12 Dec 2016
Metro League Division 6
Tullamore J2's 15 Dublin University 18
Tullamore were pipped to the post by a strong Trinity side last Saturday afternoon in an enjoyable game of free flowing rugby in sunny Spollanstown.
Trinity drew first blood with a penalty on 10 minutes, but after strong carrying from John Burns and abrasive flanker Dave Keyes, Tullamore were awarded a penalty which Bobby O'Dea chipped over to leave the score at 3-3 after 20 minutes.
The young and fit Trinity side were willing to run the ball at every occasion, often taking quick tap penalties from deep inside their own half along with some rather quick lineouts. This meant that Tullamore were very nearly caught napping when a quick lineout led to a searing break and what looked like a certain score for the visitors, only for a fantastic last ditch tackle by Tullamore winger Andrew Connor to snuff out the threat and put his man into touch.
Trinity mounted several more dangerous attacks over the course of the next few minutes but a series of crunching tackles by Barry Bracken and Alan Harvey cleared the danger.
Following these periods of attack by their challengers, Tullamore slowly started to make their way into the match and turned a corner at scrum and lineout time. After being awarded a penalty 25 metres out, hooker Eddie Connor opted for the quick tap and successfully gained 10 metres in doing so. Centre Dave Gavigan built from here and almost made it to the line. Keyes, Dermot Hickey and Burns all picked and jabbed before Bobby O'Dea squeezed through a gap to score the all important first 5 points for a 8-3 lead to the home side.
From the kick off Munster lock John Burns secured possession again and made a gazelle like run into the Trinity half, before offloading to Gavigan who charged deep into the Trinity 22, only for the ball to be turned over at the ruck.
Trinity ran the penalty once again and looked to be away, only for a textbook tackle by Eoin Jaffrey on the big Trinity 2nd row which led to a knock on, on the half way line.
With replacement prop Kevin Garry now on the pitch, Tullamore continued the good work at the scrum, where Cathal Behan and Dara Neary had their opposite numbers in all types of bother. After earning another penalty which Tullamore ran once again and after some quick hands from Harvey, Gavigan and Cormac Moloney, Andrew Connor got the ball in space and made an electric 35 metre break only to be foiled by a last ditch tackle just as he looked like he would score a try in the corner. This meant that the score remained 8-3 at half time.
Just a few minutes into the second half Tullamore upped the anti at the scrum which led to Trinity losing the ball on their own 22 and after a barrelling surge from buccaneering prop Cathal Behan, along with slick hands from Gavigan and Jaffrey, put mobile flanker Dave Keyes in for a well taken try, which O'Dea converted for a 15-3 lead.
Unfortunately Tullamore started to tire badly after this as Trinity launched several well worked attacks to move the ball deep inside the Tullamore 22. After numerous phases and despite a heroic effort in defence from Hickey in particular, eventually the Trinity no.8 barrelled over to make it a 15-8 game on 55 minutes.
More good play from Trinity led to a converted try on 60 minutes to tie up the game and they followed this up with a penalty on 70 minutes for a 18-15 lead.
Tullamore emptied the bench with nimble winger Kevin Finlay now on for his first match in several years, showing he has lost none of his pace as he made a line break and was almost through only for a good tackle to snuff out the danger.
Tullamore were completely out on their feet for the last few minutes but after a good rumble from Kevin Garry, somehow managed to manufacture a penalty 40 metres out. Bobby O'Dea pointed at the posts to try tie up the match and as he gave the ball an almighty wallop it looked to be good, only to drift just past the post.
The match ended in a narrow defeat but a noble loss none the less in an entertaining Metro Division 6 match. On the day there were good performances from Alan Harvey who tackled hard and won several crucial turnovers, John Burns who made a lot of big rumbles with ball in hand and at the ruck, along with Andrew Connor who made a lot of ground every time he was given ball in space and put in some textbook tackles. Dave Gavigan continues to improve and trucked the ball up well, while young back row warriors Dave Keyes and Dermot Hickey were outstanding as they brought raw aggression to the team and made countless tackles.
Team: E Connor (Captain) , D Neary, C Behan, J Burns, T Smyth, D Hickey, D Keyes, B Bracken, B O'Dea, C Moloney, A Connor, A Harvey, D Gavigan, D Madden, E Jaffrey.
Subs P Keegan, K Garry, A Kane, K Finlay, S Dunne