Late Drama as Ashbourne Retain Towns Plate
May 3, 2016 12:00 am client
Ashbourne became the first team in the Bank of Ireland Provincial Towns Plate history to retain the cup when they came from behind to deny Longford at the death and sneak the win.
The two in a row was accomplished on their home ground on Sunday as Longford, who led 9-8 up until the 84th minute, conceded a penalty that Ashbourne winger Casey Dunne coolly slotted over to seal the deal.
The game itself was far from a classic but it did throw up two committed and full blooded teams willing to do whatever it took to get the job done. That in turn led to tempers flaring on numerous occasions while the low scoring and tight nature of the game ensured that every possession and breakdown was fiercely contested.
It was the Ashbourne men who made the brighter start to the game, despite conceding a scrum from the kickoff. They won that scrum against the head and set the tone for the scrum battle all day. Early pressure from the home side eventually told on the scoreboard after seven minutes when Casey Dunne landed a penalty from straight in front of the goals.
Ashbourne had no shortage of chances to add to their tally but a combination of a stern and well drilled Longford defence and some in discipline from the Meath men meant that the game was poised at 3-0 until 10 minutes to go in the opening half.
After Longford won a penalty and kicked for touch deep inside the 22, they won another penalty from the next phase of play and this time, Colm Glynn opted to take the kick and he levelled the game at 3-3. Glynn was their go to guy in that opening half with some of his kicks for touch out of the top drawer.
Glynn did miss the chance to put his side ahead when he failed to convert a penalty four minutes from the break but almost on half time, he got another chance and nailed it to suddenly put Longford 6-3 up at half time having been playing second fiddle for the opening half an hour.
With only two minutes gone in the second half, Longford and Glynn landed their third penalty of the day to move to 9-3 as the game became scrappy, heated and error ridden. The only try of the game arrived in the 49th minute when good work from the Ashbourne pack gave the backs the platform to move the ball wide for Kelan Toolan to touch down in the corner. Casey Dunne missed the conversion but it brought it back to a 9-8 game with 30 minutes to play.
Scoring chances were few and far between for the rest of the game. Glynn and Dunne both missed penalties while Ashbourne hooker and Captain James McGaghy was sent to the bin for 10 minutes on 51 minutes.
As the game entered the final stages, Longford were defending resolutely but with five minutes to go, Liam Brady was sent to the bin and they had to play out the remainder of the game with 14 players.
Wirth time almost up, Longford looked to have done enough but their momentum was halted with a long stoppage owing to an injury to Justin Forde. As the time ticked by and injury time was being played, Ashbourne were awarded a penalty about 40 meters from goals in the 84th minute.
Casey Dunne stepped up and nailed the kick to make it 11-9 and although Longford had time for one last attack, they couldn’t recover and Ashbourne took the spoils.
Ashbourne: Kelan Toolan 1 try, Casey Dunne 2 pens.
Longford: Colm Glynn 3 pens.
ASHBOURNE: 15 Kelan Toolan; 14 Casey Dunne, 13 Adam Sherrard, 12 Sean Kent, 11 Matt Connolly, 10 Gavin Kennedy, 9 Conor McNally; 1 Ciaran Roche, 2 James McGaghy, 3 Alan Wall, 4 Jake Wall, 5 Conor Hurley, 6 James Rooney, 7 Mark Rooney, 8 Simon Deevy. Rolling Replacements: Frank Keegan, Mark Behan, Dan Norton, Stephen O’Neill, David Carey.
LONGFORD: 15 George McDermott, 14 Jimmy Connolly, 13 Ciaran Kennedy, 12 Shane Rodgers, 11 Joe McGowan, 10 Colm Glynn, 9 Neal Farrell; 1 Justin Forde, 2 Hughbie Connolly, 3 Dylan Quinn, 4 Benny McManus, Aaron Beirne, 6 Clifford Richardson, 7 Alaistair McCormack, 8 Derek Farrell. Rolling Replacements: Liam Brady, Ronan Keith, Jonathan Beirne, Lorcan Connolly, Fergal McGlade.
Referee: James Fitzgerald.