The Cork Admirals Youth Team took home the silverware at the end of the 2018 IAFA Youth Season with a resounding 36-16 victory over the South Kildare Soldiers last Sunday. The Admirals and Soldiers had previously met earlier in the season with the young Admirals coming out on top 28-14. The second time the sides clashed would decide where the title went as the Cork young guns needed to best the 2017 champion Soldiers a second time to take home the crown.
The game was played in near perfect autumn football weather on an immaculate surface at the National Sports Campus in Dublin. The conditions suited all sides as the two teams brought an abundance of pace and offensive talent to the table with both offenses racking up the points in the previous games against other opponents. In what was likely to be a shootout the Admirals were able to consistently move the ball and score, notching up a touchdown on every offensive series with the exception of kneeling out the win. The Cork defensive unit was able to force a number of stops and turnovers to build a lead which was comfortable by the end of the game.
The Soldiers took the ball first but found themselves behind the chains early. A disastrous play for the Kildare side saw a poor snap bounce around in the backfield before being recovered in the end zone for a safety and a 2-0 lead to the Admirals. The Admirals got the football and immediately drove down the field. Speedy running back Fionnán Cremin reeled off three consecutive first downs on his first three carries before Admirals quarterback Daniel Sheedy connected with tight end Mark Healy down the seam for a twenty yard score. Sheedy connected with receiver Michael Hand for the two point try and the Admirals were in control at 10-0.
As anticipated the Soldiers began to fight their way back into the game. A series of tough runs got them out to the halfway and they converted on a key third down to put themselves in scoring range. Two plays later they were in and after a successful two point attempt the score was 10-8 to the Admirals.
The Admirals weren’t looking like they would be stopped at the this point on offense. With all the Soldiers defenders keying in on Cremin, Sheedy found more room to manoeuvre and ran the ball on a number of successive carries out to the halfway. The Admirals O-Line of Christopher Coleman O’Neill, Joseph Doran and anchored in the center by Conor “TC” McCarthy were well up for the contest. They were in control in the trenches; opening big gaps and punishing defenders on every play. Sheedy scrambled for a big gain after dropping back and then Cremin got the ball into the redzone on a trademark weaving run. Sheedy and Cremin then combined on a speed option play with Sheedy freezing the defender before releasing Cremin for the second Admirals touchdown; O’Neill showing great effort to get downfield for the final block on the safety. Again Sheedy connected with Hand for the two point play and the Admirals were now ahead 18-8.
The Soldiers had one more possession before the half. In an ongoing pattern the Admirals line of McCarthy, Darragh Murphy and Seweryn Kosmalski continued to get pressure on the Soldiers QB. The Soldiers did manage to move the ball into the Admirals half behind some good scrambling under pressure from the Soldiers QB but as the seconds were ticking down the Admirals were keeping the play in front of them. Mark Healy broke up the only attempted deep pass and the Admirals took the 18-8 lead to the half.
The Admirals blew the game open in the start of the second half. On the first play the O-Line opened a huge crease in the middle of the line against pressure from the Soldiers defense and Cremin again knifed through for a forty five yard gain on a blast. On the very next play a toss sweep to Cremin got ball into the end zone for his second score of the day, the speedster putting a move on a defender in space that left him clutching at air. The two point attempt, which was a short pop pass to Kian O’Connor on a jet sweep came up just short of the line so the Admirals led 24-8.
The pressure was on the Soldiers to respond but it was the Admirals defense who stepped up to help the Cork side take a strangle hold on the game. Hand who was in fantastic form on the defensive side of the ball had another two big tackles to force the Soldiers into a fourth down deep inside their own half. Linebackers Joseph Doran and Christopher Coleman O’Neill combined for the stop on the short yardage play and it was Admirals ball again.
Back on offense Hand got the chains moving on a sweep before Kian O’Connor took the ball on the next play on another jet sweep for fifteen yards and a touchdown. The two point passing play fell incomplete but the Admirals were now well in the ascendency at 30-8.
The Soldiers rallied again and strung together their best passage of play of the game. A short completion went all the way for a big score and with another successful two point conversion the score was now 30-16.
Determined not to let the Soldiers have a sniff of a comeback the Admirals offense went right back to work. Cremin moved the chains again before Sheedy connected with Hand in stride on a go route down the sideline for fifty yards and a score. Joseph Doran ran in the two point try but the play was called was called back for a holding flag. The ensuing attempt fell incomplete with the score now 36-16.
The Soldiers still had another attempt with the football but Hand again was in the right place to rip the ball from Soldiers running back. Linebacker Jack Budden was in like a flash to scoop up the ball and secure possession for the Cork team. All that was left was for the Ads to kneel out the clock and see out an undefeated season.
Senior players Daniel Sheedy and Conor McCarthy lifted the trophy to cap an amazing personal achievement for the pair of bringing home SBC and Youth League Medals in the same year. Huge congratulations to all of the players in the squad who have been working hard for the last number of weeks to get ready for competition. Big well done also to all of the senior players who have worked with the squad to prepare them for games.
Thanks to all for your support. 2018 is now in the books. See you all again next season.