Trim Bulldogs were invited along with their rival team Drogheda Lighting to Moneygall, Co. Offaly, ancestral home of US president Barrack Obama, to play an exhibition game and showcase American football for their American festival, celebrating American Independence Day & mixed with a bit of Irish culture.
It was a success from the kick off, a perfect day for football and, with the town of Moneygall cheering on the two teams, as some of the people had never witnessed an American football game let alone knew any of the rules. But that all soon faded with the Bulldogs scoring on their first possession.
And while the new-found fans were asking the many questions of American football tactics, they soon understood that the Bulldogs were the home team and Drogheda Lighting was the rival team.
While the Bulldogs dominated the entire first half, Lighting started to come alive just before the halftime whistle. The Bulldogs lead the entire game, but that was in jeopardy when Lighting mounted a comeback to bring the score 20-14. The Bulldogs were not to be outdone, as they dug deep to secure a win.
Quarterback Stephen McDonnell started a drive deep in Bulldogs territory, only to go three and out. The Lighting took over the ball with less than five minutes remaining in the game, but were stopped by a strong Bulldogs defence.
The Bulldogs took possession of the ball on their 30-yard line, and played a very determined 45 seconds to secure the win.
Game stats....DEFENCE: 54 Joe Rayfus 2 Tackles 2 Fumble Recoveries. 69 Keith Horan 6 Tackles (3for Loss) 1 Sack. 7 Barry Lorton 7 Tackles (3 for Loss) 3 Sacks. 25 Vitali 1 Tackle. 58 Ciaran Tormay 1 Tackle for Loss 1 Safety. 15 Conor Egan 1 Tackle.
Game stats...OFFENCE: 12 Stephen McDonnell 12/18 passing attempts 108yrds 2 passing PAT's 17 Rushing Yards 6 Attempts 1 Rushing TD. 86 Aidan McClusky 9 Receptions 90 yards 2 PAT receptions. 88 Shane Butterly 3 Receptions for 18 yards. 1 Rushing Yard 1 Attempt 1 Rushing TD. 26 Pete McMahon 233 Yards Rushing 30 Attempts (7.7 yards per carry) 2 Rushing TD's 1 Fumble. 70 Nickey Kennedy, 13 Tomas Ratkevicius 66 Marius Nenorta 65 David Rowan 72 Erikas......251 Rushing Yards, 0 Sacks, 0 Tackles for Loss, 0 False Starts
Both teams gave a very warm thank you to the Moneygall festival committee, their new fans of American football, the ladies who served the best stew in Ireland, and the groundsmens who worked very hard on the turning the Hurling pitch into a football field. Special thanks goes to Greg Morrison of the U.S. Embassy for coming down to the game, Ollie Hayes Pub for the great after game hospitality and the game commentators for some great play by play announcing, the game officials, and finally to the town of Moneygall.