Loss casts Long shadow over Boyne's campaign
Rugby: Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Cup - Boyne 7 Longford 14
Big winners over New Ross in round one, Boyne found Longford a much tougher prospect and duly made a disappointing exit from the Provincial Towns Cup at a blustery Shamrock Lodge on Sunday.
The Drogheda side currently ply their trade in the Leinster League's top flight, but they could be swapping places with 1B outfit Longford in a few weeks' time as the midlanders have their sights set on promotion.
It will come as scant consolation that Boyne can now concentrate on their own battle for league survival following this defeat, with a tricky away assignment against Gorey coming up this Saturday.
They kicked off with a very strong wind at their backs and duly pinned Longford back in the early stages. On the quarter-hour mark some slick hands from the backs resulted in winger Robbie Brodigan breaking through, only to be held up over the line by what Boyne felt was a high tackle.
Nevertheless, the Drogheda men did make the breakthrough at the end of the first quarter after patiently going through 18 phases. Their pick-and-go tactic paid dividends as Kevin Prendergast got off the line just to the left of the posts, and captain Karl Keogh converted for a 7-0 lead.
Keogh had a chance to increase his side's lead in the 35th minute after a deliberate knock on in midfield. Again, Boyne felt slightly aggrieved, believing there could have been a yellow card issued, and that sense of frustration increased when Keogh missed the resulting kick to the left.
A 10-point advantage would have been handy to take into half-time, but instead Boyne's advantage was almost wiped out five minutes into first-half injury time. After multiple phases, starting on the half-way line, Longford switched play to the left and then back out to the right where they scored in the corner. With the conversion missed, the midlanders trailed by two at the break - 7-5.
From the moment Longford kicked long into the 22 from the restart the home side were on the back foot. For 15 minutes they defended heroically, but the Drogheda men then conceded a penalty in front of the posts and the kick was easily converted to put Longford ahead at 8-7.
Boyne's restart kick didn't go the required 10 metres, and after Longford were awarded a scrum on half-way the home side lost the subsequent lineout on their throw and then conceded another penalty. Once more the visitors' kicker made no mistake for an 11-7 lead.
Another infringement by the hosts deep in their own territory should have been punished, but this time Longford went for a quick tap and knocked on near the goal-line, earning Boyne a reprieve.
Having won the scrum, the Drogheda side did superbly to play their way up to half-way, going through at least 15 phases, but an untimely knock on then handed possession back to Longford.
The visitors kicked their third penalty in the 76th minute, but a no-arm tackle by one of the Longford props resulted in a yellow card shortly after, handing Boyne a penalty in midfield. With an extra man, there was a glimmer of hope, but despite going through multiple phases they couldn't breach the Longford defence and the midlanders held out to set up a home quarter-final against Kilkenny.
BOYNE: Graeme McQuillan; Joe Sweeney, Adam Brodigan, Brian Howell, Robbie Brodigan; Shane Campbell, Shaun Rooney; Pat Shuttleworth, Padraic Mongey, Keith Keogh; Rory Hennessy, Kevin Prendergast; Ciaran Smith, Collie Ahearne, Karl Keogh. Replacements: Sam Flynn, Tadhg O'Reilly, Conor Callaghan, Ben Dunphy, Wilson Twentyman.