Ulster Bank AIL Div 2B Boyne 10pts Nenagh Ormond 20pts
That this match was played at all is testimony to the foresight of those in Boyne RFC to develope facilities which would withstand the terrible weather conditions the country experienced over last weekend.
This was a day on which only the rugby faithful ventured out and the Nenagh Ormond supporters have to be commended for making the long journey to endure floods and storm clouds, gale force winds and incessant rain to encourage their team to continue their unbeaten run.
Their team also had to contend with gale force winds which blew into their faces from the Moneymore end in the first half which rendered kicking for advantage totally useless.
Boyne kicked off with the help of this gale force wind at their backs and was immediately on the defensive when the kick went dead and they conceded a scrum on the half way line.
Nenagh were quick to show their forward power and had the Boyne scrum in trouble straight away with a good heel and taking the ball up the middle with a succession of power drives that had Boyne defending desperately. During this opening period the home side were certainly looking somewhat disjointed and were unable to use the strong wind to their advantage. Nenagh denied them possession and forced Boyne into conceding several penalties which kept them on the front foot. This pressure eventually paid off on the 7th minute when following a series of phases they drove Boyne right back to their own line their prop, John Coffey muscled over for their first try.
In what could only be described as a miracle kick with the conversion, given the conditions, Dan Fogarty gave his team and supporters a huge lift with the extra points.
Once again from the drop out, Boyne kicked dead and had to defend another put-in to the Nenagh scrum. They retained possession and were content to use their lively forwards to move the ball through phases which saw the home side have to defend valiantly.
Boyne were unable to gain sufficient possession to use the elements and they were also incurring the wrath of the referee who was penalising them for frequent infringements.
Whether it was his lack of proper signalling of the infringements, which certainly confused the spectators, that had Boyne disjointed and somewhat frustrated, the awarding of Nenagh’s second try on the 34th minute, certainly had an extreme element of good fortune attached to it, when a blatant knock-on went undetected by the referee and his touch judge before Nenagh wing forward Kevin O’Flaherty touched down, more in hope than with conviction, obviously assuming it wouldn’t count. This time Fogarty didn’t repeat his earlier ‘miracle’ and missed with the conversion.
At this juncture, Boyne’s backs were to the wall going 12pts down after 34 minutes play and with a gale force wind in their backs. Whilst this try was a bitter blow, it also tested the character of the side and they responded magnificently. Despite another setback, when Boyne winger, Howell, was yellow carded when he was retreating from an offside position and he inadvertently caught the ball from a Nenagh pass, which he instantly dropped, saw the referee flash a yellow card in the wingers face, the home side began to function with determination and cohesion.
Gavin Kennedy came on at scrum half and Boyne were now getting more possession from their forwards and their first try came on the 35th minute when a chip through saw an ensuing chase from the Boyne backs. The referee adjudicated that an obstruction had occurred and ran straight under the posts for a penalty try. Gavin Kennedy tapped over the simple conversion to close the gap. Boyne were now in the ascendency and more pressure saw the visitors forced into another infringement at a ruck and Gavin Kennedy gave his team hope for the 2nd half when he slotted the kick to bring his team to 10pts to the visitors 12pts at half time.
Boyne had to face into the strong wind in the 2nd half and a number of changes seemed to steady the ship as the game wore on. The scrum settled with the introduction of Dermot O’Neill into the 2nd row and the impressive Hugh Carolan into the front row. O’Neill’s physical presence and driving turned the tables on occasions and young Carolan has developed into a fine prop and ball carrier.
Boyne were contending well with the Nenagh forays and with the conditions not conducive to open rugby, the forwards, particularly the back row of Declan Moore, Jonny Kermath and Karl Keogh were all performing heroics in keeping the dream alive.
However, that dream was severely dashed when Boyne suffered a mortal blow when out half, Kennedy, had his attempted chip over the defence blocked down by Nenagh full back, John Lillis, who followed up for the touchdown. Fogarty followed up with a fine conversion. This score left Boyne trailing by 10pts to 17pts
Nenagh were using the wind with raking kicks to bring them into Boyne danger territory but the Boyne defence was coping well with their attacks. A break by centre Harry Kennedy, who broke the Nenagh defence, saw him race to the halfway line. Howell was up in support but the transfer to the winger was ‘butchered’ and the chance of a breakaway try was lost.
Boyne were still in valuable bonus point territory and this seemed to be assured until the 74th minute when another infringement saw another yellow card flashed in Hugh Carolans direction for what was later revealed as a disciplinary decision for dissent. It was a hammer blow for the home side which evaporated their chance of even getting a bonus point from the game. Fogarty pushed his team out to 20pts which was the final score of the game.
This was yet another good display by Boyne against the league leaders and having gotten off to a stuttering start they reasserted themselves and frustrated the opposition in difficult conditions.
There were some excellent performances with coach, Mike Walls, leading by example and having a fine game. It was not a day for flash rugby but the Boyne backs defended well and allowed their opponents little leeway throughout the game.
The forwards once again had a tough encounter but stuck to their task and it was from this unit that Boyne’s man of the match emerged. Young Karl Keogh at the back of the scrum was superb in tidying up difficult possession and along with his work rate around the pitch, particularly in defence, he had an excellent match and is a fine young player.
This was another game where Boyne let the chance of a valuable bonus point slip. Whilst the performance of the side was committed, there were lapses in concentration and discipline that deprived them of more reward from this game. If they improve on this aspect of their game, they will get the crucial results they need to stay in this division.
Team & Repls: Brian Howell; Cormac Brodigan, Harry Kennedy, Graeme McQuillan, Paul Rice; Niall Kerbey, Mike Walls; John Kinsella, George Cooney, James McKevitt; Shane Kennedy, Oisín Howell; Declan Moore, Jonny Kermath, Karl Keogh.
Repls; Gavin Kennedy, Pat Shuttleworth, Hugh Carolan, Dermot O’Neill & Mark Fay.