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Match Reports

Skerries 5 – 52 Barnhall. ECS League 10th Oct’20 Match Report

10 October 2020


After two cancelled matches in the Leinster 2 Energia Conference Series (for COVID reasons), it was great for the Skerries players to play a match. It was always going to be a tough afternoon against the high flying NUIM Barnhall RFC, who were set to win Division 2A of the AIL before the pandemic kicked in. Skerries were already missing a number of experienced players due to injury and COVID concerns, and the Goats hopes were scuppered further when the influential Tom Mulvaney pulled up with a groin injury in the warm up.

Skerries started poorly and were 0-14 down within 11 minutes. The Blues showed real dynamism in the carry and some clinical back-line play. After 15 minutes Skerries started to settle and put some phases together. Paddy Finn and James Mulvany carried well and some shape was starting to appear. Jim Mulvaney received a nasty looking head injury and was permanently removed. Kieron Leonard came on as the pack was reshuffled and he made an immediate impact with a couple of turnovers. Skerries continued to press hard with Colin Doyle and Davey Goodman impressing with their energy. After a concerted period of attack, Skerries were rewarded with a try scored by Connor Lennox, after a great cross-field kick from Paul O’Loughlen. Skerries tried to push on and despite a series of 5 metre lineouts and a great break from the returning Chris Tonge, further points alluded them.

It is generally acknowledged that the spine of a rugby team are the most important positions. Barnhall were well served by their hooker, number 8, scrum-half, outside half and full back. The Blues played with great width, ran some great support lines, with Paul Nalty (7) and Darren Hudson (12) particularly influential. Barnhall scored two more tries before the break to go in at half time with score reading 5-21.

Skerries rang the changes at half time with Shane Murphy coming on to make his senior debut when replacing Ruairi Woods and the late call-up, Cormac Murphy replaced Vinny Watson. Unlike the first half, Skerries started really well and some fantastic interplay from Lennox, Murphy and Goodman saw Finn hurtling towards the posts. Barnhall managed to scramble and haul him down but then blatantly stopped the ball from emerging. A Yellow card ensued which should have been accompanied by a Penalty try given the cynical nature of the offence and this being the 4th such penalty of the game, all within 5m. However, At this stage the Skerries set-piece started to struggle: missing the Mulvaney Twin Towers at line-out and playing against the slope in the scrum. After failing to capitalize early in the half, Skerries began to concede tries. Barnhall scored twice from line out mauls and were starting to open up the Skerries back line defence at will.

In fairness to the Skerries lads, they never gave up and captain Kevin McGrath, Ben Jenkinson & Chris Tonge constantly rallied the troops. Skerries made two great breaks which went unrewarded. Davey Goodman seared through a gap in the 15m channel and really should have passed to Connor Lennox outside him. Kev McGrath ran a great line and used his footwork to evade two tacklers, but once again the last pass alluded Skerries.

The last 15 mins saw a number of injuries to Skerries players with Doyle, O’Loughlen and Marrey all leaving the fray. It was a busy afternoon for the Skerries physio Alan O’Mahony and Club Doctor, Owen Keane. Despite the scoreboard, great tenacity was shown with Lennox and Leonard making a last ditch tackle and a turnover respectively. A tired looking Skerries conceded two tries in the last 5 minutes to make the final score 5-52.

Barnhall were very good all day and played with a real positive intent. They were well led by Tom McKeown and their experienced coaching group. This was a tough outing for Skerries, but there were a number of positives for the coaches: Derek O’Sullivan; Eugene Tangney and Johnny Tyndall to take away, with lots of good rugby being played and some younger players gaining experience against a team from 2 divisions above. Unfortunately good rugby is not always rewarded on the scoreboard and Skerries will need to be more clinical once the AIL starts after Christmas. It was great to get a game played, that was fully COVID compliant and played in a great spirit.

Match Pictures at link: