Boyne RFC 13 Longford RFC 08
Match report with thanks to Tommy Butler at Shamrock Park, Drogheda
It was another case of so near but so far for Longford in their second league game of the season, where they had enough chances to record a great away victory to a fancied Boyne side but in the end had a settle for a losing bonus point due to a late rally and fantastic long range penalty conversion from Joe McGowan. The performance to a man was excellent and was even more remarkable because Longford Senior Men had 29 players unavailable for the match through a mixture of injury and other commitments meaning that unfortunately the 2nd XV match had to be postponed and the Longford 1st XV had a very youthful appearance.
The match was generally played in good conditions except for a strong wind blowing down towards the club house end, which Longford opted to play into for the first half. This made it difficult for Longford to escape their own half at times and meant that Boyne exerted a lot of pressure for most the first half. Boyne like to get the ball wide at every opportunity but were well closed down by the Longford backline aided by the forwards with Hubie Connolly and Mark McHugh particularly conspicuous. Boyne attempted to maul towards the Longford line on a few occasion early in the first half but the Longford defensive lineout put them under a lot of pressure all day with the Longford’s maul defense also good. Moreover, both hookers had a difficult time of it with the swirling wind. After not achieving any success with their lineout maul, Boyne opted to try for goal with three penalties. The first two were missed but eventually some indiscipline from the away side on 25 minutes gave Boyne an easy shot to record the first score of the match.
The last 15 minutes saw Longford turn the tables and move up the pitch and put pressure on Boyne, which resulted in a well worked try by George McDermott to give Longford a narrow two point lead 3-5. Boyne came back looking for a try of their own but a great tackle by out half Danny McHugh saved Longford from a certain try and saw the half time score stay narrowly in Longford’s favour.
Longford would have been feeling good about their chances with the wind at their back going into the second half but a bad a start when a yellow card was dished out for a no arms tackle within one minute of the restart was not the start they were looking for. However, this did not pause the Longford momentum who gradually go on top and resulted in Boyne receiving a yellow card of their own a few minutes later. Longford clearly had Boyne rattled through a mixture of good kicking and hard carrying. However, like the previous week versus Wicklow the last pass eluded Longford, with a tad more of composure also called for at times. Unfortunately, Longford’s momentum was severely disrupted by an injury which required a prolonged period of treatment meaning the match actually moved to another pitch to finish. Longford turned up well and had a period where they assaulted the Boyne line for upwards of 15 phases. The forwards kept it in a bit too long when a few passes out the backline would have seen a certain try and ultimately the ball was turned over.
This heralded a period of dominance for Boyne who first kicked a penalty and then ultimately went over for a try to leave the score 13-5 with about five minutes to go. Big credit to Longford in that they regrouped and moved up the pitch earning two penalties, which while kickable were difficult in the swirling wind. Joe McGowan narrowly missed the first but had no hesitation going for the second, which was 20 metres out and to the left and also had the pressure of the being the last kick of the match. He ultimately knocked it over earning Longford a losing bonus point, which was the minimum they deserved for such a gallant effort.
Longford J Forde, H Connolly, P O’Farrell, B McManus, Andrew Beirne, Aaron Beirne, M McHugh, A Campbell, F McGowan, D McHugh, D Connolly, G McDermott, C Hughes, J McGowan, R Shaw, P Kirk, K Adejimni, J Geelan, S Murphy and K O’Gorman.