06 Nov 2017
Looking to build on last weekend's win away to Omagh, Tullamore took to the pitch in Spollanstown on Saturday afternoon just before 2:30pm to welcome visitors Bective Rangers in division 2C of the All Ireland League.
Having previously met towards the end of last season, in the 2B/C play-off semi-final where Tullamore came out on top, one could suspect that Bective were out for revenge despite their current positioning at the bottom of the table.
With a cluster of clouds looming overhead as play got underway, it wasn't long before the heavens opened. Thankfully this didn't dampen the spirits of a strong home crowd that showed out to support the lads.
Unfortunately the wet conditions didn't suit the home side as they struggled to gain any real possession in the opening minutes. Bective took full advantage of this, scoring in the right corner after just 15 minutes. A further blow arrived 10 minutes later as influential prop Ger Molloy was sin-binned after conceding numerous penalties. Despite being a man down, Tullamore began to build some phases and made some real ground on the pitch through some strong carrying from winger Brian Gilligan, centre Aidan Wynne and back-rower Lemacki.
Full-back and resident place-kicker Karl Dunne who had been in flying form the previous week, struggled with the strong cross-field wind and was unlucky to see 2 early penalty attempts sail wide of the post.
The deadlock finally broke just after the half-hour mark, as winger Brian Gilligan and #8 Barry Bracken interlinked in what was a fantastic piece of play. After a cross-field kick from Dunne, Gilligan caught the ball on the 5 meter line, offloaded to Bracken who froze in his tracks, causing the defender to turn, which then allowed Bracken lob an inside pass for Gilligan to run in and score. This was to be the final score of the half as the two sides went in 5 - 7 at half time.
The second half, however, was a lot more in-tune with the the free flowing rugby of the previous weekend. Less than 10 minutes in, a successful penalty attempt in front of the post from Dunne, saw Tullamore go 8-7 in front after some fantastic pick and go efforts from the pack inside the Bective 5 meter line. Second-row replacement Mike Tormey made a massive impact off the bench, putting Bective under serious pressure at the ruck. There were also moments of magic from out-half Sam Burns, who made numerous clearing kicks in defence as the visitors lobbed on the pressure in search of another score.
The final five minutes of play were tense to say the least, as the mounting Bective pressure finally caused Tullamore to concede a dangerous penalty, which the visiting out-half duly kicked. Now 2 points down, it was do or die for the home side, as the crowd spurred them on. In what was the final piece of play, Bective were reduced to 14 men and the referee awarded a Tullamore penalty, way off to the left of the posts.
Anxiety levels were at an all time high as Dunne stepped up to take the all important kick. Many of the crowd had to look away, unable to bare the pressure of what lay ahead - thankfully Dunne recovered his form and the ball sailed between the two posts, giving the home side an all important one point win. It may not have been pretty, but it was very much needed!
Tullamore travel to Sligo next weekend and will be looking to build on their current 7th place standing as the winter break approaches.
You can catch some of the highlights below