by Thomas Lyons
Longford RFC 1st XV put in a great performance on Sunday last to win out over Towns Cup holders Enniscorthy in a thrilling game at CPL Park. Blustery and unpredictable wind coupled with soft underfoot conditions tested the participants in a well attended game.
The use of the set pieces was of vital importance throughout the game and though the Longford scrum was under pressure their line-out dominance made up for the shortcoming. Even in defence Enniscorthy ensured that the tempo of the game was brisk. Longford for their part were well able for the fast pace.
The home side got off to a good start holding possession and early carries from Dylan Quinn, Benny Galligan and Barry Stewart put the visitors under pressure. With nine minutes gone the referee called foul when one of the Wexford men’s pack went off his feet at the ruck. Though the wind was blowing toward the Demesne end, it was in an unpredictable manner. Colm Glynn lined up the penalty and slotted it over.
Right on the restart the Enniscorthy line were up quickly and the ref pinged the home side for going in off their feet at the ruck. The penalty was right in front of the posts resulted in a levelling of the score at 3-3.
It suddenly dawned on the Wexford men that they were in for a real battle and they turned on their Division 1 pace, but Longford were a match for it. They kept their discipline in their own half and the same was pretty much true for Enniscorthy. However when Barry Trueick went in to prise the ball from a tackled player he refused to release. The ref blew for the penalty, but with the ball a good three metres inside the Cup holders half this did not look like a fatal error.
However Trueick opted to have a crack at the posts and his low trajectory shot hit the mark and put Longford back in the lead 6-3. Longford continued to generate good go forward ball, but a couple of knock ons hampered any development.
On the 30th minute the visitors were getting the upper hand at scrum time and when the ref penalised the home side for bringing the scrum down the Enniscorthy out half kicked over to square it up at 6-6.
The game continued to be played at a cracking pace. Longford gained good field position thanks to breaks by Derek Farrell and Paul Gallogly. At a ruck just inside the Enniscorthy half Neil Farrell went to the short side and Glynn put a perfect chip through the defensive line. Trueick showed a great turn of pace to run past the cover and grounded the ball out on the right for a vital try.
The proximity to the sideline and the erratic wind prevented the conversion that was the last kick of a half that concluded with the scoreboard reading 11-6. At the start of the second half the wind pitched up and so did the Wexford men.
Longford continued to threatened with breaks by Clifford Richardson and George McDermott, but the game was being played inside the Longford 10 metre line. When the home side lost out on the scrum lottery and the visiting out half popped over to leave it 11-9.
In a reversal of the opening score of the first half, Enniscorthy went off their feet after the restart and the resultant penalty on the 20 minute mark was taken by Trueick who kicked into the wind to leave it 14-9. The visitors difficulties were then compounded when their winger was shown a yellow card for not rolling away after a tackle. Trueick had another shot at the posts, but the strength of the wind was apparent from the way the ball was held up.
As the clock wound down Enniscorthy put their foot on the gas to try and catch up, but Longford had the measure of every effort. Enniscorthy were always a threat, particularly at scrum time, and there was a couple of end to end efforts that looked like they were going to change the balance of the game.
But Longford held out to score a wonderful win against the Division 1 side. Longford now have to travel to face Cill Dara on the 17th of March in a quarter-final clash that has the potential to see this team reach heights not seen since the 1930s. As the field narrows the quality of the opposition increases, but this Longford side have shown this year that no side is too tough for them.
LONGFORD: B Gilligan, R Keith, D Quinn, B Stewart, C Richardson, B Fagan, D Farrell, P Gallogly, N Farrell, C Glynn, B Trueick, J O’Connell, J Connolly, G McDermott, C Kennedy.
Replacements: B McManus, F Mc Glade, H Connolly, P Dardis, T McGuire.