It was a beautifully crisp Saturday morning as the Lansdowne team bus pulled into Dooradoyle. The freshly cut pitch looked resplendent and the travelling squad set about their pre-match warm up routines.
Still smarting from a last minute defeat to Dublin University just over a week previously, Lansdowne travelled to Dooradoyle with a point to prove. However, the results from the previous six playing seasons were a salutory tale of how challenging the trip down the M7 has been for the men from Lansdowne.
2019/20 25-24 to Garryowen
2018/19 17-14 to Garryowen
2017/18 29-17 to Garryowen
2016/17 25-32 to Lansdowne
2015/16 16-16 All square
As the teams took to the pitch, the absence of a good number of the ever-vocal Garryowen faithful was a stark reminder how the Covid-19 pandemic has once again impacted attendance at AIL games.
Lansdowne were buoyed by the return of Peter Sullivan and it was great to see Peter given the opportunity to regain his match fitness by togging out in the colours of Lansdowne.
Garryowen were first off the mark, not score-wise, but in creating the first scoring opportunity and only as one would expect from a fired-up home team. This opening foray into Lansdowne territory was thwarted by the mercurial fullback, Eamon Mills and his ever-present winger, Peter Sullivan. It was to be a feature of the game, the positional and defensive display by both Mills and Sullivan.
One of the highlights of the first quarter was a break by James Kenny. Starting well inside his own half, Kenny broke from behind a scrum and eluded several tackles before coming to ground in the Garryowen 22 and knocking the ball on in the process.
Lansdowne’s first attempt for points was on the 18th minute but Charlie Tector pushed his effort just wide of the post. This was a let off for Garryowen and a poor return for Lansdowne’s rising dominance; despite losing several lineouts and conceding attacking advantage.
Thanks to a Garryowen infringement, Tector was given the opportunity to make amends and he duly slotted the penalty to give Lansdowne a 0-3 lead.
Then shortly after the first water break, two of the Lansdowne backs forced a breakthrough. First, Sean Galvin caught Garryowen’s Tim Ferguson and bundled him over the touch line inside the Garryowen 22. From the ensuing line out, Lansdowne spun the ball out wide but conceded possession. Garryowen’s Corey Reid attempted a kick through but Sullivan was alert and gathered to score in the corner.
Arguably the try of the game was to follow in little over a minute. Sullivan, again, collected the restart and shimmied several tackles before offloading inside to Jack Dwan. Dwan who showed an incredible turn of speed made 15 metres before passing to his flying hooker, Thompson. Thompson, with the line in sight, made no mistake and touched down.
Not surprisingly, Garryowen upped the tempo and their effort was duly rewarded. Their winger Quilligan will be justifiably proud of this try. He passed Sullivan and two more Lansdowne defenders before touching down for an unconverted try.
Lansdowne led 5-13 going into the half-time break.
Despite their territorial advantage and promise in the first-half, Lansdowne failed to ignite and the second-half’s early exchanges were more of a srummaging arm wrestle, with ensuing penalties.
Just after the 40 minute mark, Tector added three points from a penalty awarded for not rolling away. Lansdowne now led 5-16.
The game’s turning point was orchestrated by Sean Galvin. At the 63rd minute, he wrestled a ball from Garryowen’s lock Roy Whelan. Most importantly, Galvin did this as Garryowen were pressing in sight of Lansdowne’s try line. Galvin needed no directions, he sprinted all the way to score, increasing Lansdowne’s lead to 18 points. The visitors now led 5-21.
In fairness to Garryowen, they didn’t drop their heads, they continued to press and Lansdowne’s stout defense can be directly attributable to keeping the score as it was.
At the 75th minute mark, a promising Garryowen attack ended when possession went to ground. Ever the opportunist, Sullivan was quick to put boot to ball and gather, to run 40 odd metres to score his second try, securing a bonus point and at the same time, dashing any hopes Garryowen had of salvaging a losing bonus point. Lansdowne now led 5-26.
The last play of the game was in the Garryowen 22 where the hosts were pinged for an infringement. Tector stroked the ball over the bar and closed the game out with a convincing win for the visitors.
Final score at Dooradoyle was Garryowen 5 – 29 Lansdowne.
Match Report: Michael O’Brien
ENERGIA MEN’S ALL-IRELAND LEAGUE: DIVISION 1A: Saturday, November 27th, 2021
GARRYOWEN 5 LANSDOWNE 29, Dooradoyle.
LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills; Sean Galvin, Andy Marks, Corey Reid, Peter Sullivan; Charlie Tector, James Kenny; Frank Kavanagh, Luke Thompson, JJ Hession, Joey Szpara, Jack Dwan, Clive Ross, Jack O’Sullivan (capt), Mark Boyle.
Replacements: Jamie Kavanagh, Ben Popplewell, Daniel Murphy, Ruairi Clarke, Jack Matthews, Peter Hastie.
GARRYOWEN: Jamie Heuston; Colm Quilligan, Bryan Fitzgerald, Jack Delaney, Jamie Shanahan; Tony Butler, Ed Barry; Mark Donnelly, Dylan Murphy, Darragh McCarthy, Roy Whelan, Kevin Seymour (capt), Tim Ferguson, Dan Feasey, Sean Rennison.