Plenty of positives
Lewis happy despite defeat away to strong MU Barnhall
GREYSTONES fell to a 25-18 defeat away to MU Barnhall in Round 2 of the Energia Community Series Leinster conference 2, in blustery Kildare last Saturday.
High flyers in Division 2A of the All Ireland League last season and looking dead certs for a second successive promotion to Division 1B before Covid brought a halt to their ambitions last season, MU Barnhall, formed as an amalgamation of Maynooth University and Barnhall RFC ten years ago, were always going to present a stern test for Kevin Lewis’s charges.
The opening exchanges played out to form with the home side looking strong across the park, taking just three minutes to get the scoreboard moving. From the first scrum of the afternoon the Barnhall pack sought to set down a marker with a strong drive that pushed ’Stones back on their heels conceding a penalty that was easily converted from in front of the posts.
The Wicklow men were not ready to sit back and from the restart increased the pressure on their hosts pinning them back into their 22 and forcing a couple of penalties. Playing with positive intent, captain Killian Marmion passed up the opportunity to kick for goal and instead opted for a line out five meters out. With hooker Ben Pentland throwing accurate darts to the back of the lineout, Alan Dempsey secured clean ball and the pack drove at the line with Barnhall defending relentlessly but illegally. With the referee signaling another penalty advantage, Barnhall killed the ball and once again Marmion opted for the positive option and kicked to
In a repeat play, Dempsey rose unopposed and secured clean ball at the back of the lineout. This time scrum half Jay Curran varied the play as Greystones probed the line for gaps going through the phases with the forwards picking and driving before Curran spotted the elusive gap himself to dive over
to score. Marmion’s conversion attempt drifted wide of the posts in the strong wind.
The advantage gained was short lived. From the restart Barnhall played into the Greystones half and after a series of plays left wing Adam Chester was quickest to react to a ball played through and behind the Greystones defence to
touch down in the corner.
Greystones reacted strongly and added their second try five minutes later.
Once again ’Stones pressure forced a penalty that Marmion opted to play into the corner and once again Dempsey secured clean ball from Pentlands accurate throwing. This time the half backs played it differently and moved quick ball from the ruck through the hands from Curran to Marmion and a long ball out to Nick Quirke on the wing who caught the defence napping to dive in at the corner.
Playing with confidence Greystones kept their hosts pinned back into their half.
With thirty minutes on the clock second row Chris Simmonds made a powerful break gaining thirty meters before he was dragged down deep in the opposition 22, Curran recycled fast ball that passed through half a dozen pairs of hands with a neat interchange between Kealy and Cormac O’Donoghue creating a gaping hole in the Barnhall defence allowing Kealy feed Quirke for an easy run in.
The strong wind made kicking difficult and once again the conversion drifted wide.
Barnhall gave notice of the type of form that saw them go undefeated though 2019 as centre Conor Lacey evaded a series of tackles to run in strongly from 25 meters for the hosts second try leaving a narrow advantage to ’Stones at the break with a 13-15 scoreline.
Early in the second half, Andrew Kealy, kicking with the wind, landed a penalty to extend the lead to five points but a strong finish by the Barnhall pack saw second row Cathal Duffy power over from close range twice for two late tries within two minutes of each other to turn the result in the hosts favour at the death and a final score of 25-18.
Coach Kevin Lewis will have been very pleased with the performance against a very strong home side despite the result and will look forward to the visit of Wanderers to Dr Hickey Park in round three next Saturday.
In a double header the Greystones and MU Barnhall second teams faced off after the senior fixture and ’Stones gained a degree of revenge with an 8-3 win thanks to a try by Danny Norse and penalty from Ross Nicholl. GREYSTONES 1ST XV: Matt O’Brien, Ferdia Kenny, Andrew Kealy, Mark Meyler, Nick Quirke, Killian Marmion, Jay Curran, Mick Doyle, Cormac O’Donoghue, Alan Dempsey, Eoin Marmion, Chris Simmonds, Conor Pearse, Ben Pentland, Ivanhoe Takatai. Replacements: Michael Douglas, Darragh Higgins, Mark Smith, Alex Ryan, Jamie Dempsey.
Nick Quirke crosses for his second try for Greystones in their defeat to MU Barnhall last weekend.