Resilient Longford come through tough 1st Round examination 2020-03-02 12:56:00

01032020 Provincial Towns Cup 1st Round Navan 11 Longford 24

By Tommy Butler Longford RFC PRO

Longford advanced to the second round of Provincial Towns Cup after a tough examination by Navan’s J1 side in Balreask Road on Sunday.  After a first half where they were largely on top, Longford had to dig deep in a second half where they were on the ropes and had to fight hard to dig out a passage to the second round.

The conditions for the match were perfect bar a strong breeze blowing across the pitch towards the clubhouse, which did not really favour either side.  As typical of a cup match the first few minutes were spent trying to feel each other out, especially as each were unfamiliar foes.

However, Longford got into their groove earlier and started putting phases together, which seriously stretched the Navan defence.  After multiple phases and working the ball wide, Longford created an overlap on the wing and eventually worked it out to Finbarr McGowan who crossed for an unconverted try to give Longford an early lead.

However, Navan came right back at Longford and after their 13 regained the restart worked their way up the pitch and forced a kickable penalty just outside the Longford 22, which was duly knocked between the posts.  Indeed, it was Navan who also got the next score on 25 minutes again from a penalty, although Longford were giving as good as they got.

Navan taking the lead was the genesis of a period of ascendancy for Longford mainly through their scrum where they forced multiple penalties, which yielded 10 points before half time and put Longford in the driving seat.  Firstly, Ryan McHugh knocked over a penalty to put Longford back in the lead and then Longford turned the screw in the Navan 22 through a series of scrum penalties and just on the stroke of half time it bore big dividends when Podge O’Farrell muscled over for a crucial seven points and a half time score of 6-18.

The Longford crowd were quietly confident at half time that the team would see out the match easily enough and put its name in the second round draw.  However, Navan had other ideas.  The home side made a few changes at half time and came back from the dressing rooms determined to get back into the tie.  Longford were starved of possession for the first 20 minutes of the second half and also gave away a lot of penalties.  Navan threw the kitchen sink at Longford led by their No.13 and No.8.  The away side scrambled very well in defence and put their bodies on the line to stop the Navan momentum.  However, Navan finally breached the Longford line 15 minutes in, for an unconverted try to really make it into a real cup tie.

Navan had Longford on the ropes but credit to the away side who scrambled well and never buckled.  It looked like the tide had really turned against Longford when the Navan 13 thought he had scored a try down the wing, however the referee rightly ruled it out for crossing.  At this point due to some great substitutions Longford worked their way back into the game and gradually gained the ascendancy.  In a perfect finale for a cup match, it was two drop goals that secured Longford’s passage into the second round.  Firstly, out half Colm Glynn struck a drop goal, which seemed to stick in the ground when dropped but managed to somehow go between the uprights to leave it a two score game 11-21.  This was then followed up by Ian McCormack who knocked over a brilliantly improvised drop goal after the ball had fallen over after a gust of wind during his run up for a penalty attempt.

Longford then closed the match out aptly with a scrum and moved into the second round of the 2020 Provincial Towns Cup. 

Longford: P O’Farrell, H Connolly, D Quinn, B McManus, B Stewart, P Molloy, K O’Gorman, K Kiripati, R McHugh, C Glynn, J McGowan, I McCormack, S Rodgers, F McGowan, C Hughes, P Dardis, L Brady, A Beirne, N Farrell, Andrew Beirne & Aaron Beirne.   

Podge O'Farrell scores Longford's 2nd Try

After match reaction from Longford RFC Head Coach Glenn Baskett

We’re delighted with that result today, with so many disruptions lately it’s just great to get the boys out and play on a good track. And that was a good tough knockout game of footy. We talked about starting well and managing the dips in the game, and the early try was a good settler. The try right on half time was crucial, we had the heat on them at scrum time and getting the score off the back of that dominance was massive. If we hadn’t scored after backing our scrum it would have given Navan a huge lift, but the boys showed good patience and to go in 18-6 up was key, not to have finished the half with that score would have given Navan a big lift. The pack was excellent at times today, all 12 of them used today. We will have a look at our defensive line out, but on our ball we did well. We will also have a look at our defence in the back line, we can always be better. Navan asked lots of questions of us in the second 40, and if we are honest probably got in behind us too easily at times, sometimes you actually don’t want half time to come when you are working well!! But job done, we’ve just heard we have drawn Carlow at home in two weeks, and we know what they will bring. But for tomorrow it’s Clondalkin away in the refixed league fixture, this is one we will really look at ourselves in after how the last game against them at home went. I know it’s one I’ve thought about a fair bit since we played them on 24th November.”

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