With such a short season, bowl game aspirations in the IAFA Shamrock Bowl Conference can be dashed with even the slightest slow start. With the rust from their first game loss out of their system, the Trinity American Football Club returned to Santry for their second home game of the season against the Belfast Trojans. In the previous 5 seasons Belfast had lost a total of 4 matches and beaten Trinity in successive Bowl games in 2014 and 2015. With an 0-2 start looming and their old rivals before them, the Trinity side needed a huge performance to escape with a victory.
Both sides started brightly, Trinity managed to get their passing game going early and kept the defense off balance with a number of runs, Belfast focused more on establishing their running game, both sides however failed to turn promising opening drives into points with defences holding firm when it mattered.
Trinity eventually opened the scoring with a five yard rushing touchdown from star running back Ola Bademosi up the middle splitting the Belfast defence in half, closing off a long drive. Conor O’Dwyer added the conversion to make it a deserved 7-0 to Trinity at the end of the first quarter.
Both defenses came up with stops before the powerful Belfast offence managed to established their run game in the second quarter. Belfast drove the ball down the field with strong runs up the middle as well as speed on the outside, eventually scoring on a two yard fullback dive. However, Patrick Sullivan would use his speed rush to block the tying conversion attempt in what would eventually turn out to be a crucial play in the game.
Electrifying kick returner Pavel Rozman, fresh off a punt return for a touchdown in the season opener, returned the ensuing kickoff 40 yards giving Trinity excellent field position for the next possession. Capitalising on that momentum Ola Bademosi on the very next play took an outside run through the line before breaking outside and leaving the Belfast defence for dead on a blistering 60 yard run with excellent downfield blocking from his receivers. O’Dwyer would make the conversion to make the score 14-6.
Belfast’s ground game responded quickly and bit by bit moved into Trinity territory. However, Trinity’s defence would come up big when it needed to with a big stop on a fourth down inside the red zone. In a game of shifting momentum, Trinity would fumble the ball on their next possession and Belfast would retain the ball into Trinity territory with under two minutes in the second half. Despite their extended time on the field, Trinity’s defence again stood tall and their secondary managed to quell Belfast’s passing game, taking the game into halftime with a 14-6 lead.
After the break, Belfast’s defence proved much more organised managing to hold Trinity’s high powered offence to very little. Trinity’s defence in turn withheld Belfast’s running attack throughout a physical but scoreless third quarter.
The game ball today definitely had to be given to the Trinity secondary, who were all over the field limiting Belfast to only one completion all game. With the receiving corps neutralized, Belfast focused heavily on the run in the fourth quarter. Trinity’s defensive line held strong during a number of crucial fourth down stops but in the final minutes of the fourth quarter Belfast managed to pound one through the line on another short Fullback run. With the score 14-12, Belfast needed a two conversion to tie the game, the early game heroics of Patrick Sullivan having a huge impact late. With the passing game all but neutered, Belfast went back to what was working all game and tried another full back run. This time however, lineman Tom O’Hara managed to penetrate the offence, chopping down the fullback behind the line.
Needing the ball back, Belfast would attempt an onside kick which Trinity’s Davis would recover. With only 48 seconds left, Trinity would close out the game with a number of low risk runs and some smart fouls to help run down the clock. Belfast would be left with one last play, a punt return, to try and save the game but they muffed said punt and a foul by a Belfast player lead to time expiring. The win sees Trinity go 1-1 for the season. More importantly, outstanding performances all round make this a highly satisfying victory for Trinity. Dominant performances from the special teams and secondary as well as a balanced attack have Trinity looking like a team that is not going to be beaten easily. On this showing, they’re arguably the team to beat this season.