety Ayo Mumuni blew the game open picking off the UL quarterback and returning the ball for a timely score. Kieran Murphy added the PAT and the score was 15-3 at the half.
In the corresponding fixture twelve months previously the Admirals had held a similar advantage at the half but came undone in the fourth quarter. This time around they were determined not to be denied. After a short UL drive to start the second half the Admirals took control of the game. Youth team graduate Phylip Walters continued to run well and got the Admirals into the redzone on a pair of fantastic long carries. Hayes continued to pick out his receivers and Jahn Dasisni, Kiely, Walters, Andrew Lyons and 2017 MVP Cillian McGillycuddy all added to their catches. It was McGillycuddy who got the next score again finishing a run with a dive across the line. The following Admirals possession resulted in Walters getting across himself for a well-deserved score on the day. By the time the fourth quarter was a minute old McGillycuddy had raced clear to increase his tally and the Admirals looked home and dry at 35-3.
Both sides continued to play hard all the way to the finish. It was Admirals cornerback Dave Healy who finished the game picking off a long passing attempt allowing the Admirals to kneel out the clock. All in it was a satisfying start to the 2018 campaign for the Admirals. Despite some expected early season rust the offense put together a number of long drives and got into the end zone four times. The Admirals defensive unit looked solid throughout and got on the scoreboard themselves on a pair of occasions.
The slate gets even tougher now for the Admirals with back to back games against the reigning champions Dublin Rebels. First up is a road trip to Santry on Sunday 15th April.