Cill Dara progress in Towns Cup
There was a palpable sense of relief around Cill Dara Rugby Club last Thursday night as the referee began the thrice-postponed Provincial Towns Cup 1st round tie between the Kildare Town club and Roscrea.
With the visitors’ Co. Tipperary pitch deemed unplayable, Roscrea lost home advantage and had to make the long mid-week trek to Kildare. Nonetheless, regardless of the day or venue, a Provincial Towns Cup match is always a unique and intense occasion. This game was no exception.
Roscrea ended last season’s cup campaign as beaten semi-finalist and tore into their Division 1A hosts in the opening minutes with a clear intent of progressing to the latter stages of the competition again. Using their huge pack of forwards to good effect, Roscrea attacked the ruck area, drawing Cill Dara into the concession of an early penalty. The Roscrea out half, Denis Moloney, who has the deserved nickname of “Howitzer,” blasted the ball fifty metres and over the Cill Dara crossbar to give Roscrea a 3-0 lead.
Roscrea’s joy was short lived. A missed catch from the restart, compounded by panic from the visitors’ full-back immediately gave Cill Dara a foothold close to the Roscrea line. The phases were strung together and a lovely angled run from Cormac Corcoran into the Cill Dara backline split the Roscrea defence allowing the wing forward to score under the posts. Jack Ryan converted, making the score 7-3 to Dara with only six minutes gone.
Cill Dara were now playing some sublime rugby but self-inflicted errors were preventing them from adding more tries. Pressure was, however, building on the Roscrea defence causing some players to take desperate measures. A huge Cill Dara overlap, and certain try, was prevented by an offside Roscrea back. Ryan converted the 16th minute penalty as a measure of some compensation – 10-3 Cill Dara.
Despite rarely threatening the Cill Dara try line, Roscrea did tag on two more long range penalties through Moloney. For all their pressure, Cill Dara were only one point behind on the half-hour mark – 10-9. With prop Conor McCormack making some bruising runs straight into the heart of the Roscrea defence, ably supported by Damian Broughall, Cill Dara worked hard to maintain their dominance in loose play. They did force the concession of two penalties late in the half, Ryan converted both kicks, and the first forty minutes ended with the hosts ahead 16-9.
The cup tie was there for the taking and a revitalised and hungrier Cill Dara team immediately took the game to Roscrea on the restart. The visitors’ discipline was fading and Ryan kicked another penalty in the 50th minute to extend the Kildare boys’ lead to ten points. Soon after, the evergreen Paddy Behan replaced Ryan at out-half and turned back the clock with a dazzling break, complete with sidesteps and dummy passes (worth the admission fee alone!).
As the second half developed and it became evident Cill Dara would progress, the play became fractious. In the 65th minute, one of the Roscrea back-row players was binned for an illegal shoulder charge; the referee’s whistle was now being played staccato style. Behan kicked another penalty in the 72nd minute to bring the score to 22-9 in Cill Dara’s favour and the game petered out as a contest for the remaining minutes. At full time, it was Cill Dara 22, Roscrea 9.
It was a solid start to Cill Dara’s Provincial Towns Cup campaign. Roscrea played a simple but effective forward-dominated game, “cup rugby” some would say, and Cill Dara were tested fully. The nice balance of youth and experience in the team was emphasised by Behan’s break and the Man of the Match award going to 19-year old Paudie Wall. However, with one challenge seen off, Cill Dara now travel to Moate on Sunday February 16th to play Midland Warriors in the 2nd round.
Cill Dara RFC Team: 1. Wes Kavanagh, 2. Connie Heavey, 3. Conor McCormack, 4. Billy O'Shea, 5. Shane McNamara, 6. Darragh Kennedy, 7. Cormac Corcoran, 8. Damian Broughall, 9. Barry Waters, 10. Jack Ryan, 11. Paudie Wall, 12. Jake Holland, 13. Miles Medlicott, 14. Tom Cleary, 15. Paddy Ryan.