Open­ing day vic­tory for Grey­stones RFC

’Stones off to a great start with vic­tory in Malahide

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - SPORT - AIL DIVI­SION 2B


GREY­STONES suc­cess­fully nav­i­gated what could have been a very tricky open­ing en­counter to their 2019/20 En­er­gia All Ire­land League cam­paign away to newly pro­moted Malahide last Satur­day.

Played in what could only be de­scribed as aw­ful con­di­tions in an in­ces­sant down­pour, Grey­stones, led by Cap­tain Kil­lian Marmion, crossed for three tries to record a 15-point win­ning mar­gin.

With back to back pro­mo­tions in the last two sea­sons, Malahide have big am­bi­tions for their club and will have tar­geted a win­ning start to their first cam­paign at this level but hav­ing be­ing de­nied pro­mo­tion via a play­off de­feat last season Grey­stones su­pe­rior ex­pe­ri­ence was al­ways likely to be a telling fac­tor.

Stones opened brightly gath­er­ing pos­ses­sion from the kick off and set­ting Robin O’Sul­li­van clear for a charg­ing break to­wards the hosts 22 in a clear state­ment of in­tent from the off. A penalty fol­lowed a cou­ple of phases later and An­drew Kealy coolly slot­ted home for the open­ing score.

Malahide were al­ways go­ing to put in a strong per­for­mance in front of their home sup­port and strength­ened by the sign­ing of for­mer Le­in­ster wing, Mick Mc­Grath, who joined from Divi­sion 1 side Clon­tarf ran hard at Grey­stones en­joy­ing a pe­riod of pos­ses­sion.

Mc­Grath had an early op­por­tu­nity to show how dan­ger­ous he can be if af­forded time and space with a strong charg­ing run down the left wing be­fore be­ing hauled down by Grey­stones Cap­tain, Marmion.

This early pres­sure was main­tained and re­sulted in a break­through on 15mins when sec­ond row Hal­li­gan ran on to a pass and evaded the Grey­stones de­fense to cross un­der the posts for a con­verted try.

An­drew Kealy nar­rowed the early deficit to one point with his sec­ond penalty as Grey­stones slowly be­gan to play their way into tak­ing control of the game.

An­other penalty op­por­tu­nity shortly af­ter was passed up in favour of a kick to the cor­ner fol­lowed by a text book catch and drive into the cor­ner with sec­ond row John Campbell touch­ing down with the force of the Grey­stones pack be­hind him. The dif­fi­cult con­ver­sion at­tempt into the wind drifted wide.

Grey­stones con­tin­ued to pres­sure the home side and ex­tended their slen­der lead five min­utes later when Dan Man­nion fin­ished a multi phase play with a neat side step into space to cross com­fort­ably un­der the posts. Kealy added the ex­tras for an eight point half time lead.

Fly­ing winger Fer­dia Kenny was in­tro­duced in the sec­ond half and cre­ated havoc in the home de­fense.

Cap­i­tal­is­ing on a neat kick through he gath­ered and left the chas­ing de­fend­ers in his wake to cross for Stone’s third try while Kealy coolly con­verted.

That was to prove the fi­nal score of the game, Malahide never mounted a fight back and star player Mc­Grath faded out of the game.

Grey­stones pushed for the bonus point try which never came. Ref­eree Mike Scan­lon chan­neled his in­ner Nigel Owens as he spent long pe­ri­ods of the match speak­ing to play­ers about a va­ri­ety of in­fringe­ments and is­sued yel­low cards to Malahide’s Hal­li­gan in the first half for a high tackle and Grey­stones Paudie Geoghe­gan in the sec­ond for a missed at­tempted in­ter­cep­tion.

Grey­stones coach Kevin Lewis will be pleased with the open­ing win and the teams per­for­mance but knows there is much his side can im­prove on.

While three play­ers, Meyler, Ryan and Hig­gins made their first AIL starts in a Grey­stones jer­sey, it was the sight of Ro­nan Kear­ney mak­ing a return off the bench af­ter be­ing out for the last three sea­sons fol­low­ing a se­ries of knee and an­kle in­juries that will have most pleased the size­able vis­it­ing sup­port in the rain.

The league con­tin­ues next Satur­day when the sec­ond newly pro­moted side Bal­lina make their first visit to Dr Hickey Park.

Grey­stones: Mark Meyler, An­drew Kealy, Rob Con­nelly, Ja­son Cur­ran, Paudie Geoghe­gan, Kil­lian Marmion (Cap­tain), Alex Ryan, Dan Man­nion, Robin O’Sul­li­van, Cor­mac O’Donoghue, John Campbell, Chris Sim­monds, Conor Pearse, Dar­ragh Hig­gins, Dan Mau’u. Re­place­ments: Barry Tre­anorm Ro­nan Kear­ney, Alan Dempsey, Matt O’Brien, Fer­dia Kenny.

Grey­stones in ac­tion against Malahide in their AIL Divi­sion 2B opener last week­end.

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