Longford secure 2nd Place and a Promotion Playoff   11/03/2019

090319 Leinster League Division 1B North Kildare 22 Longford Late XV 32

By Tommy Butler Longford RFC PRO

It was groundhog day in North Kildare on Saturday, where Longford travelled to Kilcock for the second time in a week, after last Sundays game was abandoned 65 minutes in, due to a snow blizzard, with Longford in the lead.  Like the week before Longford were locked in a head to head battle with Monkstown for second place in the league, which could secure them a promotion play off.  However, the maths had got more simple; as Monkstown did not secure a four try bonus point the previous week, a win here would be enough to secure second place.  Although North Kildare had already finished bottom of the league, as Longford found out the previous week, they would not let Longford leave with an easy win.

Longford kicked off the game this time with the wind at their backs, playing down the slightly slopped North Kildare pitch.  Clearly, the players had done some good work during the week as they quickly got into their stride and more or less lorded possession for the opening twenty minutes.  The first return from the Longford pressure was a Ryan McHugh penalty after eight minutes.  This was then followed up by a nice Shane Rodgers try, which showcased good interplay between backs and forwards.  The away support was beginning to feel at this stage that is might be Longford’s day.  However, the try was the impetus North Kildare needed to get back into the game.  In their first foray into Longford’s 22, they scored any easy try up the middle to pull Longford’s lead back to three points.  However, Longford came right back at North Kildare scoring two tries from Joe McGowan and replacement Conor Seery.  The try by McGowan was created by a lovely inside pass from Ryan McHugh.  But the high scoring half did not end there, with North Kildare striking back up the middle again for a second relatively easy score.  The first half finished with Longford exerting huge pressure on the North Kildare line via a number of scrums and a driving maul.  Unfortunately, they could not cross the whitewash, to leave the half time score 14-20 in Longford’s favour.  The lead felt uncomfortably slim for all the dominance Longford had enjoyed in the first half.

North Kildare upped the ante with the wind behind them at the start of the second half and played like a team who were fighting for a place at the top rather than the bottom of the table.  They put Longford under a lot of pressure.  Some poor decisions from Longford did not help their cause either.  North Kildare struck for a deserved try twenty minutes in, to take the lead for the first time in the game.  Indeed, they fluffed a great opportunity for another try soon after.  However, this Longford team have ground results out against adversity throughout the season and two tries in the last ten minutes from Joe McGowan and Benny McManus put the match to bed and secured their highest every Leinster League finish; Second in Division 1B. 

The prize for second place is a playoff against Bective for a place in Leinster’s Top 1A Division next season.  It is a great reward for all this seasons hard work and Longford will be going into the match with all guns blazing and nothing to lose.  The match will take place towards the end of March at a neutral venue.  However, the league is parked for the moment as Longford look forward to the visit of Kilkenny in the Provincial Towns Cup Quarter Final on St. Patricks Day in CPL Park.

Best wishes from all of the squad to Sean Flynn on his recovery from an injury in the game.

Longford: P O’Farrell, H Connolly, D Quinn, B McManus, D O’Brien, K O’Gorman, D Farrell, P Gallogly, R Shaw, I McCormack, J McGowan, R McHugh, S Rodgers, S McGuiness, S Flynn, J Forde, P Dardis, F McGowan, C Seery & P Molloy.