Monday 19 August 2019

McKeon's 23 points make Eagles soar

Leinster 'A' 24 Connacht Eagles 43

Ciaran Gaffney, of Connacht Eagles, on his way to scoring the first try against Leinster A in Donnybrook
Ciaran Gaffney, of Connacht Eagles, on his way to scoring the first try against Leinster A in Donnybrook
Leinster A's Tom Daly is tackled by Connacht Eagles's Ciaran Gaffney at Donnybrook
Leinster A's Peadar Timmins is tackled by Conor McKeon and George Naoupu during the match against Connacht Eagles at Donnybrook
Leinster A's Charlie Rock is tackled by Connacht Eagles's Jason Harris-Wright during the Interprovincial at Donnybrook

Des Berry

Connacht struck for 26 unanswered points to claim a well-deserved victory over Leinster in a fast-moving 'A' Inter-provincial at Donnybrook last night.

The visitors looked the part early on when full-back Ciaran Gaffney glided through from a forward pass by Rory Parata, not spotted, to arc around Ian Fitzpatrick.

Fly-half Conor McKeon converted for the first two of his 23 points to make it 7-0 in the 12th minute.

Leinster centre Tom Daly gave Gaffney a dose of his own medicine by taking advantage of the last man back for Ross Byrne to level it in the 15th minute.

The patience and power of The Westerners through contact eventually enabled Ronan Loughney to reclaim the lead, McKeon making it double scores (14-7) in the 23rd minute.

The pattern persisted when Tony Ryan's offload off the floor rewarded scrum-half Charlie Rock's fine support line for Byrne to square it again.

Connacht moved ahead for the third time from McKeon's sweet strike on the left only for Byrne to make it 17-all from straight in front of the posts at the interval.

The Blues tried to take control from flanker Peadar Timmins' splash-down on the end of a maul. Byrne found the posts from the touchline.

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Wing Niyi Adeolokun would have struck back immediately were it not for Adam Byrne's tackle-into-touch before George Naoupu twisted free for McKeon to tie it up for the fourth time in 51 minutes.

McKeon nailed a 45-metre penalty as the Connacht scrum cranked it up a gear and the fly-half tapped over three more for offside to make it 30-24 in the 68th minute.

Then there was a stoppage in play and consultation between referee Sean Gallagher and one of his assistants which resulted in McKeon smacking his fourth penalty for a vital two-score lead.

Soon, Leinster replacement Joey Carbery was promptly sent to the bin for what looked like a harsh decision. The extra man quickly led to extra points when a McKeon was given the chance to shoot three more.

Quicksilver Adeolokun broke from deep, ghosting outside a tired defence to seal the deal.

Scorers - Leinster 'A': T Daly, C Rock, P Timmins try each; R Byrne pen, 3 cons. Connacht: R Loughney, C Gaffney, G Naoupu, N Adeolokun try each; C McKeon 5 pens, 4 cons.

Leinster 'A' - A Byrne (J Power 60); R McLaughlin, T Farrell, T Daly (H Brewer 62), I Fitzpatrick (J Carbery 57); R Byrne, C Rock; P Dooley (J Loughman h-t), S McNulty, M Bent (R Burke-Flynn h-t), T Beirne, D O'Connor (M Deegan 62), J Murphy, P Timmins (capt), T Ryan (W Connors 69).

Connacht Eagles- C Gaffney (A Moynihan 72); N Adeolokun, R Parata, P Robb, E O'Keeffe (C Brennan 69); C McKeon, I Porter (C Blade 50); R Loughney (J Walshe 77), J Harris-Wright (J Dineen 78), S Meunargia (C O'Donnell 60, C Romaine (P Claffey 67), D Qualter, S O'Brien (R Moloney 55), J Connolly, G Naoupu (capt).

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