Tullow J1 v Lansdowne
Colm O’Shea Semi-final
8 – 14
The new campaign for the J1 team began with a tricky away fixture against the provincial towns cup winners from last season Tullow RFC at their home ground in County Carlow. With a good pre-season behind them a lot of the J1 team looked in good shape and this certainly was a game where the cobwebs were blown away following the summer break.
The weather conditions for August meant that the game was played in windy, showery conditions which made handling for both sides difficult and led to a dour struggle between both forward packs. In fact, it should be said that that the J1 selection for this game featured much change from last season and also it should be said that the backline contained converted forwards for the game meaning that a lot of the play in the game was tight between the forward packs with there was no huge amounts of back play.
This was an evening where the kicking game was very important to obtain field position and both Tom Bohan and Daragh Murphy on the J1 team provided some fine kicks throughout the duration of both halves. The first half began with both teams testing each other out and the battle for set piece supremacy with Tullow RFC been very good in the scrums and likewise the J1 team dominating the line out exchanges.
The first half did not contain many chances for either team and was dominated by a really heavy shower of rain which passed over the ground causing the conditions to worsen and meaning that ball handing was at a premium with both sides making mistakes. The Lansdowne side had the upper hand in the loose and there were many good turnovers notably by Stephen Callinan, Henry Godson and Conor McMenamin.
The only score of the first half was from fullback Tom Hodgkinson in open play on the far right of the ground as he managed to evade would be tacklers and jink his way in for a try midway through the first half and following the conversion of Tom Bohan meant the score line was 7-0. Tullow RFC tried hard and their most famous player Sean O’Brien of Ireland and British Lions fame made his entrance to the field midway through the first half. Both sides thereafter cancelled each other out and despite some good breaks from the home team the scoreline remained the same.
The second-half again started with the same pattern as the first half with both sides going at each other to try to obtain dominance and control possession but a lot of what had happened in the first half repeated itself with both sides cancelling each other out and a tough battle ensuing as a result with no quarter given or conceded. Tullow RFC applied a lot of pressure in the second-half and eventually that pressure told when they scored following some prolonged phases of attack. However, the extras were missed and this meant the scoreline was 7-5.
There were 20 minutes to play and the J1 side were in a real battle and needed to up their game which is what they did and following a series of penalties kicked to touch by both Bohan and Murphy there followed a long phase of possession with the Lansdowne team knocking at the door near the Tullow line. Eventually, this pressure paid off and with man of the match Henry Godson touching down to push the scoreline out to 12 points to five and Bohan struck a lovely kick to increase further the score to 14-5.
The home side were not finished and to their credit maintained the pressure on the Lansdowne defence and some would say were unlucky not to break through to score. But with time not on their side and after a series of penalties they took the option for a penalty goal and a shot to reduce the gap to 14-8. There were approximately 6 minutes to play and good game management followed and the J ones were able to see out the game with no change on the scoreboard.
In summary, a tight game which could have gone either way but which the J1’S ones just about deserved to win. In so doing, they showed plenty of grit and determination in what was scrappy battle. This game puts them into the early season final of this competition which will again as was the same last year be against Terenure to decide who wins the Trophy this season.
Match Report – John Kilroy