By Aimee Allen
The Cowboys flag team head to Dublin tomorrow to compete in the EBC V Playoffs after an undefeated regular season saw them crowned EBC North Champions. Having finished the overall league as 2nd seed, the team by-passes the wildcard round and are straight into the semi-finals, playing for a spot in the EBC Championship game. We caught up with flag team manager Jason Duddy to get his thoughts before the big day.
Report and photos by Jason Duddy
Game day 2 would see the Cowboys play divisional rivals Belfast Knights and Belfast Trojans. The Knights and Trojans played the first game of the day, with the Knights coming out on top 33-28. The Cowboys then took on the Knights in game 2. We had few new members on the roster for this game as well as the most of the team returning so there was no lack of choice.
The Cowboys started off a bit slow, with the Knights finding joy up the middle. However, in time the Cowboys got into the game and started to play the way we know we can. The coverage was better, the play calling from Ben Fallon was great and the offense was clicking. Scores from Niall Quinn & Peter Loughran with Jamie Wilson’s extra point made It 13-7 at half-time to the Cowboys. The Knights didn't get another score in the game, in fact it was the defense who were having as much joy as anyone.
In his first ever flag game, Joseph Marley got an interception on a crucial play, while Matthew Kelly came away with a pick 6. Ben Fallon also got on the score sheet in this game, while also throwing a few touchdowns to his teammates, one of which was Conrad Smith who would go on to prove very useful in the second game.
The Knights may have tired near the end but that doesn't mean the second half was easy for the 'Boys. David McMichael made some great flag pulls throughout the day with Lawrence Ruddock also getting in on the action with a few batted balls and an interception in the first half. The score in the end was 39-7 to the Cowboys but the Knights played well and for only 5 players, playing 2 matches in a row must have been hard.
Report and photos by Jason Duddy
On the 1st of September, I took up my new role as flag team manager for the Craigavon Cowboys as they travelled to Newforge Sports Complex, Belfast to take on their division rivals NI Razorbacks and Belfast Trojans.
Prior to the match, a preview post was released and both results had the Cowboys winning their games. However, this didn't mean the team took the matches for granted as guaranteed wins, we had to show up and play to our strengths and treat our opponents with respect.
On Saturday, our club celebrated another successful year as we continue to grow from strength to strength. Players and volunteers were awarded trophies to recognise their efforts and achievements this past year. We would like to thank the Seagoe Hotel for hosting us.
Flag Most Improved Player of the Year, sponsored by Phoenix Homes UK: David McMichael. Presented by flag team manager Niall Quinn.
Flag Defensive Player of the Year, sponsored by Phoenix Homes UK: Jo Buchanan. Presented by flag team manager Niall Quinn.
Flag Offensive Player of the Year, sponsored by Phoenix Homes UK: Jamie Wilson. Presented by flag team manager Niall Quinn.
Yet another tour for the Cowboys flag team saw them travel the short distance to Glasgow, Scotland to compete in the Flagging New Year III tournament. 24 teams from the UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Russia, Germany, Denmark and Austria competed, giving the competition a true international flavour. The team travelled over on Friday, with the group stages of the competition played on Saturday and the placing matches played on Sunday, before returning home on Monday.
Saturday (Group Games) – first up for the Cowboys was Carnegie Flag Football, predicted as being a tight match by Flag Football World. And so it would prove to be, with the Cowboys coming from 7-19 down to win 20-19. The defence was slow to start, but two crucial forced turnovers and good performances from Thomas Pollock and Ryan McKenna in the 2nd half set the platform for the offense to get the job done.
The Cowboys flag team will once again compete at an international flag football tournament, this time in Glasgow, Scotland. This follows two recent tours to Copenhagen and Vienna, competing at Champions Bowl 7 & 8.
The team will travel next Friday, and compete Saturday and Sunday before returning home on Monday. A 12 man strong squad will go across the water and take on the Carnegie Flag Football, Reckless Russians and Newcastle Blackhawks on Saturday and Grangemouth Broncos on Sunday as part of the group stage before advancing to the placing rounds.
We will post updates on our Facebook page so make sure you have liked the page! We would like to thank Phoenix Homes UK for their kind support of this tour – find out more here: www.phoenixhomesuk.com
The countdown is well and truly on for the Emerald Bowl III Finals Day, taking place this Saturday! As part of the build-up, we caught up with Cowboys Flag QB Conrad Smith to chat about the positional change, last season, this season and how he thinks Saturday will go.
You made the transition from a Tight End in kitted football to being the Cowboys Flag QB, how did that move come about?
“To be honest no one else wanted to do it. Having played most of my football at TE or DE, I fancied a different challenge so I stepped up.”
You won last year's Emerald Bowl after a slow start to the season, what was that whole campaign like?
“Started slow again, which was frustrating as we wanted to carry our form/experience from last year and the trip to the Champions Bowl. As the season went on we found form, defense has been key with two shut outs last two games.”
After winning Emerald Bowl II, the Flag team traveled to Copenhagen to compete in the Champions Bowl against some of the best teams from all over Europe, what was that experience like?
“It was a completely different level over there. We found out quickly we had to up are game which we did, but even then we were still just hanging on. We are better for the experience and with the new additions to the team we have added speed to the team which will be key if we get chance to go back (maybe stay in night before games might help too).”
You have made the finals day again this year and hope to retain your title but first up is the big match up against the number 1 seeds, Dublin Vipers. Going to be a huge game, how do you see it going?
“It won't be easy, all four teams are there on merit. We have lost a key player in Lawrence Ruddock to injury which is a big blow. If we play defense the way we have been last few games and offence is economical with the ball we will be very hard to beat.”
Flag Football is the non-contact version of American Football, for anyone that doesn't know, what are the benefits of playing Flag Football and why should someone give it a try?
“It is a great way to learn the game, it helps with learning receiver routes and basic defense. Most all it's great FUN.”
Cowboys are scheduled to play the Dublin Vipers in the first game at 10am, followed by the Eagles vs Reapers. The Finals will take place at the Central Sports Area in Craigavon. Admission is free, be sure to get down for what will be a great day of flag football!
With the flag season starting soon, we caught up with Flag Team coach, Niall Quinn to talk about the 2015/16 season and preparation for the upcoming season, Emerald Bowl III.
Emerald Bowl II was a great accomplishment for the club, did you think that you could win it all before the season started?
"During the regular season, we faced two rookie teams to the sport, in our division. Although they provided tough opposition, we felt that winning the division was an achievable goal. Once we made the playoffs, we thought we would struggle against other division winners in the playoffs – but that turned out not to be the case."
Success in the Emerald Bowl brought the opportunity to compete in Denmark, tell us about your experience at the Champions Bowl.
"The Champions Bowl was a fantastic experience for the whole team. Essentially, we play flag for fun and really enjoy the games win or lose. So the chance to play flag football in Copenhagen against the best in Europe was an exciting challenge. We weren’t expecting any success but learned a lot and really enjoyed the opportunity to play at European level."
The season is set to start on 22nd October, how is the team looking for the upcoming season?
"It’s hard to say how our season will go until our first game. It’s important everyone continues to train as much as possible and be prepared the best we can. We have a tough division that will be a challenge to win. We will have fun anyway, winning always adds to that."
Flag is a great way of playing American football without the contact, focusing more on speed and skill. What advice would you have to anyone thinking of starting to play flag?
"Flag football is a great way to start American football. It teaches you the basic fundamentals of the sport and gives a great boost to players’ confidence. It’s a great team sport where every player has their job to do. As many training sessions as possible is a must for newcomers to prepare for their first game in a very fast and exciting sport."
The flag team is open to both males and females over the age of 16, and we are still recruiting! Check out our Flag Team page for more info and contact us on Facebook to start playing!
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