By Ben Fallon
Over a week on from the historic day in Dublin, B Team QB and Captain Ben Fallon details the days events and how they captured the Glas Bowl...
B Team with the Glas Bowl. Top (L-R) Flag Coach Jo Buchanan, Manny Bell, Ben Fallon, Flag Rep Niall Quinn.
Bottom (L-R) Paul McCartney, Gavin McConnell, Chris Watt, Owen O’Neill
Credit: Terence McCann Photography
DUBLIN - It was cold, wet, and overcast - three things we have come to expect from Dublin in November. Another trademark of this time of year? The Craigavon Cowboys hoisting a league trophy in the Irish American Football Association.
On Saturday, 2 November, the Craigavon Cowboys B team and five other flag football clubs from around the country converged on the Sport Ireland Campus in Dublin for the inaugural Glas Bowl Conference playoffs. The ‘Boys arrived with an arduous task ahead of them - with only seven active players on their roster and ranked as the #3 seed, they would need to play three consecutive games with limited substitutions to leave as league champions.
The Cowboys path became immediately more difficult moments into their first game against the #6 seed Belfast Trojans. Tight end Peter Lundy suffered a horrific (and more than likely career-ending) knee injury that saw him rushed away for immediate medical attention. Losing the league’s best jump-ball receiver forced Craigavon to alter their offense play calling, but scoring wasn’t needed in their opening matchup. Craigavon’s stifling defense, led by three interceptions from QB Ben Fallon, shut out the Trojans 26-0 as they cruised into the semi-finals against the Cork City Outlaws.
The Outlaws boasted a roster full of American players, but the Cowboys weren’t intimated. Homegrown talent and rookie of the year finalist Chris Watt (who denies any relation to the NFL trio of Watt brothers) made Ireland great again by harassing the Outlaws quarterback all game, forcing errant throws and critical turnover on downs. The game was ultimately decided on the Cowboys final offensive drive, with what has been since deemed The Immaculate Glas Bowl Reception. On fourth and goal with less than a minute remaining, Fallon threaded a pass to veteran hall-of-fame center Manny Bell in the endzone. Swarmed by Outlaw defenders, Bell displayed tremendous football IQ and intentionally deflected the pass to Watt, who stepped over the goal line for the game-winning touchdown, 19-14.
The #5 seed Maynooth Hurricanes, who upset the South Dublin Panthers and Louth Mavericks to reach the Glas Bowl Final, greeted the Cowboys in the championship matchup. Torrential rain also greeted both teams. A very sloppy final was just what Cowboys Owen Oneill needed, as he tracked down Maynooth players all game long with critical tackles and pass breakups. Despite tremendous play from Oneill, the Cowboys trailed for almost the entire game. That’s when the game - and the Cowboys season - experienced it’s NFL Films Turning Point moment. Linebacker Paul McCartney stepped in front of a pass and picked off the Hurricanes QB to turn the tide. From that moment, Glas Bowl Final MVP Gavin McConnell took over the game. Playing on only one knee and with only one healthy eye, McConnell reeled in highlight catch after highlight catch, including a diving reception in the endzone for the game-winning score. Chris Watt sealed the championship on the next play with a safety, and the Cowboys won the first-ever Glas Bowl Final, 30-20.
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