Strong finish secures win for Boyne 3rds in Athboy

A massive final 15 minutes helped Boyne 3rds to maintain their 100% record in the North East League on Sunday in Athboy. Despite having already claimed the league title, Boyne were aiming to secure a win over their Meath rivals in this re-scheduled game. A much changed side to the one which triumphed over Ardee the previous week took the field for this game, including a number of late call-ups. That the club was able to field a team at all was a credit to the 15 who turned out despite inclement conditions, and some international match day hangovers.
Unlike the Ireland vs Italy game of the previous day, this game was to see 6 tries in all, with a fine display of place kicking from both sides ensuring that it went right down to the wire. The Boyne backrow of Derek “Degs” Farrell, Kev Fagan and John “Beachy” McCreanor were playing together for the first time, and returning prop Stephen “Buddha” Lynch made his first start of the season alongside Rob Shuttleworth and Andy Martyn in the front row. With the 2nds game being called off, halfbacks Bren Walsh and Al McEneaney, along with 2nd row Bren Byrne made themselves available to the 3rds. With no subs being available, each of the starting 15 knew they had a job to do, and despite going down a try after 5 minutes, Boyne soon began to assert themselves with some flowing backline movements which defied the conditions. Outhalf Al McEneaney touched down on 10 minutes following a good break up the left wing from Neil “Skinny” Dunne. From the restart, a good take from Degs Farrell who fed the ball infield to Ricky McCormack, captain Fergus Walsh, and out to Skinny on the wing who beat several defenders with an injection of pace to score. McEneaney added the conversion to his first to bring the score to 14-5.
Athboy were well organised, particularly up front, and on 20 minutes, a lineout drive yielded a score for the home team, and a couple of penalties on 30 and 40 minutes saw the sides going into halftime on 14-16 to Athboy.
While Boyne looked dangerous every time they got the ball wide, Athboy did a good job slowing down their supply of ball, aided in no small part by an unwillingness on the referees part to penalise them for hands in the rucks. A number of penalties were reversed when the Boyne players aired their frustrations, and Athboy profited from these to almost claim the win. With both kickers trading penalties in the early stages of the second half, Boyne upped the pressure with a sustained period of attacking play in the Athboy 22. Despite several pick and drives from the Boyne forwards, the Athboy defence held firm until the ball was flashed out to McEneaney who put in a crossfield kick which Skinny did very well to get on the end of to score.
This game was far from over, however, and Athboy dug in to pick up another couple of penalties to give themselves a slender 1 point lead heading into the last few minutes. With Boynes unbeaten record in danger of going, a penalty in midfield was tapped quickly by Bren Walsh, who fed McEneaney. A good passing move saw the ball reach winger Mark Kelly who drew his man before offloading to prop Andy Martyn in support. He did very well to catch the ball behind his back before feeding Degs Farrell with the scoring pass. McEneaney added the extras to secure a hard fought victory for Boyne. The final score was 31-25.
While this was a mix-bag team, it was exactly the kind of game the 3rds needed to underline the importance of all 15 players digging in to get a result. Man of the match was Degs Farrell, who was the first man in support every time the ball went into contact, and who put in some huge hits to turn ball over at crucial points in the game.
Al McEneaney put on a master class in placekicking, with 5 out of 6 successful, and Andy Martyn was tireless in his support play also. In the backs, Ricky McCormack had a solid game at first centre, and Eoghan McEvoy was secure at fullback.
This was a full team performance, with each player deserving great credit for refusing
to accept defeat. With one final league game remaining, the 3rds will be hoping to close out their campaign with a tenth win against Skerries in the Lodge. Date TBA. The McGee League trophy will be residing in the Lodge for the next season, and will hopefully be joined by the Anderson Cup before the season is over.
Boyne: Martyn, Shuttleworth, Doyle, Byrne, Keogh, McCreanor, Farrell, Fagan, B Walsh, A McEneaney, McCormack, F Walsh (C), Kelly, Dunne, McEvoy.