LETTERKENNY RFC UNDER-18’s continue their unbeaten run with a hard-earned victory in Carrickfergus on Saturday last.
Carrickfergus 0-33 Letterkenny RFC
This away fixture was always going to be a real challenge and so it transpired. Played in near gale force conditions with a dramatically strict referee resulted in a disjointed opening by the visitors. The loss of pack leader and influential No 8 Joseph Dunleavy to injury in the first minute of the game also added to the challenge.
Photo caption: Martin Molloy on the charge for Letterkenny RFC in their win at Carrickfergus on Saturday.
Conditions dictated a forward battle and Carrickfergus were much the better unit in the opening half. They employed their big ball carriers close in but Letterkenny defended well. Martin Molloy moved into the pivotal No 8 role and had an outstanding game.
He led the defensive line and was well supported by Daragh Taol at openside flanker and Chris Green who came on for Dunleavy and slotted in at blindside.
Letterkenny were unable to take full advantage of the wind in the first-half as their ruck ball was slow and laboured. Jack McGarvey worked wonders to secure any form of possession and did very well in his first start of the season at scrum half.
Out-half Peter Scott did well with the limited supply of ball but was unable to get his back line moving as the Carrickfergus defence was up very quickly. The only breakthrough of the first half came when full back Eunan Henry gathered a long clearance and had his mind made up to counter attack.
This he did to superb effect with a great run that brought him to the opposition 22. He managed to pop the ball out of the tackle to his supporting open side wing forward Daragh Toal who left the home defence in his wake to score under the posts.
A difference of opinion between Scott and the referee in the lead up to the simple conversion resulted in the kick not taking place and a penalty being awarded to Carrickfergus 10 metres inside Letterkenny’s half of the pitch. Letterkenny maintained their composure to see out a fragmented and frustrating half to lead 5 -0.
Half-time allowed much needed quiet reflection and this seemed to work wonders as Letterkenny started the second with more control and higher tempo.
The forwards, led by John Fogarty and Diarmiud Gallagher, began to get over the gain line with ball in hand and their off loading game soon had Carrickfergus under sustained pressure for the first time. The crucial score arrived after a great break by Molloy and supported by the dynamic David Ward.
Ben Khavia delivered quick ball to Scott who found inside centre Daniel Faulkner taking a great line to beat the home defence and touch down under the posts. This time the conversion was allowed to be taken and Scott made no mistake. The pressure continued and resulted in a five-metre scrum on the 15-metre line after a ferocious tackle by Oisin Toal. Molloy picked and gave to Khavia who floated a long pass out to midfield where Daniel Faulkner pounced for a carbon copy of his first try.
The home team then began to tire and the fitter Letterkenny team found more space to allow their back line attack. Winger Adam Boal Quinn came close and was held up just short of the line.
Tight head prop Douglas Doyle arrived in support and powered over for a great score which was surprisingly disallowed as the referee had not seen the grounding. This was indeed unfortunate as Doyle was having a great game upon his return from injury.
Try number four was created by Faulkner when he cut the home defence wide open and put Stephen Holmes away with a well disguised reverse pass. Holmes still had plenty to do but was not going to be stopped for a well deserved score. The best was kept to last when Molloy took the resultant drop off at speed on his own 22-metre line and went on a typical care free run with Taol again in support to take a nice pass on the half way line.
Quick hands to Faulkner allowed him to put Matthew Faulkner into space on the left wing and the outside centre sprinted clear of the drift defence to score under the posts.
The final score of 33-0 does not reflect how tough a game this was. The home team competed very well for 60 minutes and certainly coped much better with the conditions in the first half.
Letterkenny can be satisfied how they dealt with the loss of Joseph Dunleavy so early in the game and how all squad members contributed when brought into play.
Great credit has to go to the pack who worked very hard and adjusted to the interpretation of the rules being implemented on the day. Daragh Taol and Martin Molloy were both outstanding in the back row while the mid field combination of Faulkner, Faulkner and Oisin Taol caused real damage when required. Ben Khavia showed great composure when introduced and Peter Scott made all the right calls.
Undefeated and still improving, Letterkenny have earned their right to sit top of the Ulster Under-18 league and now face into the second half of the campaign with a very tough away game against Rainey on Saturday next.
Letterkenny RFC: Douglas Doyle, Stephen Holmes, David Ward, Diarmiud Gallagher, John Fogarty, Martin Molloy, Daragh Toal, Joseph Dunleavy, Jack McGarvey, Peter Scott, Oisin Toal, Daniel Faulkner (Captain), Matthew Faulkner, Adam Boal Quinn, Eunan Henry, Chris Green, Ben Khavia, Stephen Holmes, Connor Cannon, Josh Smeaton and Callum Reid.
Letterkenny Rugby Club in association with main sponsor Kelly’s Toyota, Port Rd., Letterkenny.Tags: