Skerries vs Queens University Belfast
Queens University Belfast 40
It was a cracker of a match at Holmpatrick as Skerries played their last home league match of the season. The fast and fit Queen’s University Belfast were the visitors, and the result was a match of twelve tries and the sort of injury time excitement that Skerries now specialises in. The home crowd left happy, if a little worried that this can’t be good for their hearts.
On a day of gusting wind, Queen’s had the wind on their sails early on and grabbed the first try after working the ball to their left wing. But Skerries then scored two brilliant tries that proved how much they’ve developed as a recycling team.
The first came off a great many phases, which mixed controlled ball carrying and rucking with some more expansive running. More than once, scrum-half Robbie Jenkinson was forced into some quick thinking, but he helped the phases flow until Skerries dived over the line.
Likewise, the second try – from Eddie O’Mahony – came off quite excellent passing and hard running of the sort that the home support has come to love of their team in recent seasons.
However, a mistake in the Skerries 22 led to a loose ball that was hacked on and touched down by a grateful Queen’s and the match was very much alive.
Having traded penalties, Skerries grabbed a third try on the stroke of half-time – and it was as good a move as any seen all year. Out half Conal Keane popped a ball over his left shoulder to the onrushing O’Mahony, coming in to centre field from his right wing, and he was strong enough to beat the defence. The half-time score was 20-18.
Skerries scored first in the second half when typically bullish running from left wing Derek Keane released full-back Kevin McGrath.
Queen’s recycling on the Skerries line eventually saw them barrel over to narrow the gap, and then a fourth Queen’s try came off long passes through the backline that quickly revealed Skerries lack of cover. It was now 27-28 to the visitors.
Still, the tries kept coming with McGrath scoring from a move started by the unlikely line-out source of prop Wayne Aquila. After which, Queens applied sustained pressure for a significant chunk of the half, during which time they scored two tries and took a lead of 34-40.
With the rain pouring down, the match went deep into injury time and it was Skerries’ turn to chase the game. It was intense and scrappy, with vital turnovers keeping the home team in possession, and it eventually ended with centre Marc Hewitt going in under the posts. The Conal Keane conversion made it 41-40 and surely it was over.
But in what turned out to be seven minutes of injury time, Queen’s had time to scare the locals. A break was only stopped by an O’Mahony covering tackle, and Skerries eventually held out for a win that keeps them in third place going into the final weekend.
And to top it off, Billy Mulcahy came on to mark the next step in the great Mulcahy dynasty. It was a good day all round.
1. Mark Nally
2. Chris Tonge
3. Wayne Aquila
4. Ross Halligan
5. Joe Glennon
6. Evan Sherlock
7. Tomas O’Hare
8. Ross McAuley
9. Robbie Jenkinson
10. Conal Keane
11. Derek Keane
12. Marc Hewitt
13. Milo McCarthy
14. Eddie O’Mahony
15. Kevin McGrath