Longford lose out in exciting cup second round clash
19/02/17 Provincial Towns Cup 2nd Round Clondalkin 34 Longford 23
Longford's Towns Cup aspirations were snuffed out in Gordon Park Kingswood when Division 1B side Clondalkin put in a final 10 minutes that quenched the flame of their visitor's hopes. A large midland contingent made their way to West Dublin to negated the home advantage, but the home team
There have been a number of close games between the sides in the last six years, but this time Clondalkin took the spoils. Longford commanded much of the game, but a lack of focus at the start of the second half put them in the back seat and they struggled to reassert themselves.
With five minutes to play, and one point between them, the visitors looked like they may save the day, but the Dubliners ran in a try that concluded proceedings. Clondalkin boasted a number of Leinster Junior players from last year's Inter Pro squad including the formidable Paul Nolan in the second row and dynamic wing forward Finlay.
Over the course of the 80 Clondalkin crossed the try line three times compared to Longford's two, but it was the penalty county that killed the visitor’s aspirations. It was a game played in ideal conditions with a slight breeze blowing across the fine surface.
All indications were that this was going to be a thrilling clash and the Longford team did their best to entertain those who made the effort to Gordon Park Kingswood. The tempo of the game was high right from the off. The forwards worked hard to ensure that the ruck ball was fast and clever lines of attack coupled with good support runs ensured positive progression by Longford.
With the game just 10 minutes old out half Colm Glynn unlatched the Dubliner's defence 30 metres out. The 10's run was supported by Benny McManus who took the pass five from the line and powered over to make it 00-05. Glynn added the two and Longford lead 00-07.
The men in black then pressed the advantage. More ingenious attacks pushed the home team deep into uncomfortable territory. Intelligent running created opportunities that the back line looked to capitalise on. A wonderful attack by Joe McGowan looked to like the lead would be extended, but the final pass did not stick and Longford were denied.
Another attacking opportunity by the travelling side was quenched, this time by what looked like a slap down, but Clondalkin got away without a serious censure. The home side got their account opened in the 20 minute with a penalty.
There followed a tick, tack, toe penalty exchange that saw the scores go 03-10, 03-13, 06-13 as Glynn preserved his side's advantage. Longford had another fine opportunity just before the conclusion of the forty, but the first half concluded with the visitors enjoying the seven point advantage.
Although the restart did not go 10 Clondalkin caught Longford napping and their attack resulted in a try and conversion that would level matters 13-13. Ten minutes later a break by the Clondalkin hooker saw him going over out wide, nudging his side in front for the first time 18-13.
In these opening exchanges of the second half the home team ruthlessly punished Longford slackness. What had been great about the men in black's attack in the first half evaporated for a period as they struggled for go forward ball, failed to protect rucks with the same vigour and did not pursue support lines as diligently pursued.
Nevertheless, they were still an attacking threat, but it was another penalty that pushed the Dubliner's ahead 21-13. Longford respond with a wonder try finished by Joe McGowan leaving it 21-20.
Another penalty exchange saw the scores go 24-20, 24-23 and a wrestle ensued to close the gap between the combatants. One more penalty brought it to 27-23 with less than 10 min to play. Longford press and press, building phases, but the pressure of attack left them exposed and a breakaway try by the home side left the final tally at 34-23.
Longford may be disappointed with the final outcome, but should take some consolation for the fact that they can mix it quite handily with a team a division above them. There were a number of fine performances across the pitch; the usual suspects Benny McManus, Ruadhán McDonnell, Paul Gallogly and Derek Farrell were joined by Cormac Hughes and Daniel McHugh on the honour roll.
Next week the Provincial Towns Seconds Cup (J2) gets the attention as Mill Road is the venue for the Dundalk RFC clash with the Longford Development side. After the last outing the Development team will be hoping to put in a good performance and push the Division 1A side all the way for a placed in the quarter finals.