Opening day victory for Greystones RFC
’Stones off to a great start with victory in Malahide
MALAHIDE GREYSTONES 10 25
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.