DERRY Donegal Vipers American Football team extended their unbeaten run to three games this season after a superb 25-6 victory over IAFL Division 2 newcomers, North Dublin Pirates in Malahide last Sunday.
And with just three game remaining this season, the North West men have given themselves an outstanding chance of clinching a bowl game, just over one year since the club’s inception.
The Vipers are certainly going from strength to strength and all eyes now turn to the next game against the misfiring Galway Warriors in Letterkenny next month as they bid to keep alive hopes of securing silverware.
On Sunday in Dublin, the balmy conditions were to play a pivotal part in the game but the Vipers made the perfect start to proceedings as, straight from kick-off, return man and wide receiver, Ryan Brolly ran the ball back an impressive 90 yards for the game’s first score.
Key blocks from lineman, Shaun McGrory and defensive captain, Niall Lyons allowed Brolly to stretch and ultimately beat the Pirate defence around the outside to run it in. However, the extra point was not made but the Vipers led 6-0.
The next score came again when quarterback, Nic Young was able to hit Brolly for a 60 yard touchdown. Again the kicking was wide of the mark and the Vipers had to settle with a 12-0 lead.
The Vipers offence struggled again early on in the stifling heat, however, questionable penalties had a big part to play in breaking down drives towards the line.
Defensive End, Darren Quinn and linebackers, Paddy Maguire and Kyle McAnaney were a thorn in the Pirates’ side from first whistle to last. While defensive MVP, Pete Farrell stopped drives single-handedly with exceptional form tackling and technique. Newcomer and ex-Tyrone Titan, free safety, Daniel Mullen put in the hit of the game when sacking the Pirate quarterback for a 10 yard loss.
The next score came after another quick ‘three and out’ from the Pirates’ floundering offence. After a great punt return from Steven Henderson, the Vipers had great field position to set up the next drive. The score came after a couple of easy tosses to the outside landed the ball on the 10 yard line. Fullback Dermot Brown took the first hand-off and drove the ball five yards. Play two was more of the same and Brown managed to ‘pound the rock’ for the Vipers. Gary Melly kicked the extra point making the score 19-0.
The Pirates managed to score late in the third quarter after the referee handed them another easy drive from 45 yards of penalties. All they had to do was keep the legs going and see it over the line from five yards with the score 19-6.
The Pirate’s blood was up in the next drive but again the brick wall of the Vipers front four stopped them cold and turned the ball over from a forced fumble and recovery.
The big hits started to take their toll on the Pirates who were vastly outnumbered in man power, after losing two quarterbacks on the day.
The Pirates switched to a run heavy offence and subsequently relinquished any throwing power they might have had. The Vipers smelled victory and as the clock ran down fresh legged players were able to rotate in and out. The game was all but finished when fullback, Brown once again secured another touchdown late in the fourth quarter, making the final score 25-6 to the Derry/Donegal players.
The Pirates are a new team in the IAFL 2 this season and have some heavy hitters in their squad. With maybe some new blood added to fatten up their ranks they could be a team to be reckoned with in the future.
For the Vipers, however, it’s onwards and upwards as they aim to prolong their impressive unbeaten run.