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Lansdowne v Clontarf J1 premier League 1 fixture 15/09/2023 16-15

Scrum half Eadbhard O’Callaghan produced a bit of brilliance with an adept cheeky drop goal from the 22 to stun and break the hearts of a valiant Clontarf team in the last kick of this game. That’s the way the first J1 league fixture of the season finished with the home side producing a hard-fought win against a shell-shocked Clontarf outfit who had led this game for most of it and looked sure to secure an opening away win until the final kick of the game and it serves as a testament to all teams to play until the final whistle as you never know.

This fixture took place on Friday night under lights in headquarters and was greeted with mixed weather in the form of persistent rain, meaning that the conditions were slippery and ball retention was at a premium. The game began with Clontarf on the attack and following an overthrow inside the Lansdowne 22, the ball was gathered by the Clontarf back rower who touched down to give them an opening lead of 5 – nil. A difficult kick from the touchline followed which missed narrowly and this remained the score as the first half continued with Clontarf having the elements in their favor and pursuing a kicking game so as to gain good field position.

The J1’S did break out a number of times from their half and there were some good attacks made by No. 8 Lucas Culleton, hooker Evan Downey and prop Ronan Shaw. It was from one of these breakouts that Lansdowne were awarded a penalty and winger Oisin Devitt converted the penalty to reduce the scoreline to 5 – 3.

However, now with the first half at the midway point, the away team Clontarf and, in particular, their forwards secured good possession and went on the offensive and Lansdowne showed good defence to keep the score as it was not until the three quarters mark of the half, when following persistent attacking and a fine skip pass from the Clontarf out half wide to the left winger, he managed to touch down close to the corner flag on the left and in so doing scored Clontarf’s second try which was superbly converted from the touchline by the said out half to leave the score coming up to halftime at 12 – 3. The conditions meant that there was a strong breeze into which the J1’s were playing and they would have that wind advantage at the turnaround.

It was all to play for in the second half, as there was not much between these two teams, and both scrums and lineouts were even. Clontarf, who had dominated large patches of the first half, began the second-half on the defensive and the Lansdowne outfit started to use the conditions to their favor with some long probing kicks from both Rohan van der Acker and Paddy Burke. It was from one of these long kicks and the subsequent set piece that the referee awarded Lansdowne a penalty on the right hand side which was carefully converted by Oisin Devitt to reduce the scoreline to 12 – 6.

The restart followed and a good exit followed from Lansdowne who were playing clever rugby in using the conditions to their advantage. There were some fine play from centre Matt Hodgins as well as fullback Rohan van Der Akker who is a beautifully balanced runner and looked dangerous any time he got possession. The battle between the forwards was very much even with some big hits going in on both sides and good contributions on the home side from Darragh Murphy, Stephen Callinan and Luke Callinan. To their credit Clontarf played the conditions well and retained possession and for the writer were a very well organized team with a definite game plan so this must count as an important win.

It seemed like Lansdowne with all their attacking could not breakthrough the Clontarf line in the second-half and a pattern to the game developed with very good defensive play and breakouts from the Clontarf team. However, something had to give, and with approximately 10 minutes to play after some fine persistent attacking from the Lansdowne team with rucks close to the Clontarf line eventually the ball was recycled and passed out to Paddy Burke who with a fine sidestep and wrap around managed to score near the left hand posts with the extras added by Devitt and for the first time in the game the J1’s had taken the lead by 13 points to 12 with approximately 6 minutes to play.

As the writer has seen in many other games, from the kick off disaster struck for Lansdowne, who were penalized for an infringement by the referee inside the 10 meter line on the right hand side of the posts within kicking range and even with the conditions against him a fine kick followed from the Clontarf No.10 which went in off the right post and in so doing the lead changed hands with Clontarf now leading by 15 points to 13.

The clock was rapidly diminishing and had gone to zero with the referee who had a fine game playing injury time. During this time it was Clontarf who attacked the Lansdowne line and almost scored but for some brilliant defence and a vital turnover of the ball near the Lansdowne line who managed to clear up field and with a couple of penalties gained position inside the clontarf half near the 22 meter line. It was from this play and the drive forward that led to a penalty advantage being given by the referee only for O’Callaghan to produce his bit of magic and send the ball sailing between the posts much to the relief of the home crowd and the disappointment of the away following support.

A win had been achieved by the smallest of margins and who knows how important this win will turn out to be later in the season, but it was an entertaining game played in good spirits by two good teams giving their all and hard luck to Clontarf. For the home team, the dressing room was buzzing after the game and the confidence will have grown from that tight win and no doubt the appetites of the players will be wetted for the season ahead. It’s good to have the season back up and running and this team now moves on to their first away fixture of the season against Barnhall MU in Parsonstown in one week’s time.

Match Report: John Kilroy

Team Sheet

Patrick Burke

Alex Kinahan

Matthew Hodgins

Rohan van den Akker

Oisin Devitt

Billy Foley

Eadbhard O’Callaghan

Ronan Shaw

Evan Downey

Oscar Egan

Stephen Callinan

Steven WAlshe

Darragh Murphy

Liam Forster

James Power

Robbie Lyons

Charlie McSweeny

Aidan Long

Luke Callinan

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