The Craigavon Cowboys returned to Portadown with the IAFL 1 Bowl in hand on Sunday past, following a dramatic 28-27 win over the Westmeath Minotaurs. The weather was perfect for football as was the pitch at Navan RFC. The game started with both teams showing nerves as the first quarter ended scoreless before the game came to life in the second quarter.
The Cowboys advance to the 2019 IAFL 1 Bowl courtesy of a 27-19 win over fourth seeds Trinity College Dublin in the IAFL 1 playoffs. This is the third year in a row that the Cowboys have reached the Bowl game, but will be hoping for success this time having tasted defeat the past two times.
The Cowboys flag team have returned safely from Glasgow, having competed at the Flagging New Year IV tournament. This was a tricky tournament for the team, who were missing a number of key players. Nevertheless, a lot was learned from the tournament with the highlight coming from a win over the Balerna Beasts from Switzerland.
The flag team will now take an extended break, with the next domestic season not due to start until September. If you wish to learn more about our flag team, please click here.
The Cowboys are once again Emerald Bowl Champions after an exhilarating day of flag football at the National Sports Campus in Dublin. The Cowboys are now the only team to be crowned All-Ireland Champions more than once having won Emerald Bowl II in 2016.
Having finished the regular season as 2nd seeds, the Cowboys attained a bye in the wildcard round and would have to wait until the outcome of the Eagles vs Trojans match-up to find out who they would face. The Eagles would beat the Trojans easily, setting up a rematch of last years semi final. The outcome would be different however as the Cowboys dominated the match, winning 39-16 and advancing to the Bowl game, where they would face the Louth Mavericks, who beat top seeds Trinity College 31-13 in the other semi-final.
Rain hampered play in the Bowl game, with many dropped passes and missed flags, but the Cowboys would end up edging out the Mavericks 18-12. Experience certainly came to the fore as the offense gained first downs and scored touchdowns at vital moments in the game, while the defense produced a superb display, backed up by some incredible blitzing by Emerald Bowl V MVP Matthew Kelly.
As the final whistle blew, the team celebrated wildly - having not only won the North Division and Emerald Bowl, but also finished the season unbeaten. Team captains Niall Quinn and Jo Buchanan received the trophy from IAFA President Orla McAleese.
That wraps up another successful year for the Craigavon Cowboys, stay tuned for your chance to join the club in 2019!
Thanks to Terry McCann for the photos.
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.
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.
Junior Match Report - 18/09/2016 @ Mullingar Rugby Club
The reigning IAFA junior champs travelled to a rainy Mullingar this past Sunday where the weather played a huge part in the performance of just about everyone involved.
The Cowboys lined up against strong opposition in the form of the South Kildare Soldiers and a slow start saw them fall behind quickly. From here on in the young ‘Boys were fighting an uphill battle. Despite a couple of disappointing drives to start the game, the ‘Boys showed signs of title winning form which they were so well known for last year. Rolston and Nulty spurred a drive into opposition territory late in the first half only to be denied a score when a crucial 4th down pass fell short allowing the Soldiers to retain their lead and run down the clock to the half. A much more spirited and determined Cowboy’s team showed up for the second half and although failing to score there were flashes of brilliance across the team. However, this would prove to be of no avail as the Soldiers capped the game off in the second half and walked away with a 22-0 win.
Game 2 saw the travelling ‘Boys take on a new challenge in the form of the hosts, the Westmeath Minotaur’s and this time round they were much better. The Cowboys began operating more like a team and were moving the ball much better than they were earlier in the day. Balance between the ground game and passing attack saw the Cowboys very much in this game with Ruben Larmour hauling in a 40 TD pass from QB. Unfortunately though with little over 2 minutes remaining in the game one of the Cowboys key players, James Rolston sustained a neck injury forcing him out of the game and ultimately killing off any momentum the ‘Boys had going for them. Nonetheless, a fighting, passionate and determined Cowboys team played out the final 2 minutes with pride and dignity despite coming out the lesser in this fixture.
An 0-2 start to the season is by far the last thing the ‘boys would’ve wanted from this weekend but with plenty of football still to play there will be plenty of opportunities to pull back that winning form.
By Michael Lavery
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