With two rounds remaining, Carlow has opened up a 7 point lead in Division 2A of the Leinster Rugby League. The gap at the top of the table was stretched from 4 points to 7 this weekend as a result of Carlow securing a 26 to nil bonus point win over New Ross whilst 2nd placed Railway Union only managed a 5 all draw in Cill Dara.
The Carlow New Ross game was played under lights at Oakpark on Saturday evening. The 26 to nil margin was harsh on the visitors who put in a spirited performance but had no scores to reflect their effort.
The first of Carlow’s four tries came in the 2nd minute and the fourth try was the final act of the game. In between New Ross threatened often but Carlow’s defence held firm. This was critically important during a ten minute stretch of the second half when Carlow suffered a double sin binning.
For Carlow’s 1st try James Nolan made one of his trademark surges from the kick off. The ball was spun out to fullback Rob Browne coming up on the left. He offloaded to Cormac Walshe who made ground up the wing and passed back to Browne who secured the try. Browne missed this conversion but was successful with the other three.
New Ross scrumhalf Barry Walsh was narrowly wide with a penalty attempt in the 12th minute. On an ideal evening for rugby the home side were dominant in the 1st half but were driven back time and again by long clearances by visiting outhalf Matt Crowdle.
However the New Ross defence was breached again in the 32nd minute. Carlow opted for a quick tap from a penalty. Sub Michael Mannion, on for the injured Ross Elmes, came at pace and barrelled over beside the posts. The conversion led to a 12 nil half time lead for the home side.
After half time the complexion of this game changed. New Ross took the game to Carlow and started winning penalties and getting into the Carlow 22. Niall Bermingham, who had been the home side’s top tackler was yellow carded for a high tackle.
A couple of minutes later Michael Mannion joined Bermingham in the bin. Carlow were under real pressure and their scrum was creaking. John Lyons was sent on to add ballast to the push and it worked. In the next scrum 6 man Carlow drove back the visitors striking a huge psychological blow for the home side. The Oakpark line was held in tact during the sinbinning.
Ten minutes from the end with Carlow back to their full 15, Rob Browne fielded a wayward clearance. He took off to the right passed to Seamus Curren who ran 35 metres through the visiting backs. He fed Fionnan Burke who got the touchdown.
Carlow now threw everything into getting that bonus point 4th try. Equally New Ross did their utmost to stop it. In the final minute of the game when Carlow kicked a penalty to the corner the Ross captain was heard exhorting his team “not to let them in”.
In the ensuing exchanges Carlow players were stopped time and again within feet of the line. Eventually the gallant visitor defence was breached. Again it was the rampaging James Nolan who got the touchdown.
Carlow now travel to Mullingar on March 4 and host Newbridge on the following week. With the 7 point lead one win from the remaining two games will ensure promotion in the Leinster League.
Rob Browne, Seamus Curran, Simon Walshe, Fionnan Burke, Cormac Walshe, John Whyte, Jeff McDermott, Larry McGrath, (Capt), Evan Gordon, Alan Byrne, Thomas Whitney, Wes Shirley, Niall Bermingham, Ross Elmes James Nolan.
Subs; Ross Byrne, Tim O Donoghue, Michael Mannion John Lyons, Harry Hennessey,
Dean Prendergast, Sean Crowdle, Michael Malone, Bartek Balserski, Gary Murphy, Matt Crowdle, Barry Walshe, James Bryan, Shane Roche, Kevin Browne, Kieran Treacy, Rory Browne, Joe Coughlan, Tim Coughlan, James Ryan.
Subs Niall O Callaghan, Dempsey, Steve Roche, Robert Dempsey,
Carlow Coyotes 5 Old Belvedere 0
The Carlow Coyotes Women’s team are also enjoying a good 2017 – 18 season in the Leinster League.
A five nil win over Old Belvedere at Oakpark on Sunday has ensured that the Coyotes have booked their play-off place in Division 1 of the Leinster League.
Should they win out the play-offs it would mean promotion to the elite All Ireland League. However they would have to achieve this from 4th place in the table behind St Mary’s, Rathdrum and Railway Union.
In Sunday’s match the decisive score came late in the 1st half. Carlow kicked a penalty to the corner. The ball was thrown to their go-to lineout jumper Catriona Cassidy who took a clean catch. The ball was mauled across the Belvedere line with Tanala Kehoe getting the touchdown.
The home team also threatened to score from some moves through the backs but the damp conditions did not foster open rugby.
Aisling Brosnan, Louise Conville, Bethany Sharpe, Maureen Young, Lisa Doyle, Sorcha Fitzhenry, Emily McKeon, Erin Byrne, Val Timmons, Eimear Murphy, Abigail Mullen, Keeva Owens, Catriona Cassidy, Joyce Mahon, Tanala Kehoe,