The Cowboys travelled down to Gorey, Wexford to face the Eagles in an eagerly anticipated rematch that seen a high scoring game in Craigavon. The 'Boys where a little bit lighter on numbers compared to the home side who had a big side line and plenty of support behind them. The game had all the makings of a high scoring matchup and it looked set to be the case as the Cowboys recovered their own kick off through Andy Herron and marched down the short field through passes to Gavin McConnell and Peter Loughran before Josh Marchbanks rushed from 9 yards for the score. The resulting 2PAT seen Marchbanks find P Loughran in the end zone to put the visitors 8-0 up.
The Eagles were not going to roll over easy and came back, running the ball in for the score from a QB scramble after the pocket collapsed. The resulting PAT causing confusion as the whole ground agreed it sailed wide but an official called it good, still the scores became close with the 'Boys still leading 8-7.
The see saw battle continued as the Cowboys scored again on the next drive, an exciting passing game which saw Marchbanks connect with Ryan Whiteside for a 40 yard jump ball of which the wide receiver claimed with authority. It was another pass that seen the Cowboys stretch their lead once again as Marchbanks found P Loughran in the back corner of the end zone. The same connection was successful on the 2PAT.
Some good run stopping D forced a hesitation in the Eagles back field before they were forced to punt the ball away, Jo Buchanan weaved his way through tacklers on the punt return, gaining 35 yards to set up the offence with a short field. The offence continued their good pace through Herron before that popular connection seen the Cowboys score a TD, Marchbanks finding the ever elusive P Loughran. Another successful 2PAT seen Marchbanks find Gavin McConnell in the corner as he caught the ball masterfully over his shoulder leaving the score at 24-7 to the Cowboys.
The next series seen the Cowboys defence really coming to the fore, some great run stopping seen a tackle for loss by Jakub Kowalczyk then two plays later, under huge pressure from Shayne Mone, the Eagles QB, trying the throw the ball away, only found the on rushing Herron who was able to gratefully cradle the ball as he walked into the end zone from 27 yards. The offence trundled back on and was able to convert the 2PAT as Marchbanks found more joy through the air, finding Whiteside for a simple connection. 32-7 to the 'Boys.
The Eagles clawed their way back into the game with a kick-off return taken to the house, the PAT was unsuccessful leaving the score at 32-13.
The first half ended with both offences stuttering, Cowboys throwing an interception in the Eagles end zone then one play later getting the ball back as Marchbanks picked off a trick play pass. The half time whistle blew with Cowboys 32-13 to the good.
The Cowboys were able to turn the ball over in their own red zone on the first drive of the half as Rolston capitalized on a fumble and jumped on the loose ball. The 'Boys then marched the field with some hardnosed running, a 25 yard run by McConnell, 30 yard run by P Loughran and 35 yard run by Herron set the Cowboys up in the red zone before the combination of the day rose its head again, Marchbanks finding P Loughran free once again for the score. The 2PAT was successful as Mone rushed through after spinning out of a tackle.
With the scored at 40-13 there would be no adding to that but the Cowboys defence still had some work to do, 2 sacks by Herron and one by Mone sealed the game for the visitors. A quick turnaround now for the 'Boys as they notch up their record to 5&0, next up is a trip to Castleknock to face the West Dublin Rhinos this coming Sunday.
Craigavon Cowboys welcomed an old nemesis in the West Dublin Rhinos this past Sunday as the two sides met for the first time outside the SBC. These games have been very even down the years with the home team usually coming out on top and this match proved to be no different. The Cowboys approached the game looking to protect an unbeaten record while the Rhinos where on the back of an impressive 51-14 win over the South Kildare Soldiers so both teams where optimistic of taking the W in Portadown.
Both teams started off in stuttering form in their opening drives, being forced to punt with the Rhinos looking dangerous and the Cowboys defense bending but not breaking. Then the Cowboys took a hold of the game as the offensive line started opening up holes for Andy Herron & Peter Loughran to notch up consistent yards before QB Josh Marchbanks was able to sneak up the middle and stretch the ball into the end zone. A missed 2PAT left the game at 06-00 to the 'Boys. After some tough tackling defence from Jason Duddy and Jo Buchanan, the half time whistle blew with the home side in the lead but not comfortable.
The second half started with the Cowboys receiving the ball and they got to work straight away, Herron scorching through some terrific O Line blocking for a 50 yard run which set up Marchbanks to find Ben Fallon through the air for another 30 yard gain. The Cowboys meant business and slammed the ball home through Shayne Mone as he waltzed through his open lane. Another failed 2PAT left the scored at 12-00 to the Cowboys.
Any Rhino reply was soon halted through a terrific tackle for loss by Gavin McConnell and the resulting punt was fumbled by the kicker and recovered by the onrushing Jonny Martin. The Cowboys took full advantage of the field position and ran the ball home through Loughran from 26 yards out. The 2PAT was converted this time as Marchbanks found Fallon open in the end zone bringing the score to 20-00.
After a Rhinos 3 and out, the Cowboys had one of the highlight plays of the day, Herron found himself in space but looking at three Rhino defenders waiting to swallow him up, a swing of the hips and in a flash he was outside them as all three lay on the ground still looking to the running back as he made a 28 yard gain. The drive stalled which gave the opportunity for the Rhinos to march down the field as they turned to a pass heavy offence, two long pass plays seen them within 2 yards of the Cowboys end zone but the 'Boys where not ready to give up a score that easy. Some huge plays from the defensive line and linebackers seen the Boys shutout the visiting offence and force a turnover on downs from 2 yards out.
The defense where not finished there as Gareth McShane managed to intercept a trick play pass and returned the ball to the three yard line. The Cowboys once again took the advantage of generous field position and pounded the ball in through Marchbanks as the offensive line blew up huge lanes and the QB walked into the end zone. A failed 2PAT brought the scored up to 26-00 and that is how the game would finish. A successful day for the Cowboys seen their record extend to 4&0 for the season and a big day for the defense, the second game in a row that they have not let their opponents score a point. Next up is a long road game as we travel to Gorey to take on the Wexford Eagle in what promises to be another entertaining game.
We caught up with former Cowboys coach and player Charles Ebron, also known as Chuck, to find out a bit more on the Cowboys in the 80/90s.
You had a great history within football how did you start out before Craigavon Cowboys?
“Public school, college at Delaware State College, try out with the Jets in 76, then 5 years semi pro in the NY Metro League with the Huntington Giant's for 1 season and the Jersey Oaks for 4 seasons.”
You came to Ireland when it was a very early in the development of the game, what was the football like back then?
“Very good, but I was blessed with a team full of raw talent that I was very honored to coach and play along side. Not a bad word about any of them or any regrets. They ARE the best.”
What is your favorite memory of coaching the Cowboys?
“After the first game that I coached against the Spartans. Cowboys lost to them the week before and they came to our place that next week. We won 49 - 0 and the refs approached me after the game to ask if we were the same team as last week. I said “I wasn't aware of any roster changes, why?”, “Because your players never argued with us one time during the whole game”. You see why it was such a pleasure to coach them, they not only listened to me, but they also trusted me.”
Our Current Head Coach Greg Loughran played under you back then, what was he like as a player?
“Very good player, always done whatever was asked of him and oh, he could hit!! Anyone of that team he played in could have been a really good football coach.”
You obviously had a big impact on the culture and the ethos at Craigavon Cowboys with your early coaching, what would you say is important to being a Cowboy?
“That they have to be FAT to make it: Faithfull, Available, and Teachable.”
If you could say anything to the current crop of players what would it be?
“I'll be down to see you guys some time and trust that you will work hard and also LEAVE THE REFS ALONE. As for Da (Greg Loughran), you guys can encourage him by your ever increasing quality of performance. Look after each other on and off the field and you'll be great. Take care.”
Thank you Charles for taking time to talk to us. Sundays game against the Rhinos will kickoff at 2pm, with a post match reception at the Parkside Inn, everyone welcome!
The Cowboys Flag Team will depart for Vienna, Austria on 23rd June to compete in this years Champions Bowl. The two day tournament see's the best teams from around Europe battle it out to become champions of Europe. In June 2016, the Cowboys traveled to Copenhagen, Denmark to compete in the 7th edition of the tournament. Whilst results did not go our way, a lot was learned which the team this year will hope pays off. Indeed the draw has thrown up a rematch with the Red Lions from Switzerland, who the Cowboys lost out to in 2016. Tough group for the 'Boys, who will play everyone in the group once. Two teams from the host nation will prove tough to beat as they have home advantage, whilst the Armadillos and Wanderers are powerhouses of flag football in their respective countries. With only 6 weeks to go, the team are training hard whilst competing domestically for the Emerald Bowl.
Want to play flag football? Find out more information here.
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