Aaron Beirne scores Longford's second try against Mullingar
Longford left it very late to secure a one point victory at home to CPL Park on Sunday past, to keep alive their hopes of avoiding a relegation play off. Longford felt mid-way through the second half, when going 21-11 ahead, that they were firmly in the driving seat for the win but Mullingar had other ideas.
This game was one for the neutrals and a great advertisement for club rugby with both teams giving their all in a fascinating contest. Longford got the perfect start when winning possession from the kick off they started to build pressure. Eventually they worked it to the right and bearing down on the line Joe McGowan put a deft kick through, which was gathered by the on rushing Cormac Hughes, who dotted the ball down under the posts, 7-0 after 4 minutes.
A bit of kick tennis followed, with Mullingar coming out the better, moving into Longford territory and eventually earning a penalty, which was kicked to the corner. Longford’s initial maul defence was good but Mullingar worked the ball left and the back to the right going in in the corner for an unconverted try.
Longford then came into their best patch of the game, where they consistently enjoyed possession and territory but struggled to cross the whitewash mainly due to tenacious Mullingar defence accompanied by the concession of multiple penalties. However, after multiple phases, Longford No.8 Aaron Beirne crashed through under the posts taking a couple of defenders with him, to dot down for a converted try 25 minutes in.
As became the pattern in this helter skelter match, Mullingar now came back at Longford. Some brilliant defence from Longford repelled an assault on their line earning a goal line drop out. However, Mullingar eventually earned a kickable penalty to peg the score back to 14-08. Longford then had another good chance when a nice chip through put Mullingar under pressure. Nevertheless, it was the away side that struck again before the half time whistle earning another kickable penalty to leave the half time score at 14-11. So all was to play for in the second half.
The large crowd felt that the first score of the second half would be important and gratefully this was accomplished by the home side 10 minutes in, from a beautiful scrum half snipe from Finbarr McGowan after huge pressure from Longford, converted by his brother Joe to stretch Longford’s lead to 10 points.
The home side were looking good at this point for a vital win in the relegation battle but Mullingar had other ideas. They seriously upped the ante and while it was not all Mullingar the Longford line was under substantial pressure at times and eventually was breached with 15 minutes to go for a converted try to leave the score line at 21-18. At this point things went from bad to worse for Longford as Benny McManus was hit with a yellow card on the basis of the concession of multiple penalties from Longford.
Benny McManus carries the ball against Mullingar
Mullingar certainly had the wind in their sails at this point and were determined to turn the screw on 14 man Longford. With just 6 minutes to go, it looked like to the world that they had done so, when they went in for an unconverted try right in the corner, to go into the lead for the first time in the game 21-23.
It did not look good for Longford when Mullingar got a clean line break following the kick off. However, this Longford team were not going to be beaten. They turned over the ball and started to work their way up the pitch. Another penalty was awarded, which was quickly tapped by Cormac Hughes who fought into the Mullingar 22. Longford were then patient working their way towards the Mullingar try line, eventually earning a penalty just to the right of the Mullingar posts, 10 metres out, which was coolly slotted by Joe McGowan ushering in the full time whistle and a one point win for Longford.
They now go to Cill Dara in their last league match of the season knowing that a win should l be enough to move Longford out of the relegation play-off position and securing the right to ply their trade in Leinster League 1B again next season
Longford Squad: P O’Farrell, H Connolly (C), D Quinn, B McManus, M McHugh, P Molloy, A Beirne, F McGowan, A Wynne, C Hughes, D McHugh, G McDermott, J McGowan, R McHugh, J Forde, J Geelan, R Shaw, F Davis & D Connolly.
Shane Mallon starts for the second week running selected for the Ireland U20s
Congratulations to Longford RFC’s Shane Mallon who started on the left wing for the second week running, as Ireland secured an incredible last gap 16-17 win in Marseille. Again the ball did not come Shanes way often but he put in a great defensive display, again securing multiple turnovers. We look forward to continuing to watch Shane and Ireland U20s progress through the Six Nations, with their next match at home to Italy on Friday February 25, at 8pm, which will again be live on either RTE/TV3.
A very young Shane Mallon (centre with scrum cap) and friends pictures after a muddy Longford Minis training
Hard luck to our Senior Men’s 2nd XV who put in a good performance, which was not reflected in the score line in going down 20-0 to Mullingar. Good to see the side out as they continue their preparations for the Provincial Towns 1st Round clash versus Boyne on Saturday March 5th.
Big final League game away to Cill Dara
Longford travel to Kildare on Sunday to take on Cill Dara in their last league game of the season knowing that after beating Mullingar that they need at least a win to be in with a good chance of avoiding a relegation playoff. There are a number of different scenarios however, what is clear is that Longford need to better the results of either Mullingar or Tullow with a win the absolute minimum required. Cill Dara is a tough place to go so all travelling support possible would be appreciated.
Longford Senior Women’s did not have a game this weekend but travel to face Greystones on Sunday.
C’est la vie á Paris
It was billed as the heavy weight encounter of this years Six Nations and the probable Championship decider and it was a match that did not disappoint except in terms of the result in an Irish perspective. The State de France with 80,000 supporters is a hard place to win but none more so than when you gift France an early try and allow the crowd to get behind them.
France largely outmuscled Ireland in the first half but credit to the Irish team who came back hard and nearly stole it at the death. Ireland now have the perfect regroup in two weeks’ time when they welcome Italy to Lansdowne Road. Although the result did not go Ireland's way, it was another big step in the teams development and it was great to see they kept trying to play their game until the death.
It was priceless international experience for the likes of Joey Carberry, Mac Hansen and Dan Sheahan as unfortunately although we all want a fully fit Jonny Sexton at the World Cup next year, it is unlikely that he will survive all the games injury free. Wales bounced back against Scotland who looked like they had emptied the tank against England on the previous day. The game was played at a distinctly lower level than the Ireland v France game.
Finally, England scored their expected bonus point win versus Italy. The Six Nations takes a break this weekend but it will undoubtedly have a lot more twists and turns before the trophy is awarded on March 18th. However, France are now definitely in the driving seat to secure their first Championship since 2010.
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