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Barring a huge turnaround in points difference, Lansdowne entered their last match against
Trinity having already qualified for the final of the Senior League, the Club’s final match in
Section 1B against a Trinity side yet to record a win in the competition could in many
respects have been regarded as a dead rubber.

Indeed, Head Coach Mark McHugh took advantage of the situation to rotate his squad,
making no less than eight changes to the side which defeated St. Mary’s the previous week,
with full back Conall Doherty, centre Harry Brennan, out half David Moran, loose head prop
Henry Godson, tight head JJ Hession, Leinster Under 20 second row Ruairi Clarke and back-
rowers Daniel and Darragh Murphy all promoted to the starting XV and gaining valuable
match time at this early stage of the new season.

Lansdowne exerted early pressure but failed to convert their dominance into points. Trinity
defended strongly throughout, and some stern tackling in the early exchanges saw no less
than three drop-outs from behind their own line as the home side were held up over the line.
While this writer is not a fan of the changed law, it is evident that attacking sides will have to
adjust their strategies when close to the line, as the punishment for failing to ground the ball
over the line is very much in favour of the defending team (why, you might ask, penalise the
attacking team? Is the game not about scoring tries?).

But I digress. Lansdowne continued to press, with a nice cut by Harry Brennan setting up a
good field position from which a penalty in front of the posts was the reward. Our half David
Moran, an ex-St. Michael’s and UCD product, duly kicked the first points of the game on 18
minutes and the Headquarters side were 3-nil up after 18 minutes play.

Lansdowne were finding more joy around the side of the rucks than out wide in attack, and
straighter running in the backs might have paid more dividends. Instead, it was Trinity, in an
isolated foray into the Lansdowne ’22 who scored the game’s first try close in just after the
half hour to establish a 7-3 lead somewhat against the run of play.

Full back Doherty made a great break from his own half to be cut down just 5 metres from
the visitor’s line, but the ball went forward. Lansdowne finally managed to get their line-out
functioning and, from a penalty-line out 5 metres out, replacement tight head Conan Dunne,
having just come on, drove over for an unconverted Lansdowne try in injury time.

A penalty count of 8-3 against the big Trinity pack was a measure of the pressure Lansdowne
had exerted during the first period without much reward. After the break the university side
began to assert themselves, and out Half Harry Colbert, son of Lansdowne stalwart David,
was unlucky to hit the upright with a penalty from 42 metres.

Lansdowne were given a stern examination by the Trinity pack during the third quarter and, if
the defence wasn’t quite as robust as it had been against St. Mary’s the previous week (when
it was exceptional), nonetheless it stood up to the test. Outstanding in this department was
winger Ed O’Keeffe, who put in several big hits before having to retire injured. We wish him
a speedy recovery from what looked like a bad knee injury.

Matthew Healy came on in the second row and soon made an impact up front, while
O’Keeffe was replaced by scrum half Jack Matthews on the wing. The Lansdowne pack
began to turn the screw on their opponents, and two successive penalties (the final count was
16-8 in favour of Lansdowne) saw a period of sustained pressure on the Student’s defence.

The dam finally broke when No. 8 Mark Boyle, who continues to improve in the back row,
broke from a scrum close in to cross for his side’s second try against a tiring Trinity pack on
70 minutes, which Moran was unable to goal.

Now 13-7 ahead, Lansdowne had to endure a few moments of nervous pressure – always the
case when you are 6 points ahead – but weathered the storm and, indeed, should have added
to their try tally in the closing period only to concede a fourth goal line drop out. In this
regard, indeed, they will need to be a bit more ruthless in the red zone when they face the
upcoming challenges in the League final and the AIL to follow as the season begins to ramp
up nicely.

The final of the League will take place against Clontarf next Saturday, the 25th of September
in Energia Park, Donnybrook at 2:00pm, prior to the Leinster v. Bulls match in the RDS.

Match report: Michael Daly

Season: 2021-22

Match Details: Leinster Senior League Division 1B, Lansdowne FC v Dublin University

Venue: Aviva Stadium, Back Pitch

Date: Friday 17th September 2021

Score: Lansdowne FC 13 Dublin University 7

Lansdowne FC: 15. Conall Doherty; 14. Sean Galvin 13. Harry Brennan 12. Paul Kiernan
11. Ed O’Keeffe; 10. David Moran; 9. James Kenny; 1. Henry Godson 2. Luke Thompson 3.
JJ Hession; 4. Ruairi Clarke 5. Jack Dwan; 6. Daniel Murphy 7. Darragh Murphy 8. Mark
Boyle. Replacements: 16. Patrick Nixon 17. Conan Dunne 18. Adam Boland 19. Jack
Matthews 20. Stephen Madigan 21. Corey Reid 22. Matthew Healy

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