THERE was precious little festive cheer for Swords as the Division 2B whipping boys shipped an eighth consecutive league defeat under the lights at ALSAA last Thursday evening.
LEINSTER LEAGUE DIV 2B SWORDS 5 NORTH KILDARE 39
Opponents North Kildare, one of four sides who are in the hunt for promotion, showed the Fingal men no mercy as they successfully chased a four-try bonus point to boost their hopes of making the jump to the next level. It was apparent from the first whistle that Swords were going to be on the back foot as North Kildare's pacy wingers showed their opponents a clean pair of heels and repeatedly broke the gain line, leaving the hosts chasing shadows. The home side did enjoy the lion's share of possession, but lacked the quality or penetration to make it count as they were held up over the try line on a couple of occasion. The try count after the first 40 minutes was three to one in Kildare's favour, with Swords' sole score emanated from a long sequence of mauls that carried them deep into the North Kildare 22. They secured turnover ball from the resulting lineout and the forwards drove over the line, with second row Adrian McLoughlin seemingly getting the final touchdown. Swords ruled in the possession stakes again in the second half, but it was a similar story as they couldn't turn it into points, while the visitors put some gloss on the scoreline from their point of view with two further tries in the final 10 minutes.
Afterwards there was still some optimism in the home camp, with a feeling that performances have improved in the last two games, but it will take a near miracle for them to avoid the drop to Division 3 at this stage. This is very much a transition period for the club, who have lost a dozen first-team players for one reason or another in recent times, and the only hope is that they can develop some promising young players who can give Swords RFC a much-needed lift in the years to come. SWORDS: Dave Gallagher; Simon Jones, Niall Gamble, Shane Kelly, Shane Conaty; Juris Beikmanus, James Kuban; Dave Reilly, Leo Price, Eoin O Hobain; Paul Orr, Adrian McLoughlin; Francis Galbraith, Paddy Jones, Shane Mulligan. Replacements: Breen Dolan, Tom Coffey. -The draw for round one of the Provincial Towns Cup, sponsored by Cleaning Contractors, was made in the Aviva Stadium last Saturday, with two Fingal teams in the hat. Skerries 1sts are no longer eligible for the competition, having been promoted to the All-Ireland League, but their 2nd XV did go into the draw and they were handed a tricky home tie against Leinster Division 1B promotion contenders Wicklow. Ashbourne, who also operate out of 1B in the province, have been drawn away to Division 2A strugglers Clane. Both of those ties are due to take place on Sunday January 27th. Meanwhile, Skerries completed their pre-Christmas programme of games by winning a low-scoring Leinster Senior Shield Final, 7-6 against Naas at the weekend.