Longford surge to 2A Title
12/03/17 Leinster League Division 2A Longford 42 Cill Dara 24
A late surge by Cill Dara was not enough to deny Longford victory on their home patch when they put in a performance worthy of the Leinster League Division 2A champions.
This was a game in which thrilling passing rugby was common fare. Both sides had moments of brilliants, but it was the home teams attacking prowess that was distinctive. There was also plenty of no-nonsense defensive work for the purists.
This was a 20 man performance from Longford. The opening salvo was fired in the third minute. Longford showed ferocious line speed shunting the visitors back at each phase. An attempted clearance kick from just inside the 'Dara half was blocked down by Barry Stewart. The ball was collected by flanker Ruadhan McDonnell, with the 6 showing a clean pair of heels to a pair of chasing Kildare men putting in a sweet swerve on his journey to the try line.
The conversion by first centre Colm Glynn brought it to 07-00. Not content with the early score as a marker the pack the monstered the visitors in the first scrum, setting a tone for the next 75 minutes. Longford suffered a setback as McDonnell had to retire from the contest, but Alan Campbell proved more than worthy cover.
In the 15 minute a high tackle on Neal Farrell gave Glynn the opportunity to split the posts again, leaving it 10-00. With 19 minute gone Cill Dara opened their account. Peter O'Neil converted a penalty for a hight tackle to 10-03. Two minutes later Glynn had a chance to nudge ahead, but his strike hit the upright, however the next infringement by the Kildare men was punished by the kicker to leave it 13-03.
After eight minutes of pressure Longford got the next score. A wing trio of Paul Gallogly, Benny McManus and Hubie Connolly showed silky skill before the hooker went over as the clock struck 32. Glynn's conversion left it added 20-03. Just as the clock struck half time O'Neil had another shot at the target, but was well wide of the mark.
Five minutes after the restart against all reason Derek Farrell burst from a knot of defending players, once behind the line he got an offload to Gallogly. The eight's yards were just about to be halted when he passed to Cormack Hughes, who passed to Joe McGowan giving the winger one chance, taken with both hands. There was no messing from Glynn who converted from the wing bring his side's tally to 27-03.
Alan Campbell got the fourth try bonus point in the 49 minute, after three sapping minutes of ruck play shy of the Cill Dara five metre line. The flanker sprung a surprised on the visitors with a quick tap and bludgeoned his way over. Again Glynn rounded it up to 34-03.
Shane Rodgers set up the fifth score with a wonderful line break, a searing run down the touch line before a pin point inside pass to Cormack Hughes who was running a super support line. Again Glynn was unerring in his conversion bring it to 41-03.
In the 65 minute Cill Dara mounted a comeback. The number 8, John Joe McIlwrath emulated Hughes feat when he quick taped a penalty to nudge his side up to 41-10, thanks to O'Neil's conversion. Just two minutes later his flanking companion debunked the “forwards shouldn't kick” myth, by chipping over the Longford cover, the bounced wayward for two defenders but perfectly for him, his score brought it to 41-17.
The final try of the game was McIlwrath's as well, but it was a pack push the shortened Longford' lead. Again O'Neil's conversion left it 41-24. There was a little anxiety on the Longford line in with five left to play, but the ship was steadied by captain Ciaran Kennedy when he kick deep into Cill Dara territory. Overall this was a great performance by Longford and the work by stalwarts like Barry Steward, Dylan Quinn, Michael Bannon and Danny McHugh was what made this a day for the memory bank.
Michael Bannon, Hubi Connolly, Dylan Quinn, Barry Stewrart, Benny McManus, Ruadhan McDonnell, Derek Farrell Paul Gallogly, Neal Farrell Danny McHugh, Colm Glynn Conor Hughes Joe McGowan Shane Rodgers, Ciaran Kennedy
Kevin Rodger Justin Murray Alan Campbell Anthony Hughes Eoin Bartley