190921 Longford v Wicklow Report and Mens Notes   20/09/2021

19092021 Leinster League 1B Longford 9 Wicklow 14

By Tommy Butler reporting from CPL Park, Longford

Firstly, before getting down to the match report, yesterday Sunday September 20th 2021 was a great day for Longford RFC, regardless of results, as it saw the first day of League Rugby played in CPL Park for 18 months.  Three matches were played with the Men’s 1st and 2nd XVs playing Wicklow in the Leinster League and our Women playing Clondalkin in the Semi-Final of the Paul Cusack plate.  This was matched by nice autumn weather, with the odd shower and finally the first Senior game being played in our new state of the art artificial pitch, with the 2nd XV getting that honour.

And now back to game.  Wicklow were relegated from Division 1A after playing there for a number of years and were being widely touted as one of the main competitors for Division 1B honours this season.  Longford have regularly featured at the top of the table over the past few seasons and missed out on promotion due to a last minute kick three seasons ago, so this match was always likely to be a titanic struggle.

This was the first league game for the teams in 18 months, so it lacked a bit in fluency but this was certainly made up by effort and endeavour by both teams.  The match was punctuated by strong defense by both teams along with many turnovers by both sides, this limited both teams attacking opporunties and largely meant that defense was on top.

The first 30 minutes was all about both teams feeling each other out and probing for weaknesses.  Wicklow had a few big ball carriers and tried to test the Longford defense through them carrying and mauling.  However, the Longford defense was equal to the same.  It was Longford who opened the scoring through the boot of Joe McGowan with their first foray into the Wicklow half.  Wicklow replied with a long range penalty before Joe McGowan nudged them back on front on 28 minutes.  The rest of the half saw Wicklow pile on a lot of pressure, with the Longford defense generally holding firm, until a lovely kick through caught the home defense flat footed, resulting in a Wicklow try by out half Niall Earls, which he added to with another long range penalty just before half time to stretch the Wicklow lead to 6-11 at half time.

As is typical in most early season matches, both sides were struggling a bit to get fluency in their attack and just needed that one moment of magic for it to click, Longford perhaps overtried in this regard at times and a bit more composure may have brought about the breakthrough.  Six minutes in the second half, it looked like Longford were about to gain the upper hand.  Danny McHugh set off on a great run and after setting up the ball 5 metres out on front of the posts, the pass away by Neal Farrell was slapped down by Wicklow, resulting in another penalty from Joe McGowan and yellow card to Wicklow.  However, Longford could not capitalise further and instead got their own yellow card for a slap down six minutes later, which handed Wicklow another penalty conversion, leaving the score 9-14.

Unfortunately, from a Longford point of view that is the way the scored stayed.  It could have been very different as the home side camped on the Wicklow line for the closing minutes after earning three scrum penalties in a row.  The first was the most impressive, where they pushed Wicklow off their own ball to earn great field position.  Two further penalties from scrums was then earned witht the Wicklow scrum buckling.  However, on third scrum of the series, which probably would have resulted in a penalty try if Longford had been awarded another penalty, the referee gave the order to use the ball and despite a lot of effort from Longford, the Wicklow defense held firm so unfortunately all they had to show for their efforts was a losing bonus point.  The final score being 9-14.

A tough day at the office but all the same if was great to be back playing competitive rugby!

Longford Squad: P O’Farrell, H Connolly (C), D Quinn, A Beirne, B McManus, M McHugh, K O’Gorman, J Bennett, N Farrell, D McHugh, D Connolly, A Wynne, G McDermott, J McGowan, C Hughes, J Forde, F Davis, A Campbell, C Shannon, R Shaw & F McGowan

19092021 Leinster Seconds League League 1B Longford 24 Wicklow 25

Longford’s 2nd XV who are the holders of the 1B title, ran out on the inaugural senior game on our new state of art artificial pitch.  It was a much changed side from the one that won the league trophy but one that quickly hit its straps.

Longford were first to score through full back Jack Finnegan on 18 minutes with Wicklow replying with a try of their won from their No. 13 Jack Dunne, who proved a thorn in the Longford defense all day.  Ryan McHugh who had just returned to training for the season, then knocked over a penalty to give Longford a one point half time lead 8-7.  Longford then took control of the match with a Ryan McHugh penalty and John Geelan try to stretch their lead to 11 points.  However, with twenty minutes to go Longford completely switched off and allowed Wicklow two easy tries to see them lead by three points with 7 minutes to go.  To their credit Longford regrouped and went over for what looked like a match winning try by David Geelan.  However, their hearts were broken when after being awarded a dubious penalty with Longford pummelling their line, they ran the length of the pitch to score an unconverted try to win by one point.

Overall it was a great performance from the 2nd XV and showed with some work on fitness and training together, that again they will be a forced to be reckoned with this season.

Longford Squad: J Forde, B Hanley, S McKeown, F Davis, P Kenny, C Shannon, D Geelan, D Corrigan, F McGowan, R McHugh, O McGowan, S Moorehead, R Shaw, T McDermott, J Finnegan, P Kirk, L Brady, R Maguire, A Marshall, J Geelan, J Mimnagh & B O’Farrell.

Next up is a trip to Drogheda next Sunday to take on Boyne at 1.30 and 3 PM.

Post Match Reaction from Longford RFC Head Coach Glenn Baskett

“That was a real test of our game today against a very good Wicklow team that have played all their rugby against a high level of opposition over the last number of years. Ultimately we didn’t win that game, not that Wicklow won it. Our decision making under pressure could have been better and against good opposition you don’t get many chances so you have to try and make those good decisions under the blow torch. But we asked lots of questions of them today and had them having to work hard too. We probably could have managed the pitch a bit better at times, but on the positive side some of our defence was excellent against some strong ball carriers. Their big Fijian was a handful in tight. We probably could have asked more questions going forward of their D but that has given us a focus with and without he ball. The boys down after that we when had chances to win but there’s another 13 games in the season, we are just starting. Too be back playing competitive footy for the first time since 10 March 2020 is great though. My only disappointment is the lack of changing sheds and showers available and lack of direction from Sport Ireland on this, but hopefully this will change soon.”

Leinster League Fixtures 2021-2022

26/09/2021 Boyne v Longford Shamrock Lodge (1st XV 3 2nd XV 1.30)

10/10/2021 Longford v Cill Dara CPL Park (1st XV 3 2nd XV 1.30)

17/10/2021 Clondalkin v Longford Gordon Park, Kingswood (1st XV 3 2nd XV 1.30)

31/10/2021 Longford v Carlow CPL Park (1st XV 3 2nd XV 1.30)

07/11/2021 Longford v Tullow CPL Park (1st XV 2.30 2nd XV 1.00)

28/11/2021 Mullingar v Longford Shay Murtagh Park (1st XV 2.30 2nd XV 1.00)

05/12/2021 Wicklow v Longford Ashtown Lane (1st XV 2.00 2nd XV 12.30)

12/12/2021 Longford v Boyne CPL Park (1st XV 2.00 2nd XV 12.30)

09/01/2021 Cill Dara v Longford Silken Thomas Park (1st XV 2.30 2nd XV 1.00)

16/01/2021 Longford v Clondalkin CPL Park (1st XV 2.30 2nd XV 1.00)

23/01/2021 Carlow v Longford Oak Park (1st XV 2.30 2nd XV 1.00)

06/02/2022 Tullow v Longford Black Gates (1st XV 3 2nd XV 1.30)

13/02/2022 Longford v Mullingar CPL Park (1st XV 3 2nd XV 1.30)

The Provincial Towns Cup will kick off after the conclusion of the Leinster League


Congratulations to Barry Stewart and his partner Yvonne on the birth of their daughter Emily, earlier in the month

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