Letterkenny look for 10 in a row
Derry 3 - 36 Letterkenny
1. Dan Geoghegan
2. Eoin Parkinson
3. Finn Boyce
4. Jynaid Reyes
5. Conor Smyth
6. Isaac McElwaine
7. Mathew Duffy
8. Jack Speer - Captain
9. Ben Hopkins
10. Orrin Burgess
11. Ewan Douglas
12. Brian McGettigan
13. Tiernan McFadden
14. David Henry
15. Kaymin Shortt
Subs: Finn Nicolas, Jayden Friel, Dylan Coyle, Calum Orsi & Eoin Harris
The mood in the changing room before the match was one of calmness and quiet confidence, the lads were all focused and deep in thought as the coaches delivered their final instructions on what was a very wet and cold morning in Craig Thompson park. The word from the home changing rooms is they were out to stop the fine run of form of the charging Letterkenny Under 16s in their 9 match unbeaten run.
Derry’s warmup was certainly testament to the fact they meant business on the day as the roar from the Team huddle could be heard from Shipquay Street, but this did not sway the Letterkenny lads who were well prepared and ready to face their foe.
Derry get the game underway with the wind at their backs and kick off deep into the Letterkenny half and the ball is cleared to touch. Letterkenny challenge hard in the first line out with Issac getting lifted high in the air by Dan and Finn the ball is won and Letterkenny begin their assault, the ball is made available and with some nice interchange play Letterkenny make their way up the field. Some nice mauling by the forwards creates the platform for the ball to be run out the backs, the ball is whipped out to Orrin by Ben Hopkins and Orrin makes an initial break and spots room out wide and with a fantastic long skip pass gets the ball into the hands of a stampeding Ewan Douglas who pins back his ears and heads for the corner where he touches down for the first try of the day. 2 mins on the clock and the score is 0 – 5 to the visitors after a missed conversion.
Derry kick off long again this time and the ball is snatched from the air with confidence by the full back Kaymin Shortt inside his 22, and he chooses to put boot to ball and with a huge kick Letterkenny find themselves back in enemy territory half way between the halfway line and the Derry 10 meter line. Derry win the line out and with some strong running gain a few meters, but the Letterkenny team are determined not to take a back step and with some huge tackles from Eoin Parkinson and Brian McGettigan Derry find it hard to gain ground, Derry continue to probe the fringes but Jack Speer is having none of it and continues to put in tackle after tackle as the Letterkenny team combine to show a wall that will not be broken on the day. Derry are awarded a penalty on the 10 meter line and after some back chat to the referee he awards Derry a further 10 meters putting them in striking distance of the posts where they decide to have a go and the number 13 slots the penalty. 5 mins played 3 – 5 the score.
From the kick off Derry clear their lines and the result a Letterkenny lineout on the 10 meter line which is won in the air by a soaring Isaac McElwaine, the ball is whipped out by Ben to a surging Orrin Burgess who goes on one of his infamous runs and breaks 3 or 4 tackles to score under the posts and converts his own try. Score after 10 mins of play 3 – 12.
Derry continue to put on the pressure but again some fine tackling by all the Letterkenny team with special mention again for Jack Speer and Brian McGettigan, Derry then opt to kick over the heads as they cannot get through the drift defence that Letterkenny have maintained thus far, Kaymin however is up to the task and plucks the ball from the air and he decides this time to stretch the legs and makes 15 meters before being brought down. Derry manage to get their hands on the ball and again are on the attack, this time Jack Speer appears out of the maul with ball in hand and feeds his fellow players and they surge forward again, the ball is spilled and this time Derry are on the break with some good hands and interchange play the big number 8 finds himself one on one with Kaymin Shortt who shows no fear and flattens the big man 1 meter from the line with a try saving tackle.
Derry are awarded a penalty 2 meters out but Letterkenny show the determination that they have showed all season by only conceding 3 tries in 10 matches and stand fast, again forming that unbreakable wall. Derry continue to pressure and the game continue to be played in the Letterkenny half, and having thrown everything at Letterkenny bar the kitchen sink they cannot find a way through. Again the tackle count for Jack Speer continue to soar also that of Brian McGettigan, Conor Smyth gets in on the action with some fine tackles as in fact everyman does on the day. Letterkenny manage to turnover the ball with Isaac stealing the ball in a maul and feeding the back line, a great break by Tiernan McFadden sees Letterkenny make another 10 meters, but this time Derry show their strength and put in several big tackles of their own. Letterkenny continue through the phases and continue to make ground with some carries from Jynaid, Conor, Mathew and Jack, they feed the ball out and Orrin does another of his skip passes this time to Kaymin on the right wing who in turn sucks in the winger and sets David Henry into space but he still has work to do and with a fine run skip and a jump finds himself diving over in the right corner. Score 3 -17 as conversion just drops short.
Change at HT, Ewan Douglas after sustaining a knock comes off to make way for Finn Nicolas. The rain is really coming down now making conditions tough for both teams and supporters alike. From the off Jack Speer is first to the ball and again adds to his huge tally of tackles on the day taking out his man, Derry try to run the ball again and find some space but this time David Henry on the wing takes out the runner.
Letterkenny are award a penalty which is kicked to the 22 and the lineout is won in the air by Jynaid and the ball is whipped out again by Ben to Orrin who again takes off at pace and breaks through numerous tackles and crosses the line. 1 min in score is 3 – 24.
Finn Nicolas makes his presence felt this time with a fine tackle stopping a great chance for Derry and forces the knock on and turnover ball. Letterkenny win the scrum on their 22 and the ball this time is cleared with a huge kick from Orrin which is chased down by Kaymin who nails his man again forcing a knock on. The game resumes on the half way line with a scrum to the visitors, Letterkenny continue to make the breaks and pile on the pressure.
Another substitute is made with Finn Boyce having made a fine contribution to the game makes way for Jayden Friel with 10 mins gone in the second half.
Letterkenny are awarded a further penalty on the Derry 10 meter and Jack Speer opts for the quick tap and go and feeds Orrin Burgess who with some fine dancing feet beats several players and scores to the right of the posts. 17 mins left on the clock score 3 -31 with Orrin converting his own try.
With 10 mins left the coaches decide to empty the bench and bring on Calum, Dylan and Eoin with Conor, Tiernan and Ben making way.
Letterkenny continue their dominance and keep Derry pinned into their own half, where they have spent much of the second half, again Jack Speer needs a mention for 2 huge tackles back to back and he would need a separate statistician to keep count of them on the day.
Dan Geoghegan gets his hands on the ball and adds to his carries for the day making some good ground, he feeds Jynaid who also adds to his tally of meters on the day, Letterkenny are awarded another penalty on the 22 again a quick tap and go and the ball is fed out through the hands to Finn Nicolas on the wing and he crashes over in the left corner. Last min of the game the score is 3 – 36 with the conversion missed.
Thanks to all the hard work from Players and coaches alike and well done for making it 10 in a row and keeping the unbeaten record alive.