Skerries v City of Derry 15/5/17
Ulster Bank All Ireland League Div 2B
In Holmpatrick – 15/04/17
Skerries: 19 ( C Doyle 2 tries L Jones try, G McDonald 2 con. )
City of Derry: 14 (J Dunleavy try, N Burns try 2 con. )
Rarely have both winners and losers celebrated as happily with the match result as Skerries, with the winning reward of four points, and City of Derry, with a losing bonus of one point, secured their status in AIL Division 2B for next season.
Playing with a strong wind at their backs Skerries delighted the large home support with a show of power and pace from the kick-off. Within four minutes an attempted clearance from Derry was blocked down and Colin Doyle was quickest to react and touch down for an unconverted try. Within minutes Skerries full back Lorcan Jones raced over for his side’s second try converted by dual status player Gerard McDonald who filled in at out half in the absence of the injured Billy Mulcahy and Paul O’Loghlen.
The intensity was maintained with Skerries captain Ross McAuley aided by second rows Joe Glennon and Tom Mulvaney particularly prominent while in the backs McDonald dictated play and continued to pressurise the visitors defence. As the first half was coming to a conclusion Derry showed great character in recovering from the initial onslaught and with Chris Cooper and No.8 Craig Huey particularly prominent began to demonstrate their power in both scrum and driving mauls.
Skerries were now conceding frequent penalties with Derry opting to scrummage rather then kick to touch. Any pretentions of comfort were shattered as Skerries were now on the back foot and repeated infringements resulted in Joe Glennon going to the sinbin.
Within minutes of the restart Skerries were once again in rampant mood and repeated attacks resulted in a three on one overlap with only full back Burns left to defend. His gamble paid off and his intercept resulted in a pitch length run to score a self converted try. Five minutes later Skerries appeared to recover but lightening struck twice and another intercept gifted wing forward Joe Dunleavy a try which took them to a 12-14 lead. Shell shocked Skerries to their credit continued to press forward and a fine break by Mulvaney supported by prop Nally should have yielded reward but a knock-on deprived them a try. Pressure was maintained but handling errors abounded until centre Colin Doyle opened the Derry defence and touched down for his second try converted by McDonald. To leave the score 19-14.
A deliberate knock forward by a Derry defender when it seemed Skerries must score went unpunished and the huge first half penalty count against Skerries was now level in the second period.
Ten minutes to go and Skerries adopted a game plan of muscle and smother and not putting the ball at risk. They retained and recycled possession through a number of phases which culminated with two jubilant teams when the final whistle sounded.The hard work of these young players coached and guided by Mark Harrington has been rewarded and their further progress next season is eagerly anticipated.
Skerries team 1 to 20….Cormac Marrey Chris Tonge Mark Nally Joe Glennon Tom Mulvaney Tom O’Hare Michael Turvey Ross McAuley (capt.) Eoghan Carron Gerard McDonald Paul Devitt Colin Doyle Ross Dempsey Ed O’Mahony Lorcan Jones Kieran Leonard Conor Ronayne A.J. Sherlock Ruari Woods Maurice McAuley