Longford bounce to grab vital win on the road 2019-12-09 10:53:00

081219 Leinster League Division 1B DLSP 8 Longford 17

By Tommy Butler Longford RFC PRO

Longford Senior Men’s J1 XV are back on the winning trail after grinding out a win in difficult conditions on the road versus De La Salle Palmerstown (DLSP) yesterday.  Longford came into the match on the back of two narrow losses versus Clondalkin and Tullow and needed to get back on the winning trail to keep in the promotion chase.

The yellow wind warning certainly made playing conditions very difficult.  The blustery wind blowing across the pitch from the clubhouse along with squally showers made DLSP’s Kilternan ground feel closer to the artic circle and made it very difficult to get Longford’s normal offloading game going as the players struggled to keep warm.  The game was punctuated by knock-ons and was likely to be determined by the big men in the pack fronting up.

Most of the game was played between both sides 22 metre lines with most attacking plays undone by handling errors.  As the game wore on it was clear that Longford had an advantage in the maul and at scrum time, which perfectly suited the conditions.  It took until the 31st minute for the first score of the match.  Longford were awarded a penalty for a tip tackle on debutant Jack Finnegan, which also resulted in the DLSP No. 13 taking a trip to the Sin Bin.  Longford kicked to the corner and set up a maul, which was stopped close to the line.  Longford No. 8 Kolo Kiripati picked from the base of the ruck and powered over for a converted try.

DLSP came right back at Longford, but the away sides defence was excellent.  Longford’s scrum then came to the rescue when the men based in Kilternan were held up close to the Longford line and were awarded a 5 m scrum.  Longford drove DLSP back and forced a knock on to clear the pressure.  Longford made the great defence pay when Ryan McHugh knocked over a penalty on the stroke of half time to stretch their advantage to ten points.

DLSP came out of the blocks quickly at the start of the second half and secured an early penalty to bring the score to 3-10.  The weather then deteriorated and the familiar first half pattern of play between the 22s resumed.  However, Longford were gradually establishing forward supremacy with our front row of Padraig O’Farrell, Philly Dardis/Hubie Connolly and Dylan Quinn doing well at scrum time, winning a number of penalties.  As Longford gradually turned the screw it was Captain Benny McManus who crashed over 22 minutes into the second half for Longford’s second try and what looked like the match winning score.

Longford kept going hard trying to see if they could get two more tries for the bonus point but conditions were against them.  Indeed, it was DLSP who scored the last points of the match with 10 minutes to go with an unconverted try in the corner.  Longford then dug in and came away with a deserved four points on a freezing December day in Dublin.  As regards the league, all is still to play for, as Longford now look forward to a must win game, away to Carlow on January 12th in the battle for promotion to Division 1A next season.

Congratulations to Jack Finnegan and Daithi Connolly who made their first team debuts and did well on a difficult day.

Longford: P O’Farrell, P Dardis, D Quinn, B Stewart, B McManus (C), H Connolly, K O’Gorman, K Kiripati, R McHugh, C Glynn, J McGowan, C Hughes, G Bester, D Connolly, J Finnegan, J Forde, D Geelan, F Davis, A Beirne.  

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

“After a couple of hard weeks on and off the pitch mentally and physically it’s great for the boys to get the win today. They were really tough conditions to play a game of footy in for both teams. But we are pleased for our boys to get a confidence building win on the road after losing two games at home. We had an awful lot of disruption this week off the pitch with injuries and player unavailability, but we traveled with a good group that stood up and did the business today.

Daithi Connolly and Jack Finnegan made their first starts for us at J1 level today and they fitted in brilliantly, looking at how Jack made a crucial tackle for us showed why he was in there. We thought our set piece was excellent, our scrum dominated on and off our ball, and indeed two reversals on our ball after penalty resets could easily have got us two more scores. And in a really difficult wind our line out functioned well. I’ve gotta mention Graeme, who has been a real pleasure to work with this year, and he’s brought into us, put his head down and worked really hard, it shows the quality of the guy when he could have easily missed today but it never came into his thinking, he wouldn’t let the team down. He may have played his last game with us today, and if he has, he has left the group in a better place for us having him involved with us. For the group we sit third at the end of the year with January gonna be a big month for the J1s and 2s, it could go a long way to deciding if we win the 2nds league and if we can push for the play off spot at 1sts. That means we blow off a bit of steam now, but come back next week, work hard through December and deal with the opportunities ahead.”

Thanks to JC Photography for the photos, you can see the whole match gallery at: https://www.jcsportsphotography.com/dlspj1longford

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