Skerries play their full part in try bonanza
ON a beautiful night for rugby in front of a very big crowd at Holmpatrick on Friday, Skerries and MU Barnhall served up a remarkable 14-try spectacular which ebbed and flowed throughout the 80plus minutes.
Skerries made changes from the previous week’s Dungannon match, which ended in a narrow defeat, with Paul O’loghlen, Ruari Woods and Ben Jenkinson all starting, and the Goats scored in the first minute after some brilliant continuity play finished off by Ruari.
Barnahll responded with a converted try after five minutes and followed this up with another seven-pointer on 10 minutes. However, just four minutes later - after another impressive move O’loghlen put another try on the board for Skerries, converted by Billy Mulcahy.
For the next 10 minutes Skerries got a foothold in the match and Mulcahy converted two penalties to leave Skerries leading 18-14.
What happened in the 10 minutes leading up to half-time had Skerries supporters scratching their heads in disbelief as MU Barnhall scored four unconverted tries - all coming from turnovers when Skerries were in strong attacking positions.
The MU Barnhall back row were excellent and their number 8 Tom Mckeown outstanding during this spell and at the interval the score stood at 34-18 in favour of the visitors.
Despite excellent first-half performances from AJ Sherlock, Ben Jenkinson and Michael Turvey, Skerries were shell-shocked and they brought on Ross Dempsey and Eoghan Carron for the second half.
Five minutes in, however, Barnhall scored a converted try - their seventh of the game - and at 41-18 it now looked like the match was over for Skerries, but the boys refused to lie down and with Barnhall’s Mckeown being sin-binned the tide completely turned.
Tries from AJ Sherlock (2) and Woods, all converted by Mulcahy, brought the score to 41-39 in MU Barnhall’s favour with 15 minutes to go.
The return of the opposition number 8 had a huge bearing on the closing stages of the game and they scored an unconverted try and a penalty to stretch their lead back to 10 points going into injury time - 49-39.
But again Skerries would not lie down. They refused to kick a penalty in front of the posts in the dying minutes of the game and instead took a quick penalty, and after several phases of play Carron scored a try to give the home team a second bonus point.
Alas, there was no time to mount one last attack in search of what would have been a truly astonishing victory.
All in all it was an excellent example of how rugby should be played, and the coaching staff on both sides need to be complimented. This young Skerries side showed huge resolution and there were several star performers. The front row of Marrey, Leonard and Sherwin worked tirelessly throughout the match and the scrum was much improved. Ben Jenkinson tackled and supported all night, the back row of Mcauley, Turvey and Murphy were outstanding.
The backs all played well at various stages, particularly Mulcahy and Woods in the first half, and Mulcahy’s place kicking was excellent. Captain Mikey Sherlock and Mcgrath had a tough first half in the centre but refused to lie down.
Goodman, Devitt and O’loghlen all showed what they can do in attack and all the Skerries substitutions made an impact particularly Dempsey.
The two outstanding players on the pitch on the night were the Barnhall No 8 Mckeown and Skerries’ AJ Sherlock. AJ had an outstanding match both defensively and in attack, his workrate was huge and his ability to run good lines resulted in his two excellent tries.
SKERRIES: P O’loghlen; P Devitt, K Mcgrath, M Sherlock, D Goodman; B Mulcahy, R Woods; C Marrey, K Leonard, J Sherwin; AJ Sherlock, B Jenkinson; M Turvey, B Murphy, R Mcauley. Replacements: S Derring, T Scuffil, P O’neill, E Carron, R Dempsey.