Mullingar edge pulsating Midlands Derby 2016-02-29 17:53:00

Leinster League Division 1B Longford 19 Mullingar 21

Longford's Joe McGowan crossing the whitewash.

Mullingar made it three for three against Longford this season with a 19-21 victory in a spectacularly entertaining game at CPL Park.  The intensity of the game and commitment of both sides made this, even in defeat, one of the highlight of the season for Longford fans.

The Westmeath men made sure that Longford have a “thrills and spills” ending to the season.  The final Leinster League Division 1B game against Cill Dara in Silken Thomas Park will decide who gets automatically dropped and who gets a playoff.


In another weekend contests second place North Kildare barely scraped a win over Cill Dara, so next Sundays outing will not be a walk in the park.


Last Sunday Longford’s pack continued in their endeavours to impress, but the back line put in one of their best shifts so far this season. Shane Rodgers at centre and Joe McGowan on the wing were particularly eye catching.

Any expectation of good will from the neighbours was dispelled early on.  Mullingar’s mid table security did nothing to water down their desire for a win over the neighbours’ children.

First honours went to Longford when five minutes after the kick off the home team’s back line conductor, Colm Glynn, slotted over a penalty from 30 metres to set down a marker.

Mullingar then set about evening up the possession stats.  They commanded territory for the next ten minutes.  In this time they worked their way inside the Longford 22.  When the ref put the arm out to indicate advantage outhalf Mick Walls put a speculative dink over the Longford line into the dead ball zone.  Winger Mathew Code had the quickest reactions and pounced on the pill to grab the first try.

Fullback Johnny Butler was on kicking duties and converted the easiest kick he would have all day to leave it 03-07.

Momentum swung back the men in black and line breaks by Joe McGowan and Hubie Connolly were augmented by carries from Alaister McCormack and Benny McManus.  Ground work paid dividends in the 23 minute when Glynn’s second kick at goal hit the mark to shorten the gap to 06-07.

Two minutes later the visiting Mullingar flanker got the benefit of a 10 minute rest and Glynn punished the infringement from the spot kick leaving it 09-07.

With five minutes to the break the Westmeath men moseyed down to the Longford line.  Another advantage call, another chip over the top and another Mathew Code dart saw the winger ground the ball behind the posts.  Butler’s conversion pushed his team in front 09-14.

Longford responded well and dominate possession for the remainder of the half.  The labours of Neal Farrell and Justin Ford helped propel their side into the red and grey 22.  On the stroke of the 40 minute mark an offside infringement presented Glynn with the opportunity to end the half 12-14.

The second half continued in the same pulsating vein, with both teams eager to thrill.  As the pace stepped up, so did the intensity.  A certain amount of the needle inherent in derby ties started to creep in.  It spilled over following an immense hit by Longford centre Kurt Beeney.  Handbags were swung and the ref flashed two yellows, one for each team, dispatching Code and Beeney to the bin.

The balance of the game teetered in either direction.  With 29 minutes gone in the second half and operations being conducted in Longford territory Glynn showed a remarkable awareness.

The outhalf saw that the visitors had left the back door open and chip over the top of a solid Mullingar line.  Joe McGowan got hands on the ball, fired up the jets and sprinted to the line managing to evade a blistering track back run by the visiting winger.  Glynn added the extras to leave it 19-14.

Longford continued to pressure with Derek Farrell and Clifford Richardson harassing the opponents at all turns, however it was the visitors that got the next prize.  The Westmeath men started a tight maul about 15 metres from the Longford line.  It swelled in mass to over 20 bodies before crossing the whitewash, but the ref was happy with the grounding.  And for a minute the game was poised 19-19.

If anyone doubted the rivalry between the clubs it would have been well and truly dismissed by the visiting full back’s jeering gesture after converting to push his side two points ahead.

The final five minutes was all Longford.  Among the highlights were a drop goal attempt, pressure inside the 10 and phase after phase of relentless attack.  The resolve of the Mullingar team was unflinching and they held their 19-21 advantage to the final whistle.

It would have been sweet to take the points off Mullingar in this game, but the loss was not as a result of a lack of effort by the team.  Overall it was great performance and one that should stand to them in the shoot out with Cill Dara in the closing game of the League next week.

Dylan Quinn, Hubie, Justin Forde, Arron Beirne, Benny McManus, Clifford Richardson, Alistair McCormack, Derek Farrell, Neil Farrell, Colm Glynn, James Connolly, Kurt Beeney, Shane Rodgers, Lorcan Connolly, George McDermott

Peter Kirk, Liam Brady, Fergal McGlade, Donal Flynn & Joe McGowan

Longford's Captain Clifford Richardson competes at the lineout

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