Someone’s ‘0’ had to go as the undefeated Phoenix played host to Drogheda Lightning in Tullamore Rugby Club last Sunday and a 30-0 win means that Phoenix are well on course to defend their Irish American Football League DV8s title.
Though both teams came into the game having enjoyed high-scoring victories over Trim Bulldogs, it soon became clear that this would be a tight affair with scoring opportunities at a premium.
While the Phoenix defence kept Drogheda on the back foot thanks to big plays from Padraic Merlehan, Tony Bogos and Patrick Lowbridge, Drogheda’s Fu Faapito almost single-handedly ensured that Tullamore where unable to make much forward progress themselves.
Indeed, the scoreboard operators were untroubled until four minutes into the second quarter when an ankle injury to starting Quarterback Erin Kelly forced the Tullamore coaching staff into calling on the services of the untested David Maloney.
Their faith was quickly rewarded when, on his very first play, he found wide receiver Rinalds Eida with a perfectly placed 30 yard pass to score the game’s opening touchdown.
Maloney’s Midas touch continued when, on the first play of Tullamore’s next possession, Running Back Dáire O’Beirne found a gap in the Lightning defence to run in from 25 yards.
Two touchdowns in two plays, Maloney and the Phoenix coaching staff couldn’t have asked for a better start to his Quarterback career.
This was a difficult assignment for Tullamore but, ultimately, their power and experience saw them through. On this form, few would bet against Phoenix retaining their IAFL DV8s title.