Team: Sat 2nd March 2019 v Ballynahinch
1. Dan Geoghegan
2. Eoin Parkinson
3. Finn Boyce
4. Conor Smyth
5. Jynaid Reyes
6. Isaac McElwaine
7. Mathew Duffy
8. Jack Speer - Captain
9. Ben Hopkins
10. Kaymin Shortt
11. Tiernan McFadden
12. Brian McGettigan
13. Orrin Burgess
14. Ewan Douglas
15. David Henry
Subs: Leon Duffy, Jack Gibbons, Odhrán Finn, Calum Orsi, Finn Nicolas, Alex McDermott & Conor Mangan
Quarter final day has arrived at last and the lads took to the field for the warmup in poor conditions with the wind blowing strong from right to left with the rain pelting down and no sign of letting up.
So the team all head back to the locker room with 15 mins to kick off with a quiet sense of optimism in the air, the lads all remained seated while the assistant coaches Shane and Michael run through the game plan as the head coaches Boyd & Andrew were unfortunately out of the country on prior engagements. The lads listened intently as the final words of encouragement were offered and when they got to their feet their captain Jack Speer also offered further words of encouragement and they all looked ready to take on the world.
They took to the field to the cheer of all the brave parents who stood pitch side in the awful conditions to support their lads.
Ballynahinch get the game underway kicking from left to right and into the strong wind having lost the toss. Letterkenny gather the ball and setup the ruck where Ben quickly feeds his outhalf Kaymin who puts boot to ball and uses the strong wind to bring play down into the right corner for a lineout to Ballynahinch. The lineout is won by Ballynahinch and they run the ball but Letterkenny are up fast and halt the attack and mange to win a penalty in front of the posts.
Orrin opts to have a go at the posts and slots his first kick of the day after 2 mins of play. [3-0].
From the restart Letterkenny run the ball back to the halfway line and are awarded another penalty when Bally stray offside. This time Orrin goes for the right corner and finds a great touch about 8 meters out. Letterkenny soar high in the lineout with Jynaid plucking the ball from the air and feeds Ben who in turn feeds the backline who can’t find a way through on this occasion but setup the maul in front of the posts on the 22, Ben again feeds Kaymin who side steps his man and makes a couple of meters and he hears the roar from David Henry out wide and with one of his trademark long passes he puts David into space and he does well to beat the last defender and score in the right corner. The conversion is right and wide and after 7 mins of play the score is [8-0].
The restart this time doesn’t go the 10 meters and Letterkenny opt for the scrum on the halfway line. Letterkenny win their scrum with some super work by the forwards and Ben gets the ball out the backline again and into the hands of Orrin who is fired up on the day and takes off on another of his fine runs making 15 meters up the field, but the ball drifts forward out of the tackle and halts the attack.
The first 15 mins of the game have been played inside the Bally half and Letterkenny continue to show their dominance in the opening phases of the match with some great scrums, lineouts and mauls. Letterkenny get another penalty between the 22 and 10 meter and to the left of the posts and Orrin again opts to go for the posts, which he duly slots home. [11-0] with 8 mins left in the first half.
Bally are not fazed at this point as many other teams might have been and put together some fine moves of their own, forwards linking with backs and some great runs, but the Letterkenny defence stands strong and as one and they cannot find a way through. Kaymin can be heard above the cheers of the crowd barking orders to his back line that follow his direction and hold strong for the remaining mins of the first half. Bally continue to mount the pressure and make it up to the 22, but spill the ball allowing Letterkenny to win another scrum and get the ball to Orrin who puts boot to ball and relieves the pressure and finds a fine touch on the halfway line. Again Bally mount another attack but the tackles keep coming in from the likes of Ben, Jack Speer, Brian and Eoin to name but a few as each and every Letterkenny player does his piece to see out the first half. [11-0]
It’s as you were for the kick off in the secondhalf and with Letterkenny now playing into the strong wind they need to stay focused.
Orrin decides to kick off low and the ball travels the required 10 meters and the match gets underway again. Ballynahich win an early scrum which they convert and come at the Letterkenny lads again, but again the defence hangs tough and halts the initial attack, but with some good mauling Bally continue to make ground and make their way into the Letterkenny half, the ball is turned over in the ruck that is formed and Ben feeds it out the back again and into the hands of Orrin who again takes off from inside his own 22 and makes another 20 meters crossing the halfway line before he is eventually brought down, they setup the ruck and again Ben feeds it out through the hands of Kaymin, Brian and again to Orrin who is on fire today and he makes another 20 meter run into the 22 before being brought down by 3 tacklers, he keeps the ball alive and pops it to Dan Geoghegan who makes good ground and feeds the charging forwards. Again it comes out the backline and out to Ewan Douglas on the wing who is brought down on the 22 and wins a penalty for his efforts.
Orrin decides to have another bash at the posts but this time the strong wind forces the ball left and wide. 5 mins played and no change to the scores.
Letterkenny win another penalty outside the 22 and they kick for the touchline on the right on this occasion.
7 mins played and the coaches make a change with Conor Smyth having played a superb first half with some great carries makes way for Conor Mangan.
Leon Duffy takes the field in place of Tiernan who had a great 45 mins.
Bally continue to battle hard but the Letterkenny defence are pulling out all the stops on the day and refusing to give an inch, Bally continue to probe for a further 7 or 8 mins but cannot find a way through.
Bally have a lineout on Letterkenny’s 10 meter line and they opt to go for the front, but Eoin Parkinson reads the move well and steals the ball and takes off on a superb solo run making 15 meters up the field before being hauled to the ground. Dan is first to get there and picks up the ball making another couple of meters and sets up the maul but the ball somehow pops out and forward.
Bally win the scrum on the halfway and try the grubber along the ground and their center looks to be through and he puts boot to ball putting the ball over the Try line and the chase is on, but from nowhere Jack Speer comes charging back and wins the race to the line to touchdown for a 22 drop out.
Bally again mount another attack and are awarded a penalty outside the 22 which they opt to kick for touch in the right corner about 8 meters out. They win the line out and come at Letterkenny again, and go through the phases but the Letterkenny lads on the day refuse to concede and mange to keep them out. Another scrum on the 22 to Bally and their big number 8 picks from the back of the scrum and it takes a double tackle to bring him down short of the line, Bally keep the pressure on and continue to probe but cannot find a weakness on the day with every Letterkenny man putting his body on the line and keeping them out.
Bally have another lineout 5 meters out but Isaac soars high and wins the lineout feeding Ben who in turn feeds Orrin who boots the ball clear to relieve the pressure, Kaymin is first to reach the fullback receiving the ball and flattens his man, but Bally are determined and keep possession and continue to run through the phases and are awarded another penalty on the 22. Bally go for the right corner and get another lineout 7 meters out. Letterkenny again steal the ball in the lineout, either Jynaid or Issac, could not see in the rain, and get the rolling maul going and make 10 meters up the field, they then feed the backline again and yes you guessed it the ball finds its way into Orrin’s hands and he’s off again and up to the 10 meter before being brought down. The maul is set and Ben feeds Kaymin who this time feeds a charging Dan Geoghegan who makes another couple of meters and holds possession, the ball is again fed out and Brian goes on a run of his own making 5 meters and he feeds Jynaid who does well to hold up the ball and set the maul.
Bally force the turn over and come at Letterkenny again and make their way up to the 22 where there is a heavy collision and the number 9 for Bally is injured.
The game resumes after a few mins with Letterkenny winning their scrum on their own 10 meter and the ball is fed out to Orrin who again takes off for the line and this time he is not to be stopped and scores under the posts. The conversion from Orrin is good and the score with 5 mins left is [18-0].
Sub with 3 mins left Orrin makes way for Finn Nicolas.
The ref blows the final whistle to the delight of the home team and the supports who all cheer in tandem.
Superb performance from Letterkenny in terrible conditions and credit to Ballynahinch who never gave up at any point in the match, and fought to the end.
Thanks to the coaches on the day Shane & Michael and to the many supporters who got drenched to cheer on their teams on the day.
Thanks to the mothers and ladies in the kitchen who provided everyone with the food afterwards and a special thanks to Zara Shortt for all the buns and Pavalova she prepared yesterday for the teams.