Admirals Sink Panthers in Santry
A soggy Sunday afternoon saw a depleted South(west?) Dublin Panther side kicking off their 2023 kitted season in the temporary confines of Trinity Sports Grounds on Dublin’s Northside. The Panthers began the day with less than 20 on the sideline, and that number dwindled even further in the first quarter, as they lost two players to injury early on.
The visiting side moved the ball well through the air in the first period, despite throwing a poorly timed interception to turn the ball over. They overcame the pick however to draw first blood as Quarterback Stephen Hayes connected with his receiver on a 15 yard pass to the back of the Panther endzone for the opening touchdown and an 8 – 0 advantage. The Panthers couldn’t find similar success in their passing game, failing to connect on multiple passes. They opted instead to run the ball with powerful back Ben Arulogun. But despite gaining some traction on offense and adding a score of their own through the legs of QB rushing touchdown, there was a noticeable lack of energy or enthusiasm on the sideline. This was reflected on the opposite sideline as well – the inclement conditions perhaps dampening the spirits on both sides.
In what was a surprisingly fast moving second quarter – the first half taking a mere 60 minutes to complete – the Admirals would run out the remaining time with a commanding ground game, eventually doubling their score courtesy of a second passing touchdown. The conversion was unsuccessful this time however, with a Cork receiver dropping what could have been the easiest catch ever. We asked for his name, and indeed the names of all the players so that we could produce an accurate scoring report, but suspicious Head Coaches mistook yours truly for an opposition scout and were tight lipped as a result. Anyway, 14 – 7 to the Leesiders at the half.
The 3rd quarter began with both teams trading 4 and outs, and neither defense ceded much territory thanks to strong linebacker and secondary play. It was Cork who had the advantage heading into the final quarter, extending their lead through the air again with 2.30 left on the clock. QB Stephen Hayes connected with two separate receivers, sticking the conversion this time and setting the scoreboard to 22 – 7 in favour of the visitors.
Two things surprised me throughout this game: The first being the relatively low volume of flags. Someone must have had a word with the refs after week one. Any penalty markers that were thrown were well warranted, and Steve Mole’s crew kept the game moving in an efficient manner. Secondly, the lack of a Panther rushing attack. Most of their gains on the ground came from QB Finn Kearns, including a strong run on their first possession of the fourth quarter to gain a big first down. Kearns and his offense would capitalise on excellent field position a few plays later by powering over the goal line on a QB sneak from the 1 yard line to cut the lead to 22-14.
The Admirals responded by moving the ball well on the ground through #34 ( this is why we asked for names!) but the Panthers forced a massive fumble recovery to stay alive and set up an exciting conclusion! It was a lot closer than it should be, as Cork allowed their opponents to hang around and cause problems instead of finishing them off. Alas, the comeback wasn’t to be as a stray Kearns pass intended to float out of bounds was beautifully picked off to swing possession back the Admirals. They made no mistake this time and hammered home another score from close range to put the game out of reach at 30 – 14. The game was clinched a few plays later with another Cork interception.
An overall sloppy affair this afternoon with both sides exhibiting some rust after a long offseason. The Panthers battled bravely and should be proud of the resolve they displayed, but the odds were stacked against them from the outset. Cork meanwhile should be happy to escape down the M7 with a win. Final score from Santry: Cork Admiral 30 – South Dublin Panther 14.
Main photo: Terry McCann