Category: News

Newsletter updates from club Chairman Jonny Keogh

Westmeath Minotaurs 34-7 Cill Dara Crusaders

A journey to Mullingar was the next beck and call for the Crusaders. Both sides had a fair idea of what to expect after their last meeting in the same venue back in September last year. Obviously, the world is a very different place even since then, but conditions were very similar, and both teams were eager for a good contest.

The Crusaders knew they faced an uphill task against a well-structured Minotaurs side who were unbeaten during the season, with a defence that played with no fear. This was clear in the opening drive as they immediately forced a three and out. The Minotaurs got the ultimate start when WR Jack Lynch broke away for the game’s opening score from their first play. Although it was by no means an ideal start for the Crusaders, they were certainly not willing to lie down from the get-go.

The offence returned to the field led by Rob Brown, who stepped up at quarterback while Jordan Farrell was unavailable. The offence was shortened further when breakout WR Sidney Pindi went down with a hamstring injury. Ultimately, it meant Rob’s number 1 target for the day was likely to be Kealan Farrell. They managed to connect on several occasions, most notably on this drive, as Rob found Kealan on a post route behind the DB and was able to sprint home for the TD. After only three drives in the game, the score was 7-7 and remained level for the opening quarter.

The Minotaurs found their rhythm in the 2nd quarter. They managed to return a pick 6 when a pass was impacted by a strong wind and landed perfectly into the defenders hands, who returned it to the endzone. The Crusaders had a strong drive in response as they got into the Minotaurs redzone following big plays to Kealan and Purcey. The drive gave the Crusaders an opportunity to close the gap to within 3 with a field goal, but the Minotaurs were quick off the mark and forced the turnover on downs. The Minotaurs added two scores before HT, leaving the score at 27-7 at the break.

In the 2nd half, both defenses had numerous big stops and turnovers. It has been no secret regarding the scrutiny the Crusaders defence has faced this season from many, and they certainly played some of their best ball of the season during the 2nd half. The Crusaders saw the return of defensive lineman Jonny Keogh and Hendre Erasmus for this game, with both men making big impressions on their first day back. Jonny had 3 tackles and 1 TFL, while Hondo showed his power with a brilliant performance, contributing 8 tackles, 4 TFL and a sack. The Dooley brothers continued to contribute all over the field while Conor Malone and Pijus Jasaitis had several passes defended. Recently converted safety or Tayson Hill 2.0, Karl Bracken, also got in on the act as he snatched his first interception of the season in the 4th quarter.

The Minotaurs could only add 1 touchdown in the 2nd half to leave a final score of 34-7. The scoreline does not give a full reflection of the Crusaders day. With a significant reduction of numbers at key positions, many people were willing to step up on and off the pitch to ensure the Crusaders would continue. The result certainly did not go our way, but the effort from everyone could not be faulted against one of the strongest teams in Ireland.

Congratulations to the Westmeath Minotaurs on their victory. Both teams were familiar with the opposition, given the clash in September last year at the same venue, and it was clear on that day that both sides had respect for each other. Both sides are often depicted with the “Bad Boy” personas within the league, but this fixture was certainly one which was played correctly and with plenty of respect before, during and after the game. We wish the Minotaurs the best of luck for the remainder of the season, and we might see them again in a few weeks!

With recent developments in AFI Division 1, the Crusaders are assured of a playoff spot but play their biggest game of the season to date on the 10th July in Newbridge against the Donegal/Derry Vipers. The victor of that meeting will travel to Limerick for a semi-final, while the loser will return to Mullingar the following week. Regardless of where the Crusaders must travel to, it will be a tough ask, but the team is determined to silence the critics in the remaining games and finish the season on a high.

A big thank you for everyone’s support for this game in various capacities. We look forward to seeing you all again in Newbridge on 10th July.

(Photos courtesy of Charmaeducs Photography)

Captains:

9. LB Kyle Dooley
11. QB Rob Brown
70. OL Mark Carey
99. LB Craig Dooley

Defensive MVP: Hendre Erasmus (Hondo)
Offensive MVP: Rob Brown

Overall MVP: Kealan Farrell

#jointhecrusade

Cill Dara Crusaders 13-39 Trinity College

After seven weeks since the shootout with the UL Vikings, the Crusaders were back in action against Trinity College. Trinity was unbeaten entering the game with the impressive stat of 0 points conceded from their opening three games. They also had not played for seven weeks after their break during the exam period. Both teams were prepared for a fierce battle.

Trinity won the toss and elected to receive. This was justified with an opening drive touchdown, but the XP was pushed left and wide. The Crusaders offence knew they had a difficult task ahead against a thriving defence and wanted to set the tone on their opening drive. QB Jordan Farrell went through the air heavily on the opening drive and found Rob Brown open on multiple throws for huge yardage. Within a handful of plays, the Crusaders found themselves in the redzone. Despite an offensive penalty, Jordan lofted a beautiful throw to his younger brother and trustee receiver Kealan for the home side’s first TD of the day in the right side of the endzone. Running back Luke Carey stepped up to stroke the XP between the uprights to put the Crusaders in front 7-6 early in the 1st.

The score seemed to spark the Trinity side. They managed to quickly cross the whitewash twice further before the conclusion of the opening quarter. The defence must be commended for their efforts following the opening quarter and, in particular, the 2nd quarter. The defence held the Trinity offence scoreless for the quarter, with defensive coach Kyle Dooley coming up with his first interception of the season, which was one of the highlight plays of the day. Kyle had one of his best performances in a Crusader shirt and was a standout in a defence which saw some excellent individual displays from Karl Bracken, Nathan Purcell and Tom Gbenoba, to name but a few. A redzone stop by the defensive just before the half gave the Crusaders the belief that they could build in the 2nd half.

The Crusaders knew they needed to start the 2nd half strongest. After another steady drive to the redzone, the home side looked set to make it a one-score game. However, the offense was undone by a tremendous defensive read in the endzone, who secured their first pick of the day. However, hope was quickly restored on the next play when linebacker Nathan Purcell came up with a fumble recovery (Purcey also claimed an INT during the game), and the offence was back on the field. From this point, the Crusaders indeed witnessed the strengths of the Trinity defence.

Both offences were forced into possession changes, with the Crusaders starting deep inside their half. However, Trinity managed to claim their 2nd interception in a short period, with the defensive back returning a pick 6 for the quarter’s only score.

As the game entered the 4th quarter, there remained a level of belief. This was helped when Luke Carey was able to cap his most robust performance of the season by punching the ball in from 6 yards to add to his 113 scrimmage yards. The run game proved a key asset throughout the day for the Crusaders, with the offensive line creating ample space for all of the running backs to benefit from.

The Crusaders couldn’t add to their total in the final quarter as Trinity scored two further touchdowns. A mention must be given to Thomas Brocklebank and Dan Griffith on the XPs. Both players finished the play with the ball, especially Dan, who ended within the Trinity redzone before being tackled and denied a stunning return.

For the Crusaders final offensive drive, QB2 Sidney Pindi stepped in under centre and showcased his wheels to gain some yards. Expect to see more of him as the season progresses!

It was not to be for the Crusaders in their 3rd game but outside hopes of a playoff spot remain with a showdown with the Donegal Derry Vipers on the final day likely to see the victor advance to the playoffs. Much football must be played before that, however.

Congratulations to Trinity on their victory, and we look forward to the rematch in July. But, for now, the Crusaders will turn their attention to the other undefeated team in Division 1 and a meeting with a familiar foe in Mullingar, Westmeath Minotaurs.

A big thank you for all the support on Sunday, and we hope to see you all in Mullingar on the 19th June.

Captains:
1. QB Jordan Farrell
4. LB Erik Louivere
9. LB Kyle Dooley
17. RB Luke Carey

Defensive MVP: Kyle Dooley
Offensive MVP: Kealan Farrell
Overall MVP: Luke Carey 

#jointhecrusade

Cill Dara Crusaders 39 – 47 UL Vikings

Competitive American Football returned to Newbridge College this past Sunday for the first time since that memorable sweltering July afternoon in 2019 for the IAFL2 Bowl. However, conditions were far different on this occasion and offered another challenge to an already titanic battle against the UL Vikings with high strong gales blowing throughout the game. Historically, the Vikings have been one of the strongest teams in Ireland and were national champions as recently as 2009. Although their team today consisted of many rookies, the desire and belief remain very visible within their side.

The Vikings started brightest and raced into a 7-0 lead early before the Crusaders got off the mark, with QB Jordan Farrell continuing to build a strong connection with Robert Brown by finding the endzone. Brown has been one of the Crusaders strongest performers after the opening two games. He had 120 yards, 1 touchdown and was also on the receiving end of three 2-PT conversions, adding to his standout performance in Derry two weeks previous.

The Vikings regained their lead shortly after when QB Kieran Gilholl got the first of his three touchdowns in the game. The back and forth battle continued as the Crusaders quickly drove down the field into the RedZone. Farrell lofted a pass high under pressure with Sidney Pindi plucking the ball from the air over a scrummage of Vikings defenders and sent the Crusaders faithful into raptures. The Crusaders went for 2, with Farrell finding Brown in the corner to give the home side the lead for the first time in the game.

The Vikings managed to build momentum before half-time, converting on two drives to lead 28-15 at the break. Special mention must also be given to DE Thomas Brocklebank for his fumble recovery on the half’s final play. Number 55 pounced on a loose ball and was dragged down 10 yards from the endzone. The defensive front stood up strong during the game with the Dooley brothers once again causing havoc and getting 3 sacks and a forced fumble between them.

After a defensive stop on the opening drive of the 2nd half, the offence found the endzone through Farrell, finding Sidney to close the gap to 5. Belief appeared to be firm with the Crusaders, but they suffered a major setback after Farrell threw a pick 6 to Vikings DB Luiz Quadros despite calls for a foul on WR Kealan Farrell. The claims were squashed, and the Vikings regained a strong lead.

The Crusaders needed a defining play to regain some momentum once again. After an incomplete 4th down, the defence came up with a massive turnover after forcing a fumble, and DT Liam Butler put Tom Daley to shame with his diving skills and retrieved the ball to add to his very strong performance. It was a speedy turnaround for the offence, and RB Luke Carey found the endzone for the 2nd time this season before Farrell showed that he has more than just a big arm by trucking his way in for extra 2 points.

Entering the 4th quarter, it was anyone’s game. The Vikings offence continued their strong performance by finding the endzone with a 23-yard run. However, the XP was blocked, giving the Vikings a 10 point lead. The Crusaders responded quickly as Jordan found Kealan for a TD, and after another converted 2 PT attempt to Robert Brown, it was a 2 point game. The Vikings run dominance continued as RB Sean Grace sprinted home for his 3rd TD of the day. The following XP was sent wide, meaning the Crusaders would have one final opportunity to potentially tie the game. The Vikings showed their resilience on the final drive, forcing a turnover on downs and ultimately claiming the victory.

It was a very disappointing result for the Crusaders after an intense battle. The team now face a more formidable task in their quest to reach the playoffs, but the season is by no means over. Mistakes were made across the game on both sides of the ball, but the response will need to have the most impact.

Congratulations to the Vikings on their victory, and best of luck to them for the rest of the season. The Crusaders face the Eagles in their next game on 1st June with both sides without a victory this season.

Team Captains:
1. QB Jordan Farrell
12. WR Sean Coogan
65. LB Kyle Dooley
99. DE Craig Dooley

Offensive MVP: Kealan Farrell
Defensive MVP: Craig Dooley
Overall MVP: Luke Carey
Special Mention: Sidney Pindi

(Photos courtesy of Charmaeducs Photography and David Perkins)

#jointhecrusade

Donegal Derry Vipers 30-12 Cill Dara Crusaders

The Crusaders began their 2022 campaign with a long trip to Derry for a meeting with the Donegal Derry Vipers. It was a big occasion for the Vipers as it was their first home game following their recently announced partnership to introduce the City of Derry Rugby Club as their new home.

The Vipers were fired up and wanted to make a statement and cement their new home as a fortress. However, their defence caused constant problems for the Crusaders offence while their rushing attack was a focal point of their gameplan. 2 rushing touchdowns and a field goal in the opening half put the Vipers in a firm position with a 17-0 lead at the break.

Shortly before the break, the Crusaders lost one of their rising stars on defence in Cormac Butler. With a suspected broken wrist, Cormac could not return for the remainder of the game. However, Cormac’s loss appeared to motivate the Crusaders defence as they forced a fumble on the Vipers opening drive. Quarterback Jordan Farrell found WR Rob Brown open from the resulting turnover, who raced down the sideline only to step out of bounds at the 2. Despite a solid goal-line defence from the Vipers, the Crusaders managed to get on the scoreboard through Luke Carey, who found a gap through the middle.

There was much hope of a famous Crusaders comeback, but momentum was quickly squashed as the Vipers returned the kick-off for significant yards and managed to reach the end zone on the opening play of the drive. The Vipers found the endzone again shortly after, with all of their touchdowns coming on the ground.

The defence must be commended for their resilience throughout the game. They forced the Vipers to 5 turnovers with three fumbles and two interceptions courtesy of Pijus Jasaitis and Conor Malone. The Dooley brothers also managed to claim a sack each during the game.

The offence managed to get a late touchdown with Jordan Farrell finding Rob Brown for a 25-yard touchdown in the corner. Rob Brown had an excellent day with eight receptions for 172 yards and a touchdown.

Congratulations to the Vipers and we look forward to facing you again later in the season. The Crusaders now focus on getting back on track in their opening home fixture against the 1-1 UL Vikings on the 10th April at 2pm in Newbridge College.

Team Captains:
1. QB Jordan Farrell
3. DB Dominik Pindi
4. LB Erik Louviere
70. OL Mark Carey

Offensive MVP: Rob Brown
Defensive MVP: Craig Dooley
Overall MVP: Karl Bracken

#jointhecrusade