Big win for ’Stones

Vic­tory pro­vides breath­ing space in sev­enth po­si­tion

Wicklow People (Arklow) - - SPORT - at Dr Hickey Park

LO­CAL pride and four points were the prize for Grey­stones as they out­fought and outscored Black­rock RFC in a tense and scrappy Di­vi­sion 2A af­fair on Satur­day.

The wind was un­for­giv­ing as wingers Jack Keat­ing, Paudie Geoghe­gan and re­place­ment scrum-half Jason Cur­ran notched a try apiece for ‘Stones who se­cured breath­ing space in sev­enth place and closed the gap on sixth in the process.

For the first half, the hosts played into the wind but an act of na­ture like wind has no im­pact on Jack Keat­ing who, with the first minute yet to be com­pleted, broke free of the Black­rock shack­les and ran from his own half, toss­ing a cov­er­ing de­fender out of his path in the 22 like a plas­tic bag be­fore land­ing Kevin Lewis a dream start. Full-back Andrew Kealy added the two.

It was not the start to 2018 that Black­rock had been dream­ing of and they were un­der the cosh as they lost their first li­ne­out as well and were turned over in the eighth minute by a ram­pant Grey­stones side. The mo­men­tum quickly fiz­zled out though as Con Cal­lan trot­ted across the path of Kil­lian Marmion as he put boot to ball - he blocked the kick and got pe­nalised for off­side.

‘Rock kicked to touch in­side the Grey­stones 22’ and three min­utes later a grub­ber kick was dove upon by two home de­fend­ers as the de­fence stood tall - a rec­cur­ing theme through­out the af­ter­noon.

Amid the mucky con­di­tions, the blue and white stripes of Black­rock and the green and white stripes of Grey­stones could at times look sim­i­lar but nei­ther side seemed to have any problems and af­ter re­lent­less Black­rock pres­sure, they cashed in a penalty for three points.

It was an er­ror-strewn match in tricky con­di­tions and one such ex­am­ple al­most paved the way for a Black­rock try. Peter Quirke turfed a kick high into the air that his team-mates had no hope of get­ting to. Kealy should there­fore have felt no pres­sure as he came to meet it but he spilled it be­hind him and Hugh God­son Tracey so nearly prof­ited as he col­lected it. He was col­lared at the last se­cond, man­aged to off-load it but Grey­stones had re­cov­ered and snuffed out the threat.

The home de­fence fi­nally creaked in the 32nd minute as Black­rock prop Daryl Char­mant Dunne fur­rowed over at a two-yard ruck which was con­verted to hand the away side a 3-10 lead.

Black­rock al­most struck while the iron was hot as their right winger Mark Pren­der­gast scam­pered down the flank and tried a kickand-rush but he stum­bled out of play just as it got in­ter­est­ing.

In stop­page time, Grey­stones tried to force mat­ters with a kick but there was too much gusto on it and Black­rock caught it with ease. They then tried to build their own at­tack but a lapse of con­cen­tra­tion saw them prac­ti­cally hand the ball to Geoghe­gan - who looked as sur­prised as ev­ery­one else - but had the quick legs to go with his quick think­ing as he ac­cepted the late Christ­mas present.

The wind died down in the se­cond pe­riod to Grey­stones’ frus­tra­tion but they still stretched their lead to 19-10 mid­way through the half. Kil­lian Marmion faced two suc­ces­sive rash passes from the ruck but he made the most of it se­cond time around as ‘Stones broke through.

Two clever off­loads saw Cur­ran scam­per free and swivel over the line with Kealy again suc­ceed­ing from the tee.

Grey­stones went down to 14 men as Robin O’Sul­li­van was sin­binned and the pres­sure told as Black­rock crept in at the cor­ner with six min­utes to play to leave them­selves need­ing a con­verted try to pinch vic­tory.

And that is why Andrew Kealy’s won­der­ful 80th minute penalty was greeted with such rap­tur­ous ap­plause by the home crowd.

It was in it­self a fan­tas­tic ef­fort but it se­cured vic­tory and de­nied Black­rock a los­ing bonus point to boot.

Grey­stones: Andrew Kealy, Jack Keat­ing, Con Cal­lan, David Baker, Paudie Geoghe­gan, Kil­lian Marmion, Andy Roberts; Cian Maguire, Ben Tou, Conor Pearse, Oisin Len­non, Barry Fitz­patrick, Cor­mac O’Donoghue, Robin O’Sul­li­van, Mick Doyle.

Michael Doyle puts down Alan Fran­cis dur­ing the Grey­stones v Black­rock clash.

Oisin Len­non clears the danger for Grey­stones.

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