Leinster League Div 2B
Athy 25 Clane 0
By Mark Bergin
Athy were looking to make amends for their frustrating loss to Clane the last time these two sides met in the league and they did not disappoint their supporters, winning the game comfortably and bagging a winning bonus point in the process. Athy kicked off and from the beginning enjoyed the bulk of possession and territory. In the first five minutes they had a number of opportunities to open the scoring having brought play close to the Clane line but came up short by conceding soft turnovers at critical moments, allowing Clane to clear their lines. Indeed this was the pattern for much of the first quarter and although Athy were very much the dominant team they struggled at times with their ball retention or completion of passes.
The home side began to put together better phase play by the start of the start of the 2nd quarter and the continuity of their attacking play improved. Clane conceded a penalty on 23 minutes which Athy kicked for the corner. A clean take by Wes Whitten in the following line out set up an excellent maul with Whitten touching down for the opening score. The difficult conversion was missed by Mark Beever. Five minutes later some excellent phase play from the halfway by Athy brought them deep into the Clane 22 when Clane conceded a penalty in front of the posts for offside. This time Beever made sure of the conversion to push Athy 8 – 0 ahead. In the final ten minutes of the half Athy’s dominance of possession saw some good breaks by Wes Whitten, Clive Kavanagh and Joey Deegan, opening up the Clane defence, but as in the early stages of the game Athy were not able to capitalise on this due to erratic handling when a score seemed sure.
Three minutes into the second half a diagonal kick to the corner by outhalf Alan Talbot followed up by James Quinlan and Cathal Fennessy had the visitors in disarray. Clane attempted to clear their lines but the kick did not make touch and Athy brought the ball back to the Clane line through good phase play. The visitor defence was stretched at this point and wing forward Aodhan King broke through for an excellent try. The conversion was put over by Mark Beever and Athy’s lead moved to 15 – 0. On 52 minutes Athy kicked a penalty into the corner to set up an attacking line out 5m out. The ball was taken cleanly by Wes Whitten when Athy noted that Clane had not contested the line out to prevent an attacking maul being set up. Whitten then turned and pushed straight through the Clane tacklers to touch down for Athy’s 3rd try which, unconverted, now put Athy 20 – 0 ahead.
In the opening period of the match Athy’s scrum had taken a while to settle but in the second half this part of their set piece play was very solid and won them a ball against the head at 61 minutes on the halfway line. The resulting possession led to a break through the Clane line by Alan Talbot who made ground into the Clane 22 but the play stopped just short of the line. Despite arriving in numbers Athy were not able to get over and were held up by Clane who relived the pressure through a 5m scrum. Play continued in this part of the pitch and the pressure was beginning to tell on Clane when they lost a player to a yellow card two minutes later. As in the first half the lack of clinical handling by Athy meant that they could not get the bonus point score and in fact it was Clane who pushed back up the field between the 65th and 70th minute, winning a number of penalties as Athy momentarily lost their composure.
At the 70 minute mark Athy won a line out inside their own half and set up a maul from which scrum half Owen Farrell peeled off and moved the ball to oncoming Athy players Aodhan King and Alan Talbot behind the gain line. The home side were now at the Clane line again looking for the bonus score try but were eventually held up by Clane. From behind the 74thminute 5m scrum Clane attempted to clear the ball but as before it was fielded by Athy whose backs brought play quickly back to the line and the Athy pack arrived in numbers to support. Quick ball recycling and aggressive rucking by the Athy pack resulted in Clive Kavanagh crossing the line to secure the winning bonus point. The try was uncoverted but Athy were now firmly in control with a 25 – 0 lead going into the last five minutes. The home side were not able to add their score during this period but overall they will have been very happy to have taken maximum points from this game. The final score of 25 – 0 could well have been a larger winning margin for Athy had they been able to close out a number of promising attacking positions during the match which would have reflected more accurately their dominance of possession and territory.
Athy: Joe Deegan, Alan Harding, Brian Berry, Wes Whitten, Nigel Holland, Clive Kavanagh, Aodhan King, Stu Holland, Eoin Farrell, Alan Talbot, Davey Walsh, Mark Beaver, Gavin Kelly, Tommy Mulreid, Paul Waters. Subs: Dave Curtis, Jimmy Quinlan, Conor Martin, Cathal Fennessey, Brian Meredith.
Leinster League Div 2B
Swords 12 Athy 16
By Mark Bergin
Swords hosted Athy in the second of three Leinster League fixtures to be played between the sides this season. Athy recorded a good win previously against Swords in the Showgrounds and on paper at least would have been strong favourites for this match. However, as in the past, Athy found the ALSAA complex at Dublin Airport a difficult venue and were very happy to eventually come away with the winning points.
Swords kicked off and from the beginning showed little respect for the visitors, putting them under pressure and keeping play in Athy’s half. Swords kept the ball close, hitting the rucks hard and using runners off ruck play to get over the gain line regularly. Athy’s defence had to work hard to contain the opposition in the first period of the game and it took until the 12 minute mark before Athy forced a good relieving penalty bringing them to the Swords’ 10m line. Athy won a good lineout ball and brought play towards the Swords 22m line, forcing a penalty. A quick tap by captain Stuart Holland and subsequent play put Swords on the back foot with the ball finding its way to scrumhalf Myles Aspil at the end of the line who crossed over for a well taken try. This was converted by Mark Beever putting the score at 0 – 7.
Athy settled now and began to dictate the game, holding most of the possession and testing the Swords’ defence constantly. They won another penalty on the Swords’ 22m line at 23 minutes, converted by Mark Beever, which pushed them further ahead to 0 – 10. Five minutes later Swords were penalised for a high tackle, again Beever converted to put Athy 0 – 13 ahead. Closing out the first half Athy seemed to take their foot off the pedal somewhat, slipping off tackles and not driving Swords back in the rucks. This allowed Swords back into the game and the half closed out with Athy doing most of the defending.
The second half began with Athy kicking off into the sun which was won after a wonderful chase and catch by prop Joe Deegan. Athy pushed into the opposition territory and won a penalty for a ruck infringement just inside the Swords’ 22m line but the conversion attempt was wide. Play in the third quarter was mostly Athy who had the lion’s share of possession in this period. However, rather than putting the result beyond doubt by scoring from this Athy frequently lost the momentum through slow ball and failing to break down the Swords’ defence. The visitors would have profited handsomely had they moved the ball wide quickly but an approach that was at times ponderous gave Swords ample time to realign their defensive structure and contain the Athy threat. Athy’s only profit from this period of dominance was a converted penalty on 56 minutes which put them 0 – 16 ahead.
Having weathered Athy’s efforts Swords began to up their game moving into the final quarter and pushed deep into the Athy half. On 62 minutes they had pushed right to the Athy line when they were held up for a 5m scrum. Athy got a great shove on Swords but the hosts held on to possession and kept the pressure on the Athy defence until a gap opened up outside of a ruck allowing them to slip in easily under the posts for a try. The conversion closed the gap between the sides to 9 at 7 – 16. Just 5 minutes later Swords won a lineout on the Athy 10m line and from this they made huge yards due to very slack Athy defending, bringing play again to the Athy line. Athy stopped the attack on the line but Swords moved the ball quickly to the left and crossed over for their second try. The conversion attempt failed but with the score at 12 – 16 this was now a single score game and, based on the general run of play in the second half, could have gone either way.
Athy did steady the ship in the last 10 minutes of the game but despite securing better possession they struggled to make territory. The concession of a series of penalties, mainly for ruck infringements, by Swords kept Athy just about on the front foot but they failed to get the necessary score to open up the gap again. Eventually Athy won a penalty on 40 minutes which they tapped and immediately put into touch to prompt the final whistle the final whistle from the referee. Athy were relieved to finish the game knowing that they could well have lost.
Athy Team: Joe Deegan, Alan Harding, Brian Berry, John Fraser, Nigel Holland, Clive Kavanagh, Craig Hussey, Stu Holland, Myles Aspil, Alan Talbot, Davey Walsh, Mark Beaver, Gavin Kelly, Jimmy Quinlan, Paul Waters. Subs: Paul Buckley, Brian Meredith, Conor Martin, Steven Cooke, Dave Curtis.
30th November 2014
Leinster League Div 2B
Athy 8 Edenderry 13
By Mark Bergin
The expression often used that ‘defence wins matches’ in rugby certainly applied in this match between Athy and Edenderry at the Showgrounds. Unfortunately for Athy it was the commitment of Edenderry’s defence and counter attacking movements against the home side’s dominant possession, set piece play and attacking rugby which prevailed in a gripping and intense match that offered full value to spectators right to the final whistle.
These sides have become quite familiar with each other over the last number of seasons and a full on game from both teams was expected in this league encounter. As was the case a few weeks ago in their first meeting Athy started the game strongly, asking questions of the Edenderry defence from the kick off and securing a kickable penalty within 3 minutes. The conversion attempt was just short and Edenderry began to come into the game more, asking their own questions of Athy but it was the home side who continued to have most of the play in the first 20 minutes. Athy’s complete dominance of the scrums and excellent line out mauls were causing the visitors all manner of problems, resulting in a high penalty count against Edenderry in this period. However, as was the case in their last match, it was Edenderry who opened the scoring somewhat against the run of play at the end of the first quarter when they won a penalty for an Athy line out infringement just outside the home 22 and converted it to lead 0 – 3.
Athy knocked on the following kick off but won a penalty from the resulting scrum which saw them bring play to the Edenderry 5m metre line. A superb line out maul by Athy looked sure to see them cross the line but the maul was brought down. From the resulting penalty Athy went for another line out maul, again they looked sure to cross the line but the Edenderry defence held eventually winning a relieving penalty. Having cleared their lines the visitors pushed back up field winning a penalty and lineout on the Athy 10m line at 30 min. A good maul from the throw in resulted in quick ball out to the left wing who got by a number of Athy defenders before touching down in the corner. Once again Athy had conceded a score against the run of general play and now found themselves 0 – 8 down. Shades of déjà vu from the first fixture between the sides came a few minutes later when Edenderry fielded an Athy kick upfield and again got the ball to the left wing quickly who again managed to beat 3 Athy defenders before being stopped. Edenderry were not to be denied and crossed the line from the resulting ruck to lead 0 – 13 at the break.
Play in the second half continued as before the break with Athy dominating possession but finding a stubborn Edenderry defence very difficult to break down. The home side began to attack space better in this half and the solid visitor defence began to look more vulnerable. Athy started to get the ball to their pace players more quickly and were rewarded on 45 minutes with an attacking lineout maul halfway inside Edenderry’s 22 which delivered the platform for David Walsh to cross over and reduce the gap to 5 – 13. Despite changing the point of attack more and testing the Edenderry defence more in this half all too often incomplete passes or knock-on’s killed Athy momentum. A converted penalty for Athy by Mark Beever on 59 min closed to the gap to 5 at 8 – 13. Now within one score of the visitors Athy increased the intensity of their attack, winning a number of scrum penalties on the Edenderry 5m line and putting the opposition under serious pressure. Despite this they still could not cross over and eventually Edenderry got a toe to the ball from an incomplete Athy pass to relieve the pressure. This proved to be Athy’s best chance to catch the visitors. Although Athy continued to have the greater share of possession in the final quarter, and dominance of the scrums, they could not add to their tally. Athy did, however, get to grips with Edenderry’s dangerous counter attacking, closing down their strike players better to prevent a repeat of the first half scores. Athy’s line defence also held on the occasions that Edenderry managed to bring their attack to close quarters. The score finished 8 – 13 in a game that Athy will know they could have won had they been able to reduce their handling error count and maintained concentration against the dangerous Edenderry counter attack in the first half.
23rd November 2014
Leinster League Div 2B
Clane 8 Athy 6
By Mark Bergin
In previous years Clane has not been a happy hunting ground for Athy and so it proved again in this Leinster League fixture when they failed follow up on their comprehensive win over the same opposition at home a few weeks ago. This was a poor match littered with errors and characterised by a stop start routine that prevented any decent rhythm of play throughout.
In the early stages of the game Athy seemed the more assured team looking to find gaps in the Clane defence but Clane were clearly determined to disrupt and defend any Athy attack. Despite this Athy advanced into the Clane half when a knock on at 5 min gave Clane the put in just outside their own 22. A great push by the Athy pack saw Clane scrambling to secure the ball at the back of teh scrum and strong follow up pressure by Craig Hussey won Athy the penalty. The straightforward kick was converted by James Quinlan. Athy failed to capitalise on this first score allowing Clane to take the game deep into Athy’s half and increasingly force errors from Athy. Athy conceded a penalty on 8 min for a ruck infringement inside their own 22 and this was the start of a sustained period of pressure from Clane attacking the Athy line. Twice coming to the end of the first quarter Clane were held up over the Athy line but to their credit Athy’s defence was solid and eventually they forced Clane back up field.
Athy were not helped in general by their set piece play in the first half which was at best inconsistent, losing a number of their own line outs and allowing Clane to disrupt their scrum. Clane also managed to slow down ruck ball regularly much to Athy’s frustration and as a result they were not able to put together any decent phase play which might have allowed them to mount a meaningful attack. Play in general in the second quarter moved between the two 22’s with neither team really gaining the upper hand until the 33rd min when Athy won a penalty just outside the Clane 22 for illegal entry into the ruck by Clane. Athy opted to kick for a lineout when perhaps a shot at goal might have been the better option given the inconsistency of set piece play up to this. Clane managed to defend the lineout successfully and with that went Athy’s last opportunity of the first half to add to their score.
Athy won the kick off at the beginning of the second half but almost immediately were penalised for holding. Instead of Athy moving on from a mediocre first half display, as might have been expected by the visiting support, Athy started where they finished the first half allowing Clane to dictate the game on the ground and preventing any worthwhile Athy possession. Indeed it was Clane who began to sense that the game was swinging in their favour and brought play deep into the Athy half. Having brought play to within 5m of the Athy line Clane won a scrum towards the right of the field. Despite a good shove from Athy at the put in Clane managed to get the ball away from the scrum and attacked the Athy line left and right until eventually crossing over for a well taken try by their number 7 on 43 min. The conversion was missed leaving the score at 5 – 3 in Clane’s favour.
Unfortunately the game deteriorated after this with the exchanges becoming somewhat more physical At 50 min a stamp on an Athy player at the bottom of a ruck and the following exchange between the players resulted in two yellow cards being issued, one each to Clane and Athy. After this incident ironically the Athy scrum improved and for the first time in the match they appeared to be able to assert some control on the game winning a series of scrums and putting Clane under a lot of pressure at their put in. On 52 min Clane won their scrum outside of their 22 but excellent pressure from scrum half Clive Kavanagh and flanker Mark Beever won a penalty for holding. The penalty was converted by James Quinlan and Athy were now back in front by the narrowest of margins, 5 – 6. Clane upped their game again and won a penalty within range on 54 min which they converted putting them ahead again 8 – 6.
Despite having the greater share of possession in the final quarter Athy created very few opportunities to score with their only real chance being a penalty on 58 min which was just wide of the posts. Clane were determined to contain them by whatever means necessary and saw two of their players sin binned in the last 10 minutes for persistent ruck infringements. Athy eventually ran out of time and the score finished 8 – 6 in Clane’s favour.
Written by Paul Aspil – 2nd November 2014
Athy 17 Athboy 20
Athy Cruelly Pipped at the final whistle
The battle for mid table lived up to its promise in Athboy, with both sides striving to keep in touch with the leaders, a very entertaining game ensued.
The game was tight for the first seventeen minutes with most of the play within the respective 10m lines.
However Athy ramped up the pressure gradually creeping into the Athboy 22 and this pressure was rewarded with a penalty to the visitors 20m out directly in front of the posts, which was scored by Jamie McStay.
From the restart the home team made their way towards the Athy 22 and a drop goal attempt from their No10 narrowly missed. Several other attempts were made during the game proving how dangerous the home out half would be.
And on 29 minutes it proved to be the case. Athy were awarded a scrum following a poor Athboy lineout throw.
The scrum was badly turned over and the home No.10 danced his way under the posts for the games first try which he also converted to leave the game at 7 – 3.
On 35 minutes Athy winger Davy Walsh made a scorching run along the left wing and a high tackle resulted in a yellow card for one of the Athboy props. Athy missed the penalty and the chance to reduce the deficit
Just before the break, Athy were rewarded for their growing dominance when Captain Stuart Holland intercepted a pass on the half way line and ran the distance to cross in the corner. With the conversion from Mark Beever the visitors ended the half with a three point margin 10-7.
5 minutes into the second half the lead swung back to the home team. A clearance from Athy went out on the full. From the lineout the ball was moved quickly from the right to the left flank and grounded in the corner.
With the extra three from the trusted boot of the out half they now lead by 4. Another penalty for the home team saw them stretch their lead to seven (17-10)
Athy, however, weren’t leaving without a fight and with the introduction of the Kings, Peter and Aodhan, they upped the tempo negating the influence of the Athboy 10 who was pulling all the strings for the hosts. On 61 minutes the ball made its way to winger Davy Walsh who scorched along the left wing just short of the line he managed to pop a pass to the supporting Alan Talbot to cross for a try which was converted by Beever to square the game at 17 – 17.
Athy went for the kill continuing to punch holes in the Athboy defence forcing the hosts to concede two kickable penalties. One narrow miss and one hit the upright. These misses would ultimately prove costly for Athy.
It looked all set for a deserved draw with the hosts conceding a penalty while on the on the Athy try line.
On the 80th minute Athy conceded a penalty for going in off the feet at a ruck just inside their half way line. Cruelly the Athboy knock on at the same ruck was missed by the referee.
The pristine boot of the host’s no. 10 sealed the victory with the last kick of the game.
A cruel twist to the end of an enjoyable game. Athy will have to be more clinical in converting chances going forward.
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