Clondalkin RFC’s men’s 2nd XV made the short trip to MU Barnhall for their second game in the Metro Division 6 league on Saturday. Fielding 3 men’s teams for the first time since March 2019 was always going to be a challenge, but the management team of Conor Kelly and Conor Steed worked wonders to get a squad together. The squad was looking thin, even more so when a miscommunication meant Dave Heffernan wasn’t included in the matchday squad. Heffo was particularly disappointed as it meant he could have spent an extra week chatting up women, sipping craft beers in Milan after spending the last 4 months in Italy.
Things went from bad to worse when it was unclear whether Clon would have a changing room, due toseveral other games on in Barnhall that day. Darragh “Sas” Kelly wasn’t too bothered and promptly began to change in full view of the pre-game AIL dinner in the dining room of Barnhall’s clubhouse. Crisis was soon averted and Clon safely were housed in a changing room.
The game kicked off and began at a ferocious pace, with offloads from Barnhall testing Clon’s defensive resolve. Clon’s line was eventually breached, with Barnhall’s 13 beating a tackle and scoring in the corner.
Clon responded superbly, with some big carries from the forward pack, notably from Abie Sono in his first game since 2019. Greg Dunne also carried well proving that the week in Salou with his brother has done him no harm. Lukas Dzelve was excellent early doors, after coming straight off a night shift. John Murphy and Ben Foran dictated the play from half-back, with Foran setting James “Shrek” Kenny off on a big carry down the right. The new Garda drew in several defenders and threw a lovely offload to Eoin Delaney, who beat a few defenders to score under the posts.
Barnhall came back strong and scored soon after, leaving Clon 5 points behind coming towards the 20 minute waterbreak. Clon regained composure, with new recruit Wayne Scanlon showing superb footwork to beat several players. Foran grubbered the ball through Barnhall’s defence, for Clincy Mutanga to casually beat the chasing cover to touch down in the corner. The conversion was missed, leaving the scores level at 12-12.
With Ben Foran masterfully controlling the game, Clon gained field position and possession in the Barnhall 22. New cap Sam Lemberger secured a mountain of rucks which gave Clon quick ball to challenge Barnhall. Eventually given a penalty after successive ruck infringements, Ben10 took a quick tap and grounded the ball NFL style to score Clon’s third try. Clon now led 19-12.
The second half kicked off with Dylan McHugh showing the family resemblance to his uncle Colm Tighe, skittling several players in every carry and smashing every carrier that came his way. He was followed closely by his bash brother, Dar Dar Madden. After another huge carry by Ali Collier, the men in yellow were close to the line. Paul Gifford made several important plays organising the forwards, resembling a younger Peter Stringer. It’s rumoured Giff’s new slimmed-down look is inspired by the former Ireland number 9. Clon crashed over with a huge drive by McHugh, who is going from strength to strength in his first year of senior rugby.
Again, Barnhall responded strongly with a try, leaving Clon ahead by 26-19.
Clon then picked off an intercept through Delaney after some great defensive effort, particularly through another man in his debut season, Danny Beggs. Clon now led 33-19.
Clon’s discipline started to wane, with Barnhall’s number 8 making some huge ground. A high tackle by Gifford led to a yellow card for the Clon loosehead prop. Clon’s defence was strong but was eventually breached twice more to set up a nail-biting finale. Clon now led 33-31.
Ben Foran continued to pin Barnhall back with his accurate kicking game, with Clon’s kick chase putting Barnhall’s back 3 under pressure. All in Gordon Park are delighted to see Ben10 dragged off the golf course after 18 months of perfecting his short game.
A couple of huge carries from Shrek and a second massive break by Sas Kelly allowed Clon to gain territory in the Barnhall half, with the ref giving Clondalkin only their 4th penalty of the game, which Delaney nailed to give Clon some breathing room and eat up some valuable time on the sin-bin.
However, Clondalkin were severely under the pump as a result of numerous penalties and missed tackles. To a man, the lads showed up but the intensity of the previous 80 minutes told, with Barnhall’s bench having a strong impact. Barnhall’s sub hooker squeezed over the line, only to be held up heroically by Sas Kelly, who ruptured his ACL again in the process. This allowed a second Barnhall man to rip and place the ball for the try as Sas lay stricken. The ref gave the try which seemed strange to even some of the men in blue. Barnhall kicked the conversion for the win with the last kick of the game. The final score was 38-36 in an exciting encounter.
Despite this disappointing defeat, the mighty 2nds can take heart from a superb, gritty performance and build on it in the week ahead in training. The result now leaves the 2nds in 3rd position in a very competitive division. The 2nds welcome Old Wesley to Gordon Park next Saturday, October 16th at 3pm. All support welcome!
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