Ashbourne Kick off League with Derby Win
The Leinster League kicked of a new season with Ashbourne entertaining near neighbours Boyne in a local North East deby. Ashbourne ran out winners by 36 points to 17 in the end, but there was 9 tries, 5 yellow cards and plenty of good rugby. The game was competitive and played in good spirit and probaly did not warrant the card count.
The pre-season for both sides was very different with Ashbourne having already played 3 competitive games in the Spencer cup with Boyne having no competitive games, and it showed early on with Ashbourne getting into their groove early on with Ashbourne more dominant. That said Boyne were very competitive and Ashbourne did not get an early breakthrough. Ashbourne had the upper hand in the scrums in particular and Boyne’s case was not helped in the 15th minute when Paul Kelly, starting his first League game with Boyne, was binned for a high tackle on McNally who was taking a quick tap on a penalty.
Ashbourne worked there way down field and when McKeon took a line out from McCaghy’s throw Ashbourne mauled their way from the 22 to the 5 m line when the maul was illegally taken down. Padraic Mongey was binned for taking down the maul and Boyne were down to 13 men. Ashbourne called a scrum and from the subsequent play a penalty try was awarded when the scrum went down. 5 minutes later the McCaghy to McKeon combination at the lineout set up anopther maul on the right in the Boyne 22 and the Ashbourne pack drove to the line with McCaghy at the back touching down. Murtagh hit the post witheth conversion and Ashbourne lead 12 nil.
With the Boyne numbers back up to 15, they started to settle into the game but they looked rusty and struggling to get their combinations right particularly in the scrum, where they were second best. Ashbourne also were holding their own in the line out and it was lineout and maul that yielded another try to Ashbourne in the 35th minute when tighthead Mark Behan broke from the back of a maul and drove over for the score. Murtagh add the 2 points.
In fairness it was really about the defending of Boyne and how they managed to hold the score down. The ball carrying of the Whittaker brothers, McKeon , Hurley and McCaghy was of the top drawer but the backrow of Keogh, Moore and Joyce Ahearne work hard, which Briscoe and Rooney moved the ball well from a set piece that was going backwards. The addition of O’Callaghan at tight head for Boyne was also a big help.
In injury time Onianwa also saw yellow for preventing a quick penalty and Ashbourne added the bonus point try when this time scrumhalf McNally took advantage of the Ashbourne line out and maul to pick from the maul and break right to scvore. Ashbourne turned at halftime with a lead of 24 points.
The second half started in a similar manner but gradually Boyne were findiung their feet. Conor Walsh was on for the visitors and he was to have a growing infleunce on the game. But it was Ashbourne added a 5th try first and it was McNally again snipping behind his forwards to get his second try. Patrick Murtagh, playing his first Leinster League game, added the points and the lead now was 31 points to nil.
Boyne did offer a threat in their backline new addition Vallejo looked impresive at fullback and both wings McCleery and Sweeny showed a great turn of pace as they worked into the game. A loneout in te Ashbourne 22 yielded the first points of the season to Boyne. Monegy’s ball from touch found Prendergast and the ball was moved to the center and Hennessey drove forward. Ashbourne infringed at the breakdown and quick thinking Moore took a quick tap and Walsh powered his way over for a try which Briscoe converted.
Any momentum was put to rest within a few minutes when Ashbourne winger Andrew Coade robbed the ball in the tackle and sprinted from the Boyne 10 meter line to score in the corner. This was Ashbournes last score and as the bench was emptied some momentum was lost. Ashbourne also lost 2 players to the bin with Mckeon and McNally spending time on the sideline. Playing with 13 men was abig boost to Boyne. That said Boyne stuck to their task and Vallejo scored an excellent try in the left corner after an excellent break with Brown putting the fullback into space with McCleery in support. Walsh added a 3rd try in the 35th minute but try as they did the 4th try did not arrive.
Both sides will learn a lot from this game and both coaches will try and address the issues during the week as they plan for round 2 next Saturday
Next week Ashbourne travel to Gorey in the Leinster League with a 3.00pm kick off. The 2nd XV have a 1.30pm kick off at the same venue.
Patrick Murtagh, Andrew Coade, Jack O’Brien, Dermot Colreavy, Andrew Gibson, Adam Martin, Conor McNally, Alan Wall, James McCaghy, Mark Behan, Ciaran Roche, Conor Hurley, Justin Whittaker, Sean McKeon, Andrew Whittaker.
Danny Norton, Frank Keegan, Jake Wall, Simon Deevy, Donal Crotty
Tries: Penalty Try; James McCaghy, Mark Behan, Conor McNally x 2, Andrew Coade
Conversions: Patrick Murtagh x 2 (Penalty automatic conversion)
Conor Walsh x 2; Robert Vallejo x 1
Conversions: Michael Briscoe x 1