22 Apr 2015
U 15 Premier League Final Tullamore V Naas Replay 22/04/2015
Venue: Portlaoise RFC @ 7.00 pm
Match Report ,Michael Brennan
Tullamore 15 - 10 Naas.
Back to back Leinster Premier League titles was achieved by a brave, talented and well prepared Tullamore team last Wednesday in Portlaoise. The final last week had finished level and so the sides had to battle it out again. Tullamore controlled the game against a very good Naas side. Man of the match Diarmuid Egan was on fire and he set the tone after 3 minutes when he converted a fantastic drop goal after superb play from the pack. A Tullamore line out on the Naas 22 was won by Cormac Izuchukwu, the Tullamore pack secured the ball, Brian Keogh charged the Naas line, and from the resulting ruck, the influential scrum half Eoin Deegan passed the ball to Diarmuid Egan who expertly converted the drop goal. Tullamore kept the pressure up on Naas and never let them settle continually pushing up and giving there attacking backs no space whatsoever. After 11 minutes Tullamore were awarded another penalty which just fell short.
Naas upped their game and put Tullamore under immense pressure. Tullamore to a man defended with a ferocious appetite. Time and time again Naas were held up while in procession with Tullamore turning over procession. Tullamore played a lot of the first half in the Naas half but the game ebbed and flowed up and down the field. Scoring chances were at a premium as both sides were defending well. The Tullamore pack performed well in the scrum, lineouts and they cleaned out their own rucks very well. Credit to hooker Stephen Fitzgerald who had to learn the calls in the last few weeks after the regular hooker Cathal Brennan was missing due to injury. As the first half closed Naas edged closer to the Tullamore line. Several penalties were awarded to Naas for infringements by Tullamore and they made the decision to take quick frees. The Tullamore defence showed great metal defending and wave after wave of Naas attacks were thwarted by Shane O’Callaghan, Adam Stone, Cormac Izuchukwu, Conor McGuinness and Kealan Hand. On the stroke of half time, and with Nass within inches of the Tullamore line, Brian Keogh and Diarmuid Egan showed the character they have. Brian stopped a Naas phase and Diarmuid turned over the ball and secured a penalty in the process. That was the last play of the half and Tullamore went into half time with a 3-0 lead.
The second half demonstrated what this Tullamore team is all about. The self belief and fierce determination that the coaches have instilled in this set of players shone through. It was by far the best 30 minutes rugby they played all year. They blew Naas away and players such as Jamie Fallon, Cormac Izuchukwu, Sean Flynn, Cathal Farrell, Adam Flanagan and Alex Halpin were phenomenal. Jamie Fallon has developed into a superb player and carried ball after ball, made tackle after tackle throughout the game. Sean Flynn has been exceptional all season and his bravery is second to none and again he dominated in the pack but in open play he was brilliant. Cathal Farrell was most unlucky not to have scored a try after he made some breathtaking runs through the Naas defence only to be thwarted by the last defender on a number of occasions.
Tullamore controlled the play with both the backs and forwards combining well. Naas were now conceding penalties because of the immense pressure they were under. A penalty was missed in the 4th minute but in the 8th minute, Diarmuid Egan converted a penalty after a high tackle by a Naas player who also received a yellow card. Tullamore continued to turn up the heat and Thomas Ryan was making his presence felt in the back line. Kealan Hand was dominant around the field and played a huge part in Tullamore winning this game. Two more penalties were awarded and converted by Diarmuid Egan in the 13th and 23rd minute for Naas handling on the ground and been offside. A great move by the Tullamore backs almost saw Conor McGuinness score a try in the corner. He was stopped just short of the line but it took two Naas players to bundle him into touch.
Tullamore did not let up and even though Naas never gave up, the constant barrage by the Tullamore team kept Naas from mounting any meaningful attack. All throughout the game, Tullamore captain Brian Keogh lead by example. He put his body on the line with tackle after tackle and his ball carrying was intense. It was taking two or three Naas players to stop him. In the 48th minute, Egan converted another penalty to put Tullamore into a 15-3 lead. James Gillen was introduced in the pack and again he fitted in and performed well. Naas never gave up and they managed to score a try and conversion in the last play of the game as Tullamore had just been reduced to 14 men. The referee blew the full time whistle and Tullamore were worthy winners.
It was a fantastic game of rugby and all the players, coaches and parents can be proud of the achievement of this bunch of players. To win the U14 Premier League in 2014 and now the U15 Premier League in 2015 is a fantastic achievement. Congratulations to all.
Diarmuid Egan was awarded the man of the match and deservedly so. He had a remarkable all round game but his kicking was outstanding. This is made all the more remarkable as he was kicking with an injured toe on his kicking foot. But even though Diarmuid won the award this has to go down as a team performance. The reason he got the opportunity to kick those penalties was the amount of work his team mates put in. A special word of mention for the squad players who did not get a run as any one of them could have started and they have been a credit all year with the way they played and trained.
A word of thanks to all the parents, especially the mothers, who supported the team all season both at home and away.
Congratulation and well done to Kieran Egan, James Doolin, Cathal Feighery and John Burns on a terrific season coaching the lads.
Players: Jamie Fallon, Adam Stone, Shane O’Callaghan, Stephen Fitzgerald, Kealan Hand, Cormac Izuchukwu, Sean Flynn, Brian Keogh, Eoin Deegan, Diarmuid Egan, Adam Flanagan, Conor McGuinness , Cathal Farrell, Alex Halpin, Thomas Ryan.
Replacements: Cian Cronly, Jamie Doolin, Patrick Claffey, Kevin Kelleher, James Gillen, Corey Thornton, Aaron McDermott, Cathal Brennan, Alim Dolan.
Coaches: Kieran Egan, Cathal Feighry, James Doolin