If you were looking for a contest to tell the story of Longford’s season in 80 minutes then Sunday’s trip to The Maws, Kilcock, would be a good starting point.
North Kildare ……….. 21
Longford First XV ….. 18
On the face of it the basement club battling a team six spots above would only have one outcome, but Longford confounded the stats and it took two late penalties for North Kildare to secure the victory on a score of 21-18.
This was a significant improvement on the last encounter when the Kildare men ran up 45 points to Longford’s 17. The thrilling rugby contest saw the sides scoring three tries apiece and kept the crowd riveted to the final whistle.
An illustration of the heart displayed by Longford was their performance when reduced to 13 men. In that time they conceded five points, containing the efforts of the home team.
Right from the off the teams were playing engaging rugby. Although the ground was a little sticky it stayed dry throughout the game. This aided scrumhalf Shane Rodgers to consistently delivered concise ball to Colm Glynn who gave a master class at 10.
Longford started the scoring seven minutes in. Lock Fergal McGlade finished a move after the ball had passed through the hands of most of his team mates. Four minutes later Aaron Beirne doubled the lead to 0-10 grounding a play that commenced with a lineout steal by Clifford Richardson.
North Kildare then started to click. The home pack set up a rolling maul, then trundled over the Longford line. With the clock just past the 13 minutes mark the scoreboard read 5-10.
Both teams settled into a routine of probe with pack and attack with backs. Longford’s Kieran Kennedy made his presence felt at first centre and was making the most of the tempo dictated by Glynn. The outhalf tacked on a three pointer to his side’s tally to leave it 5-13 just before the half hour mark.
When the Kildare men held possession, Longford showed their defensive steel. Eight minutes to half-time Fergal McGlade was given an early break by the ref for bringing down a rolling maul. Two minutes later the ref took exception to an interjection by Glynn and sent him to the sin bin. .
Testament to the resolve of Longford they continued to hold the opponents in check, however as the 40 minute elapsed the Kildare men made the two man advantage count by crossing out wide for a try. This left the half-time score 10-13.
Much of the start of the second half saw Longford defending in their half, but by the hour mark the toll on the stretched defence was showing. A try by the North Kildare winger put his side in pole for the first time in the game to lead 15-13.
But Longford then went back in front with a tremendous try. Huby Connolly and George McDermott made cameos in a manoeuvre before a grubber to the corner was grounded by Joe McGowan.
Back in the lead 15-18, Longford were pummelled by North Kildare. In the final fifteen minutes of the game the home team’s outhalf, Jack Bruton, clipped over two penalties to put his side 21-18 ahead.
This was not the end of the drama. The final whistle arrived following an incident that Longford supporters felt worthy of one last pop at the posts, but the match official was not of the same opinion.
This losing bonus point gets Longford into double digits, just one point behind Cill Dara.
North Kildare, on the other hand, are in second place on the table, two points behind league leaders Malahide.
If Longford can continue to put in performances like this in their remaining matches against Coolmine, Tullow and Mullingar then the final shoot out with Cill Dara could have the makings of a very significant match.
Next Sunday’s home clash with Coolmine will be a benchmark game and every voice from the sideline will be significant.
LONGFORD: Dylan Quinn, Huby Connolly, Justin Forde, Fergal McGlade, Aaron Beirne, Clifford Richardson, Alistair McGowan, Derek Farrell, Shane Rodgers, Colm Glynn, Jonathan Beirne, Kieran Kennedy, James Connolly, Lorcan Connolly, George McDermott
Replacements: Joe McGowan, Neil Farrell, Finbar McGowan, Kevin Coffey.