Lansdowne’s highly-impressive form after the half time interval continued on the Aviva back pitch last Saturday as the Ulster-Bank-sponsored AIL Division 1A League completed the first third of the regular season.
Once again, the inspiring half-time words of Coaches Mike Ruddock and Mark McHugh had the desired effect, as the home side overcame a 10-17 deficit to surge past a powerful Garryowen side, who were far more formidable opponents than last season.
Played in a cool, swirling breeze which saw it blowing in different directions on either side of the pitch, the “stadium effect” of the wind did little to curb the determination of both sides to produce an absorbing and highly entertaining match.
Lansdowne turned over the ball at the kick off as Garryowen failed to gather cleanly and an immediate attack saw young centre Harry Brennan set up a good attacking position in the visitor’s ’22. A promising backs move was frustrated by a penalty for blocking and the Limerickmen relieved the pressure.
They immediately launched an attack which saw them make serious inroads as far as the home 5 metre line, only for Captain Ian Prendiville to win a vital turnover and penalty.
If the word “turnover” crops up a lot in this report, it is because both teams exhibited a strong propensity to win the ball off each other, only to lose it back again moments later. While highly frustrating for both sets of spectators when their side coughed it up, nonetheless it made for some spectacular and entertaining rugby!
Lansdowne took the lead with a penalty by out-half Scott Deasy from 20 metres, and once again the home side’s backline leader was in fine kicking form. Deasy struck 5 from 6 on the day, with the one he missed hitting the upright.
Deasy’s early success was matched by a similar effort from Garryowen captain and scrum half Neil Cronin, who had a lively match at the base and always threatened when in possession.
Lansdowne were soon back in the lead, capitalising on a Garryowen missed touch on the left. The ball was spread wide, and the move ended up with centre Harry Brennan jinking his way through several tackles for a nice try in the corner on 21 minutes. Deasy slotted over a great conversion from the widest of angles for a 10-3 lead.
If Lansdowne thought they were going to have it all their own way they were mistaken, however, and the visitors set up a series of attacks, using their big forwards, Aaron McCluskey and prop JP Phelan in particular, to good effect. They set up a series of rucks in the Lansdowne ’22 which saw centre Peadar Collins missed several times as he made the line for a fine individual try from which Cronin levelled the scores after 27 minutes.
The unfortunate Foster Horan had to leave the pitch with a shoulder injury on the half hour, and was replaced by Adam Leavy. Worse was to follow, as Garryowen winger James McInerney availed of further loose Lansdowne defence to cross after 34 minutes, with Cronin again obliging from the corner to push his side into a 10-17 lead which they held until the break.
Lansdowne struggled to come to terms with the powerful Garryowen forwards during the first period, and found themselves behind at the interval for the first time this season. Their overall fitness levels and ability to absorb pressure and then respond with attacks of their own once again served them well. Charlie Rock came on at 9 for Alan Bennie, who had played well, his sniping attacks keeping the opposition back rowers honest. Rock added a new impetus as the Lansdowne side perceptibly upped the tempo.
It took just three minutes for the resurgent Lansdowne pack to register its mark. Jack O’Sullivan, whose presence at the heart of Lansdowne’s efforts, both in defence and in attack, earned him the “Man of the Match” accolade, won good ball and it was quickly spread wide for Mark O’Keeffe to round off great work by Brennan in the right-hand corner after only three minutes of the half. Once again, Scott Deasy struck his kick imperiously across the wind and Lansdowne were level at 17-all.
Four minutes later saw Lansdowne in the lead as Deasy once struck with a penalty from half-way out on the ’22. Aaron Conneely, returning from injury, replaced Charlie Butterworth before debutant loose head prop Martin Mulhall showed alarming pace in surging deep into the Garryowen ’22 to set up an attack.
O’Sullivan, Jack Dwan – who’s switch from the back row into the boiler-house did little to curb his input in the loose – No. 8 Willie Earle and the ever-impressive hooker, Tyrone Moran, all made major contributions to the Lansdowne cause.
Lansdowne stretched their lead in the 62nd minute, winger Daniel McEvoy fielding a missed touch kick by a pressurised Garryowen defence. Quickly spotting a miss-match, he scorched a back row on the outside before drawing the last defender beautifully to send Moran rampaging home from 25 metres. Deasy had his only failure of the day with the kick by the narrowest of margins, but Lansdowne had established a crucial 8-point, two score gap with less than 20 minutes to play.
The impressive Ronan Kelleher – younger brother of Cian – came on at hooker and took up where Ty Moran had left off. Charlie Rock was almost in on 72 minutes, chasing his own kick through, but Garryowen scrambled well in defence. The home side extended their lead on 75 minutes when Mark O’Keeffe was once again on the end of some fine build-up play to cross in the corner for his second try of the match. Scott Deasy again nailed the conversion for 32-17.
There was still time for an injury-time consolation try from the visitor’s hard-working No.8, Tim Ferguson, but it was a question of too little, too late for Garryowen.
Six from six is a great start for Lansdowne; Garryowen were the first team from the top end of the league we have encountered. The next few matches see Lansdowne play Clontarf away next Friday night, followed by Terenure at home and UCD home and away – all teams from the top-end of the League. Serious questions will be asked by these opponents concerning Lansdowne’s title credentials; your presence to help our talented young squad answer them is requested!
Match Report: Michael Daly
Round 6: Lansdowne FC v. Garryowen FC
Venue: Aviva Stadium Back Pitch
Date: Saturday 4th of November 2017: 2:30pm kick off
Referee: Nigel Correll
This Second Home League Match was kindly sponsored by “JIM”
The “Man of the Match” award was sponsored by Care to Comfort (Yvonne Cassidy and Martin Deasy)
Match Ball Sponsor: Leddin Finance (Joe Leddin)
LANSDOWNE 32 GARRYOWEN 22
Scorers: Lansdowne: Tries: Harry Brennan, Tyrone Moran, Mark O’Keeffe 2; Cons: Scott Deasy 3; Pens: Scott Deasy 2
Garryowen: Tries: Peadar Collins, James McInerney, Tim Ferguson; Cons: Neil Cronin 2; Pen: Neil Cronin
HT: Lansdowne 10 Garryowen 17
LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills; Daniel McEvoy, Harry Brennan, Mark O’Keefe, Foster Horan; Scott Deasy, Alan Bennie; Martin Mulhall, Tyrone Moran, Ian Prendiville (capt.), Josh O’Rourke, Jack Dwan, Jack O’Sullivan, Charlie Butterworth, Willie Earle.
Replacements: Ronan Kelleher, Greg McGrath, Aaron Conneely, Charlie Rock, Adam Leavy.
GARRYOWEN: Liam Coombes; Andrew O’Byrne, Dave McCarthy, Peadar Collins, James McInerney; Bill Johnston, Neil Cronin (capt.); Niall Horan, Liam Cronin, JP Phelan, Sean O’Connor, Aaron McCloskey, Mikey Wilson, Jack Daly, Tim Ferguson.
Replacements: Mike Sherry, Nik Hildebrand, Sean Rennison, Darren Ryan, Hugh O’Brien-Cunningham.