Team: Sat 9nd March 2019 v Armagh
1. Dan Geoghegan
2. Eoin Parkinson
3. Jayden Friel
4. Conor Smyth
5. Jynaid Reyes
6. Isaac McElwaine
7. Mathew Duffy
8. Jack Speer - Captain
9. Ben Hopkins
10. Kaymin Shortt
11. Ewan Douglas
12. Brian McGettigan
13. Orrin Burgess
14. Leon Duffy
15. David Henry
Subs: Eoin Harris, Finn Boyce, Odhrán Finn, Tiernan McFadden Finn Nicolas, Alex McDermott & Conor Mangan
It takes blood sweat and tears to win a rugby match and today there was no shortage of all three ingredients in a bruising encounter with a strong, determined Armagh side who look destined to lift the under 16s cup this year.
Armagh get the match underway kicking from right to left and the wind blowing strongly across the field and somewhat into the Armagh faces for the first half. Armagh are first to react to the kick off and jump high to snatch their own kickoff, but the Letterkenny pack work hard and turnover the ball allowing Ben to feed Kaymin who does a little chip over the top allowing the Letterkenny backs to chase down the ball and secure possession, Letterkenny keep the surge going and heap on the pressure in the early stages but the Armagh boys are up for it and keep them out.
For the first ten minutes both teams play some lovely rugby but neither able to break the line as they both start well and neither willing to give an inch. Letterkenny again win possession on the half way line and run through several phases making a few meters each time, the ball is then whipped out the line and into the hands of Ewan on the wing who decides to chip ahead and finds a good touch 5 meters out. Letterkenny steal the line out on this occasion which as it turns out is a rare occurrence in today’s match as the wind made for difficult throwing for the hookers. The ball is again run out the line and finds Orrin this time who goes on a run but is well marked by 2 big Armagh defenders who take him down short of the line. Armagh turn over the ball and set off down field themselves but again some fine tackling from forwards and back alike on the Letterkenny side prevents them from scoring.
Sub: Brian McGettigan after taking a knock makes way for Tiernan McFadden
Armagh secure another ruck on the halfway line and their scrumhalf feeds the big prop forward who hits the line at pace and finds himself one on one with David Henry, but with a superb tackle David was able to sleigh Goliath on this occasion and prevent a certain try. Armagh hold onto possession and keep the pressure on running through the phases and getting to within a few meters of the try line but some desperate defending from the Letterkenny backs sees them held out on this occasion.
Letterkenny concede a penalty 5 meters out and Armagh opt for the scum, their big number 8 picks from the back of the scrum and goes for the line but again some fine defence sees him held up short, but from the ruck Armagh again pick and drive and cross the line to the left of the posts for the first try of the match after 12 mins of play. The conversion however drifts left and wide and the score is [0-5].
From the kickoff the big number 8 again comes charging at Letterkenny but Ewan is up to the task and brings him down. Armagh continues to mount the pressure but give away a penalty on the Letterkenny 10 meter. Kaymin steps up and taps it quickly and goes on one of his runs and makes 30 meters up the field before being brought down by two defenders but Armagh manage to steal the ball again.
Again the next 10 mins of play is end to end stuff with both teams giving their all, some fine ground work by Jack Speer sees him steal the ball in a ruck and Ben feeds Kaymin who in turn feeds Jynaid this time who makes another few meters, and sets up the ruck and the ball again is run out the backline and Kaymin tries another chip over the top which is taken by their full back and Kaymin is first there and flattens his man, but the 15 does well to hold onto the ball and keep possession for Armagh who mount yet another attack. Armagh go through the phases and continue to make good ground with some fine running from their backs but Letterkenny again show their defensive skills and refuse to concede.
Letterkenny turnover the ball again and again go through the phases making some good ground themselves, they setup the ruck and Ben again feeds Kaymin who puts in a huge Gary Owen and the fullback for Armagh is under pressure with Mathew Duffy coming at him at full tilt, Mathew nails his man but again the full back does well to hold possession while his forward get back to support him.
Armagh again run it out the line and their winger this time finds himself with some open ground and sets off for the line but Kaymin and Orrin are having none of it and with a fine turn of pace both hit him at full pace and flatten the winger into touch.
Letterkenny win the line out on this occasion with Jynaid soaring high and tapping back to Ben, Letterkenny are on the attack again and make it up to the 22 but the Armagh defence are not backing down and refuse to let them through, Letterkenny keep the pressure on and keep probing but the Armagh lads are holding strong, and turnover the ball again and come at Letterkenny, with some fine running from their backs they again find themselves 5 meters from the Letterkenny line where they setup the ruck, this time they feed their big number 7 who takes the ball at full pace and is impossible to stop from 3 meters and he scores the second try of the day to the left of the posts.
Their outhalf this time makes no mistake and slots the conversion leaving the score at half time
Sub: Conor Smyth makes way for Conor Mangan
Letterkenny get the second half underway from the boot of Orrin, who kicks off deep into the Armagh 22, they secure the ball and put boot to ball with a huge kick down field which is gathered by David Henry who tries to run it out of his 22 but gets caught by the chasing Armagh players, he does well though and holds possession while he waits for the support of the pack. Jynaid picks up the ball and makes 5 meters and sets up another ruck, and the ball is quickly fed to Orrin who takes off like a bullet from a gun and he weaves his way through heavy traffic leaving a wake of missed tacklers in his path and scores a sensational solo try under the posts after 2mins of play. Kaymin steps up and takes the conversion which is slotted through the posts. [7-12].
Conor Mangan gathers the restart but Armagh are quick to get there and steal possession and with some quick hands they get the ball to their number 13 who breaks several tackles and scores in the right corner. The Armagh kicker puts in a huge kick from the touchline and somehow manages to score the conversion with a strong cross wind. Score after 4 mins of play [7-19].
Much of the next 10 mins of play is a stalemate with both sides giving their all and neither able to find a way through. Letterkenny win a penalty on the 10 meter line and Orrin taps quickly but again is brought down after 5 meters. The penalties keep coming for Letterkenny inside the Armagh half but the Armagh defence refuse to give an inch. Kaymin tries another of his chips over the top and the ball goes over the try line but the full back for Armagh gets their first and touches down for a 22 out. Letterkenny gather the kick and continue to mount the pressure on Armagh who find themselves on the back foot for much of the second half, but they continue to do enough to keep Letterkenny from crossing the line. The penalties for Letterkenny keep coming but Armagh have their defence set well and refuse to concede. Again Kaymin goes for another chip but the full back does well yet again to gather and secure possession, Letterkenny are throwing everything at them now including the kitchen sink but the Armagh defence are superb on the day and refuse to lie down.
Armagh are awarded a penalty this time and mount an attack and find themselves on the Letterkenny 22, but again some indiscipline and the ref is forced to award yet another penalty to Letterkenny which Orrin boots high in the air and it is gather by Armagh who come at Letterkenny again, they go through the phases and are edging closer and closer to the try line.
With 10 mins left Mathew Duffy who had a number of great carries and some big tackles makes way for Eoin Harris.
Armagh again finds themselves in the Letterkenny half and run through the phases until they are 5 meters out, they setup the maul and several of the backs also join in and they drive the maul over the line and are awarded the try. The conversion is good and the score with 5 mins left is [7-26].
In the dying mins of the game Letterkenny show some great resolve and continue to run through the phases taking the play into the Armagh 22, again they are award several more penalties which Orrin taps and goes and is brought down short each time but they now find themselves 5 meters out and are awarded the scrum. They win the scrum and feed the ball out the backline to Orrin who barges over in the left corner to the delight of the home crowd. The difficult conversion is missed by Orrin from way out wide leaving the score at [12-26].
The ref blows the final whistle and Armagh emerge the victors of what was a very tough and physical battle.
Thanks to all the lads on the full squad and especially the lads who were chosen on the day to Face off against a well drilled, strong Armagh side who we wish all the success in the final.
Thanks to Boyd, Andrew, Michael & Shane for all their support and encouragement through out what was a fabulous season for this fine Under 16s team and of course to all the parents who supported their lads all year.
Thanks also to the ladies who provided the food on the day, which was highly complimented by the all the Armagh players, coaches and parents, thanks Zara Shortt for the homemade maple biscuits.
I believe lessons have been learned from today’s match and this will help the team prepare to meet Armagh again in 3 weeks’ time.