Cill Dara . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17 Longford 1st XV . . . . . . . 22
Two first half tries proved decisive as the Longford 1st XV continued their winning streak to secure the top spot in Leinster League Division 2A after overcoming the challenge of Cill Dara at Silken Thomas Park on Sunday last.
The midlanders have been in a fine vein of form in the last few of weeks and this away display was exemplary, both in attack and defence. The Kildare side rallied well in the final quarter but this Longford team has been progressing in rugby intelligence this season and their ability to close out this game was instrumental in gaining a vital victory,
The Cill Dara grounds were in perfect conditions for this contest and the elements were conducive to both teams to play open, attractive rugby. The early pressure was all applied by the away team. Anxious about being pressed back inside their own half the home side endeavoured to put in an early clearance kick. Cormac Hughes saw his chance and effected a block down and the centre chased the ball to cross the line for the first try.
Hughes added the conversion to leave the score 0-7. Longford pressed their advantage and carries from Benny McManus and Anthony Hughes pitched the home side back. A Daniel McHugh break opened play and his incisive pass to Kieran Kennedy opened a path for the full back to go in under the posts for the second try. Hughes converted to leave the score at 0-14.
Longford continued to press the opponents back into their half. By spreading the ball wide they brought in Shane Rodgers, Eoin Bartley and Finbar McGowan who all posed a significant threat to the Cill Dara line.
The home side then battled their way back into contention. Strong pressure yielded three penalties in succession and they steadily closed the gap. A Cormac Hughes penalty arrested the Kildare resurgence and at the break it stood 9-17 in favour of Longford.
From the restart the men in black were back in control. A break by captain Kennedy was enough to open a gap for Bartley to get through and McGowan was with him for the break and he crossed the line to extend the lead, 9-22.
The Cill Dara pack brought the team back into the game and constantly asked questions of the Longford defence. A home team try brought the score to 14-22. A yellow card was issued to Longford player Neal Farrell but there was an astonishing defensive display by the 14 men with Ruadhan McDonnell amassing an impressive tackle count.
Colm Glynn stepped in at 10 and Hughes took up the 9 slot. The Longford defending in the last 10 minutes was excellent and the best the home side could come up with was another penalty which left the score at 17-22 as the visitors held out for a well deserved win.
LONGFORD: Justin Forde, Hubie Connolly, Dylan Quinn, Benny McManus, Anthony Hughes, Derek Farrell, Barry Stewart, Ruadhan McDonnell, Neal Farrell, Daniel McHugh, Finbar McGowan, Cormac Hughes, Shane Rodgers, Eoin Bartley, Kieran Kennedy.
Replacements: Colm Glynn, Paul Gallogly, Kevin Rodgers, Aaron Beirne, Ronan Keith.