In recent years Longford has not proven a happy hunting ground for Carlow’s Junior 1 side in the Leinster League and this pattern continued on Sunday when the Oakpark side went down by 18 points to 13.
The visitors started brightly on Longford’s brand new artificial pitch and by the 15th minute had built a 10 nil lead. This lead included a 5th-minute penalty converted from 40+ metres by full-back Richard Whyte and an exciting try ten minutes later.
Richard Whyte also acted as a provider for the try. From the turnover ball, in the Carlow half, Whyte ran wide up the right touchline. As he faced being tackled he chipped the ball infield when the galloping centre Caomhan Brennan collected the hopping ball and ran in for an excellent try.
During this period the visitors were doing most of the pressing but 10 minutes later Longford crossed for their first of two tries. This began with a penalty kicked to the corner. Carlow actually repulsed the maul from the lineout and was warded a scrum about seven metres from their goal line.
However, the exit from their own scrum was fluffed and a 5-metre scrum was awarded to the home side. From this scrum, Longford attacked the Carlow line and eventually their number 8 Kieran O Gormon got the touchdown. The conversion bounced back off the post to leave the score 5 – 10 in favour of the visitors.
Seven minutes later Carlow had a disaster when an attempted chip was caught in the air by Longford left-wing Daithi Connolly who sprinted all the way from his own half for a converted try.
This put the home side into the 21 – 10 lead which they held at the interval.
Carlow regained the lead 5 minutes in the second half via another Richard Whyte penalty.
The game was now finely balanced. Neither side had any real scrum advantage and Carlow seemed to have ironed out the line out glitches which bedevilled them in previous games.
However, unlike their Junior 2 comrades, Carlow was reluctant to kick for territory. The visitors were lucky in that the home side almost intercepted on a couple of occasions.
A feature of this game was that Longford got far more turnover penalties than the visitors and this helped the Midlanders go into an 18 – 13 lead by virtue of two long-range penalties kicked by their number 15 Ryan McHugh.
Carlow with about 18 minutes remaining now needed a try to draw and a 7 pointer to win. During this final quarter, the visitors dominated territory and twice went as far as the Longford line but were driven back. On another occasion, Carlow had won a lineout in the corner but was penalised when the lifters held Wes Shirley in the air too long. Rugby is a game of many laws and it’s easy to transgress one or more of them.
Like last week against Wicklow, this was another Leinster League game that Carlow could have won but didn’t. Next week they face League leader Boyne in Oakpark.
Carlow J 1
Richard Whyte, Johnny Crossley, Caomhan Brennan, Dan Crotty, Calum Murphy, John Whyte, Cormac Murray, Larry McGrath, Evan Gordon, Ross Byrne, John Lyons, Owen Edgehill, Wes Shirley capt, Conor Moore, Conor Treacy.
Subs: James Nolan, Paddy Mackey, Jeff McDermott, Sam Cullen (all played)
Longford 11 Carlow 31
In the Junior 2 game, Longford started strongly and scored an early try plus penalty to lead 8 nil but once Carlow settled they were clearly the better side and finished the game with a 20 point margin.
In particular, the Carlow half-back pairing of Liam Slater and Alan Owens orchestrated the game delightfully with their accurate kicking and passing.
Carlow’s first score came when a Slater cross-field kick was gathered by winger Padraig O Connor who just squeezed in at the corner flag. Slater added two more points with his touchline conversion and then put the visitors into a 10 – 8 lead with a long-distance penalty.
Next, it was Owens turn score when he dashed in from the back of a ruck. Slater had his only miss of the day when his conversion went outside the post. But the visitors now held a 15 – 8 point lead which held till the interval.
Ten minutes into the second half the home side slotted home a penalty followed by a wide 3 minutes later. During this period Carlow conceded a string of penalties and had a player sin-binned.
However, Slater steadied things with another long-range penalty. This was followed a few moves later when prop Cian Clarke ran a great line to take an inside pass and score under the posts. The conversion pushed the gap out to 25 – 11.
This score seemed to knock the stuffing from the tiring home side. The visitors spent the last 15 minutes well into Longford territory and were rewarded with two more Liam Slater penalties. With this 31 – 11 win Carlow J2s are top of their Leinster League table.
The team skippered by Anthony Mannion is developing nicely and with more players returning to rugby has talent in both the backs and in the pack.
Dave McDermott, Padraig O Connor, Bobby Cope, Johnny Murphy, Sam Dunne, Liam Slater, Alan Owens, Cian Clarke, Matt Keogh, Steven Hogan, Niall Finnegan, Anthony Mannion capt, Darragh Brennan, Jack Hickey, Scott Neale.
Subs: Zac Fitzhenry, Ed Keating, David Keppel, Tom Bolger Fionnan Burke.
Kilkenny lose to Seapoint
The Kilkenny J1’s felt that they “gassed out” in the final fifteen minutes of their game against Seapoint in the Leinster League.
Kilkenny was flying it at the start with a converted try and then touched down again to make it 12-0.
Seapoint then responded with two converted tries and then a penalty to finish up winners.
Tullow back to winning ways
The men of Tullow turned their disappointment of two weeks ago around by picking up a good win against Clondalkin on Sunday.
The maroon and white side beat the Dublin side 17-7.
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