Conor Dunne kicked all nine points for Tullamore in their All-Ireland League Division 2C play off defeat
Tullamore can be very proud of their effort last Saturday against a hotly tipped Enniscorthy side in the play off semi final.
Enniscorthy finished top of the table during the regular season, and earned a home semi final in the process. The side had won 16 out of their 18 league games. Tullamore finished 4th and were building nicely leading into this fixture.
The game started at a frantic pace, and Enniscorthy spent the opening minutes trying to carry the ball out of their own 22. Tullamore made an early statement of intent through some massive tackles by Cathal Behan, Gavin Kelly and Ciaran Ennis. This eventually forced a turnover and Tullamore immediately attacked with intent. Tullamore were awarded a penalty on the half way line. Conor Dunne opted for the posts and buried the 50 metre effort straight over the black spot.
Tullamore ralied once more and worked their way into the Enniscorthy half once more. Conor Dunne probed and tested the defence every phase with smart passing and incisive runs. Conor Kelly carried on his fine season with some massive carries and was well supported by Kevin Browne and Lance Batten. At scrum time the visitors dominated, and were awarded with a penalty on the 10 metre line. Conor Dunne split the uprights to stretch the lead to 6 points.
Enniscorthy looked dangerous in patches during the half. The Wexford men played an expansive brand of rugby, and stretched the Tullamore defence. Lance Batten and Karl Dunne made some notable tackles to keep the home side at bay at different stages. Tullamore finished off the half with another fine penalty from Dunne, leaving the half time score at 9-0.
Tullamore faced a strong wind in the second half, and found themselves carrying a lot more ball into contact rather than kicking into the elements. The tight five worked exceptionally hard, Mark Kennedy, Matthew Murphy and Mike Tormey got through a lot of the dog work and made life very hard for Enniscorthy. The game ebbed and flowed, and Enniscorthy began to maintain territory and possession.
The red and black wall was eventually breached in the 60th minute, when Enniscorthy scored after 15 plus phases. The extras were added to close the gap to 2 points. Tullamore gained possession from the restart and worked their way to the 5 metre line. Barry Bracken, the Kelly's and Ger Molloy all made crucial metres during this period. The turning point of the game also came during this period. Sam Burns passed the ball to Brian Geraghty, who was tackled just short of the line. The ruck was formed and one of the Enniscorthy players flicked the ball out of the melee. The referee didn't see the infringement, and the home side made a break to the Tullamore 22. Liam Farrell sprinted from the far touchline to make a last ditch tackle to send the winger into touch and kill the play. Enniscorthy then won the line out against the head, and eventually scored to take the lead for the first time in the game. Tullamore fought valiantly in the dying embers of the game but couldn't break the resolute defence of Enniscorthy.
The final score was 12-9. It was a titanic performance from both teams, and an excellent game of rugby. Every player that took to the field added value and made an impact. Conor Kelly had a brilliant game in the pack, while Conor Dunne was excellent at scrum half. The season is now over for Tullamore, but they can certainly be proud of their efforts this season. The future is very bright, and this is a very young team with a lot of potential.
TULLAMORE: 1. Mark Kennedy, 2. Cathal Feighery, 3. Cathal Behan, 4. Mike Tormey (C), 5. Conor Kelly, 6. Ciaran Ennis, 7. Gavin Kelly, 8. Barry Bracken, 9. Conor Dunne, 10. Sam Burns, 11. Karl Dunne (Vc), 12. Lance Batten, 13. Cathal Farrell, 14. Liam Farrell, 15. Brian Geraghty.
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