Rugby - Leinster League Division 1B

A 15 minute dip in concentration saw Longford to tumble three places to fifth in the league table last Sunday. Thought dominant for the majority of the match the home side coughed up two tries in ten minutes and allowed Tullow to leave CPL Park with three points.

Longford lorded it over the league leaders throughout the game, but Tullow showed why they are top of the table by punishing the home side severely for switching off for a short period. A great rally at the end of the contest allowed the home side to come very close to clawing their way back, but it just fell short in the end.

Even in defeat there was a lot of positives about Sunday’s performance and though they will regret what might have been the losing bonus point was the very least that the home side deserved from the Division 1B leaders.

For the vast majority of the game Longford had the superior line-out and scrum. Turning over ball at every opportunity they showed why teams hate travelling to CPL park. The intensity of the breakdown made this a brilliant spectacle.

The first score came when early scrum advantage was transformed into points on the board when a break front the base brought the action close to the Tullow 22. The visitors were pinged for not releasing the tackled player and David Fagan got the score board ticking with not quite five minutes gone. Longford continued to press and carries from Clifford Richardson and Paul Gallogly tested the Co Carlow men’s defence.

Five minutes later and in the same position a degree of panic from Tullow saw a forward pull scrum half, Neil Farrell, into the ruck as he went for the ball. Fagan punished again and set the home side up with a six point advantage. Ten minutes gone 6-0.

Tullow answered well with a maul that brought them into Longford territory. A misjudged entry from the side was kicked for a line-out, the platform worked well for them and they punched through a couple of phases to suck in the Longford defence before using the numbers out wide to put winger Daniel O’Brien in the very corner. The visiting out half, Will Canavan, could not add the extras so Tullow still trailed one behind on 6-5.

Longford were disappointed with themselves and took it out on the opponents. Another massive scrum for Longford gave a building threat and when an in from the side effort to slow up the Longford play penalised and Fagan made it 9-5.

Longford were voracious at the breakdown, every time any player went into contact the contest was gripping. The work rate of the Longford pack caused a very real threat. Although the penalty count may suggest otherwise Tullow had a line discipline that stood them in good stead for most of Longford attacks.

As the half progressed the pace and intensity was taking its toll on both sides and a further infringement when the tackler did not release saw Fagan add again to leave it 12-5. As the injury time passed Canavan got his chance to increase the Tullow point when an offside call in the middle of the park was put over and leave the half time score 12-8.

Straight from the restart the two teams came out with the same level of determination. Five minutes in and Longford continued to press into Co Carlow men’s territory. Though they had got away with a number of offside infringements the ref pulled them up on this one and Fagan put the boot in to leave it 15-8.

Then Tullow hit a purple patch. It started when a penalty was called for a ruck clearance going off the feet and Canavan slotted over. On the restart the ball went straight out, the visitors employed the pattern that had worked well for them in the first half. They drove through the centre pulling in the Longford defence in before moving it out to the side where Canavan was the one to go over nudging his side ahead 16-15.

He popped over another penalty to put it 19-15 before a mazy run from nothing saw winger O’Brien evade a Longford defence that was tired and disorganised. The try left it 27-15, Canavan’s extras put it to 29-15.

Longford woke up and the realisation of throwing away the advantage they had brought new life to the team. There was 77 minutes gone when Colm Glynn heard the thunder of Kevin Coffey, the prop was wearing his back row shoes as he ran a cracking line to smash the Tullow defence before curving under the posts for a very impressive try. Fagan added the two points for the conversion, leaving it 22-29.

Longford looked like they were in the mood to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but they were beaten by the clock. A good performance from Barry Stewart, Hubie Connolly and Ciaran Kennedy should have yielded more from this encounter. A very positive ending was not enough to correct the ten minute error. Longford are now on ten points with Wicklow and Portarlington and behind Tullow and Monkstown.

The next league game will be away to Ashbourne on November 4th.

LONGFORD: John Duffy, Hubie Connolly, Dylan Quinn, Benny McManus, Clifford Richardson, Barry Stewart, Paul Gallogly, Derek Farrell, Neil Farrell, Barry Trueick, David Fagan, Colin Glynn, James O’Connor, Gary Greene, Ciaran Kennedy.

Replacements: Kevin Coffey, Peter Mimnagh, Brendan Fagan, George McDermott, Michael Hill.