Longford Senior Men Power to Midland League Title   30/12/2018

291218 PST Sport Chris Glennon Midland League Final Longford 31 Edenderry 10

By Tommy Butler Longford RFC PRO

Longford Senior Men overcame a tough Edenderry challenge to retain the Chris Glennon Midland League Trophy and secure their first title of the season.  The match was played in Tullamore with the Shield match between Tullamore and the Midland Warriors as a curtain raiser, with Tullamore emerging as victors 10-09.  Based on relative league places, with Longford playing two divisions above Edenderry and Longford’s great early league form, which sees them sitting in second place going into 2019, all the pressure was on the men in black to secure the title.  Coach Glenn Baskett named an experimental side with a number of new combinations, especially in the back line based around a strong forward pack and it was the forward pack that ultimately delivered the victory with strong carrying and extremely powerful scrummaging.

It looked like Longford were going to secure a comfortable win in the early exchanges when Benny McManus crashed over after only two minutes for a converted try following a great break down the wing and carry from full back Conor Seery.  However, Edenderry had other ideas and largely dominated for the next twenty-five minutes.  They exerted a lot of pressure on the Longford line with a mixture of good organisation and last ditch defence keeping them at bay.  However, on the ten minute mark a well executed set piece move saw Edenderry Full Back Evan Kelly cutting through the Longford defence out wide and evading the cover to go over for a converted try to draw the sides level.

Edenderry kept the pressure on Longford and were rewarded when Longford gave away a penalty at the rook, which was knocked through the Longford posts to put Edenderry into the lead.  At this stage Edenderry were looking good value for their slender lead and Longford really needed to up their intensity and show why they are operating at the top of Division 1B.  Longford certainly delivered on this requirement and a 10 minute blitz before half time secured them the Midland League Title.  There were two great tries for the purists via powerful scrummaging from Longford.  Firstly, Longford were awarded a scrum 10 metres out from the Edenderry line.  They turned on the power and with the Edenderry scrum retreating at a rate of noughts towards their own line, the Edenderry scrum collapsed leaving the referee with no alterative but to award Longford a penalty try, to put them back on front 14-10.  The second was in a similar position on the other side of the pitch but this time Longford drove Edenderry back from their own put in with No.8 Paul Gallogly touching down.

The two forwards tries were divided by a fine try from Longford inside centre Ian McCormack who crossed the whitewash after a great step enabled by a fine team build up with good forwarding carries allied with enterprising running by the backs.  Longford went into half time with a big 26-10 lead and the main task was to combine getting as many of the panel on the pitch along with maintaining the level of intensity shown at the end of the first half.

However, to their credit Edenderry lifted their game and made a great battle of the second half, which was a very even affair, although Longford will have been disappointed not to have converted a few good opportunities.  Longford rounded off the match in the best possible way with a nice try down the tramline by wing Shane Farrell to leave the final score 31-10.

Neal Farrell was presented with the inaugural ‘Chris Glennon’ Midland League Trophy by the Glennon family.  The trophy was donated in memory of their father, Chris, who was a popular member of Tullamore RFC and the Midland League and did great work for rugby in the Midlands.

Overall, Longford should be happy with the performance given the great forward power shown and the opportunity to test some new combinations.  Focus will now quickly move back to the Leinster League where Longford welcome third placed Monkstown to CPL Park next Sunday in a crucial match, which could go a long way to deciding who will challenge first placed Suttonians for league honours.  This will be followed by two more home fixtures with DLSP visiting CPL Park in the League and Cill Dara in the first round of the Provincial Towns Cup.

Longford Squad: P O’Gorman, P Dardis, D Quinn, A Hughes, B McManus, J Geelan, H Connolly, P Gallogly, N Farrell (C), R Shaw, S Farrell, I McCormack, S Rodgers, R McHugh, C Seery, J Forde, S Murphy, D Gilmore, L Connolly, B Hanley, M Cullen & B Stewart.

Post Game Reaction from Longford Head Coach Glenn Baskett

“The first of 5 knockout games in the coming weeks for the group started in Tullamore v Edenderry Sunday. That is how we are approaching these five weeks. While we are taking each game at a time there is a real focus on how important each game is. Originally we were looking to the Edenderry game to use our wider group as an opportunity to look at our whole playing group, but we felt after the Carlow performances (and the importance of the Monkstown game) we had to use the midland league final as a chance to look at how we could play better, how we can get more from the group.

But that said we put a very youthful backline out yesterday and the boys didn’t disappoint in their effort. I don’t like to publicly single out guys because it’s the boys that do the unseen work that make the others look good, but we thought Shane Farrell was a real threat going forward, and new signing Conor Seery showed glimpses of what he can add to the group. Robbie Shaw looked calm out there, we thought Ian McCormack was a real threat at the line.

But the experience of the pack was huge at set piece time. The scrum was really dominate, and that’s an effort from the 8.

And when you look at how these young guys, 18/19 slotting in with the experienced heads it gives us coaches real questions. And when you see some of these young guys from last year’s 18’s like Brian Hanley picking up his 4th medal this year it’s exciting for the group.

But saying that our thinking would be that we don’t want these guys to be great players to make it a great team, we want them to be the best that they can be at their job to contribute to the performance of the team.

So it was good yesterday to win the cup but there was guys not used yesterday that would have played in earlier rounds of the comp to get us to the final and that’s why it’s about the 20+, the Back Boners we call them, because without them none of what we are doing works.

Now we turn the page and we have already started to look at our next knockout game, Monkstown.”