Sticky patch continues and Senior Men lose narrowly to Tullow 2019-12-02 12:13:00

01/12/2019 Leinster League Division 1B Longford J1 11 Tullow 13

By Tommy Butler Longford RFC PRO at CPL Park, Longford.

It was another case of close but no cigar for Longford when they succumbed to a two point loss to the men from Carlow.  In a similar fashion to the opening match of the season where Longford and Tullow fought out a draw in torrential conditions, there was little to separate the sides in CPL Park today.  The match could be pivotal in the battle for second place and possible promotion and one in which Longford will rue not converting five good line breaks into scores.

The majority of the match was played between both teams 22s, with handling errors and turnovers punctuating the match.  Aggressive press defences were applied by both sides, which made attack seem claustrophobic.  Tullow stuck to their guns for most of the match with aggressive defence, close in carries and putting the boot to the ball, where Longford looked to go wide at every opportunity often slipping the ball behind the first attacker, in an attempt to create more space.

The match started off at a frantic pace with both sides keen to impose their games.  Tullow managed to get an early penalty, which was knocked between the posts to give them a 0-3 lead.  Although Tullow enjoyed their fair share of possession, it was Longford who were creating most of the chances with 5 clean line breaks by the likes of Ian McCormack, Barry Stewart and Kieran O’Gorman but time and again a Longford handling error or last ditch defence enabled Tullow to clear their lines and relieve the pressure.  The killer blow just could not be landed by Longford with knock-ons and bad decision making scuppering the hard fought pressure.  Longford especially dominated the last ten minutes of the first half and Tullow were glad to see the half time whistle with their three point lead intact.

Longford continued the pressure from the kick-off and got back on level terms after five minutes from a Ryan McHugh penalty.  Tullow were very street wise in defence all day and were content to give away a penalty if Longford threatened their line. 

Disaster then struck for Longford from the restart as Tullow secured their first line break of the game, worked it left to right and then back to the left again, with their winger crossing in the left hand corner.   This left a difficult conversion attempt, but one which was well converted, although it did not look like it came off the boot as planned.  So after dominating large parts of the match, they now had it all to do down 03-10.

On fifteen minutes another promising Longford move was halted by the concession of a Tullow penalty, with Ryan McHugh bringing Longford within four of the away side.  Longford huffed and puffed for the next 10 minutes but their hands let them down just as something promising looked to be in the offing.  The match looked like it might have turned in Longford’s favour when a few changes to the scrum resulted in Longford winning a penalty by pushing Tullow off their own ball.  Longford kicked the ball to the corner twice and both times Tullow infringed at the maul.  The accumulating penalty count finally saw the referee go to his pocket and leave Tullow with only 14 men with about ten minutes to go.  Longford chose to back their scrum dominance against 14 men and it was proven correct with No.8 Kolo Kiripati crashing over on the right, unfortunately the conversion attempt was narrowly wide, but Longford took the lead for the first time in the match 11-10. 

With eight minutes left on the clock Longford looked to bunker down and lock their defense tight.  However, the bunker was breached by a Tullow penalty with five minutes to go to leave them with a two point deficit to overcome and the clock ticking down.  Unfortunately, although Longford gave it their all, it proved to be a bridge too far and they had to settle with just a losing bonus point for the second week in a row and a loss to one of their main promotion rivals.

It has been a rocky two weeks for the J1 XV with back to back loses to Clondalkin and Tullow.  What is even more unusual is that CPL Park is normally a fortress for the side.  Glenn Baskett and his charges now turn their attention to their final league match of 2019 away to bottom side DLSP and will be hoping that third time is lucky in their quest to get back on the winning horse.

In better news Longford J2 XV maintained their seven point margin at the top of their league, courtesy of a walkover from Tullow.  DLSP withdrew their J2 XV from the league so at the moment the Longford J2 XVs next match is away to Carlow along with the J1 XV on January 12th.

Longford: P O’Farrell, H Connolly, D Quinn, F Davis, B McManus, B Stewart, K O’Gorman, K Kiripati, R McHugh, D McHugh, J McGowan, C Glynn, G Bester, C Hughes, I McCormack, L Brady, P Dardis, D Geelan, A Beirne and F McGowan.

Longford J2 23 Clondalkin 15

By Matt Hanley at CPL Park

League leaders Longford welcomed Clondalkin to CPL Park on Sunday and the home team got off the mark with just 3 minutes on the clock when impressive out half Cormac Hughes ghosted through a gap to dot down. The conversion was missed. Another 5 minutes had elapsed before Longford extended their lead with Jimmy Mimnagh racing down the touchline and had the time to make the conversion angle easier with Hughes adding the 2 points to put the home team 12 – 0 up.

Clondalkin responded and a ruck infringement resulted in a successful kick at goal. The three points were soon cancelled out with a Hughes penalty. Longford looked to be in control and were attacking with some success but an intercept on 30 minutes saw Clondalkin go the length of the field to narrow the home teams lead to 5 points. Longford gave themselves a little bit of breathing room with a try scored just before the half time whistle. The home team put together a great passage of play with Daithi Connolly getting in at the corner flag leaving the half time score Longford 20 – Clondalkin 10.

The Dublin team enjoyed an extended spell of dominance in the second half with Longford playing too much rugby in their own half but the defence stood firm. The pressure eventually told in the 57 minute with Clondalkin winning the race following a kick through leaving Longford with a skinny 5 point lead. The home team began to dominate possession again and a penalty from Hughes on 72 minutes established a two score lead which remained until the final whistle, Longford winning 23 – 15 and maintaining their unbeaten run in the league.

Squad: P Kirk, R McCormack, J Forde, B Hanley, P Dardis, D Corrigan, P Kenny, D Geelan, K Rodgers, John Geelan, James Geelan, F McGowan, C Hughes, O McGowan, D Connolly, J Finnegan, J Mimnagh, J Preece, W McDermott, B O’Farrell & S Farrell.   

After Match Reaction from Longford Senior Men’s Head Coach Glenn Baskett

“A good friend of mine says the sun will come up tomorrow, he’s right but another home defeat is a hard on to take. While our performance was definitely an improvement on last weeks work, I felt we weren’t smart enough with how we managed the pitch today. We talk about field position applying and relieving pressure, today I reckon we didn’t relieve pressure on ourselves and as a result didn’t apply pressure on the opposition. They controlled the momentum of the game pretty cleverly. We thought our pack stood up today against a big physical team, but we will need to look out how we attacked today, the width we used.

Today we find ourselves in 4th spot, two weekends ago we were looking to keep building towards winning the league, so now we’ve gotta look at the vid and be honest with how we are playing, and if we are right in how we are going out to perform.”


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