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.
The first match kicked off at 11am and it was between the Cowboys and the Trojans. I think it's fair to say at the start of the match we were a bit ropey on defence, letting the Trojans get through a few times. However, with Ben Fallon coaching the offense and playing QB, while also having the very talented players of Jamie Wilson, Peter Loughran, Conrad Smith and Niall Quinn starting on offense and with the help of defensive players Jo Buchanan, Scott Buchanan, Matthew Kelly, David McMichael, Paul McCartney, Andrew Herron and rookie Colin Harrison, we knew we would be strong and stay in the game and that's what we did.
Fantastic play calling from the offense seen a series of scores all being thrown from Ben to a range of players! Peter, Conrad, Jamie and Niall all getting on scoreboard in first game with them all being on the end of Ben's direct pin point throws for the extra points. On defense, everyone had really started to get to grips with the opposition and a crucial series of plays occurred.
Peter, Jo, Matthew, Andy, Ben and David all had flag pulls with many of them being crucial in bringing up 4th downs. The same with batted balls. There was a few were I thought the pass was going to be completed then some amazing jumping and skill to get in the way and stop close plays by everyone on the defense. Standout players in this area for the first game were Jo and Matthew with a serious number of batted balls throughout this first game.
At half time the score was 28-20 - we knew from then we would push on and just remain solid on defence. Near the end of the game, Andy got his first sack causing the Trojans to go deep in the next play....and...Jo lay out for a ball! Yes Jo (aka scuba Jo) dived for a ball and succeeded. The whole team cheered! Surely a highlight in his flag career? Peter Loughran also had 2 interceptions because that's what he does and the game finished 41-26. Overall, a great first game but there was room for improvement......and boy did we improve in the second game.
The second match was between the NI Razorbacks and the Craigavon Cowboys. After winning the first game, the ‘Boys were right back on, playing 2 games in a row. This time, the ‘Boys had a taste of winning and were not going to let this go.
Offense and defense started off strong with scuba Jo coming up with another amazing interception after it was tipped up by Matthew Kelly. In his own words it's probably one of his best days of flag! He followed up that interception with a couple of safeties, it was clear to see he knew how to trap the QB. On offense, Ben Fallon again had a good spread of passes and completions. One of the ones I like best was a ball thrown to Conrad 'twinkle toes' Smith who caught the pass and got both feet in in time!
That combination, along with the ones to Niall, Peter and Jamie's running game just took the score up and up and up. The only thing that could have hurt the Cowboys was complacency. However that didn't come into effect. It was solid play from the whole defense all game - Scott got a perfect interception by producing an amazing vertical grab and nearly getting into the end zone only to be flagged on the 2 yard line was a big play!
Andy Herron was deadly up front chasing down the QB giving his teammates every chance of intercepting the ball on every throw. Most of the time that is what happened with Peter, Conrad and Jamie (who made the most interceptions in this game and also scored from one) all producing to keep the Razorbacks score down. David McMichael was the most consistent at getting the flag pulls in this match and stopping the Razorbacks from gaining momentum, which in turn made them throw the ball as he, Andy, Colin and Scott all stopped the running game.
Very proud of the team in both games and I know they will be aiming for another few wins on Saturday at People's Park - come down and cheer them on! #funon3
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