Lansdowne J1 v Clontarf
Metro League Division 1
57 – 24
The final fixture of the league against Clontarf came to an end on Sunday afternoon at headquarters, with a hugely impressive first half performance putting the game out of reach for the opponents. With all other results considered, this means that the league playoff will now be between us and the holders Terenure to decide the Metro 1 league title for this season.
One other thing of note in respect of this fixture, is that it served as a dress rehearsal for the Metropolitan cup semi-final, which is due to take place at the end of March with both sides being able to take a good look at each other before their knockout game to decide who will go on to the cup final. As has being the pattern with recent games, the skipper and coaching staff before the game called for another fast start from the team and they very much delivered that in a pulsating all-action first half performance. For Clontarf, they will no doubt be scratching their heads and analysing the video of this game very closely to work out how they plan to reverse the scoreline in their favour.
Shane Hourihane opened the scoring within the first five minutes of this game with a well taken try out wide, following an across the line back movement which was unconverted. There followed a further try shortly after from the rampaging Matthew Healy within the opening ten minutes which was converted by Jack Connolly. The whirlwind start continued with some fine backs and forwards interaction, with Jack Connolly himself touching down this time, which he converted pushing the score line out to 19 – 0 with just fifteen minutes gone.
This all-out attack strategy continued and resulted in the bonus point try being achieved before the twenty-five-minute marker had elapsed. This time by Jack Matthews following some quite brilliant passing both outside and involving several teammates, allowing him to score under the posts. With the conversion added this brought about a loud burst of applause from the spectators there.
The hurricane start was not over, and this time winger Kevin O’Connor scored out wide increasing the score line further to 33 – 0. At this stage, Clontarf the opposition were completely stunned but did manage (to their credit) to reply with a converted try from their hardworking flanker. However, tit for tat Lansdowne replied with a final try before half time from Sam Burns who broke through the defence line and kept going and going before touching down. Half time score: 38 – 7.
Realistically, the game was over, and the second half began like the first half with an unconverted second try from the hungry Matthew Healy making the score 45 – 7. To their credit Clontarf rallied somewhat and reduced the scoreline to 45 – 14 with another try of their own. Again, the J1 juggernaut burst into life and two further unconverted tries followed from lock Conor McMenamin and Matthew Healy who completed his hat trick in style with a very well taken effort, making the score 55 – 14.
There were still nearly twenty minutes to go and if there was to be criticism of this team, they dropped off from the relentless onslaught and with this Clontarf enjoyed their best period of the entire game, having much more possession and using it to good effect to narrow the scoreline with two tries of their own leaving the final score at 57 – 24.
Special mention this week to the performance of Mathew Healy who scored a hat trick of tries in this game, and whose overall display was of a high standard. Folks when this guy is on it, he is a seriously good rugby player and like I have said before about him he has a habit of breaking through lines of defence and causing mayhem as a result.
Jack Matthews at scrum half was back from injury and looked very sharp. He snipes around the edges, has a very quick pass and in this game scored the best team try of the entire match.
This week for the writer the backline sparkled and probably outshone the forward pack but that is only splitting hairs as both units performed to a high level and produced a ruthless and efficient display. There are things to work on such as receiving kick offs, but this is what makes this team so good is that from week to week they are always looking on how they can do things better. They slackened off at end of this game which they as a group noticed and said in the dressing room postgame, to be aware not to repeat that and give opponents a chance in future matches.
It is now time for this team to go to the Well for the last time this league season. We all hope that when they come back with the bucket, that it will be full of gold, they will have finished the job and brought glory to the Jersey in the League final.
Finally, this victory was dedicated to Mike Walsh, our Kiwi Scrum half regular, who did not play due to a family bereavement and are thoughts are with you Walshy.
Match Report – John Kilroy