Longford suffer pre-Christmas set back in the league   20/12/2017

17/12/17 Leinster League Division 2A Longford 10 Kilkenny 12

Longford suffered a pre Christmas setback when they lost out to a visiting Kilkenny by two points in a very demanding clash at CPl Park.

Sunday’s game was a test of where with the two teams contending for the same bearth in the league wanted to position themselves. This is a league where two wins can completely change the fortunes of the clubs involved.

Longford’s loss pushed them down to fourth spot, Kilkenny now three points above them, Suttonians two over them and Tullow three clear of the nearest chaser.

The opening salvos all came from Longford. The home team flexed in an effort to show their guests that this was going to be a tough one.

Early well timed tackles from Kieran O’Gorman and Colm Glynn were issued as a notice of intent to let Kilkenny know that the pride of place this team have for CPL Park takes physical form.

The home team had a lot of early possession; however, the probes failed to find a gap. The first ten minutes fizzed by, notwithstanding the intensity the soft going slowing down the overall pace.

High number of handling errors meant that the packs were clashing with a degree of regularity. All the early scrums saw Longford bossing the opponents off the ball, but as the contest wore on the visitors started to get the upper hand.

Although Longford showed all the attacking threats of the first quarter it was Kilkenny who had the first real chance of a score. A very fluid piece of play unlocked the home defence enough to see a black clad centre Sally through, the surface was as much his undoing as the scrambling defenders brought him to a halt. In that mill the ref pulled Longford for tackler not releasing.

Full back Rory McInerney was the designated kicker and he opted for the shot at goal, but the very kickable penalty was missed. Five minutes later it was Longford kicker Joe McGowan who had his chance as kicker. A no arms tackle was the infringement and McGowan used the opportunity to put his side ahead 03-00 by pinging the pill in off the post.

Four minutes later the kicker had another swing at target practice, however this the tackle penalty was not converted.

All the while the see saw swung and it took a moment of brilliance by Liam O’Hallahan to make a decisive change to the games complexion. The winger burned his counterpart before switching attacking line. As he made his way across the pitch McGowan cut a lovely opposing line, took the pop pass and scored close to the posts. The winger then added the extras to leave his side 10-00 with 33 minutes gone.

With 40 gone on the clock Longford suffered a critical lapse in concentration. Half time oranges must have been on their minds as visiting centre Padraic Malone sauntered thought the Longford line to finish off a move that had stretched Longford in a way that Kilkenny had been unable to in the previous 40 minutes. McInerney was unable to make the conversion county so the home team had a 10-5 advantage at the break.

Longford’s intention to advance their lead was in full display at the restart. However the steady progress forward saw an intercept by Kilkenny winger Liam Caddy smash that intent. Caddy’s intercept was only part of his industry as he stepping three players to cut in under the post. His reward was to kick the conversion and that put his side ahead 10-12.

As the clock ticked on Kilkenny’s physical advantage started to come into play. Longford continued to be the more threatening, Glynn showed great spatial awareness to use the advantage call to chip the defence and gather, but all the efforts ultimately broke down. Even a penalty shot at goal refused to go over.

This was a back to the drawing board loss for Longford. An examination of the errors will take place, but that will have to be tempered with the observation that but for the throw of the dice Longford could have been the ones taking the spoils in this clash.

On a day when open play was a rare commodity the efforts of Brendan J McManus, Dylan Quinn, Derek Farrell and Ronan Keith should have seen a greater return on investment. The team will enjoy a bit of a break now and a trip to Clondalkin in early January will next on the agenda.

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