Longford crowned League champions

The great news is that Longford RFC are promoted as Leinster League Champions for the first time in the club’s history. Last Sunday in the Demesne, in a nail biting, heart fluttering, championship decider, Longford produced a dramatic finale worthy of the occasion. They gave a display of guts, determination and class worthy of champions when they came back from 3-11 down to claim the title in the dying minutes of injury time, with a drop goal from heaven from out half Colm Glynn. This sent the large home support into ecstasy and they gave a roar that lifted the roof of the stand. The drought had ended and we were now in the promised land!

On a day like this everybody was a hero. It was a warm day, hard pitch, fast pace and heavy hits. Nothing comes easy and Clondalkin who had ambitions to be champions themselves wanted this crown every bit as much as Longford. They would have succeeded only for the grim determination and steely resolve of the Longford lads, who to a man gave everything they had to the jersey and the cause. Those on the pitch were playing for all of the players who through injury or other reasons were unable to tog out as much as they were playing for themselves, and this spirit drove Longford on for final victory.

Longford started brightly and went 3 nil up after 9 minutes when Colm Glynn kicked a penalty which was just reward for good pressure from the pack. The pack had a great day out and soldiered long and hard along with a defiant backline, which never yielded an inch. Clondalkin were rewarded in the 16th minute for some fine play when their out half J. Jebb scored a fine drop goal to level the match at 3-3. Longford despite many near misses couldn’t touch the ball down for a try during the next period of play and eventually in the 24th minute Jebb gave Clondalkin the lead 3-6 when he kicked a penalty. No further scores were registered for the rest of the half, but it was not for the want of trying. It was a ding-dong affair and after 7 minutes of injury time, Clondalkin ended up in front 3-6 at half time.

The second half started brightly for Longford but they were still unable to register a score through a combination of unfortunate circumstances and rank bad luck. They crossed the line twice, a penalty rebounded off the posts and it looked like it was going to be one of those days. The ferocity of the match meant that substitutions were going to be a key factor and Longford introduced Derek Farrell and Jimmy Connolly to the fray in the second half.

In the 58th minute Clondalkin struck when they scored a try which they were unable to convert and they raced into a shock 3-11 lead. This try though well taken was against the run of play and proved to be a huge boost to Clondalkin. Longford who had gathered under the posts reminded themselves of what they had done previously in Clondalkin when they found themselves behind responded like champions. The pack led by their captain Paul Gallogly, Fran Deffew and the man from Coonamble Tom Cullen aided and abetted by trojan work by Ronan Keith, Greg McGill, Mick Murphy, Kevin Coffey and Hubie Connolly ensured that Clondalkin were going to be driven back at every opportunity. The pack enabled scrum half Neal Farrell to fire out a steady supply of ball for the backline to gain territory. Some fine running by centres Gareth Johnson and Derek Bannon, flying wingers Ciaran Kennedy and Gary Greene and the strong running from Riaan Van Der Vyvver ensured pressure was kept on Clondalkin. After 67 minutes this pressure yielded a penalty which was converted by Glynn to leave the score 6-11.

After 76 minutes following a prolonged pressure by Longford another penalty was converted by Glynn to leave the score 9-11 and the game entered injury time with the outcome undecided. The final act of the match was when, following ferocious rucking and driving by the whole Longford team, Glynn coolly put Longford ahead with a fine drop goal that sent the crowd into delight and put Longford 12-11 up 7 minutes into injury time. A further 2 minutes of injury time was played but Longford were not to be denied and Neal Farrell ended the match by kicking the ball to touch.

Longford: Greg McGill, Ronan Keith, Fran Deffew, Mick Murphy, Tom Cullen, Kevin Coffey, Hughbie Connolly, Kevin Coffey, Paul Gallogly (c) Neal Farrell, Colm Glynn, Derek Bannon, Gareth Johnson, Gary Greene, Ciaran Kennedy, Riaan Van Der Vyvver

Subs: Derek Farrell, Jimmy Connolly, Mick Egan, Stephen Coy, David McMahon,