Longford progressed to the second round of the Provincial Towns Cup following a very difficult outing in North Kildare.
Playing in Leinster League Division 2B, three tiers below Longford, would suggest that this would present one-way traffic, but in true cup style, the home side pulled out all the stops and put in a powerful performance in an attempt at an early upset.
The Maws Kilcock is always a difficult outing for visitors, but the Longford’s journey was made even more troublesome by the tricky weather conditions. This was a dull and dreary day livened up by a dramatic ending.
The dreadful conditions meant that this game was never going to be a free flowing affair. As the game progressed and rain and hail fell cold hands fumbled and the knock on count rose. The pitch was just playable and the difficulties shared by both teams impinged on the game as a spectacle.
Despite the conditions the game was played in good spirits as both teams hoped to extend the season with a good cup run. North Kildare had a good pack and a competent front row who thrived on a day that their backs found very difficult. Longford forwards also had the greater opportunity to shine and the back row of David Fagan, Derek Farrell and Paul Gallogly along with Clifford Richardson were instrumental in securing this win.
The poor underfoot conditions meant that the scrum was difficult and Longford failed to live up to their usual high standard. The lineouts were consistent and Richardson was imperious in his command of the sky.
Longford started well and looked to be threatening to fulfil the promise of their league superiority, but a series of knock forward and spurned opportunities cost them any momentum they were building. Twenty minutes of forwards rugby had elapsed before a North Kildare player was pinged for using his hands in the ruck. The ref called the penalty outside the 22 and to the left and Colm Glynn kicked with the breeze and got the scoreboard ticking.
Even this early in the encounter it was obvious that conditions would dictated that the game was going to be tight. Any time Longford looked to move the ball out wide things just went against them and the first half concluded with only the one score on the board, 3-0.
In the second half Longford were playing into the breeze. The advantage of the wind was capitalised on by the home side’s when a early penalty was taken by the winger. He slotted over from just 15 metres out and put his sides all square with just five minutes of the second half gone.
When the North Kildare men strayed in front of the back foot Glynn had another chance to regain the lead. The outhalf made no mistake and with sixty minutes gone it was 6-3. Although North Kildare continued to maintain a strong field position their attacking options through the back failed to break down a solid Longford defence.
As the clock wound down the visitors started to play all the rugby, but a sequence of unforced errors let North Kildare into the Longford half. They stayed there long enough to draw a penalty straight in front of the posts and again the NK marksman hit the target. Fifteen minutes to play and all square on 6-6.
Longford again upped the tempo to try and regain control. The efforts paid dividends in the form of a penalty. With only five left on the clock Glynn lined up the pressure kick. Though kicking into the wind, the outhalf nailed the long-range effort.
Longford’s win was in no small part thanks to the back row, second row Richardson and Ciaran Kennedy, who had a good game at full back on day that asked a lot of him.
Longford now progress to the next round by the skin of their teeth and are going to have to find some of their better league form to cause an upset against Enniscorthy. All Longford fans will be out in force for February17th when the Wexford men travel to CPL Park for the second round.
Longford: B Gilligan, R Keath, J Duffy, B McManus, C Richardson, B Fagan, D Farrell, P Gallogly, N Farrell, C Glynn, B Trueick, J O’Connell, J Connolly, G McDermott, C Kennedy.
D Quinn, P Mimnagh, F McGlade, H Connolly, I Farrell.