Longford emerged from Shamrock Park, Drogheda with a bonus point win courtesy of five tries in a roller coaster match versus Boyne RFC writes Tommy Butler.
Longford gathered the kick-off but turned the ball over to Boyne, this was a familiar pattern for the first 15 minutes with Longford mistakes allowing Boyne to exert significant pressure.
Boyne opened the scoring via a well worked try from full-back Graeme McQuillan who proved to be a thorn in the side of Longford all day.
They first kicked to the corner and were held up on the line and then from the resulting scrum went wide to cross for five points, five minutes in.
On 18 minutes, Longford struck for the first of their five tries via winger Shane Rodgers. The ball was worked well to Rodgers on the wing, who had a lot to do.
Rodgers stepped right twice and burned the plentiful covering defence to go in for a converted try under the posts.
This try gave Longford the impetus they needed and the rest of the first half was dominated by the men in Black/White.
Longford quickly re-established pitch position and kicked into the Boyne 22 after being awarded a penalty near half-way.
Dylan Quinn broke off the back of the maul and made great ground before offloading to the on-rushing Neal Farrell who crossed for Longford’s second try, which was converted by Ryan McHugh.
Longford kept pouring on the pressure on the half-hour No.8 Kolo Kiripati crashed over under the posts after some great work in the tight by Longford’s forwards to bring the score 5-21 in Longford’s favour.
Boyne tried to come back at Longford and nearly got another try after battering the Longford line.
Indeed, Longford were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes after a yellow card was shown for collapsing the Boyne maul.
Again the Longford defence held firm and it was Longford who secured the four try bonus point with a try in the corner for Hubie Connolly right on the stroke of half-time.
Longford spread the ball wide, Captain Benny McManus was in the unusual position of on the wing, carried up strongly and was stopped just short of the line.
However, he was alert to Hubie Connolly who was on his shoulder and crossed the whitewash courtesy of a pop from Benny Mc.
The half-time score looked pretty positive from a Longford point of view as they led 5-26.
Longford started the second half as they had finished the first, earning a penalty attempt within the first few minutes of kick off, which Ryan McHugh knocked over to extend Longford’s lead to 5-29.
They then looked like they had put the match beyond any doubt with a try from Neal Farrell who made a great sniping break from the Boyne 22 to stretch Longford’s lead to 31 points.
However, rather than kick on Longford switched off and managed to leak three tries which meant Boyne secured both a four try bonus point and a losing bonus point for finishing within seven points of the opposition.
“I’m not sure what to make of today” explained Longford head coach Glenn Baskett. “We are up 36-5, controlling the game after withstanding the first 10 minutes from Boyne, score 36 points then ship 24 points.”
“Our pitch management was an issue, something that’s been a problem all season. We put pressure on ourselves by playing with the ball in the wrong part of the pitch.”
“36-5 up and in control we should be rolling the score board over but we started forcing the ball and gave possession back to a team that grew in confidence. They found a weakness in our D and stressed us continually there.”
Longford Senior men now move on to back to back games at home to Clondalkin and Tullow on successive Sundays, starting in two weeks’ time.
The Tullow match marks the league moving into the second phase with Longford well positioned to challenge for a top two finish.
Longford: P O’Farrell, H Connolly, D Quinn, B Stewart, A Beirne, B Stewart, K O’Gorman, K Kiripati, N Farrell, D McHugh, S Rodgers, R McHugh, G Bester, J McGowan, I McCormack, L Brady, C Craig, C Hughes, W Nyman, F Davis.