Grey­stones off to a win­ning start for new sea­son

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - LE­IN­STER SNR LGE at Spol­len­stown

GREY­STONES fi­nally kicked off their 2019/20 sea­son with a hard­fought win away to Tullamore in Divi­sion 2 of the Le­in­ster Se­nior League on Satur­day.

With the start of the do­mes­tic sea­son pushed back by about a month due to the Rugby World Cup this was the first oc­ca­sion Head Coach Kevin Lewis had to see what is a much-changed side since the end of last sea­son take to the field.

Cap­tained this year by Kil­lian Marmion who fea­tured strongly at out half last year but lin­ing out on the wing to make way for young Matt O’Brien at ten, Lewis clearly used this match to in­te­grate debu­tants and try out new com­bi­na­tions ahead of the All Ire­land League that kicks off on Oc­to­ber 5.

It was no sur­prise that a set­tled Tullamore side struck first with a penalty on three min­utes but with Dan Mau’u, a 148kg New Zealand Prop and for­mer youth player Dar­ragh Hig­gins re­turn­ing to the club fol­low­ing stints with Dublin Univer­sity and Old Belvedere both mak­ing their first starts in the pack it was the fa­mil­iar face of for­mer cap­tain Dan Man­nion who fin­ished a for­ward drive to crash over for ‘Stones first try of the sea­son, con­verted by Marmion on eleven min­utes to open a 7–3 lead.

An­other new face, Alex Ryan at scrum half, son of for­mer Grey­stones Cap­tain Pat Ryan who has made the trip up from Wex­ford Wan­der­ers ex­tended the lead with a sec­ond try on 26 min­utes again con­verted by Marmion be­fore a sec­ond Tullamore penalty closed to leave the score 6-14 at half-time.

In the sec­ond half the home side re­ally tested Grey­stones and had their vis­i­tors un­der pres­sure and de­fend­ing for long pe­ri­ods. This re­sis­tance was bro­ken with the hosts open­ing try on 50 min­utes to leave the gap at just three be­fore an­other debu­tant Adam Ben­son who is rekin­dling his love of rugby af­ter switch­ing codes from Bray Em­mets scored a third try.

Tullamore kept the pres­sure on and crossed for a sec­ond try with the last play of the game to close the gap on the score board but too late the af­fect the re­sult.

Af­ter the game Lewis ex­pressed his plea­sure at the per­for­mance and in par­tic­u­lar the im­pact of the new faces on the field.

In ad­di­tion to the scor­ing im­pact of Ryan and Ben­son he was im­pressed with the con­tri­bu­tion of for­mer Pres Bray player Mark Meyler at full back who has stepped up from the U20’s along with Ben Carolan son of an­other for­mer first team player Gus O’Han­lon.

In ad­di­tion to the in­fu­sion of youth Lewis is also de­lighted to call on the ex­pe­ri­ence of for­mer Grey­stones fa­vorite Rob Con­nolly who is wel­comed back to the club fol­low­ing spells at Le­in­ster and var­i­ous clubs in Eng­land.

Grey­stones now look for­ward to mak­ing their first home start next Satur­day in their sec­ond Se­nior League out­ing when we can ex­pect fur­ther changes to side for the visit of Na­van as Lewis works to build the best com­bi­na­tions be­fore the open­ing AIL fix­ture away to Malahide. Satur­day’s match kicks off at 3pm.

Grey­stones: Mark Meyler, An­drew Kealy, Rob Con­nolly, Ja­son Cur­ran, Matt O’Brien, Alex Ryan, Dan Mau’u, Michael Dou­glas, Conor Pearse, Chris Sim­monds, Daragh Hig­gins, Cor­mac O’Donoghue, Alan Dempsey, Dan Man­nion. Re­place­ments: Danny Norse, Barry Traenor, Ben Carolan, ronan Kear­ney, Ronan Man­nion, Shane Marmion, Adam Ben­son

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