Carlow let 31 point lead slip but hang on to beat De La Salle Palmerston in the Leinster League

The last 20 minutes was squeaky bum time for Carlow supporters

County Carlow – 40
De La Salle Palmerston – 31

In this Leinster League fixture against Dublin side De La Salle Palmerston (DLSP) at Oak Park on De La Salle PalmerstonSunday, Carlow raced into a 31 – 0 lead but at the end of the game they were relieved to escape with a 40 – 31 win.

The last 20 minutes was squeaky bum time for Carlow supporters after DLSP had run in 4 converted tries and twice the visitors only needed a 7 pointer to take the lead.

“We possibly got the four try bonus point too early and then mentally switched off allowing DLSP into the game” said coach Corey Carty.

However he was adamant that the Carlow display for the first 35 minutes was the best that the team had played all year. “We bossed the scrums and lineouts and were sharp and clinical in everything we did. This dominance disappeared in the 2nd half and we will definitely have to work on our defence for next week” acknowledged the Oak Park side’s coach.

Carlow’s 1st try came in the 12th minute when Ross Elmes touched down at the back of a scrum pushover. Elmes quickly added another try when he picked a ball from a DLSP fumble and sped in from 22 metres.

On 30 minutes Richard Whyte added a 3rd try after good runs from wingers Calum Murphy on the right and Sam Cullen on the left. Within 4 minutes scrumhalf Isaac Daly darted in for the fourth and bonus point try. Again within another 4 minutes winger Sam Cullen broke free on his own 22 and ran all the way to the DLSP line to score Carlow’s fifth and final try, all achieved in the first 33 minutes.

Richard Whyte goaled 3 of the 5 tries to give the home side what looked like an unassailable 31 – nil lead. A happy day for Carlow rugby!

But in the last seven minutes of the first half DLSP got in for 2 converted tries scored by winger David Beagon and their best player, scrumhalf Alejandro Laforga. Both were converted by outhalf Ian Burke to leave the half time score; visitors 14, home team 31 pts. Suddenly it was game-on.

It was even more game on when the visitors got the next score, a try by substitute back row David Quirke. With the conversion, the gap narrowed to 10 pts and DLSP’s introduction of new hooker Matthew Gill seemed to correct their problems both in the scrum and in the lineout feeds.

The young Dublin side began to win more of the collisions. Lock Neil Mitchell, who hails from Dunlavin, won a lot of lineout ball and Carlow were forced onto the back foot for most of the second half. During this period DLSP didn’t look like a team propping up the table.

However they were undone by a number of dropped passes which Carlow players rooted up the field. This led to Carlow being awarded penalties within sight of the visitor’s posts. With the 4 try bonus point secured Carlow captain Richard Whyte ignored kicks to the corner and successfully goaled three late penalties to keep his side ahead. These three penalties were Carlow’s only scores in the final 47 minutes.

In between, the visitors, down to 14 men, managed to score another well worked try by their full back Conor Joyce and a penalty by outhalf Ian Burke. But it wasn’t enough to counter the home side’s big points total bagged at the start of the match.

Ordinarily two such contrasting halves of scoring would be linked to a gale force wind but on Sunday the weather was a doldrum like calm. The only issue was the frost in the ground which led to the match being moved from the main pitch to the top pitch at Oak Park. Next weekend Carlow will play Longford in Oak Park, in a match cancelled last week due to the passing of former Carlow club President Jack Chatten.

Carlow team

Daithi Murphy, Calum Murphy, Pat Connors, Richard Whyte Capt, Sam Cullen, Fionnan Burke, Isaac Daly , Owen Edgehill, Evan Gordon, Ross Byrne, Wes Shirley, Thomas Whitney, Rhys Edgehill, John Murphy, Ross Elmes.

Subs, Larry McGrath, John Lyons, Jack Hickey, John Whyte, Jeff McDermott.

DLSP team

Conor Joyce, David Beagon, Ian O Connor, Michael Cooke, Fionan Leahy, Ian Burke, Alejandro Laforga, Ronan Merriman, Jack Farrelly, Morgan Merriman, Neil Mitchell, Theodore Hovenden Kelly, Mark Hogan, Matt Curran, Niall Stapleton

Subs, Matthew Gill, Ryan Fitzgerald, Aidan Walsh, David Quirke, Daniel Hogan.

Stephen Byrne

Stephen Byrne is the Head of Sport and News in KCLR96FM. He's an avid rugby fan and can be seen frequenting Leinster and local clubs games. He loves his GAA too and is a former hurler and footballer and stood between the posts for his home club of Kiltegan for many years. He's also a Man U fan for his troubles and shouts for Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.
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