NECESSITY is the mother of invention and, faced with losing their grasp on the Irish American Football League DV8s title, Tullamore Phoenix tore up the playbook to beat the Dublin Dragons and retain their national title.
On a wet and windy August Bank Holiday Monday, Tullamore Phoenix secured their second consecutive IAFL DV8s title with a hard fought win over the Dublin Dragons.
All season, Phoenix has started their games by giving the opening possession to the opposition. However, with a national title at stake, Tullamore opted to take the football in this game and, though they failed to score, the pinned the Dragons back to their own 1 yard line.
However, the Dublin team clearly hadn’t read the script and their Quarterback scrambled the length of the pitch to score the games opening touchdown on just their second play.
It looked as if Tullamore had answered immediately but an 80 yard Dáire O’Beirne touchdown was ruled out when the referees spotted an illegal tackle in the build up.
Though they were unable to convert great field position into scores, Tullamore could be grateful to their defence, especially Steve McElligot, Peter Smyth and Chris O’Connor – all of who caught interceptions, for keeping the game tight.
Finally, early in the second quarter, Phoenix scored their first touchdown, a 20 yard pass from new Quarterback Brian Kirwan to Aaron Dunne. They were successful on the extra point conversion too, meaning they led 7-6.
Tullamore were now in a groove and added their second touchdown just before half-time when Fullback Finbarr Glynn scored from 6 yards meaning Phoenix led 13-6 at the break.
A nervy Phoenix sideline began biting their nails even more furiously when a trick play by the offence resulted in a fumble and a touchdown to the Dragons. However, they were again unsuccessful with their extra point attempt meaning that Tullamore held the slenderest of leads, 13-12.
It stayed this way until there were just five minutes left in the game when excellent play calling from the Phoenix head coach John Judge resulted in yet another turnover which gave Tullamore great field position.
Keeping it on the ground, O’Beirne ran in his first touchdown of the game from 15 yards. However, by missing the extra point attempt, Tullamore knew that a touchdown from the Dragons and a successful two-point attempt would see them lose their national title.
Thankfully, Phoenix held their nerve and when Glynn scored his second touchdown of the game with just three minutes remaining, to make the score 26-12, Tullamore knew they could celebrate their second consecutive national title.
It’s an outstanding achievement for a team in existence for just two years and it’s even more impressive that this team remained unbeaten when you consider the slew of injuries they’ve had to endure this year, especially at the Quarterback position.
Phoenix won’t have too long to celebrate though as they must travel to the tricky Carrickfergus Knights on August 21 before hosting the IAFL DV8s tournament in Tullamore on Sunday, August 28.