On a beautiful morning in Letterkenny, close neighbours City of Derry RFC visited Dave Gallaher Park to play Letterkenny Minis at all levels.
The Under 11 and Under 12 squads had 30 players present and divided the squad into two teams the Hawks and The Eagles to play our visitors and to also play each other.
The hard running Derry team tore into the Letterkenny Hawks defence and some high tackling by the 'kenny boys did not help as the gaps started to open up for the first two scores by Derry. Gradually the Letterkenny boys realised they had to tackle early and lower around the legs to stop the Derry boys from getting through. Letterkenny started passing the ball and kept the ball alive with some great running and using the space out wide to great effect to start scoring some great tries. Ciaran Connaghan, Conor Gallagher and Ethan Meehan soon got on the scores sheet with Conor Kenna giving great service fro scrum half. New prop Kieran Dickson got stuck in at the breakdown and won the ball at several rucks. Harry Lee also showed good awareness and made some intelligent passes. Jack Robinson was everywhere as usual and stole the ball on a number of occasions. Shea McCarron and Stephen Coll ran some good angles and made some great offloads to keep the ball alive. More tries were scored during the game as Derry continued to run hard and straight through their big runners and Letterkenny continued to move the ball wide and use the speed on the wings
The Letterkenny Eagles then stepped up to play Derry and a similar pattern developed but with slightly better tackling from Letterkenny, although the contacts were still to high. Again the Letterkenny Eagles used the passing to find width and worked speedster Oisin McGuinness over in the corner. Rory O'Brien started to control the game from out-half and Davy Geoghegan showed and high work rate and great strength to make good ground before making the ball available. Finn McLaughlin also showed great pace and bravery in the tackle zone and made his presence felt. Ollie Worth made some great breaks from centre and spun some well timed passes to the outer players. Jarrod Arenhold and Ciaran Burke combined well to make ground and Noah Johnston was busy in the tackle and the at the breakdown. Dan Gallagher used his pace and sidestepping skills to beat several players and gave well timed passes swell as one impressive dummy sending the defence the wrong way. Sean Bundschu used his direct strength to power through some Derry tackles and move the ball up the pitch.
The Letterkenny sides then played each other in a great contest with superb handling and maybe more enthusiastic tackling against their mates.
All the matches were played in excellent spirit and with high levels of sportsmanship. The coaches of both sides were happy with this as a first match of the season. All players are encouraged to keep practising passing and focus on working on low tackles as the basics for the season. Maybe a bit more straight running would also help the game, before moving the ball early.
Well done everyone - this was a fantastic turn out and a great start to the season.
U12 blitz in Coleraine this coming Friday at 6.30. Leave from Tobin's filling station in cars at 5pm sharp. Please bring gum shields and spare warm clothes and a drink.