It was a weekend to forget for our local rugby sides as all three J1 sides were beaten in the Leinster League.
Kilkenny ran in three tries against Suttonians on Saturday last but failed to secure the win, the result dropping the Foulkstown side to fifth in Division 1A.
As the last pre-Christmas fixtures for local rugby sides played out on Sunday, Tullow was beaten 27 – 25 at home to Wicklow in Division 1B.
Meanwhile, Carlow’s hopes of gaining promotion took a big dent yesterday with a 14 – 5 defeat to Mullingar on Sunday, report follows:
Carlow 5 – Mullingar 14
Carlow’s hope of gaining promotion in the Leinster League this season took a bad hit at Oakpark on Sunday when they went down by a 14 – 5 scoreline to visitors Mullingar.
The Midlanders had come to Oakpark on the back of three successive wins including against Tullow last week. But Carlow too had recent form and had beaten Sunday’s visitors in Mullingar by 18 – 7 last October.
Playing with the aid of a strong wind Mullingar were the fastest out of the blocks. Within 15 minutes they had crossed the Carlow line twice. The tries scored by their centre Alan Brabazon and second-row Lemeki were well worked but the poor defence was also a factor. Both tries were converted by out-half Stuart Flynn.
Mullingar didn’t score again but neither did they need to. Carlow had come back from a bigger deficit a month ago against Table-toppers Boyne but on Sunday this sort of form deserted the Oakpark side. Instead, the supporters had to watch a litany of knock-ons, kicks out on the full and lack of cohesion and all-around focus.
For their part, once they got their lead, Mullingar put up shutters, eliminated errors and penalties and defended tightly for the rest of the game.
Ironically Carlow’s best play came in the last 10 minutes of the first half, while they were down to 14 men and still playing into the wind. They were camped on the Mullingar line but even then they were held up resulting in the defenders getting a goal-line drop-out as per the newest rugby rules.
Trailing by 0 – 14 at the start of the second half the Oakpark side still had plenty of time to mount a comeback but on the day it was Mullingar who showed the greater hunger.
Strong players such as James Nolan and Wes Shirley didn’t spare themselves but they were running into traffic rather than open spaces. Ross Byrne came off the bench to help strengthen the front row of the scrum. Jeff McDermott came into the scrumhalf slot to speed up the service to the backs.
But to the frustration of the supporters even time Carlow looked like making progress another error was made. The previously dangerous Carlow centres David McDermott and Caomhan Brennan were tightly marked. Eventually, in the last play of the game, Carlow full-back Richard Whyte got through for a try in the corner. In order to salvage a losing bonus point, the conversion was needed. From beside the touchline, Richard’s valiant effort looked good but hit the post and fell the wrong side for the home team.
Wicklow and Boyne, the two sides above Carlow in the Leinster League table, both scored wins at the weekend opening the gap to 9 and 7 points respectively. Carlow has still to play both of these teams in away matches. The Oakpark side could have done with 5, or even 4 points at Oakpark on Sunday.
Carlow J 1
Richard Whyte, Sam Cullen, Dave McDermott, Caomhan Brennan, Ben Crotty Dan Crotty, Isaac Daly, Larry McGrath, Conal Slater, Cian Clarke, Owen Edgehill, Wes Shirley capt, Conor Moore, Johnny Murphy, James Nolan
Subs. Ross Byrne, Jeff McDermott, Conor Treacy. Paddy Mackey, John Whyte.
Carlow 53 – Mullingar 5
All season this talented Carlow seconds side had shown plenty of potential. They sit unbeaten at the top of their Leinster League table. What better time to cut loose with 8 tries than when the table’s second-place team Mullingar comes to town.
Mullingar’s J2 side are still a good side but last Sunday in Oakpark they were met by a Carlow side who clicked into top gear. Carlow scored three ties plus a penalty in the first half to lead 20 to nil at the break. This was followed by another 5 touchdowns in the 2nd half. To give them their due Mullingar often threatened to score but they had to head home in shock having scored just a single try and conceded 8.
The gap between Mullingar and Carlow has now opened to 7 points 32 versus 25.
Several of Carlow’s tries came from turnovers deep in their own half followed by long run-ins. Mercurial winger Callum Murphy got two such tries. Jack Hickey a tearaway number 7 and excellent chop tackler also scored twice as did Evan Gordon who is frequently on the J1 side.
The other tries came from full-back Liam Slater and number 8 Scott Neale who was recently part of a strong Kilkenny College team.
Liam Slater added a penalty plus 5 conversions.
In addition to the scorers Carlow players such as captain Anthony Mannion, prop John Lyons and half backs Owens and Murray made important contributions to this victory.
This side will have to wait till January 16 2022 before the next Leinster League game against Wicklow away.
Liam Slater, Johnny Crossley, Sean Quinlan, Bobby Cope, Callum Murphy, Alan Owens, Conor Murray, Rhys Roberts, Evan Gordon, John Lyons, Dave Keppel, Anthony Mannion Capt, Jack Hickey, Steve Treacy, Scott Neale.
Subs: Williams Ganley, Tom Bolger, Niall Finnegan, Chris Curnow, Padraig O Connor.