By Scott Buchanan
2019 - What a year for the Craigavon Cowboys. There were some lows, but thankfully more great highs, such as 2 national titles, league champions and a Team Ireland Represent! It’s seems only right after such a year to have a quick look back and see what happened. Let’s have our 2019 review!
January - A quiet month to start off the year, as we started back to training for the 2019 season installing our new offensive and defensive schemes as well as showing the rookies the ropes. The quiet month didn’t last long as some of the flag team headed off to Glasgow to compete in the Flagging New Year competition. With some not so great performances the ‘Boys finished 14th out of 15 teams, taking it to the last game before they got a W. Despite this, they had a great time...maybe too good!
The Flag touring team that went to Glasgow.
February - February started off with our Superbowl party in the Seagoe Hotel in Portadown. Whilst the game wasn’t a high scoring affair, a great night’s craic was still had. We also had a SportNI Young Volunteer of the Year award winner with Jo Buchanan for his above and beyond work for the club on and off the pitch. February also gave the ‘Boys a taste of SBC Football as we hosted the future Shamrock Bowl Finalists South Dublin Panthers for a preseason scrimmage. Both teams obviously earned some valuable lessons that day as both went on to reach the finals of their respective leagues.
After the joint scrimmage with the South Dublin Panthers.
March/April - March kicked off our league campaign as we hosted Trinity College Dublin and Louth Mavericks at People’s Park, Portadown. Whilst our first outing of the year against Trinity didn’t go the way we wanted with the game finishing 14-2 to Trinity, it turned out to be the only defeat for the ‘Boys the rest of the year. We start off our winning streak a couple of weeks later by defeating the Mavericks 22 to 8. We continued the streak into April as we hosted the Donegal/Derry Vipers and came out on the best side of a 18-0 game.
May - After a 2&1 start, the ‘Boys knew they needed a strong May and June to make the playoffs. We nearly had a club record broken when we faced the Waterford Wolves away as we fell 3 points short of tying the most points scored in a game in club history as we demolished the Wolves 73-0. We continued this form the next week against local rivals Mavericks in Dundalk as we fought to a 40-28 victory in hot conditions. We were scheduled to face the Wexford Eagles in our annual Alumini Day game in People’s Park, with the Marcell Seeley Memorial Trophy up for grabs. However tragedy struck on the morning of the game as Wexford Eagle Coach Billy Anderson was killed in a car crash on his way to the bus. With this unfortunate and sad news the decision was made to cancel and reschedule the game until June. It was a dark day not only for the Eagles but for the whole league.
Remembering Marcell Seeley and Billy Anderson.
June - The rescheduled Marcell Seeley Memorial Trophy game took place on the 9th June with both teams playing with heavy hearts and emotions. The ‘Boys manage to scrape out a 27-13 win in a very tough contest. Marcell’s children were also in attendance where they were presented with a jersey with Marcell’s number on it. An emotional day for all. There was another unfortunate situation as the ‘Boys were due to face the Galway Warriors in Galway but the game was cancelled due to Galway forfeiting the rest of the season. Whilst a win is a win, the ‘Boys would have rather played the game. With Galway forfeiting it meant the ‘Boys had another week to prepare for the biggest game of the season - away to league leaders Westmeath Minotaurs. The ‘Boys fought a hard-hitting game and came away with another win, beating the Minotaurs 26-00, however we knew that wouldn’t be the last time we’d see them this year. With that victory we’d been crowned IAFL1 League Champions finishing our league campaign 7&1, having not lost since March.
Presenting Marcell’s children with his Jersey. Pictured is IAFA President Orla McAleese (behind jersey).
July - Playoff football time! We met the only team that had beat us during the year in the semi finals - Trinity College Dublin. The game was in People’s Park in stifling heat, which sapped both teams, however the game was called in the 3rd quarter as Trinity’s already small squad were starting to fade with the heat and constant pressure of the ‘Boys power running. The game ended 27-19 in favour of the Cowboys which meant for the 3rd year in a row, the Cowboys were Bowl bound! The final was set for Navan against the Westmeath Minotaurs. After a back and forth game in Navan Rugby Club, the Cowboys came away victorious winning 28-27. It was a tough game which came down to a 2 point attempt by the Minotaurs to take the lead with less than 2 minutes left in the game. Thankfully their receiver came down less than a yard short of the endzone, and the Cowboys recovered the onside kick and gained the first down needed to kneel out of the game and out of IAFL 1 as champions! Finally the Cowboys are SBC bound once again.
IAFL 1 Champions! Pic Credit: Ian Humes
August - August saw the ‘Boys take some time off and recover from a physically demanding season. We held our awards night once again in the fantastic Seagoe Hotel where awards and remaining medals were handed out and the season celebrated! August also saw the return of the Cowboys flag team as training started back for the Cowboys A and B teams. The new league format saw the Cowboys A Team in the EBC (Emerald Bowl Conference), ready to defend their Emerald Bowl Championship, and the B Team in the GBC (Glas Bowl Conference). The Lord Mayor also invited the team to a Reception at Craigavon Civic Centre to recognise and celebrate the club’s IAFL 1 Bowl win.
September/October - September started off with some national history! The Irish Wolfhounds beat the Belgium Barbarians in Belgium 7-6 with our very own QB extraordinaire Peter Loughran being in the starting lineup. The flag teams seasons also got under way with both teams winning all games but one each in their respective leagues - both losing on their final game days with depleted squads.
Lord Mayors Council Reception at Craigavon Civic Centre.
November - Playoff time once again as both sides had done enough to get to the National Sports Campus in Blanchardstown to fight for their respective titles. Unfortunately for the A Team, it was one and done on the day, unable to defend their championship. However the B team managed to get the job done, playing 3 games with only 6 players and they came away with the Glas Bowl Championship - the second national title of the year! Fantastic achievement. November also saw our rookie roadshows get underway in Armagh, Banbridge, Lurgan and Portadown, with plenty of talent on show!
The Glas Bowl winning squad. Pic Credit: Terence McCann Photography
December - December didn’t disappoint either. We had 3 preseason sessions before Christmas, which seemed to get rid of the cobwebs for most of our senior squad. We also had our Cowan Cup flag tournament, where Team Buchanan, Team Cowan and Team Loughran battled for the prestigious trophy. The results are the same as last year, with Team Buchanan coming last, Team Cowan coming second and Team Loughran winning - great craic once again followed by the annual Cowboys Christmas night out. Finally, and most importantly, we had our Toy Drive for the Children’s Ward in Craigavon Area Hospital, where over £1,400 was raised, as well as around 4 big bags of toys were donated. We then spent over £1000 on toys, which included a Nintendo Switch, toy cars and dolls, with still money left over to donate to the ward itself. Thanks once again for donating!
Some of the team who dropped the toys off at the Children’s Ward at Craigavon Area Hospital for the Toy Drive.
And that’s about it for 2019. We hope you have enjoyed the clubs successes this year as much as we have and hope to continue this into the 20s. Happy New Year!
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