Mullingar Seconds XV lose out in Cup to Balbriggan

February 16, 2016

Mullingar Seconds XV lose out in Cup to Balbriggan

Balbriggan 24 - Mullingar 0

Mullingar seconds XV lost out away to Balbriggan in the first round of the Cup - a competition last won by Mullingar thirty years ago. Despite excellent commitment and a lot of good rugby being played by the Mullingar men, it was Balbriggans first team and throughout the game, they just had a little more control of the game,

Balbriggan got off to a flying start, using a strong wind in their favour, they kicked for position into Mullingars 22 and were awarded a penalty from a scrum following a crooked Mullingar lineout throw. The penalty was well converted to give the home team a lead on 3 minutes. The Mullingar pack then took on their more senior opposition with great energy. Heaney, Glennon and Geraghty made good ground, but Balbriggan pushed Mullingar back with good use of the strong wind. Liddy and Moore were solid in midfield. Then on ten minutes, the otherwise excellent Liddy ran from deep in his own territory and an attempted offload in the tackle was intercepted by the Balbriggan winger who had enough pace to beat the chasing Tormey and Cooney for a fortunate try in the left corner. The conversion was well struck and Mullingar were ten points behind in as many minutes.

The effective Heaney was injured shortly after and replaced by Leahy, who stormed into the game. The momentum went to Mullingar and the pack started making progress. Cian Burke and Robbie Allen made good ground behind the pack, where Kevin Smith, Enda Raleigh, Alan Keena and Cashel Slevin were supporting the dominant charges of Leahy, Glennon and Geraghty. Too often though, the momentum was halted by knock ons and the Balbriggan defence was not being tested. However, Mullingar lineouts were going well through Glennon and captain for the day, Cilian Kavanagh and the scrums were solid.

Then the critical score came when Mullingar inexplicably lost their own scrum well inside Balbriggan territory. The outhalf kicked superbly to the far right corner and Cooney was forced to step into touch only meters out. Balbriggan saw their chance and won the lineout, setting up a series of attacks. Although initially well defended, a penalty was conceded and from the quick tap, the Balbriggan charge was rewarded with a try. This was again converted to leave a challenging 17 point deficit after twenty five minutes.

In fairness to Mullingar, there was no shirking or lack of spirit. For the next fifteen minutes until halftime, Mullingar had territorial dominance and a lot of good possession. Turning it into points was the problem. A clean break from Liddy who was put through beautifully by Allen, followed by more close in charges from Glennon and Geraghty, resulted in two penalties. Although normally kickable chances, they were into a strong wind and turned down for the now dominant pack to scrum but no score resulted and it remained 17 nil at half time. The message at half time was to use the wind and continue playing the good rugby that had led into halftime.

From the kick off, Darrech Geraghty led the charge very well. However the kick back to Balbriggan was well dealt with and Balbriggan showed that they were not yielding easily with a ten minute period of dominance bringing them into Mullingar territory despite the wind against them. Heaney returned and Mullingar brought on fresh legs with Ed Nally, Andrew Coade and Paddy Turley coming on. It was now really the young Mullingar guns versus the seasoned experience of Balbriggans finest. But Mullingar needed to score and never really got into position to do so. Balbriggan were now beginning to enjoy a confidence as keeping ball in hand worked very well for them. Indeed, great defence was needed from Tormey, Moore, Liddy, McNay and Turley to keep Balbriggan out.

Then midway through the second half, the Balbriggan outside centre took a great line and cutting back against the Mullingar defence, he avoided all tackles to score under the posts. At 24 nil, the challenge was all but over. To make matters worse, Liddy was injured and when Captain Eugene Smyth came on, it took bravery in defence and the team sticking to their guns just to keep the scoreline honest. In fairness to all of the seconds squad this season, some great effort was required to step up a level to Division 1B standard and there were great wins and close results in doing so. It is predominantly a young squad who played plenty of really good rugby in this game and with the Plate and under 20s competitions coming soon, there is every reason to be optimistic.

Team: Enda Raleigh, Kevin Smith, Alan Keena, Cilian Kavanagh (Captain), Darrech Geraghty, Conor Glennon, Cashel Slevin, Ciaran Heaney, Cian Burke, Robbie Allen, Andy McNay, Donal Liddy, Eoghan Moore, Ross Tormey, Robert Cooney. Subs: Aiden Leahy, Ed Nally, Eugene Smyth, Paddy Turley, Andrew Coade.

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