Skeries v Queens University Belfast – 3/10/2015
Ulster Bank All Ireland League Div 2A
in Malone Playing Fields – 3/10/2015
Queen’s University: 19 (R Lyttle 2 tries, P Farrell try, J Milligan 2 con,)
Skerries: 20 (M McAuley K McGrath try each, J Favia 2 pen 2 conv )
In a tight contest Skerries secured their first winning points of the season with the minimum margin against the talented Queen’s University side which featured a number of recent U20 International players and who had won ther first two matches in the competition but were defeated by Nenagh in their last outing.
Within ten minutes of kick-off Queen’s lost loose head prop Southway to injury, and, five minutes later lost the replacement prop Finlay which resulted in uncontested scrums for the remainder of the game. This ensured that the side with the put-in were guaranteed possession and was not something opposition would wish when playing a University side.
On twenty minutes Queen’s took the lead through their talented full back Lyttle after a number of handling errors by Skerries. Following a yellow card shown to Queen’s hooker, Sinclair, Skerries replied with a penalty from centre Favia. The uncontested scrums proved little benefit to the visitors and Queen’s again tested the Skerries defence which yielded a try when centre Farrell gratefully took advantage of some slack tackling from the visitors. This was converted by Milligan.
Before the break Favia reduced the margin to 12-6.
On resumption a yellow card issued to prop Nally left Skerries numerically disadvantaged. An encouraging feature for Skerries was the return from injury of Mikey Sherlock whose abrasive tackling and strong running was outstanding as he created the opening which saw full back Maurice McAuley in support to score a converted try. McAuley, a recruit from Navan rugby, is positively adapting to the pace of the higher All Ireland division while centre Favia’s precise passing is making a significant contribution..
Skerries were now in a 12-13 lead and playing clever rugby as the pack retained possession and dictated conditions to Queen’s. However, a wayward clearance by Skerries gave Lyttle the opportunity to touch down for his second try and put his side ahead 19-13.
With 10 minutes to go winger Derek Keane broke down a Queen’s attack, turning a negative into a positive, made a devastating break to link with M Sherlock who found Kevin McGrath scything through the defence with apparent ease and put Skerries within one point with a conversion to follow. Centre Favia duly sent the ball between the posts as the touch judges appeared confused and kept their flags down. The spectators and more importantly the very competent referee Barrie O’Connell were in no doubt and awarded the conversion which gave Skerries a lead of 19-20.
Pick of the Skerries pack was again Ross McAuley who throughout put his health at risk with collision tackles and conspicuously led from the front. He was well supported particularly by the two Sherlock brothers, AJ and Evan, who, having returned from Summer exile created some seismic activity in the physical exchanges.
Having lost their first three games by small margins Skerries needed to get the ship back on course and duly succeeded. This Skerries side is learning not to quit, knowing that losing could become a habit, but so too does winning. Success comes from doing things right all the time not just some of the time.
Skerries next AIL fixture is against league leaders Banbridge on the 17th October in Holmpatrick.
Skerries team 1 to 20….Mark Nally Chris Tonge Neil Foster Joe Glennon Ross Halligan Thomas O’Hare Evan Sherlock Ross McAuley(capt) Eoghan Carron Paul O’Loughlen Kevin McGrath James Faiva Mikey Sherlock Derek Keane Maurice McAuley Kieran Leonard Conor Ronayne AJ Sherlock Robbie Jenkinson Michael Cauldwell