Longford lose out at the death in the Plate Semi-Final 2017-04-24 10:13:00

230317 Provincial Towns Plate Semi-Final Kilkenny 29 Longford 28

Longford bowed out of the Provincial Towns Plate at the semi-final stage when a stirring second half fight back came up just short.  Like Leinster who bowed out of the Champions cup later in the day, a slow start by Longford was what ultimately prevented Longford from making the Plate final for the second year in a row.

The opposition, Kilkenny, who plied their rugby in Division 1A, two divisions above Longford, when into the game as firm favourites and quickly imposed a speed of play that Longford had not often seen this season.  The conditions for the match staged in Portlaoise RFC, were quite good, although some early drizzle made the ball slippy at times.

This game from Longford’s point of view was a proverbial game of two halves, with Kilkenny going over twice in the first half to take a 14-0 lead.  Their first try was an unfortunate intercept as Longford looked to spread the ball wide and the second was from a great line up the middle with a hint of a forward pass.  Longford did not do a whole lot wrong in the first half but were guilty of some individual errors at crucial moments.

The half time break clearly came at the right for Longford who regrouped and had by far the best of the second half, where they imposed their game and structures on Kilkenny at a pace that unsettled the opposition.  Longford’s pressure yielded two penalties early in the second half to bring the score to 6-19.  This was built after a great try by full back Cormac Hughes who cut through the centre of the Kilkenny back line to close the gap to 11-19.  However, Kilkenny managed to respond with a try of their own.  However, Longford were undeterred and another penalty and try for Longford put Longford into the lead, 19-21, for the first time in the game with 15 minutes of play to go.

To their credit Kilkenny regrouped again and managed to get over for a try out wide, to leave the score at 26-21 moving into the closing stages.  Longford were not finished yet however and managed to go over in the corner after a great forward drive with Benny McManus touching down, followed by a great conversion to put Longford into a two point lead.  Unfortunately, Kilkenny managed to turnover Longford possession from the resulting kick off and were eventually awarded a penalty, which was duly converted to leave the final score 29-28 in Kilkenny’s favour.

It was a bitter end for Longford after a stirring second half comeback.  However, Longford can take a lot from this game and will now know that they can compete with one of early favourites for Division 1B next season; Kilkenny, after Longford’s promotion as Division 2A champions a few weeks ago.

Thank you to all our players, management, committee members and supporters over the season.  There is a clearly a lot to look to in Division 1B next year.

Two dates for your diary are that Longford are hosting the Leinster Junior v Ulster Junior game on Saturday May 13th and secondly the Club Awards night along with Derek Belton/Derek Bannon Memorial match will take placed on Friday May 19th.

Squad: K Rodgers, H Connolly, D Quinn, A Beirne, B McManus, J Geelan, B Stewart, P Gallogly, N Farrell, D McHugh, C Kennedy, C Glynn, S Rodgers, J McGowan, C Hughes, J Forde, P Treacy, L Brady, D Geelan & R Lee.

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