An early afternoon kick-off can always be difficult for players and can take some time to shake off the cobwebs. With this in mind, we had a relatively slow start to the match. There were quite a few new faces and combinations in the forwards and backs, so there was certain element of getting to know each other and the style of play we’re trying to achieve. However, we grew well into the match and wasn’t long before were getting dominance in the set pieces.
Cathal Ryan, Lucas Moran and Ross Gillen put in hard graft all day in the front row and provided great go forward ball off the scrum. Graeme McInerney and Liam Curran were a constant threat in the lineout and consistently won our own ball. Our maul from the lineouts had great structure and as a result, won numerous penalties from it.
Our first score came from Peter Timmons who read the Wanderers attacking line superbly. He intercepted the ball on the half way and showed everyone a clean set of heels. Our next score came after some industrious play by our back row. After some loose play, the ball became free and was quickly snaffled up by Colm Gavin, who showed great strength and footwork to finish under the posts. The kick was converted. 14-0. Gavin, Dan lyons and Sean Tevlin tackled all day and were a nuisance at the breakdown for the Wanderers’ pack.
With 5 minutes left of the half, Wanderers regrouped and began to put pressure on our line. After some initial strong defense, Graeme McInerney was adjudged to have committed a professional foul (clearly jumped off his feet!!!) and was given a yellow card as a result (he’s first ever!).
Wanderers took the points and finished the half 3-14.
With a man in the bin, Wanderers sensed an opportunity to get a foothold back in the game and started the second half strongly. From the resulting pressure, we conceded a try and penalty to bring the score to within a point at 13-14.
With our team back to full strength, we showed great resilience and started playing to our strengths. Niall Brew, coming on as a sub, brought his dynamic game and made great yards. Simon O’Donnell used his superb box kicking to clear our lines on many occasions. In the backs, Stephen Muldowney, Cian Delaney and Graeme Crawford marshaled their defenders excellently and ran with a purpose with the ball. Ronan O’Doherty, as usual, caused panic in the Wanderers defense whenever he touched the ball. Alan O’Dea, who also came on as a sub, kept the tempo up and put in numerous big hits.
With 10 minutes to go, once again Colm Gavin popped up at the right moment and retrieved a loose ball finishing under the posts. Having already converted a penalty, Ciaran Deegan slotted the kick to put us in control at 13-24. Deegan put his body on the line all day with a few big back rowers running at his channel. However, he never once took a back step.
We held out but in fariness, Wanderers were unlucky not to get a bonus point as they dropped the ball over the line in the last play of the game.
The game ended 13-24. We will take our hard won points and move on to the next big challenge.
15. R. O’Doherty, 14. G. Crawford, 13. C. Delaney 12. S. Muldowney, 11. P. Timmons, 10. C. Deegan, 9. S. O’Donnell, 8 S. Tevlin, 7. C Gavin, 6. D Lyons, 5. L Curran, 4. G McInerney, 3. C Ryan, 2. L Moran, 1. R Gillen, 16. M George, 17. N Brew, 18. A. O’Dea 19. D Dowling, M. Grant.