Saturday 20 April 2019

Boyne's battle in vain

Leinster League Division 1A: Boyne 22 Ashbourne 36

Kevin McCleery is collared during Saturday’s Boyne v Ashbourne game in the Leinster League at Shamrock Lodge. Photo: Jimmy Weldon
Kevin McCleery is collared during Saturday’s Boyne v Ashbourne game in the Leinster League at Shamrock Lodge. Photo: Jimmy Weldon

Boyne amassed their biggest score of the season last Saturday, but it still wasn't enough to earn a victory or even a losing bonus point as they dropped further into the relegation mire.

Defending Leinster League champions Ashbourne, who were battling to stay away from the foot of the table themselves, didn't have things all their own way, but in the end they scored six tries to emerge comfortable winners despite a late flourish from the home side.

It was a game of contrasting styles which saw Ashbourne rely on their forwards to dictate possession and use their physicality to keep the talented Boyne back line relatively quiet.

This trend became very evident in the early stages when a series of Ashbourne forward drives brought them into the Boyne half from where they broke wide and Conor Hurley went over for the opening try.

The home side nullified this score with a scintillating attack from deep in their own half which involved winger Kevin McCleery, centre Adam Brodigan and out half Eoghan Duffy inter-changing passes before touching down for an excellent try.

The Drogheda men followed up with another similar effort, this time finished off by Robbie Vallejo, and with Karl Keogh converting it put them into a 12-5 lead coming up to the half-hour mark.

However, Boyne couldn't cope with the power of the Ashbourne forwards, who exerted tremendous pressure in the tight and loose to force a scrum close to the line.

The indomitable Simon Deevy - wearing '10' and playing at number 8 - forced his way over for a try scored off the base of the scrum. Out half Donal Crotty, strangely in the number 8 jersey, slotted over the conversion to level the scores.

In the 35th minute Ashbourne took the lead when wing forward Hurley added his second try, with Crotty converting, although Boyne reduced the arrears when Keogh kicked a penalty to leave the half-time score 19-15 in Ashbourne's favour.

The visitors continued to dominate the second half through their forwards, limiting Boyne's ability to release their potent backline. Any time the backs did get the opportunity they caused panic in the Ashbourne rearguard, but their lineout also faltered at vital times which denied them platform ball.

Ashbourne got over for their bonus point try through Justin Whitaker before turnoverball led to Adam Martin crossing for his side's fifth touchdown in the 63rd minute.

Out half Crotty continued his accuracy with the boot by converting both those tries and also adding a penalty to complete his side's tally of 36 points, the same as they managed in their opening-day 19-point victory over Boyne at Milltown House.

To Boyne's credit they continued their pursuit of a lifeline and another great break saw impressive out half Duffy score a try under the posts, with Keogh converting.

There was still time for Boyne to chase a fourth try which would have earned them a bonus point - or two had the try been converted - but several great attempts ended in failure and the Drogheda side now find themselves seven points adrift at the foot of the 1A table.

Their prospects of dragging themselves to safety won't have been helped by the news that their outstanding wing forward, New Zealander Wilson Twentyman, will be out of the game for a considerable time. Further injuries to second row Conor Walsh and hooker Pauric Mongey early in Saturday's game must also give cause for concern ahead of this Saturday's visit toDonnybrook, to face Bective Rangers.

Boyne: Robbie Vallejo; Michael Briscoe, Adam Brodigan, Brian Howell, Kevin McCleery; Eoghan Duffy, Shaun Rooney; Patrick Shuttleworth, Pauric Mongey, Keith Keogh; Conor Walsh, Paul Kelly; Ruairi Hennessy, Ciaran Smyth, Karl Keogh. Replacements: Tadgh O'Reilly, Sean Callaghan, Ben Dunphy, Alex Yore.

Drogheda Independent