Thursday 25 April 2019

Skerries still hopeful after battling point

Rugby, Ulster Bank All-Ireland League: Greystones 40 Skerries 27

What a difference a week makes! Last time out against Rainey, Skerries had 22 points on the board in as many minutes, but against an impressive Greystones side on Saturday they were 33-5 in arrears with just 42 minutes on the clock.

How do you lose a match while scoring five tries? Simple, you let in six!

Earlier in the year Skerries' clearly defined weakness was to let the opposition build up a hatful of points in the early stages of a game and then mount a comeback of herculean proportions in an effort to secure some value from the contest.

It was thought that especially after the display against Raheny that this defect in playing strategy had been fixed, but it was a false dawn and the Goats slipped back into their old ways in what was always going to be a very tough away fixture.

Greystones dominated the early exchanges and for the first 12 minutes they had squatters' rights inside the Skerries 22. However, with their first serious attack of the match Skerries scored a memorable try when right winger Dave Goodman finished off a fine back movement in some style. The difficult conversion from out wide was missed by Paul O'Loghlen.

That dream start was short-lived and the focus and the concentration of the visitors seemed to vanish for the next 40 minutes. Greystones scored two tries in quick succession and then scored that all-important try right on the stroke of half-time.

It did not look too bad a position as Skerries were well in the game, but within a minute of the restart Greystones scored another converted try.

Then, from the restart, the Wicklow men ran the ball back with some slick passing across the backline and were only denied a try when Kevin Mc Grath was adjudged to have deliberately knocked on the final scoring pass. A penalty try was awarded, Mc Grath was sent to the bin and Skerries trailed 33-5.

What next? Panic stations? No, Skerries don't do panic, they do recovery instead!

O'Loghlen, who had a fine game at out half, brought his backs into the game with some adventurous passes, the backline grew in confidence and Ross Gordon and Mark Oliver, sprung from the bench, breathed new life into the team.

Gordon scored first in the corner and then Kevin McGrath did likewise, while O'Loghlen added the conversion for good measure.

Greystones regained some composure and scored a try against the run of play to leave the score at 40-17 with about 70 minutes gone.

However, Mark Oliver, who looked capable of scoring every time he got the ball, scored a great try after the ball had been worked cleverly across the backline, and then Kevin McGrath got his second try of the match which the fly half converted. The score was now 40-27 with about five minutes left on the clock.

The home side were out on their feet at that stage, but Skerries had gone to the well too many times and could not keep the momentum going to secure what would have been a valuable extra bonus point.

All told it was a wonderful performance from the away side laced with courage and honesty that nearly brought off the surprise result of the season.

The problem lies with the concentration and the application in the first 40 minutes of a match. Solve that issue and there is every reason to believe that the Goats could win all three remaining fixtures.

Skerries: K McGrath. C Lennox, S Dempsey, L Jones, P O'Loghlen, D Goodman, C Marrey, K Leonard, T Scuffil, R Halligan, T Mulvaney, M Turvey, R McAuley, E Sherlock. Replacrments: Conn Marrey, J Sherwin, R Gordon, M Oliver.

Fingal Independent