Sunday August 4th 2019
The Belfast Trojans beat the South Dublin Panthers 24-10 to win their fifth Shamrock Bowl title at Energia Park in Dublin.
It was the Belfast outfit’s first title since 2015 when they capped a fantastic four year streak in winning their fourth straight Shamrock Bowl championship.
The last three years have seen some agonising losses for the Trojans, all at the hands of the Dublin Rebels but there wasn’t to be any heartache this year as they climbed back to the top of the mountain and notch their fifth bowl.
It was actually a dream start for the Trojans as they jumped out to an immediate 7-0 lead thanks to a textbook kick off return from Tom Morris.
The wide receiver followed some fantastic blocks as he went 85 yards virtually untouched to give Belfast a lead they would not relinquish.
The Trojan defence as well came out all guns blazing forcing the Panthers offence into a three and out and giving the ball back to the offence with fantastic field position.
After hitting David Richardson over the middle, quarterback James McKelvey again looked for the veteran wideout deep in the endzone. Despite avoiding an interference call on the incomplete pass, the Panther defensive back drew a taunting flag for some choice words to Richardson which gave the Trojans offence a fresh set of downs inside the redzone and Jona Siri made no mistake taking an inside run into the endzone to double the Trojan lead.
Belfast’s defence was in imperious form as the game moved onto the second quarter. After Ian Cahill and the South Dublin Panthers moved into Trojan territory for the first time a timely forced fumble by defensive end Ross Thain ended all momentum and gave the ball back to the offence.
McKelvey found Tom Morris to move the ball into the Panthers half inside the two minute drill but it was just a Ben Sloan field goal that would extend the lead to 17-0 at the half.
Coming out in the second half and the Panthers offence finally showed up. Ian Cahill and Sean Goldrick hooked up on some nice catches and runs and a nice play down the seam moved the Panthers into the redzone. They wasted no time in pulling it back 17-7 when Cahill found Goldrick in the corner of the endzone for their first score.
On the flip side the Trojan offence couldn’t find traction during the third quarter. Three and outs plagued that side of the ball and it was definitely South Dublin who had momentum.
They pulled it to within one score with a very impressive 50 yard field goal, a kick that wouldn’t have looked out of place on an NFL field.
After another poor Trojan offensive drive into the fourth quarter, the Panther had the chance to drive the field and tie the game, something that looked highly improbable going in at the half.
However, the Trojan defence stiffened and it was Andrew Henderson with the play of the game. With Cahill looking to go over the middle to a receiver, Henderson undercut the route and intercepted the pass, keeping control of the ball as he went to the ground to snuff out the Panther comeback and give the Trojans outstanding field position, field position they wouldn’t waste.
Finally McKelvey came through and dropped an absolute dime down the right sideline to Michael Ferris, with the receiver making a clutch grab, bouncing back from a disappointing drop in the first half.
Another huge catch from Morris would move the Trojans to the goalline and it was trademark QB sneak from their veteran signal caller that would effectively seal the deal for the visiting Trojans.
With the Panthers in desperation mode Cahill threw another inteception with Jonny Bryans taking the ball away and allowing the Trojans to kneel the ball out to capture their fifth Shamrock Bowl.
It was sweet redemption for the Trojans after a heartbreaking three years where they came so close, but for now and the next 12 months they are the Kings In the North and indeed the Kings of the entire country as Shamrock Bowl 2019 champions.
Report by David Richardson