Benny McManus, who was in action for Longford RFC First XV in the win away to North Kildare in the Leinster Rugby League Division 1B game on Sunday last.
Longford travelled to North Kildare on Sunday last on a cold but dry afternoon with the first team needing to win and with a bonus point to continue to put the pressure on Tullow and Suttonians in the chase for the Leinster Rugby League Division 1B title.
North Kildare . . . . . . . . . 24 Longford First XV . . . . . 42
North Kildare had recently dispatched Coolmine and Clondalkin and certainly had their tails up expecting to upset the odds and dismantle Longford's chances of silverware. The visitors started the game very well with great interchange between backs and forwards with Colm Glynn, in the centre for injured Cormac Hughes, bringing about the first try.
Cormac suffered a stress fracture in his hand away to Tullow the previous weekend and will be out of action until after Christmas. Glynn’s rugby brain noticed as soon as the game had started that North Kildare were playing a “rushed defence” system and with a delicate dink of the ball over the North Kildare defence, he collected his own kick and dotted down to the left of the post. Joe McGowan slotted the conversion from a very difficult angle.
Longford collected the restart and with a good period of play were awarded another penalty leaving the early score at 10-0. North Kildare upped the ante at this stage and after a period of play with no return, Longford collected the ball on the half way line with Liam O’Hallahan collecting the ball and stepping off his left foot, putting his foot on the gas and leaving the opposing defence for dead, dotting down under the North Kildare post.
The rattled home side knew they had to score immediately or run the risk of falling too far adrift and elected to kick to touch from a penalty and with a rolling maul off the line out their loose head, one of the three Satchwell brothers, scoring the try.
Longford responded with another penalty by Joe McGowan and just before half-time Liam O’Hallahan scored his second try to leave the score at half time, 25-5 to Longford. Danny McHugh and Colm Glynn played a beautiful pre rehearsed loop pass allowing Liam to saunter in for Longford’s third try.
The second half started off at a very high tempo and North Kildare knew they had to score early to reduce the deficit but Longford had other ideas with a great piece of interchange between Liam O’Hallahan and Joe McGowan with Joe scoring a try in the corner and making his own conversion very difficult but more importantly the bonus point in the bag.
McGowan certainly had eyes on his fellow player and winger, Liam O’Hallahan scoring two first half tries and had it in mind to follow suit, to which he did with a kick chase, collected the ball and fell awkwardly over the North Kildare line leaving the score 35-5 to Longford.
Longford’s coaching team then took off a number of players, with next weekend’s game at home to Kilkenny on the horizon, to make way for fresh legs with Ciaran Kennedy returning to the centre after a very successful season with Mohill GAA who won the county senior championship under the guidance of our own Longford man, Padraic Davis.
Longford conceded a number of soft penalties and notably two penalties for back chat to the referee, leaving the score at 35-24 with five minutes remaining and instilling belief in the North Kildare team. Longford responded with a well taken try by Liam O’Hallahan under the post, completing his hat-trick of tries and leaving the score in the end at 42-24.
A very well deserved win by Longford with 55 minutes of excellent inter play but a disjointed effort for the remaining 25 minutes. What matters is that Longford have continued to apply the pressure on Tullow who won at home to Portlaoise and Suttonians who scored an injury time try to beat Clondalkin at home.
Longford welcome Kilkenny to CPL Park on Sunday next (kick-off 2pm) with Kilkenny sitting joint third in the table with Longford. Liam O’Hallahan was deservedly the man of the match as he collected his trophy in the club house after and will certainly look forward to playing Kilkenny next weekend for the first time bearing in mind his sister is living in Kilkenny and is an Irish international basketball player.