The Cork Admirals improved to 3-1 for the season with a 28-0 win over the Louth Mavericks on Sunday. Following a scrappy and fragmented first half the score remained deadlocked at the break. But after the resumption the Admirals kicked into gear. Quarterback Stephen Hayes connected with four different receivers for four touchdowns to record a comfortable win by the finish.
The game was played in perfect conditions in Dundalk RFC. The sun shone and a gentle breeze kept the temperatures at a very bearable level throughout.
The Admirals got possession to start and moved the ball into the Mavericks half. Two big plays were called back for holding including what would have been a 35 yard passing TD from Stephen Hayes to Jahn Daisni with the penalty yards eventually strangling the drive. The Admirals defense were dominant from the off. Ayo Mumuni keeping up his early season form getting close to a pick on the first play before securing one a few plays later.
This pattern of possessions repeated throughout the half, the Admirals racking up the yards on offense but all too often inopportune flags erased a lot of good work. Even with a pair of injuries during the first quarter to the starting eleven the Admirals were able to rely on veteran defenders Marty Mulrey and in particular Bryan O’Brien to keep the ball moving on the ground. The defense was solid throughout that time with the Mavericks struggling to move the ball and only a few first downs were conceded. Rookie corner Dan Sheedy came up with his first pick of the season also. The Admirals offense came close to troubling the scoreboard on a couple of more occasions. A promising drive finished with a pick in the end zone on fourth down and another saw a deep pass come off the receivers fingers with the defensive cover beaten and the open field beckoning.
Into the second quarter and the frustrating trend continued. Sheedy got his hands on another interception and broke a pair of tackles while running the ball into the end zone but the score was wiped off the board for a roughing the passer call. After the next play the Mavericks had possession on Cork’s five yard line. A targeting call followed by a flurry of unsportsmanlike flags flipped the field and gave the Louth team a first and goal. But the Cork Defense didn’t yield. Aidan Waters had a crucial play on the goal line timing the blitz perfectly, sacking the quarterback and knocking the Mavericks back. The possession finished with a missed field goal under pressure and a sigh of relief from the Cork sideline. There was still time for the Mavs to have another shot at getting on the scoreboard. Following a Cork turnover in the redzone the Mavericks finished the drive with another field goal attempt but again the ball drifted wide of the goals and the teams remained level at the break 0-0.
The Admirals managed to avoid the drive killing penalties in the second half and began to get some separation on the scoreboard. Sean Tynan had a huge sack to help keep the Admirals defense in the ascendency. Kieran Murphy in at defensive tackle then pounced on a loose ball to earn great field position. The Admirals got on the board when Hayes connected with Cillian McGillycuddy. In a trademark score from the two McGillycuddy wriggled free from a tackler and made another miss before crossing the line. Murphy added the PAT and the Ads led 7-0.
The Cork defense marshaled by Waters were still in the ascendency. Sam Lawlor looked menacing throughout at linebacker and the rotation on the line were making life very difficult for the opposition. The Mavericks never looked like making a breakthrough and the field position battle was also strongly in Corks favour. The Admirals could have gone further ahead in the third quarter but a pass into the end zone on third down went off the receivers fingers when a score appeared imminent. The resulting field goal attempt was missed and the Mavericks were still in the game. The following pair of possessions settled the outcome. A big effort on kick off coverage pinned the Mavericks deep and Tynan got home again to push the home side back to the one yard line. The resulting punt didn’t give them much breathing room and it only took one play for Hayes to connect with Kit O’Keeffe for another score. Murphy again added the PAT, 14-0 and the Admirals had some breathing room.
Some of the younger guys in particular on the Cork offense came into their own throughout that second half. Just turned twenty but playing like a ten year veteran Jahn Dasini racked up a staggering eleven catches for just under two hundred yards, added another important play with a big punt return and capped the game with the final score. Andrew Lyons who was playing with a heavy heart following a family bereavement leading into the game burst into the spotlight in the second half. He strung together a series of catches, filled in at running back carrying well earning a key first down. Lyons a man of man names finished with well over one hundred receiving yards and a score which was a fitting return for the performance. Murphy added the extras for both scores and the Admirals kneeled out the game 28-0 winners.
With the win the Admirals move to top of the SBC South at the half way point in the regular season with a record of three wins and one loss. Also topping the SBC scoring charts through four games are Hayes with eleven passing touchdowns and Dasini with four receiving touchdowns. Next up for the Admirals is another road trip to Dublin to take on the South Dublin Panthers in two weeks time. Time to get back to the grind.