Longford kick off season with hard fought win v Mullingar   26/08/2019

250819 Midland League Section A Longford Senior Men J1 23 Mullingar 9

by Tommy Butler Longford RFC PRO

Longford J1s got their season off to a good start with a hard fought win versus close neighbours Mullingar in CPL Park in the Midland League today.  Longford have held the Midland League Title for the last two years and are aiming to keep the winning record going for the third year of a row this year.  As with most games this time of the year Longford are still welcoming back players every week and have players away on holidays.  However, it was a great opportunity for new and returning players to stake a claim for a place on the J1 side for the league opener away to Tullow on September 22nd.  The amount of players that have been at training thus far has also been very encouraging and this was reflected in the big match squad today.

Mullingar started the match well with a hard rush defence and largely contained Longford for the first half.  The opening exchanges were all about getting combinations working together and trying to put patterns worked only on the training ground to date into action against live opposition.  It was Mullingar who drew first blood with a penalty after 7 minutes.  Longford came strongly into the game at this point but match rustiness was evident with the final pass going astray on several occasions.  There were also a few kinks evident at lineout time.

Overall it was a very even first half.  Ryan McHugh brought the scores level on 25 minutes with a penalty.  However, Mullingar struck twice before half time with two penalties to go into the half time break with a six point lead 9-3.  Both Longford and Mullingar had their chances for other scores but the six point lead for Mullingar seemed a fair reflection of the first half action.

So, Longford needed to move up a few gears in the second half to keep their unbeaten streak in the Midland League intact.  A solid bench also offered the chance to inject some extra vigour in the second half.  Longford played far better in the second half and gradually ratcheted up the pressure on Mullingar who were feeling the big effort that fuelled their first half performance.

Longford struck first with a try by the evergreen Colm Glynn who had already ran 10 k in the Longford Marathon this morning.  Unfortunately, the conversion was missed but Longford now only lay a point behind Mullingar 8-9.  The next twenty minutes produced little return for a period in which Longford will largely dominant.  An encouraging feature of this period was the power of Longford’s scrum which earned them a couple of penalties.  Longford’s scrum was also a big weapon in their armoury last year. 

The next score was on the 30th minute via Ryan McHugh penalty to give Longford the lead for the first time.  Longford sealed the win with two late tries from Liam Harte and Joe McGowan to earn a 23 to 9 victory.

Overall it was a great start to the season with lots of new combinations and patterns tested and some new player debuts.  The pick of the forwards on the day were Captain Barry Stewart and debutant flanker Conor Craig who was making his first Senior start.  Colm Glynn and Liam Harte stood out in the backs, in what was overall a great performance by the squad.  So, it is onwards and upwards to our next Midland League match versus Edenderry in CPL Park next Sunday at 3 PM.

Longford Squad: P O’Farrell, P Dardis, D Quinn, F Davis, B Stewart, C Craig, H Connolly, K O’Gorman, N Farrell, C Glynn, J McGowan, R McHugh, L Harte, S McGuinness, L Connolly, P Kirk, L Brady, A Beirne, S Murphy, A Beirne, R McCormack, B Hanley, P Kenny, J Forde, F McGowan,  E McGowan & J Finnegan. 

After Match Reaction from Head Coach Glenn Baskett

“For a first competitive run out we have to be happy with the result, but obviously we have stuff to work on. We went out with some small changes to how we play from last year, and that along with some new combinations we struggled to get any fluidity into how we played. That said I thought Mullingar were well structured and definitely had improved their play from last season, but we knew that and it was up to us to lift our game in response to that. What was a little disappointing was our lack of urgency around the tackle area, we allowed ourselves to be dominated and not winning that physical contest along with being a couple of seconds slow to the breakdown meant we struggled to get that 4 second platform we’ve talked about. On the positive side we had a wide group out today, and that will be good looking ahead to Tullow.

We have some more good young guys training well and fitting into what we are doing. We are looking at building our connections between players this year so when guys come in and out they know what their connection will do and we hope that makes changes a bit more seamless. It takes a bit of work but hopefully we can keep building on what we are doing. As for today, I thought our scrum performed really well. The line out is a key set piece platform for us and had good and bad moments today. A little disappointing that we aren’t executing our scores on the line. But there were some good performances out there today, I thought Conor Craig was a real energy bringer in his first full run out for us. That coupled with some wise heads there were real pleasing touches today. Edenderry is next up and as we have said each week is a step up and that’s what we want.”

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