Longford RFC Mini/Youth Notes 09112021   09/11/2021

By Padraig Murphy Longford RFC Mini/Youths PRO

U15 v Tullow

45-17 loss against a strong Tullow side. This was our first Leinster League game but Tullow's third. Tullow scored early with a try down the wing but Longford replied almost immediately with a Tom Murray try following good runs by Derek Belton and Senan Murphy in the lead up. The game was level for next 10 mins or so until Tullow scored two well worked tries before half time (22-7). Longford picked up the pace in the second half with good retention of possession and Shane McGuigan scored a brilliant try in the corner following good Longford pressure. It was a fantastic example of using upper body strength with 3 Tullow players hanging on to him from 5 m out. Another Tullow try was followed by more good build up play from Longford before Derek Belton rounded a number of players to score an excellent try in the corner (31-17). Tullow were beginning to become concerned at this stage but unfortunately for Longford an intercept try for Tullow followed to give them a nice cushion and another try from their excellent number 10 some 5 mins later finished the game at 45-17. Overall a very good and competitive display from our lads with a few players out of position and 2 relatively new players on the pitch. Tullow are the strongest team in the division and have hammered all other teams in the division to date so to  score 3 tries against them (and leave 1 or 2 more behind) was a decent display. We'll be hoping for more of the same from them in the coming Leinster League fixtures against Midland Warriors and Arklow.

Training Thursdays 6.30-8.00pm. Contact 087 6063587

Longford U15 squad.

Back row: Daniel Corr, Aaron Hopkins, Darren Kelly, Joseph Davidson, Conor O’Grady, James Cosgrove, Derek Belton, Jamie Donohoe.

Front Row: Ronan Maguire, Shane McGuigan, Tom Murray, Mel Mulligan, Harry Byrne, Donnacha Golden, Senan Murphy, Tadgh McCauley, Aaron Marshall.

Under 16’s season review thus far.

We have come to a break in competitive action this weekend as it is our “bye” weekend in the Leinster League group of 7 fixtures, so it is a good time to take stock of the season so far. We started our season in June, which is strange (but it has been a strange year or so), in a friendly home game against our Ulster neighbours, Cavan. In a close hard game we came out with the win in the end. After a summer recess, we started again with a home game to the touring Ballbriggan team. This was a step up in class and they proved too strong for us in all areas of the field. The following weekend we had another home friendly against another Ulster rival, Virginia. Once again they were much more physical and the additional 6 months age difference took its toll and we ran out second again.

Then at the end of September the true competitive action started with a home game against Edenderry in this season’s Midland League. We knew that the games against Edenderry were always going to be close as we narrowly beat them in out last encounter back in 2019. We made the task harder as we let Edenderry in for 4 tries in the 1st half. Injuries again started to hurt with some key players having to go off for treatment. With the introduction of our international star, Gael Homer, the lads started to gain in confidence and after a discussion at half time it was decided to change tactics. We started to run straight ay the Edenderry defence and ball carrying by Yaw Appiah, Cathal Byrne and Ciaran Heffernan, lead to Longford making ground. Eventually the breakthrough happened and Longford were rewarded by 3 tries by James Grehan (2) and Jack O’Hara. The hard work came at a cost with us letting Edenderry running in another try to lead 27 to 17. But Longford did not give up and went on to score another try by Jack O’Hara to leave the final score being 27-22 to the visitors, but Longford got 2 bonus league points for their efforts.

We would like to thank Eamon and the rest of the parents for providing the food to the travelling troops, and some of our own ones also, during these home games.

At the beginning of October, the Leinster League commenced. In this “grading” element we are up against some highly ranked former premier division opposition, with games against Mullingar (A), Athy (A), Kilkenny (H), New Ross (H), Boyne (A) and Navan (H). So first up was Mullingar. Once again it was a damp day with a heavy shower of rain just before the game commenced. But the Longford lads were focused and were up for the task right from the start. We held them for the first 10 minutes but eventually they broke the Longford defence and went in for a try. But, unlike other games, Longford did not let the flood gates open, and started gaining confidence in possession, worked the ball up the field to score a try and we duly converted to put Longford in the lead. Mullingar now new they were in a game and came up and scored a converted try to put them back in the lead. But before half time Longford struck back with another try to leave us with a drawn game 12-12 at half time. It was the best game of structured controlled rugby that this team have played, however, it took its toll again, fitness-wise. Mullingar knew they had to up the pace and the Longford lads, despite their heroic efforts, were not able to raise their game and eventually lost 31-12. Some positive points from the game in that, after some expert coaching by Justin Forde from the seniors, our lineout jumpers and lifters performed brilliantly and even poached some of the opposition line outs.

Last Saturday we headed on tour with the boogie bus travelling to Athy to face a team that finished 3rd in the premier division, when the Leinster League was played last for this age group. So we travelled in hope rather than expectation. The weather did not help as the sun was not shining in the sunny south east. With us missing No. 8 James Grehan, our Spanish stallion, Gael Homer, stepped into this role. Also, some other experienced players were returning from illness, while others were not available. The lads did not start the game well and let in the 1st try after 44 seconds, which was converted. We started to get a bit of structure back and the pressure told on Athy who had to give away a penalty which Rian Browne slotted through the posts to put Longford only 4 points behind. Then Athy hit a purple patch with tried in the 11th, 23 and 34th minutes to leave a half time score at 28-3 to the home side. Longford were unlucky, close to the end of the half, when pressure on the Athy goal line meant the ball came out to Jack O’Hara, only for him to lose control of the ball at the last second as he reached out to touch the ball on the try line. At this stage, scrum half, Conor Mulligan, had come off injured with Jack Reilly slotting into his position and Alex Forde coming on to the wing.

After the half time discussion, the lads started again to play to their strengths and kept the ball tight, punching holes in the Athy defence and 8 minutes, after being parked in the Athy 10 metre line for about 8 phases, Longford got their reward with a try under the posts by Jack O’ Hara and Rian put over the conversion. Athy knew that Longford had their match in the forwards, so started to again use their quick hands in passing, and the speedy running by the backs, putting pressure on the Longford wingers and full back. Then, after getting the ball quickly out to the wing, and the forwards all sucked in and slow to react, they went in for another try in the 50th minute of the game. Back again the Longford lads came and this time, after he had taken a hard knock a minute or so earlier, Rian Browne danced his way around the Athy defence and went in for a score and, with a hard conversion kick on the wing, Rian also put this over for the additional points. With the lads getting tired and captain Ciaran Heffernan having to come off after hurting his ankle, the gaps appeared again the Longford defence and in the last seconds of the game Athy went in for another try to leave the final score line as Athy 45 – Longford 17.

The lads had a quick turnaround, having to eat the lovely sausage bundies provided by the Athy club and some healthy fruit, because the boom boom bus was racing home for a “date” with James Bond in “No time to Die”. In all the discussions I have had with opposition coaches in the recent games, they have all said how we have improved and the ground work is there to make Longford a force to be reckoned in years to come if we put in the effort.

Training again this week Tuesdays & Thursdays – 7:00pm to 8:30pm. With no competitive game on Saturday, we will see later in week if we will train at the weekend.

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