At 6:30pm last Sunday evening, the Louth Mavericks hoisted the IAFL1 championship trophy in what was a monumental achievement for such a young club.
Since their beginning in November 2012, the Mavericks have had trained hard to get to this point. Last year's gut-wrenching semi-final defeat gave them the will, determination and confidence that they could go one step further this season. The only problem was that the former three-time national champions, Craigavon Cowboys, stood in their way in Sunday's Mill Road affair.
So, as the rain started to pour down at 4pm, the game kicked off. The Cowboys, led by the ultra-talented Peter Loughran, marched down the field with some very impressive running.
However, the Mavericks defence forced the punt given their offence field position on their 20 yard line. Then disaster struck. On their second play, the wet conditions played a huge part in a fumble which the Cowboys recovered on the Mavs' 33-yard line.
The Cowboys took advantage of this and ran the ball into the endzone a few plays later. The led 6-0 after missing their extra-point.
In the second-quarter, both teams ran the ball due to the wet conditions but neither team could capitalise as the defences remained stout when it mattered most. Declan Mulvihill added three-points with a field goal for the Mavs.
Cowboys quarterback Loughran then ran the ball over for a second touchdown as they took a 12-3 lead deep into the second-quarter. On a Mavs punt, Barry Durnin pinned the Cowboys back on their one-yard line and the visitors where unable to get out of the danger zone. And on one of the few pass plays, it was Durnin who came up with a massive play.
He intercepted the intended pass and ran unit back for a Mavericks touchdown. The Mavs secured the extra point and went into the half trailing 12-10.
After the half, it was more of the same hard-hitting, pounding football as both teams ran smash mouth football.
And it was the Cowboys who scored early in the fourth-quarter, going 18-10 up after they failed on a two-point conversion.
Soon after, the Cowboys got the ball back and after a huge punt, Eamon Ward fielded the ball on his own 20-yard line.
The elusive speedster jinked through the would be tacklers and scored for the Mavs. Though, the Mavs missed their two-point attempt. 18-16, they now trailed.
The game was on a knife edge and deep in the fourth quarter the Mavs defence forced a Cowboys turnover on the their 30-yard line. The Mavs dug deep with only three-minutes remaining to save their title hopes, battling their way into a great field position.
Powerful blocking by the offensive line opened the gap for rookie running back Daniel Finley to cross for the touchdown after a 20-yard run. The XP was good and the Mavs led 23-18 going into the final minute of the game.
With the game on the line and the Cowboys deep in the Mavericks half of the field, the home side forced a turnover on downs and the offence kneeled the game out. All the Mavericks players, friends and family celebrated at the final whistle.
The crowd of approximately 200 people gave both teams a huge ovation as the final was a big war of attrition. Mavs rookie running back, Finlay, won the game's MVP.
The Mavericks, as IAFL1 champions, have gained promotion the the Shamrock Bowl Conference. So there's no rest for the wicked.
The Mavericks will start their preparation next Sunday, August 27th at 12pm in the DkIT when they host their annual rookie camps for all new players.
Check the team out on Facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info.
Mavericks: Mick O'Shea, Gregory Paul, Ronan Minnock, Alex Simms, Brendan Simms, Connor Rice, Robbie Caldwell, Aaron Finlay, Dermot O'Grady, Eamon Ward, Miguelon Alvarez, Daniel Finlay, Cathal O'Brien, Stephen Traynor, Klaidas Granickal, Cormac Conway, David Lynch, Aaron McCardle, Barry McDonnell, Kevin McKeown, Aidan Maguire, Donal Drew, Óisín Finn, Barry Drew, David Maguire, Declan Mulvihill