A SCINTILLATING second-half comeback saw Skerries snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in Cork on Saturday as they made it six wins from six in the Energia AIL Division 2C.
They were back on the road again to the Midleton grounds at Towns Park and the league leaders’ great run of form saw them coming into this game as favourites.
However, the current trend of Skerries first to score within the first couple of minutes took a turn on this occasion.
Midleton came out firing and following two excellent handling moves, Skerries found themselves down by two tries within the first 10 minutes of play.
A third try looked on for Midleton at one stage but for some resolute defensive work from Ronan Mulcahy, who is maturing into a fine young player. His positioning at 15 has been exceptional in the last few games.
Eventually the Cork men conceded a turnover to Ross McAuley and Skerries counter-attacked and got just inside the Midleton half where they conceded a penalty and allowed Skerries to have their first real attack and some possession.
Another penalty resulted in Paul O’Loghlen getting Skerries’ first points on the board to make it 14-3 to the home side.
Just after the water break, Skerries scored again. The try came from a clean lineout take from Evan Sherlock - on his 50th appearance for the team - and scrum half Eoghan Carron showed quick thinking to release the ball wide to Kevin McGrath who worked his way over the line.
Skerries seemed to be growing in confidence and getting a stranglehold in the game, only to concede another try under the sticks, and another successful penalty to the home side left it 24-8 at half-time.
Few would have given Skerries much hope at that stage, but the half-time huddle must have resonated with the pack and as this team have proven time and time again, they are seldom beaten.
They showed great strength of character and started the second half with a serious attacking intent.
A driving maul led to a converted try by Kieran Leonard, originally credited to Sherlock, but either way it was very much a score credited to the pack.
The touchdown was converted and left Skerries in touch, making it 24-15.
In the 52th minute the home side conceded a penalty for offside and O’Loghlen again converted for Skerries to close the gap to six points.
Midleton, however, attacked straight from the kick-off and a penalty conceded pushed the gap back to nine.
Skerries regrouped, and following excellent interplay between backs and forwards and great possessional rugby, they retained the ball through some phases.
McAuley eventually broke through and made a stunning offload to Conn Marrey who drove on.
From the resultant ruck, O’Loghlen timed his pass to Mark Oliver to perfection. Oliver broke a tackle and offloaded to the supporting Billy Mulcahy who scored the third try for the Goats under the posts.
The conversion followed from O’Loghlen’s dependable boot and then shortly after he added a penalty, resulting in Skerries leading for the first time in the match by just one point with 15 minutes remaining.
The game could have gone either way after that. The final stages of the match were played at a tremendous rate which made it a great spectacle for the neutral but a nerve-wrecking final phase of play for the travelling support.
The visitors could have gotten the bonus point score but for some marginal calls not going their way, but had they been offered the prize of a one-point victory at half-time, any Skerries supporter would have taken it!
This was a great test of belief and resilience which will stand to Skerries in the games that lie ahead.