18 Jan 2017
After an impressive 36 to 12 win away to UCD before the turn of the new year, Tullamore Under 20’s took on Dublin University (students of Trinity College) under floodlights in Spollenstown in their first match of 2017. This highly anticipated top of the table clash didn’t disappoint the large crowd that had turned out to see Tullamore U20’s hoping to extend their lead at the top of the table. Both teams were unbeaten going into the game and it was all to play for. Tullamore U20’s hoping to ‘SAVE’ the day looked impressive sporting their brand new home jerseys, sponsored by TULLAMORE CREDIT UNION. Head Coach Kevin Finlay told the lads, who listened with ‘INTEREST’, that on no ‘ACCOUNT’ were they to slack off and that full ‘CREDIT’ would be given to everybody who ‘DEPOSITED’ the ball over the opposition try line.
A dry, fresh night with little wind ensured that the rugby was free flowing and attractive to watch. Both sides dug into each other from the off with DU getting to within 10 meters of Tullamore’s line before Tullamore forwards and backs combined to get back to within 2 meters of DU’s 22. Tullamore rucked superbly and were rewarded with a penalty. Conor Dunne, from slightly right of the posts obliged with the boot putting Tullamore into a 3 nil lead with 3 minutes gone. Both sides continued to tear strips of each other and it was neck and neck all the way. On the 21 minute mark, just inside DU’s 22, Tullamore forwards set up an impressive rolling maul from a well won lineout, out wide on the right and penetrated to within 4 meters of the try line. Hooker Stephen Pyke spotted nobody home, broke free and crossed for a superb try, Tullamore leading 8 points to nil. Six minutes later DU had Tullamore under tremendous pressure and were within 6 meters of the line, odds on for a score, when the quick thinking Jamie Lynam came off the wing, robbed the ball, crashed through DU’s line, off loaded to cousin Geoff Scully who then powered past DU up to the half way. Fantastic support play saw Sean McCabe collect the ball from Scully and put Eoin Farrell away just inside DU’s half. Farrell burnt it to the line, touching down under the posts. Dunne once again split the posts with Tullamore now leading 15 to nil. The war continued with DU constantly attacking and continually threatening to score. Heroic defending by both backs and forwards was the only thing that prevented the strong DU team from running riot. Three minutes from half time saw Tullamore forwards turn around this tide with some excellent mauling, winning the ball on their own 22, before flashing it out to the backs. Fast hands saw the ball reach the in full flight winger Paul O’Reilly just inside his own half. He was unstoppable, jinking past three DU backs before scoring out wide on the right. The first half finished with Tullamore leading 20 points to nil.
Tullamore’s scrummaging and lineouts were superb throughout this match and were pivotal in securing clean ball on numerous occasions. The second half saw the Tullamore pack continue to edge the scrums and the mauls. On the 51 minute mark, after being the first man to three rucks in a row, Colm Heffernan ripped the ball from the DU pack, smashed through their defence, before unloading to the supporting Dunne, who ignited the afterburners and was never going to be stopped inside that 22. Dunne then converted his own try, Tullamore now led 27 to nil. The ebb and flow of the battle continued as before until the 65th minute when Tullamore backline showed a flash of hands that would take your breath away. The forwards secured the ball just inside the DU’s 22 in the middle of the park. Scully unloaded to Sean McCabe, to Cian Dully, to Farrell and we then saw a skip pass to winger Brian Ryan who collected the ball at full stretch before scoring in the left corner. Poetry in motion. DU were determined not to leave Tullamore without a score and deservedly scored a fine converted try in the left corner in the dying minutes of the game to leave the final score at Tullamore 32 - Dublin University 7. A special thanks to Manager Denis Daly and staff at Tullamore Credit Union who can rest ‘ASSURED’ that their ‘INVESTMENT’ in sponsoring the Tullamore Under 20’s team jerseys was in ‘SAFE HANDS’ and paid ‘DIVIDENDS’ today. Next week Galwegians Away.
Squad: D Neary, S Pyke , M Murphy, G Scully, S Rigney, C Ennis, C Heffernan, B Bracken (c), A Leavy, C Dully, P O'Reilly, E Farrell, C Dunne, J Lynam, S McCabe Subs: K Feery, S Fleming, C Behan, D Keyes, D Hickey, B Ryan, E Jaffrey, T Smyth