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Dublin: 8°C Wednesday 23 September 2020

Irish American footballer broke his hand, then arm but still finished the season's biggest game

Rick Duffield had a very poignant reason to help the Belfast Trojans to a fourth Shamrock Bowl title in a row.

Duffield after the game and before he managed to get to hospital.
Duffield after the game and before he managed to get to hospital.
Image: Belfast Trojans/Facebook

FOR THOSE WHO don’t follow the sport, the sight of helmets and pads often provokes a response that American football is just some form of ‘soft’ rugby.

Those who play and watch the sport know, however, that nothing could be further from the truth.

As if to prove the point, Rick Duffield put in a typically solid performance this weekend as he helped his side — the Belfast Trojans — to a fourth Shamrock Bowl victory in a row despite not one but two broken bones.

Duffield, a safety with the Trojans, broke his left hand making a tackle in the third quarter of Belfast’s 28-14 win over Trinity College on Sunday.

However, with the game still very much in the balance at that stage, he taped it up and returned to the action.

Source: Belfast Trojans/Facebook

“The first break happened just after half-time,” Duffield told The42 today.

“I was making a tackle on Trinity running back Rob McDowell when one of our guys came in to help as the second man. I’m not 100% sure but I think I’ve ended up with my hand between the two helmets.

“It’s a pretty clean crack at the knuckle though so that’s something.”

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Source: Belfast Trojans/Facebook

In the fourth quarter, while making yet another tackle, the 33-year old suffered a broken bone on his right arm, this time below the elbow.

“The second happened right at the start of the fourth quarter. I dived across at McDowell — again! — as he was running to his right.

“I knew that I couldn’t make a clean tackle so instead I tried to punch the ball out of his hand but I slipped off it and punched his helmet.”

Far from describing his actions — which will leave him with a full cast on one arm and a plastic splint on his hand for about eight weeks — as brave or dedicated, Duffield says it was probably “stupidity” that caused him to carry on.

However, he later revealed he had a very special reason for doing so.

Two weeks ago, just before the semi-finals, his father died.

“I’ve had a pretty tough month, probably the worst of my life. My dad died of lung cancer recently and he was a massive reason why I played.

“We knew he was dying but it probably happened sooner than we expected and he died the week of the semi-final.

“We buried him on the Friday and we played the semi-final on the Sunday because I knew that’s what he wanted and it was probably part of the reason why I played on to finish the Shamrock Bowl.”

When he recovers, Duffield says he’s likely to go back playing as the Trojans aim for five-in-a-row next season.

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About the author:

Steve O'Rourke

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