Longford Senior First XV’s rugby season fizzled out on Sunday in the Provincial Towns Plate clash at CPL Park when a couple of unlucky breaks gave the visiting Naas RFC the advantage in a game that the home side dominated throughout.
Despite giving a remarkable final performance at the Demesne in which he scored all 19 points including a try, conversion, penalty and drop goal talismanic outhalf, Colm Glynn, and his charges fell short by the minimum of margins.
Glynn has been a fantastic contributor to his club across the age grades and his name beside every score in his final game as a player is a fitting tribute, even if the fates decided to deny his team the victory. The dry day and unpredictable gusts should have meant that this was a day for running rugby, but the ground was holding a little more moisture than the lighter Longford pack would have liked in this Towns Plate encounter.
The home team got off to the best start when the game was just three minutes old. An offside infringement gave the Glynn his first shot at the target. Kicking through a cross wind from 40 metres the out half set the score at 3-0.
Six minutes later Naas were again penalised, this time for not rolling away. Even though the kick was just inside the Longford half Glynn optimistically opted for the posts, but the 50 metre kick fell just short.
Longford then played much of the game inside the visitors half, but the bigger opposition pack were good at disrupting the home side’s continuity. By playing the containment game they gave Longford enough opportunities to commit errors that strangled forward progress.
With 16 minutes gone Glynn was handed a second attainable opportunity to kick at goal. The offside at a ruck call earned Longford a penalty and Naas received a warning about the outcome of their persistent infringement. The out half made no mistake leaving it 6-0. It looked as though it may have been a day for the kicker as every Longford attack appeared doomed to crash on the rocks of error.
With 34 minutes gone Naas set up an attacking threat that progressed into the Longford red zone. Phase play brought in defenders and when the Kildare men spun the ball wide James O’Connell went for the intercept, but knocked on. After a moments consideration the ref determined that it was a deliberate action and sent the centre to the sin bin. The visiting out half, John Jennings, kicked over to close the gap, 6-3.
Down a man, Longford attacked Naas territory on the restart. The persistent ruck infringement that had been building saw the yellow flashed again and as the green and white clad Naas second row trotted to the line, Glynn slotted over to make it 9-3 where it stayed until the break.
Naas had the most fortuitous break just after the restart. A speculative up and under into the Longford 22 got an obtuse bounce just as a retreating defender lost his footing. A Naas forward ran onto the free ball and got across the line for the game’s first try. The Jennings conversion left it 9-10 to the visiting team.
Longford turn the attack around and made some nice steady progress, carries by Benny McMahon, Dylan Quinn and Alistair McCormack all gaining ground. As Glynn made a line break a high tackle halted play, and the home team kicked for the corner. Naas got the better of the line out and sprung from their own 22, knitting together a string of passes and offloads that exploited some Longford defensive naivety. The Kildare men finished under the posts and the conversion left it 9-17 with 17 minutes left to play, a scoreline that belied the fact that the home team had controlled the game.
Longford used the control to return to the Kildare 22. A big squeeze on the scrum preceded a move which saw Glynn hammer through the line, ground and convert to leave it 16-17. From the restart Longford progressed down the pitch. When the ref put out his hand for an advantage, Glynn shimmied back into the pocket where scrum half Finbarr McGowan found him. The drop goal left Longford leading 19-17 with just five minutes remaining.
The plans for extending the season came to an abrupt halt two minutes later as Naas were awarded a penalty and Jennings kicked his side back into pole position, 19-20.
Although Longford pressed well right up to the closing moments of the game, they just could not find the elusive points to progress in the Towns Plate. A rather anti climatic end to the season, but the manner in which Glynn ticked all the boxes in his final game was a sweet analogy for what he brought to this team.
LONGFORD: Dylan Quinn, Ronan Keith, John Duffy, Benny McManus, Dan Sweeney, Alistair McCormack, Huby Connolly, Justin Whittaker, Finbarr McGowan, Colm Glynn, Shane Rodgers, Killian Bartley, James O’Connell, Sean Smith, Lorcan Connolly.