A highly entertaining match last Saturday saw a strong Lansdowne combination edge out a game Young Munster side by the narrowest of margins, 25 points to 24.
The match was preceded by a minute’s silence in memory of Tash Mulligan, wife of Club President Kieran, a wonderful lady taken from us far too soon.
It was to the credit of both teams – and the 4G pitch – that they were able to overcome the difficult weather conditions and serve up a rugby feast that was enjoyed by all who were privileged to attend.
The by now notorious Aviva swirl – wind blowing in one direction on one side of the pitch and in the other on the opposite side – was compounded by some heavy showers which made handling difficult for the two sides.
Nonetheless Lansdowne and Young Munster both managed to overcome this challenge and served up a seven try thriller that entertained up to the final whistle.
The Cookies outscored their hosts by 4 tries to 3, and it was the vast experience of Lansdowne fly half, Scott Deasy, which ultimately made the difference between the sides.
The veteran out half, in his 101 st appearance for the Club, kicked 4 out of 5 in exacting conditions for place kickers and his final penalty in the 71 st minute reclaimed the lead from the visitors at a vital stage of the match.
Lansdowne had a dream start when, in the first minute, a nice move down the right saw left winger Daniel McEvoy set his opposite number on the left, Peter Sullivan, free. Sullivan burst past the covering tacklers to power his way over and go in behind the posts for his ninth try of the campaign. Deasy knocked over the conversion, and the Headquarters side were well set at 7-0 up.
The first scrum after 11 minutes saw the Limerickmen retreating but they were awarded a penalty when Ian Prendiville was blown for boring in. The referee penalised both sides for this and the match scrum penalty count – 4-apiece – reflected the confusion at the set -piece.
If young Prendiville was frustrated with the ref’s scrum interpretation it didn’t show, and twice in the early stages of the match he seized upon loose ball at the back of the lineout to make valuable ground for his side.
Despite this, it was Young Munster who scored next; Ireland Under 20 winger Conor Philips seizing on an excellent cross-kick by impressive out half Shane Airey to fend off his opposite number and dive over for an unconverted try.
Deasy added a penalty to Lansdowne’s tally with an excellent kick from 40 metres after the Cookies were penalised an additional 10 metres for some back chat to the ref.
The home side extended their lead in the 33 rd minute when, following a thrust down the right, the Lansdowne forwards set up a series of pick and goes which ended in the irrepressible Prendiville crossing beside the posts for his fourth try of the campaign. Not bad for a prop who had never scored in the League prior to this season!
Deasy converted to put his side ahead, 17 points to 5. This remained the half-time score, although Jack O’Sullivan was yellow-carded in injury time for blocking the Young Munster out half, who appeared to run into the Lansdowne flanker.
Both teams continued to play enterprising rugby, and from a line-out 15 metres out the home forwards again probed the Cookies defence with their rolling maul. Following several repulsed attacks, Lansdowne forced their way over, and again it was the redoubtable Prendiville who came up with the honours.
Although the conversion was missed, Lansdowne were now 22 points to 5 up after 45 minutes and were looking good for a bonus point victory. The men from the Yellow Road had different ideas, however, and a powerful attack ended with second row Tom Goggin plunging over for a try following an earlier yellow card for Lansdowne centre Tom Roche.
No panic yet, but Lansdowne were guilty of taking their foot off the gas and their reduction to 14 men for the second time appeared to affect both their confidence and concentration.
No better side than a Limerick one to sense a moment’s weakness in their opponents, and the Cookies proceeded to take full advantage. A brilliant passage of play saw the visitors break down the right with some excellent inter-passing and breach the Lansdowne defence with a try by centre Luke Fitzgerald converted by Airey reducing the margin to 22-17. A definite contender for Try of the Month!
One could sense the nervousness among the home supporters, and their fears were realised as Young Munster continued their blitz with a bonus-point try, this time scored by left winger Conor Hayes who again got on the end of an Airey cross-kick to breach the home defence.
Airey made no mistake from beside the posts to push his side into a two-point lead, 24-22 with 15 minutes remaining.
To their credit, Lansdowne didn’t panic and, once restored to full complement and led by Man of the Match Tom Murphy, who played his best match for the club so far, No.8 Willie Earle, Ronan Kelleher and Oisin Dowling the Lansdowne pack upped the ante for Deasy to coolly apply the coup de gras from the kicking tee.
A great afternoon’s rugby thus went Lansdowne’s way, but not without a struggle against a battling Young Munster side, who took two points home for their troubles.
Next up is a top of the table clash away to Cork Con, which may have a bearing on the home semi-final berths in the competition.
Match Report: Michael Daly
Match Details: Ulster Bank AIL Division 1A Round 14: Lansdowne FC v. Young Munster RFC
Venue: Aviva Stadium Back Pitch
Date: Saturday 2nd of March 2019
Referee: Stuart Gaffikin
Score: Lansdowne 25 Young Munster 24
Scorers: Lansdowne: Tries: Ian Prendiville 2, Peter Sullivan; Cons: Scott Deasy 2; Pens: Scott Deasy 2
Young Munster: Tries: Conor Phillips, Tim Goggin, Luke Fitzgerald, Conor Hayes; Cons: Shane Airey 2
HT: Lansdowne 17 Young Munster 5
LANSDOWNE: Eamonn Mills (capt); Daniel McEvoy, Harry Brennan, Tom Roche, Peter Sullivan; Scott Deasy, James Kenny; Martin Mulhall, Ronan Kelleher, Ian Prendiville, David O’Connor, Oisin Dowling, Jack O’Sullivan, Tom Murphy, Willie Earle.
Replacements: Greg McGrath, Ntinga Mpiko, Jack Dwan, Tim Murphy, Conor Murphy.
YOUNG MUNSTER: Alan Tynan; Conor Hayes, Derek Corcoran, Luke Fitzgerald, Conor Phillips; Shane Airey, Stephen Kerins; Conor Bartley, Ger Slattery, Keynan Knox, Tom Goggin, Alan Kennedy (capt), Fintan Coleman, Conor Mitchell, Diarmaid Dee.
Replacements: Billy Scannell, David Begley, Alan Ross, Evan O’Gorman, Clayton Stewart.