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LANSDOWNE V TERENURE J1 METRO LEAGUE FINAL 16/04/2023 SCORELINE 26-8

It has been a long season for this wonderful team who have been hugely consistent throughout and have a 12 / 2 record in the league and have not been beaten since the start of November. This is how they began the league final against the second placed team Terenure (who were the league title holders heretofore) and in beautiful weather at headquarters marked themselves down as the best team in the league with a controlled and dominant display of rugby winning the game by four tries to one. The game itself at the beginning was an edgy affair with some mistakes made but after an early flourish from Terenure, this J1 outfit bossed the game and were in full control until the final whistle. The trophy was no more than they deserved but they had to wait for over a month to finally complete and secure the league title. They are now on course to complete the elusive J1 double with the Metropolitan cup final due to take place on the evening of Tuesday the 25th of April against Barnhall MU in Donnybrook.

Since my last report, the J1’s had beaten Clontarf in the Metropolitan cup semi-final which was held in Blackrock Rugby Club in Stradbrook by 44 points to 19 with outside half Peter Hastie scoring a hat-trick of tries in what was an outstanding team display which regrettably the writer was away for hence the lack of a full match report.

Turning back to Sunday’s league final, the game began with a series of Lansdowne attacks which were repelled by a resolute Terenure defence. You got the impression watching that the J1’s was trying to force it a little too much and this led to some handling errors with the ball being turned over and the clearance made. This pattern continued for the opening 15 minutes, which was a nervy affair with both sides like boxers jostling for dominance so much so that it was actually Terenure who took an early lead with a well-struck penalty from the out-half Conor Pender.

From the restart, possession was gained by the home side and the Lansdowne attack burst into life securing good field position in their opponents 22. The trusty pack took over and exerted a lot of pressure on the Terenure line and this eventually led to centre Kyle Dixon going through a gap to score under the posts with the conversion added by Peter Hastie making the score line 7 points to 3.

The Lansdowne eight were now getting to grips with their opponents and as a result started to enjoy a lot of possession with Terenure having to back pedal playing into what breeze there was. This led to good interaction between backs and forwards and again pressure was applied on Terenure in their 22. Gaps were starting to appear in the Terenure defence which at all times was plucky and effective and following a good break by Hastie with the ball passing through hands and following a deft inside pass, lock Arthur Greene was left clear to cross the line again near the posts and with the conversion added pushed the score line out to 14 – 3 to the home side.

This pattern continued with the home side having the breeze at their backs and following a rare down the field foray from Terenure with a kick through the ball ended up in the hands of the home full back Sam Burns who sent a booming return kick sending Terenure back again to their 22. Half time was approaching and this J1 outfit were eager to further extend their lead and attacked relentlessly. Following a passage of play, it was left after a fine back move for Burns who is a class act to add to his season try total and one felt that this third try was a hammer blow for Terenure. The conversion was missed, and the half time whistle went with the score line at 19 points to 3.

With what wind there was, Terenure began the second half on the front foot and showed a lot of intent to reduce the score line but, as I have said all year, the J1 team have a tried and tested defensive system which is so difficult to penetrate and has meant that teams find it very difficult to break them down. The forward pack is full of ferocious tacklers who make hard hits such as Sean Dunne, Luke Thompson, Darragh Murphy, Smiley Callinan as well as from the bench Evan Downey and Richie Allen. The Lansdowne set piece worked effectively both in the scrum and out of touch allowing the hugely skillful scrum half Jack Matthews clear his lines and repulse Terenure attacks again and again.

The second half meandered along with both teams cancelling each other out by and large and the score line remained the same. Lansdowne continued to maintain their defensive line and following good work from Hastie, Dixon and outside centre Matt Grogan broke out only to be stopped by resolute defence by Terenure.

However, possession was recycled and following a few more phases and a long pass from Hastie the ball was gathered by Matt Healy who broke a tackle to score. This capped off a terrific game from this flanker who deservedly scored Lansdowne’s fourth try with the conversion added. The game restarted with a penalty for Lansdowne as a result of a melee following the Healy try, but this was the nail in the coffin for Terenure as the score line was pushed out now to 26 points to 3 and it was a long way back from there with 25 minutes to play.

To their credit, this Terenure team, the reigning league champions showed a lot of fight and tried very hard to reduce the score line and enjoyed their best period of possession and territory in the game. They used the conditions to gain field position and following a series of penalties took hold in the Lansdowne 22. There followed frantic attacks on the line which were by and large repelled. It took a clever play from their out-half Pender to use a cross field kick to allow their winger McCabe touch down and reduce the score line to 26 points to 8.

The second half had contained a couple of yellow cards on both sides but, by and large, this was a game played in good spirit, a typical final with both sides giving their all to achieve victory. The final minutes were largely uneventful, and the referee brought the game to an end. Victory had been achieved by this excellent team who are truly worthy champions. It was left to Luke Thompson, the Lansdowne captain, to raise the trophy to signal the start of the celebrations which went on long into the night and morning with a few lemonades allowed and a few songs sung.

Focus now turns to the last piece in the jigsaw the final of the Bank of Ireland sponsored Metropolitan cup. To get here the J1’s has beaten Old Wesley, UCD and Clontarf all difficult fixtures and now will face up to Barnhall MU to try to secure the season double of cup and league and believe me that is not easy to do. A few interesting facts are that the last time we did the double there are two survivors from that team in this squad and they are winger / full back Liam O’Sullivan and Prop Teddy Boland showing how good those players are and how much they enjoy playing for the jersey. So, with that bit of trivia out of the way I call on all you readers to come out and support us on Tuesday evening the 25th of April for this team’s date with destiny and their chance to create lifelong memories for themselves. They truly are a band of brothers.

Match Report: John Kilroy

LANSDOWNE:

15 Sam Burns 14 Billy Foley 13 Matthew Grogan 12 Kyle Dixon 11 Liam O’Sullivan 10 Peter Hastie 9 Jack Matthews 1 Seán Dunne 2 Luke Thompson

3 Conan Dunne 4 Arthur Greene 5 Sean Walsh 6 Matthew Healy 7 Stephen Callinan 8 Darragh Murphy 16 Richie Allen 17 Evan Downey 18 Dylan Tighe

19 Mike Walsh 20 Shane Hourihane

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