Leinster League Division 1B: Longford 14 Clondalkin 16 CPL Park, Longford.
Longford compounded their poor run of form by suffering a second injury time loss in two weeks. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory is a disease that appears to have infected this team. Longford have slumped to five defeats in a row leaving themselves second from bottom, only above whipping boy Carlow.
Going into this game Clondalkin were just ahead of Longford in the table on 13 points with Longford on 11. The Dubliners trek down the N4 to CPL Park should have been money in the bank for Longford but a poor final quarter saw the visitors score 13 points to steal the game.
Longford had a good record against Clondalkin in the last few seasons. The visitors traditionally play a forward based game and the strength of Longford’s pack should have been the deal sealer. But the brilliant start to the season and the supremacy shown in the first three quarters of every game all seems to melt away in the home straight.
Longford’s first score came ten minutes in when a ruck infringement was spotted by the ref, with the official’s arm raised outhalf Colm Glynn took a pop at the posts, the effort went just inches wide, but when the penalty was given about 30 metres out and to the left the aim was true.
Longford first score caused them to redouble their efforts and they pressed Clondalkin back inside their 22. That pressure continued for about three minutes and a poorly executed one arm tackle by a Clondalkin gave another drop-kick opportunity. Again the ref brought it back for the penalty and even though the weather conditions had deteriorated the position had improved. Glynn was again on target and the home side had a well deserved lead of 6-0 with just 13 minutes gone.
The Dublin visitors knew that this one could be out of their reach very quickly if the Longford threat started to be realised. The got a respite when Longford were penalised for the use of hands in the ruck. Centre Chris Jebb stepped to the mark and converted a very difficult penalty into points leaving it 6-3.
The second quarter was all Longford. The inventiveness and attacking threat was all from the home side. A kick by Glynn followed up by himself and Brendan Fagan resulted in a quick turnover and Barry Trueick brought the ball into Clondalkin’s danger zone. The defending of the Dublin team was admirable and they continued to hold Longford out against the odds. The final score of the half came as the 40 had elapsed and Longford were awarded a penalty just inside the Clondalkin half for a high tackle on Dylan Quinn. Barry Trueick raised a the officials flags and a huge cheer from the home crowd as he added the final three points of the half to leave the score 9-3 at the break.
Clondalkin started the second half well. A very clever short kick over the Longford line by Judd released his speedy centre partner. Ciaran Kennedy ran from deep to get in a miraculous tackle, but the slick underfoot conditions resulted in the fullback sustaining a nasty injury. Longford had to re-jig the deckchairs to to make things fit. Ronan Keith came in for Huby Connolly and Connolly was moved to centre with David Fagan moving to full back.
For a period Longford looked even sharper. A fine break by Derek Farrell, augmented by and Paul Gallogly brought Longford very close to the visitor’s try-line. The pressure of the relentless Longford attack finally resulted in a penalty, but the deteriorating conditions played a part in the failure to convert.
A series of attacks by the men in black looked like they were were going to give Longford a first home try in quite a while, but every time Clondalkin seemed to be doing just enough. It was D Farrell the eventually unlocked the Clondalkin defence. It started with an opportune break through the centre after he shook off three tacklers before making a break, Hubie Connolly came in support and the ball was worked wide before James O’Connell touched down for a well deserved try. With two thirds of the game over Longford lead by 14-3.
Then Longford succumbed to the affliction that has been infecting them the last few games. After sixty minutes of dominance and superiority they gave Clondalkin enough wriggle room to make their way back into the match. Two excellently kicked penalties by Jebb for a high tackle and an offside call brought the visitors to within five points as the 40 elapsed. With two minutes of the injury time played Clondalkin stuck the knife in. Penalties brought them from inside their own 22 to the home side’s 22. There good tight pack play sucked in the Longford defence, before the ball was moved wide where fullback Steven Cunningham went over to tie things up.
Jebb’s conversion put the Clondalkin ahead where they remained for the final three minutes. This was another one that Longford let get away. The Dubliners have now jumped a place to forth. Longford for their sins are quarantined in seventh. Longford are going to need a stellar performance in CPL Park next week against Carlow and hope that Clondalkin can use their home advantage against Portarlington to start travelling in the right direction on the league table.
John Duffy, Hubie Connolly, Dylan Quinn, Clifford Richardson, Barry Stewart, Brendan Fagan, Paul Gallogly, Derek Farrell, Neil Farrell, Colm Glynn, David Fagan, James O’Connor, Jimmy Connolly, Barry Trueick, Ciaran Kennedy.
Ian Farrell, Ronan Keith, Colin O’Brien, Peter Mimnagh, George McDermott.