By John Shirley
Carlow 32 – Skerries 7
Carlow’s exciting Under 18 Leinster Rugby League winners made it double joy for the Oakpark club last Saturday in Mullingar when they also secured the Leinster Under 18 Cup for 2017.
Again their opposition in the final was Skerries whom they beat this time on a scoreline of 32 – 5.
Carlow fielded almost the exact same team and subs bench in Mullingar as had secured the 50 – 17 League win in Donnybrook on 26 March last. Skerries regraded 4 new players for this latest showdown with Carlow but they still couldn’t prevail against the talented well trained Carlow outfit.
Again on Saturday last, the Oakpark lads pressurised Skerries from the off with second row Sean Brien getting their 1st touchdown after five minutes. A Skerries lineout throw-in five metres from their line went astray and O Brien nipped in for the try. Carlow captain and outhalf Mark McDermott added the points and made it 10 nil by adding a penalty five minutes later.
Playing a fast but highly controlled game Carlow continued to keep the Skerries’ defence guessing and scored two more tries in the first half.
First, fullback Conor Crowley went in under the posts. He collected a kick through from winger Rob Browne whose break had opened the Dublin side’s defence.
This was followed by a break from scrumhalf Crotty. He offloaded to Liam Slator who in turn fed John Murphy who crashed in for his try. One more conversion from Mark McDermott saw Carlow reaching the interval with a lead of 22 pts to nil.
The Dublin side offered a stiffer challenge in the second half but now Carlow showed their excellent defence. In particular Sean O Brien, John Murphy, Conor Moore and Dom Rice kept stopping the strongest of Skerries charges. Also Jody Murphy and Josh Moore off the bench made a huge contribution to the victory.
The second half scoring began with another Mark McDermott penalty to put Carlow ahead 25 – nil.
This was followed by Skerries’ lone unconverted try. That was as good as it got for the Dublin side.
The final Carlow nail in the Skerries coffin came when Conor Crowley crossed for his second try which in turn was converted by Mark McDermott.
One of Carlow’s best ever youth’s sides has completed the League and Cup double, the first team in Leinster to achieve this feat. Their performance and that of coaches Tom Crotty, Cian Moore, David Barron and more recently Wes Whitton, received special praise at the 2017 Carlow Presidents Dinner which took place on Saturday night.
Conor Crowley, Ruarie Dunbar, Cian Burke, Ross Dunphy, Robert Browne, Mark McDermott capt, Daniel Crotty, John Murphy, Liam Slator, Caolan Fitzhenry, Sean O Brien, Shea Somers, Dominic Rice, Aidan Raply, Conor Moore
Subs from; Michael Sheeran, Brian O Neill, Aaron Jones, Adam Cavanagh, Jody Murphy, Alan Daly. Josh Moore, Philip Lonergan, Sean O Sullivan, Fiaich Millward.