By John Shirley
Carlow 17 Railway Union 15
Carlow’s crucial Leinster League win over fellow table toppers Railway Union at Oakpark on Sunday bore shades of Leinster’s win over Exeter the previous day in the Aviva stadium.
Carlow too had to come from behind in a game of huge intensity. Indeed at one stage when Carlow trained by 12 points to nil, it looked as it might be the Dublin side’s day.
The home team took the field without four regular starters but they still mounted all the early pressure. Strong carries by Gorman, Nolan, Byrne and Lyons made good ground with really getting into the red zone of the Railway Union tryline. After seven minutes Robert Browne was wide with a penalty.
After 14 minutes of surviving constant Carlow possession and pressure, two penalties got the visitors into the Carlow half for the 1st time. From their lineout Railway Union passed the ball wide, Carlow backs seemed disjointed. A gap opened for centre Richard McMickam to run in untouched for an easy try which was converted by outhalf Niall Kirby.
Carlow forwards continued to dominate but on 30 minutes the home crowd was stunned by another Railway Union try. Fullback Colm Driver fielded a wayward Carlow kick in his own half. Sprinting away he jinked by a couple of would-be tacklers and made it all the way to the tryline in the corner. Kirby was narrowly wide with the far out conversion a miss that was to prove important in the final scoreline.
Again the home side carried the game to the visitors. In the final play of the first half, Simon Walshe made ground out the field to set up a ruck. From this more ground was made by Elmes and Shirley who got close to the tryline. Here another ruck was formed from which the powerful Joe Gorman barrelled in for a try. Browne’s conversion meant that Carlow reached half time down by 12 – 7 and very much back in this game.
Carlow spent the first 15 minutes of the second half camped around the visitors 22. But while home side were dominant in scrums and Wes Shirley was causing havoc in lineouts, Railway Union were meeting fire with fire in tackling Carlow’s once off runners. Also Railway’s backs looked dangerous at all times.
15 minutes into the half the home side pressure was finally rewarded. After a lineout in the corner Carlow were driven back 10 metres before making forward progress. They were stopped short of the line several times, but the visitors were scarce on their right. Wes Shirley spotted this and offloaded to Simon Walshe who had plenty of space to get in for a try. Again Browne goaled to put the home side ahead for the 1st time.
Within two minutes the visitors were back in the lead from a long range penalty kicked by Niall Kirby.
With tensions riding high and no let up in the confrontations, the referee yellow carded Railway’s Kirby and Carlow’s Jeff McDermott following a skirmish 20 minutes into the half.
The penalty went Carlow’s way but it was 35 metres out and well to the right of the posts. Up stepped Carlow’s 19 year old full back to plant the ball sweetly between the posts. Carlow led 17 – 15.
For most of the final 20 minutes of the game Carlow piled the pressure on the visitors line. Kickable penalties were turned down in favour of kicks to the corner. Carlow were trying to deny Railway a losing bonus point but the Dubliners showed excellent defence and in the final minute broke out to attack the Carlow line.
In the final seconds the visitors outhalf was shaping up for a drop kick only to be submerged by the onrushing home defence. In the melee the ball went forward and the final whistle was sounded.
Speaking after the match the clearly delighted Carlow coach Stephen Ashmore said that his team were excellent today especially with four teenagers in the backline. However he added that nothing is won yet and that there will be lots of work to do in the new year.
Rob Browne, Sam Dunne, , Lir McDonald, Simon Walshe, Johnny Murphy, John Whyte, Jeff McDermott, Larry McGrath, (Capt) Joe Gormon, Alan Byrne, John Lyons, Wes Shirley, Niall Bermingham, Ross Elmes, James Nolan.
Subs; Evan Gordon, Timmy O Donoghue, Andrew Hanley, Ed Keating
Colm Driver, Joshua Fallon, Richard McMickam, Richard McElwee, Ivan Castro, Niall Kirby, Paul Hurst, Don Kinsella, Lorcan King, Joe Redmond, Kieran O Riordan, Darragh Killeen, Enda Kelly, Adam Quinlan, John Gavin.
Subs; Colm Jackson, James Fisher, Rory Dunne, Trent Moran.
Carlow 14 Railway Union 29
Carlow seconds suffered their second defeat of the season going down by 29 – 14 to the visitors Railway Union.
Indeed it was well into the second half before the home side began to show any real grit and initiative.
By this stage Railway were 26 points to nil ahead. Two tries in quick succession raised hopes of a Carlow comeback but it was the visitors that got the final score via a penalty.
Carlow’s scoring included tries by Martin Mullins and Dean Hayden converted by Liam Slater.
Carlow 2nds now lie second to Railway Union and 5 points behind them. However it is the placing of the Junior 1 teams which will determine Leinster League promotion.
Cormac Walsh, Paul Byrne, Martin Mullins, Rudi Corcoran, Dean Hayden, Tom Bolger, Liam Slater, Ross Byrne, Evan Gordon, Zac Fitzhenry, Owen Edgehill, Gavin Whitney, Timmy O Donoghue, William Whitford, Fred Leonard
Subs Michael Sheerin, Anthony Mannion, Eddie Barron, Peter Cassidy, Matt Murray
Carlow Coyotes 13 Rathdrum 10
A try in the final play of the game gained the Carlow Coyotes women’s team a 13 -10 point victory over visitors Rathdrum at Oakpark on Sunday.
This win puts the Coyotes in a better position to compete for a top four play-off placing in their section of the AIL come the end of the season.
The winning try was scored by centre Rebecca Mullen after the forwards had won turnover ball following a Rathdrum scrum.
The Coyotes entered this game without four regular starters. At half time the visitors were 3 – nil ahead with their score coming from a penalty.
This was cancelled by a Carlow penalty converted by Saoirse Fitzhenry early in the second half.
A try by Carlow’s Bethany Sharpe plus a Rathdrum converted try meant that Carlow were still down 10 – 8 as the final whistle approached.
However the Carlow pack, which had been dominant all day, made a final heave which delivered the late late winning try.
Maureen Young, Louise Conville, Bethany Sharpe, Rebecca Mullen, Kerri Doyle, Saoirse Fitzhenry, Aisling Brosnan, Erin Byrne, Fiona Cantwell, Tanala Keogh, Rebecca Smyth, Joyce Mahon, Catriona Cassidy, Keeva Ownens, Jenny Ardill,
Subs Doireann Bashford, Jackie Costigan, Lisa O Malley.