DERRY DONEGAL Vipers receiver Ryan Brolly scored a dramatic touchdown with 26 seconds left on the clock to clinch the IAFL 2 Bowl trophy last Sunday in Dublin.
It was a sensational end to what has been a memorable season for the North West American Football team as they now look forward to next year’s campaign in the top flight.
The last ditch 33-29 victory over Wexford Eagles in the Bowl Final at Westmanstown Garda RFC Grounds ensured the club finished their second competitive season unbeaten.
It was a hugely entertaining finale to the season and the winning touchdown came after it appeared Wexford had won the game with a two yard touchdown run at the two minute warning.
It wasn’t to be for the Eagles, however, and Brolly emerged the hero in the end.
Both teams came into the game after putting in unbeaten seasons and in the stifling heat the game began at a furious pace.
The Vipers received the ball from the kick-off and landed the ball on their own 40 yard line. Having fullback Derm Brown back from an ankle injury paid dividends in the opening stages as he took the ball 20 yards on the ground, Running Back, Cathal Curran also made 40 yards on two plays to put the Vipers within striking distance. Quarter-back Danny Mullan hit the receiving hands of Ryan Brolly for a touchdown that silenced the large Wexford fan base - the extra point was no good, however.
The Vipers’ defence had only conceded 12 points all season, however, that was to change very quickly. The Wexford Quarterback ran in a long touchdown to a rapturous cheer from their fans. The extra point was added taking the score to 7-6 Eagles.
The Vipers linebackers struggled to contain the outside and the Eagles were able to make quick yards on the ground punching in another score and leaving the men in red and gold behind for the first time since August 2015 with the score 14-6 at the end of the first quarter.
The next score of the game was a Viper touchdown, unfortunately along the way the men lost starting Running Back Cathal Curran to a leg injury. He wasn’t to return in the game, he did, however, get the boys into the Wexford redzone where Brolly was hit for his second touchdown of the game.
The score was now 14-13 to the Eagles and both teams settled into what can only be described as all out war. Massive hits were laid out on both sides as the Vipers came up against the most physical side they had played all season.
After some questionable refereeing calls landed the Wexford men deep in Viper territory the next score came when an Eagle Tight End stretched out to gather in a pass for a deserved score.
Mullan ran in the game’s next score after great outside running from backup Running Back and team kicker, Gary Melly left the score at the half was 21-19 Eagles.
The offense took over and after some great running from Tight End Chris Tinney, Mullan was able to smash his way over. Melly added the extra point making the score 26-21 Vipers.
Wexford were throwing everything at the Vipers, fighting for every yard and were rewarded deep into the fourth quarter with another touchdown and two point conversions to set up a tense finale.
The score was now 29-26 in favour of the Eagles but with 26 seconds on the clock, Mullan had one more chance to throw for the win and he found a sprinting Brolly in the End Zone. Brolly made an unbelievable catch for the title winning touchdown.