By Harry Shorthose
It was a strong start to the new season for Tullow who held Longford in appalling conditions at Black Gates on Sunday in their first game of the new league campaign.
Given that they had a poor pre-season and manager Maurice Logue identified Longford as favourites for promotion, they will probably be happy with the result. However, the game was there for the taking and Tullow will feel like they could have won. Two sin binnings in the final 15 minutes probably cost them, having led by seven going into the final five minutes.
It was a strong start from Tullow who put three points on the board early, William Canavan sticking a penalty between the sticks. Longford started to threaten the Tullow 22 and as they approached the Tullow tryline, Dylan Quinn kicked the ball too far and they were pulled back for the penalty. Ryan McHugh levelled things up.
On 14 minutes, Canavan kicked Tullow ahead again when they were awarded a penalty from a scrum as Longford collapsed it. With 23 minutes on the clock, Longford levelled things up again. Longford started to threaten and forced another penalty, McHugh nailing it.
With 10 minutes to go to the break, Tullow jumped into the driving seat. Some good pressure saw them drive forward and force a penalty. Canavan’s effort came off the post and back into play and they forced a five-metre scrum. Some good resistance from Longford held them up for a short period but persistence paid off and Frank Murphy broke through with William Canavan nailing the conversion.
It took Longford just two minutes to score. The ball was recycled to Conor Craig down the wing who was waiting for it and with nobody near him, he was free to run down the wing and go over for a try.
The ensuing conversion was missed. The hosts edged further ahead on the hour mark when a lineout from the right-hand side saw Kyle Hanbidge go over. The conversion was missed and there were seven points in the game.
With 15 minutes to go, a sin binning meant that Tullow would play the final few minutes of the game with 14 men, it was all about survival and trying to hang on. However, with just minutes to go, the ball found its way back to Daniel McHugh on the right wing and he broke through the Tullow attack and slide in towards the posts. Ryan McHugh hit the conversion and they were level again. Tullow had one final chance to get the win, they built some good pressure and broke forward. They played the phases well and it was obvious what the plan was. They played the ball to Paul Canavan to try set up a drop-goal but he couldn’t get the height or accuracy on his kick and it went low and wide. Had the kick gone over, he would have been applauded for his effort.
However, the question begs whether it was the right option to take as they started to break into the Longford 22 and were building pressure. However, with a man down, they may well have struggled and so it seems as if it were the right option to go for the goal. A local derby awaits the hosts next with Oak Park and Carlow awaiting.
Tullow: Phillip Deane, Ryan O’Neill, Shane Rohan, Keiaho Bloomfield, Richard Nicholls, William Canavan, Dylan Leybourne; Scott Caldbeck, Sam Corrigan, Thomas Cashen, Frank Murphy, Martin Cole, Kyle Hanbidge, James O’Brien, Stephen Smith. Subs: Aaron Byrne, Jordan Leybourne, Jack McDonald, Sean Doyle, Paul Canavan.
Leinster League Seconds Division 1B
Rustiness costs the Tullow J2s in their first outing of the season, falling short against Longford at Black Gates on Sunday.
Tullow dominated the early stages and had a lot of the possession but handling errors cost them on a couple of occasion. There was some rustiness on show in their first league game of the season.
Early in the second half, Tullow broke into the Longford half and came close to the 10m line and forced a penalty, easily converted by Tom Eustace. Tullow tried to use this to spring them on but made silly mistakes. Longford powered over with about 20 minutes to go and missed the ensuing conversion. Tullow again kept pressing but kept knocking on the final pass with conditions not helping. They started to panic and Longford took advantage of this to score another well worked try with five minutes to go. They missed the conversion but still there was no way back for Tullow, who tried hard but couldn’t get across the line.
Tullow: David Moran, Bill Eustace, Phillip Timmins, Aidan Murphy, Aidan Cleary, Tom Eustace, David Tobin; Alan Burns, Aaron Byrne, Eddie Handbrige, John Bolger, John Hanbige, Joe Waters, Shane Brooks, Jack McDonald. Subs: Louis Kilcoyne, John Fitzgerald, Robert Keogh, Darren Walsh, Adam Doyle.