Longford make it 2 from 2 in the Midland League   02/09/2019

01/09/2019 PST Midland League Longford 52 Edenderry 12

By Tommy Butler Longford RFC PRO

Longford continued their good early season form in accounting for Edenderry in Section A of the PST Sport Midland League in CPL Park on Sunday.  The performance was a step up on the display versus Mullingar on the week before and one that an Edenderry team only getting into their stride found hard to cope with.  What would have pleased Head Coach Glenn Baskett and his team most, was that the team played with a much better structure and fluidity along with some great passing and offloading than in their season opening game.

The first half was all Longford with Captain Barry Stewart going over for their first try of the day after eleven minutes.  Longford then crossed the whitewash again after seventeen minutes; with Edenderry threatening the Longford line for the first time in the match they moved the ball out at their back line about 5 metres out.  However, Longford scrum-half Neal Farrell picked off a wide pass between the two Edenderry centres and took off down the pitch with flanker Conor Craig crashing over a minute later after great interplay the whole way up the pitch between backs and forwards.

Longford huffed and puffed a bit for the last twenty minutes of the first half.  They played nice rugby at times with some nice lines and off loads a feature.  However, much like the Wales v Ireland match the day before Longford’s handling let them down at times.   In spite of this, Longford put the match to bed and secured a winning bonus point before half time with two quick tries from full back Sammy Murphy and centre Shane Rodgers to leave the half time score at 26-0.

The second half started in a similar vein to the previous with Longford drawing first blood.  Teenage flanker Conor Craig went over for his second try at the club house end stretching the home sides lead out to 33 points.  It was a great return from Craig who was only playing his second game of senior rugby and is seriously putting his hand up for a place in the first team squad for the league opener away to Tullow in three weeks’ time.  Kevin Rodgers next joined his brother on the score sheet when taking a great line to carve through the Edenderry defence from 20 metres out.   Kevin was making a welcome return to Longford colours along with brothers Arron and Andrew Beirne.

Longford put themselves under pressure for the last twenty minutes with some poor discipline resulting in Longford playing with fourteen players as a consequence of two yellow cards.   Edenderry took advantage of this and put Longford under some sustained pressure for the first time of the match, which resulted in Longford leaking 12 points via two tries, one of which was unconverted.  However, this should also be understood in the context of Glenn Baskett introducing a number of subs to give the squad a good runout.

To their credit Longford finished the match out strongly with tries seven and eight from Kieran O’Gorman and Shane Rodgers, his second of the match, to round out the game as deserved victors.

The whole squad performed well and this performance along with the one versus Mullingar with a number of last years’ J1 regulars still return, is definitely going to put some questions in Glenn Baskett’s mind as regards selection going forward and should be an excellent incentive for players still to return to get back training as it is always harder to break into a winning side.

Longford Squad: P O’Farrell, P Dardis, L Brady, Andrew Beirne, B Stewart, K Rodgers, C Craig, K O’Gorman, N Farrell, R McHugh, J McGowan, L Harte, S Rodgers, S McGuinness, S Murphy, R McCormack, F Davis, D Connolly, F McGowan, P Kirk, J Forde, H Finnegan, B Hanley, D Brogan, P Kenny, B O’Farrell, Arron Beirne and D Corrigan.

After Match Reaction from Head Coach Glenn Baskett

“You have to be happy with the scoreboard today, 52 points is a good return. Today was always the next stepping stone for the group and building towards the last weekend in September. Edenderry was a real test for us in the final last year and we were expecting a well coached, well organized team today that we would have to be ready for. We know the scoreboard looks one sided but early in the 1st half they are on our line, 1 pass away from a 7 pointer, we intercept and go coast to coast. It’s a big momentum swing at that time. We thought the speed of our ball could be better early on as we were giving Edenderry time to set their D, and that was a little frustrating. But as the first half went on we started to control the pitch well, Ryan pushed us into the right parts of the pitch with some really good front foot kicking which gave us a platform to apply pressure which was good to see. Losing Barry was going to make others stand up and I thought we did that pretty well. I thought Kieran led really well in his actions out there. I thought the two centers, Shane and Liam performed well, some of their work was excellent, especially when the game opened up. But also the willingness to work off the ball was good from them. On a negative side our discipline was dissapointing, we got pinged too many times for soft off sides and on another day they cost you a game. We are trying to be a disciplined defensive side and we weren’t that today, that is a work rate off the ball. And 2 yellow cards isn’t what we are about. Now we start to narrow our focus more, Tullamore away next week is a dress rehearsal for a Tullow away. We will prep this week and go into Sunday like we would going into Tullow. Try to replicate the Tullow week. Away from home, manage players, manage training, manage timings. It’s also hugely important to make sure the group is prepping for the Midland Warriors game the following week so we all know our game plan and getting that structure set for all the players to be comfortable in there. There’s some guys that have trained consistently with us and not got out there on game day, so these next few weeks are huge in pulling the group together as coaches, so we have to put a shape on these two games player wise and that starts Monday. We want to be going to a really difficult Tullow as well prepped as possible, I think we are building OK but need to really narrow up our thinking and focus. Tullamore week is another biggy, another stepping stone.”

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