Deadly Vipers stun the Pirates
Donegal/Derry Vipers 44 North Dublin Pirates 0
Malahide-based North Dublin Pirates endured a tough ending to their inaugural Irish American Football League season when suffering a heavy loss to undefeated Donegal/Derry Vipers.
Pirates made the long journey to Derry with just 16 players after the squad was ravaged by numerous injuries and retirements, and even if they'd been at full strength this was always going to be a mammoth task against a team already assured of a place in the end-of-season IAFL2 Bowl decider.
The game started off evenly, with both defenses playing well and stopping offensive drives for a number of series, but towards the end of the first quarter the deadlock was broken by the Vipers. A Pirates fumble on an offensive drive was recovered by the Vipers defensive end Niall Lyons and subsequently run in for the opening score. The point-after attempt was missed.
The Pirates picked themselves up again and marched down the field, but another untimely fumble was punished by the Vipers quarterback Daniel Mullan who ran in for a touchdown a few plays later. The point-after attempt was blocked by the Pirates, but the rebound was caught by a Vipers man who converted for two points.
Lightning struck twice for the Vipers as mid-way through the second quarter the Pirates fumbled again and Mullen raced through for his second touchdown of the game - 21-0.
Some strong running from the Vipers set up Mullen for a 40-yard pass to wide receiver Ryan Brolly who scored touchdown number four to put the game beyond the Pirates at 28-0.
Towards the end of the half there was still time for more from the Vipers and Mullen picked out wide receiver Eugene McLaughlin with a pass as the Vipers made it 34-0 by half-time.
The Pirates did their best to get back into the game in the second half, but with a depleted squad and fatigue setting in from playing iron man football it was always going to be a difficult task to reverse the scoreline. David Kiernan, Josh McDonnell and Oisin Dowling caught the eye with some good running for the visitors, but unfortunately those sorties did not result in points.
Some great work by the Pirates defence in the third and fourth quarters, particularly from Liam Taylor and Aaron Snow, held the Vipers offense at bay, but ultimately the small squad ran out of steam and Vipers running back Cathal Curran broke through the defense and ran in a touchdown from an impressive 70 yards out.
A field goal from Vipers kicker Gary Melly completed the scoring early in the fourth quarter, but the Pirates battled on right to the end and the 'never-give-up mentality was nearly rewarded right at the death when the offense was in position for a field goal, but the attempt was stopped.
The defeat left Pirates with a record of one win and losses from their first season in the league and they are now taking a well-earned break but will return to begin preparations for next season at the end of October.
Rookie try-outs will be held then and in the meantime Pirates are looking for any youth players aged 16 to 19 who would be interested in competing in the Youth League this autumn. Anyone interested in trying out is asked to contact Facebook.com/NorthDublinPirates.