Longford rugby club hope there is light at the end of the dark Covid-19 tunnel
We were all hoping that we would be back playing rugby by now but unfortunately Covid had other ideas. At the moment the only rugby activities that are going ahead are at a professional level with the Pro 14 still running and the Ireland team aiming to begin the Six Nations away to Wales on Sunday week.
Even the Womens and U20s Six Nations have been postponed to hopefully this Summer. Watching professional sport is a great escape that a lot of people need at the moment, with the Munster v Leinster match on Saturday just the tonic we needed.
There is finally a light at the end of the tunnel as regards vaccines but we face many months of restrictions before we can move back towards normal, which hopefully involves a return to rugby.
This season as regards domestic rugby seems close to being irretrievable but there will be more rugby ahead in seasons to come with innovations like Rugby Sevens over the Summer, allowing a return to rugby as soon as possible.
As we are all spending a lot of time at home and cannot play team sports the refixed inter provincial clash between Munster and Leinster on Saturday night was a real treat.
Normally after Christmas most of Ireland players from both teams are rested with a view to the Six Nations but this time the players needed the match time so it was two fully loaded teams that took to the pitch in Thomond Park.
Obviously, Leinster will have been thrilled to have sneaked a 10-13 win against a Munster side who had most of the territory and possession and also missed two penalty attempts at the posts.
From a national point of view it was great to see Gary Ringrose back in the centre and coming through unscathed. He will be odds on to start at outside centre. Tadhg Beirne had a very good game in and out of touch and was responsible for two crucial turnovers when Leinster were pummelling the Munster line. It will be interesting to see if he can force his way into the second row alongside the excellent James Ryan.
Moreover, his versatility of being able to play both second and back row makes him odds on to make the match day squad. It was good to see Conor Murray more of a running threat. It is something we definitely need to see more of in the Irish shirt to stop opposition teams targeting our number 10 as much. On the downside it was not good to see Jonny Sexton brought off the pitch again, with what seemed like another hamstring injury. The distraction of the Six Nations is something we all need. It kicks off on Saturday week with Ireland travelling to Wales the following day for a 3pm kick off. C’mon Ireland.
We would urge all our players and members to keep active during this time. The IRFU are currently running a series of free webinars for players and coaches, which can be accessed at the following link https://www.irishrugby.ie/
Why not keep your rugby brain ticking and sign up for the workshops? Also our CCRO, Dylan Quinn will be posting a series of rugby related challenges, which you can do at home on his twitter page https://twitter.com/quinn_dylan
Our deepest sympathies to current Minis Coach and former player Michael Murphy and to all his family on the sudden passing of his mother Teresa over the weekend. Teresa’s grandson Donnacha also plays mini rugby. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam
Blast from the Past
As there is no rugby to report on we will be publishing some of favourite match reports and articles from the last few years.
The first is the day we earned our most recent promotion, which was to Division 1B of the Leinster League, where we have been competing at the top of since.
12/03/17 Leinster League Division 2A Longford 42 Cill Dara 24
A late surge by Cill Dara was not enough to deny Longford victory on their home patch when they put in a performance worthy of the Leinster League Division 2A champions.
This was a game in which thrilling passing rugby was common fare. Both sides had moments of brilliants, but it was the home teams attacking prowess that was distinctive. There was also plenty of no-nonsense defensive work for the purists.
This was a 20 man performance from Longford. The opening salvo was fired in the third minute. Longford showed ferocious line speed shunting the visitors back at each phase. An attempted clearance kick from just inside the 'Dara half was blocked down by Barry Stewart. The ball was collected by flanker Ruadhan McDonnell, with the 6 showing a clean pair of heels to a pair of chasing Kildare men putting in a sweet swerve on his journey to the try line.
The conversion by first centre Colm Glynn brought it to 07-00. Not content with the early score as a marker, the pack dominated the visitors in the first scrum, setting a tone for the next 75 minutes. Longford suffered a setback as McDonnell had to retire from the contest, but Alan Campbell proved more than worthy cover.
In the 15th minute a high tackle on Neal Farrell gave Glynn the opportunity to split the posts again, leaving it 10-00. With 19 minute gone Cill Dara opened their account. Peter O'Neill converted a penalty for a high tackle to 10-03. Two minutes later Glynn had a chance to nudge ahead, but his strike hit the upright, however the next infringement by the Kildare men was punished by the kicker to leave it 13-03.
After eight minutes of pressure Longford got the next score. A wing trio of Paul Gallogly, Benny McManus and Hubie Connolly showed silky skill before the hooker went over as the clock struck 32. Glynn's conversion left it added 20-03. Just as the clock struck half time O'Neil had another shot at the target, but was wide.
Five minutes after the restart against all reason Derek Farrell burst from a knot of defending players, once behind the line he got an offload to Gallogly. The eight's yards were just about to be halted when he passed to Cormack Hughes, who passed to Joe McGowan giving the winger one chance, taken with both hands. There was no messing from Glynn who converted from the wing bringing his side's tally to 27-03.
Alan Campbell got the fourth try bonus point in the 49 minute, after three sapping minutes of ruck play shy of the Cill Dara five metre line. The flanker sprung a surprise on the visitors with a quick tap and bludgeoned his way over. Again Glynn rounded it up to 34-03.
Shane Rodgers set up the fifth score with a wonderful line break, a searing run down the touch line before a pin point inside pass to Cormack Hughes who was running a super support line. Again Glynn was unerring in his conversion and brought it to 41-03.
In the 65th minute Cill Dara mounted a comeback. The number 8, John Joe McIlwrath emulated Hughes feat when he quickly tapped a penalty to nudge his side up to 41-10, thanks to O'Neil's conversion. Just two minutes later his flanking companion debunked the “forwards shouldn't kick” myth, by chipping over the Longford cover, the bounced wayward for two defenders but perfectly for him, his score brought it to 41-17.
The final try was McIlwrath's as well, but it was a pack push the shortened Longford' lead. Again O'Neil's conversion left it 41-24. There was a little anxiety on the Longford line with five left to play, but the ship was steadied by captain Ciaran Kennedy when he kicked deep into Cill Dara territory. Overall this was a great performance and the work by stalwarts like Barry Steward, Dylan Quinn, Michael Bannon and Danny McHugh was what made this a day for the memory bank.
Michael Bannon, Hubi Connolly, Dylan Quinn, Barry Stewrart, Benny McManus, Ruadhan McDonnell, Derek Farrell Paul Gallogly, Neal Farrell, Danny McHugh, Colm Glynn, Conor Hughes, Joe McGowan, Shane Rodgers, Ciaran Kennedy, Kevin Rodgers, Justin Murray, Alan Campbell, Anthony Hughes, Eoin Bartley