Panthers Win Tight Defensive Battle
THE SOUTH DUBLIN Panthers got their 2019 season off to a winning start with a 7-6 home win over the Dublin Rebels.
In a game dominated by early season nerves and standout performances on defence, it was was Micheal Staunton’s interception — one of two picks on the day — that gave the Panthers great field position midway through the third quarter.
After a long delay to sort out the numerous flags on the play, quarterback Ian Cahill found the Rebels’ defence sleeping and connected with Seàn Goldrick on a post to give the home side a 6-0 lead in Westmanstown.
Ryan Eccles’ extra point was good and, ultimately, proved the difference between the sides after the Rebels’ failure to convert a two-point attempt following their fourth quarter touchdown.
Speaking after the game, Panthers Head Coach Steve McDonnell said:
“Starting the season with a win is undoubtedly the best we could hope for. It was particularly satisfying for me to see three first time coaches on defence coach that performance.
“We know we’re a very talented team but until you get to the season and test yourself against an opponent it’s hard to know exactly what you’ve got,” he said.
McDonnell was impressed by the performance of the trenches in particular.
‘There was a really great performance up front from our defensive line and linebackers. We knew if we could get pressure and stop the run we’d put ourselves in a great position to win the game and that’s what we did.
“We also knew we’d face pressure on the offensive line. We were forced into some changes there and for a unit with guys playing in new positions and first time out together it was a good foundation performance.”
Despite a win over such storied opposition, McDonnell saw scope for improvement.
“We know we have a lot to work on though, Penalties and turnovers killed our offensive drives and putting us in long to go situations really limited the effectiveness of our offence.
“In the end it was a great play by Micheal Staunton to get a good run back on his second pick to put us in shooting distance of the end zone and when you’ve got players like Seán Goldrick on your team we know we can always be a threat in that part of the field.
But we’re delighted with the win and we’re onto Cork.”