Eagles soar to first spot
WEXFORD EAGLES WEST DUBLIN RHINOS 35 7
THE WEXFORD Eagles now sit atop the IAFA-1 after another comprehensive victory. The most recent win, a 35-7 demolition of the previously undefeated West Dublin Rhinos, came just one week after the Wexford side defeated their arch-rivals, the Craigavon Cowboys, 21-6. #
The Eagles’ next test will be a home encounter against the Galway Warriors, which will take place at the Garden City G.A.A. grounds in Gorey, on Sunday, May 20.
The Rhinos match saw Wexford use a combination of a powerful running game on offence, with a defence that smothered and stifled the Dublin side throughout the afternoon.
The Eagles won the coin toss and elected to receive the opening kick-off. It only took a handful of plays before Liam McLaughlin stormed over for the first score. Darren Greene kicked the conversion, and the Eagles enjoyed an early 7-0 lead.
The rest of the game followed suit, with the Rhinos constantly frustrated by the variety of the Eagles offence, coupled with the swarming Wexford defence.
When they tried to run the ball, the Rhinos running backs were met with ferocious tackles from Willie O’Brien, Carl Coates, Daniel Noctor and Paddy Bissett, to name but a few.
The Dublin side fared no better through the air, with Craig Morrell intercepting a pass (the Eagles’ seventh interception in just three games), and blanket coverage of the Rhinos receivers by Ian O’Neill, Dafydd James and Terry Carey.
The Eagles offence, on the other hand, simply wore down the Rhinos stubborn defence. In all, six Wexford running backs saw action, and all had significant carries throughout the game.
Quarterback Sam Doran had his most productive outing of the 2018 campaign, running in two touchdowns and adding a twopoint conversion.
Darren Greene has also now scored in every game, while Trevor Smith ran in his first touchdown of the year from 20 yards out in the fourth quarter.
Tommy Martin and Craig Morrell also ripped through the Rhinos line for significant gains.
‘We talked at half-time about what we needed to do to put the game away,’ said Eagles head coach Kevin Klatt. ‘We knew our defence could pretty much handle whatever they threw at us, and we made some adjustments to the offence that worked really well.
‘We had three possessions in that second-half, scored three touchdowns, with no penalties, no punts and not a single negative yardage play. We also got a lot of guys carrying the ball, which made it even harder on the Rhinos. I have to be happy with that kind of performance.’
A spokesman for the Rhinos agreed, saying: ‘The Rhinos found the going tough…against a Wexford side that executed a near-perfect game plan.’
Wexford’s defensive co-ordinator, Craig Morrell, put the win - and the Eagles success for the season so far - to the players’ collective attitude.
‘There’s both a physical and mental toughness about this Eagles team,’ Morrell said.
‘These players are determined to win, and now it’s all about keeping this momentum going throughout the season.’
The Galway Warriors will try to end the Eagles’ unbeaten run, when the sides meet on Sunday, May 20. The game will kick-off at 2 p.m., and admission is free.