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Match Reports

Skerries vs Barnhall, Div 2A

02 February 2015


UBL Div 2A, 30th January 2015

Skerries beat promotion rivals Barnhall on Friday night in a match which must count as their most complete display of the season. It puts them fully in the promotion mix heading into a crucial phase in the season.

There was a huge crowd at Holmpatrick for the last league match under lights of the year, and they arrived expecting a big match between 3rd place Barnhall and their 4th place hosts. But there would have been a little nervousness about a match given that so much seemed to be on the line.

With Old Wesley already clear at the top, the second promotion is being fought for by at least six teams. Barnhall have long been a tough opponent, and this was going to be a great test of character for Skerries after a close win over Derry the previous week.

In the end, it was a performance that featured four tries – securing a bonus point – but that scoreline was built on superb defence. Skerries tackled like demons, but did so by going low, time and time again chopping attackers. They scrambled very well too, communicating all the time. Winger Eddie O’Mahony typified this, constantly directing traffic on his wing.

But the standout defensive moment in the second half was perhaps when prop Wayne Aquila was left one-on-one with a Barnhall winger in broken play, and just as the crowd held its breath in anticipation of a mismatch, the Skerries man wrapped him up and stopped him dead at a crucial juncture in the game.

The first half had been played with a gale at Barnhall’s backs, and they had a lot of possession in that time. But their first half try was a breakaway that marked the only time they would breach the defence.

Instead, Skerries had the lead by half-time. A Conal Keane penalty was added to by an Eoghan Carron try. The scrum half has grown in the role since player/coach Chris Keane’s injury, and his score was further reward for that. Near the end of the half, the home side took the lead when flanker Eoin Matthews touched down, and the conversion made it 15-8 at the break.

While Barnhall probed time and time again over the next 20 minutes, they were unable to find a way through the Skerries wall. The work put in by all the players was impressive, with flanker Evan Sherlock ferocious at the breakdown, centre Marc Hewitt winning one crucial turnover, second-rows Joe Glennon and AJ Sherlock, and prop Mark Nally among the many with apparently endless reserves of energy for the challenge.

As the home side began to force mistakes, Skerries took advantage when Conal Keane struck an excellent penalty kick. He then scored a try off his superb kick and chase, and it was 25-8.

As is their style, Skerries went after the bonus point try and grabbed it with time to spare. They forced a turnover close to the Barnhall line and when the pile of bodies crashed over, it was replacement flanker Dave Howard who had earned the glory.

The result put Skerries in third place with five matches left. The international break follows – with winger/full-back/centre/try-scoring machine Kevin McGrath on the Ireland Club squad. The next game is away to Rainey on February 21st, and a season of supposed consolidation has turned into something somewhat more exciting.

1. Mark Nally
2. Chris Tonge
3. Wayne Aquila
4. AJ Sherlock
5. Joe Glennon
6. Evan Sherlock
7. Eoin Matthews
8. Ross McAuley

9. Eoghan carron
10. Conal Keane
11. Derek Keane
12. Mikey Sherlock
13. Marc Hewitt
14. Eddie O’Mahony
15. Kevin McGrath

16. David Reilly
17. Mark Boylan
18. David Howard
19. Robbie Jenkinson
20. David Quirke