On a cold crisp day in Naas RFC, Naas CBS played Mount Temple of Dublin in the first round of the Mc Mullan Cup…

Both schools had tough league campaigns leading into the Cup, with Naas losing a key fixture, away to East Glendalough in Wicklow, and Mount Temple competing strongly in the B league, a division above Naas.

Naas started off up the hill with the wind on their back. Both teams were nip and tuck showing some good ball handling skills. Mount Temple threw some good attacks at Naas using in particular their very strong-running full-back who was dangerous every time he touched the ball. The Naas midfield partnership of captain Calum Fitzsimons and Daniel Devlin tackled everything that came their way. Naas took an early lead with a penalty struck over the post by No.10 Paddy Brickell from just outside the Mount Temple 22.

After the restart, Mount Temple went for a long drop off which slipped out of the hand of Brickell, allowing the Northsiders their first threatening attack inside they Naas 22. After three phases of play, the CBS defense proved to be too strong and Mount Temple missed a drop goal narrowly.

The Naas set pieces were starting to dominate the game, as well as managing to disrupt many of the oppositions line outs on which was a tough day for hookers in the wind. Naas spent much of the opening period in the their opponent’s half, with the first try finally coming from some clever attacking down the blind side, twice going around the corner to gain ground. The first phase was carried in by the forwards, sucking in the defenders, then going blind again, leading to a great finish by the left winger Brin Sheridan, stepping around his opposite winger and inside the covering full back. The conversion from out near the touchline was narrowly missed by Brickell.

The Mount Temple out half varied his play between back line moves and some clever kicking in behind the Naas cover. If the wind had been the other direction, this could have pinned Naas back more. Eventually, Mount Temple won a penalty near the Naas 10-metre line, with the kick just falling short of the posts. The clearance kick by Naas failed to reach touch, allowing the Mount Temple full back to run the ball right back at Naas. It resulted in another penalty to Mount Temple, this time for Naas hands in the ruck. This was converted by Mount Temple making the scored 8-3 to the home team.

Naas forwards started to rumble just before half time with some good carries by Adam Coyle, Sean Nolan and Michael Russell, breaking the gain line every time. Naas soon got their second try scored by blind side flanker Jack Hanrahan, who got on the end of some good recycling by the forwards. The conversion from a tough angle was missed, leaving the score 13-3 at half time.

The second half was to be won by the defenses as both team failed to score tries. The Naas line out and stronger scrum disrupted any set piece plays by Mount Temple, but Naas seemed to lose some composure, through handling errors and giving away penalties in the rucks. A break away by Michael Russell in the second half provided an off load to Ross Cleary who knocked on. This was cleared up by the Temple full-back, who charged up the field evading numerous tacklers, only to be caught by a fabulous cover tackle by second centre Daniel Devlin.

After both out-halves traded penalties in the second half, the score finished 16-6 to Naas with Brickell’s late penalty the key score in a tight game. Man of the match went to Naas tight head prop Adam Coyle, who relentlessly looked for work around the park.

Naas go on to play Moyne CBS next week which is a replay of the A League Final last year and the team is as follows:

1: Stephen Lackey
2: Paul Furlong
3: Adam Coyle
4: Cian Murphy
5: Michael Russell
6: Jack Hanrahan
7: Devlin Nugent
8: Sean Nolan
9: Andrew Kelly
10: Paddy Brickle
11: Diarmaid Smyth
12: Calum Fitzsimons (c)
13: Daniel Devlin
14: Brin Sheridan
15: Darragh Mulhall
16: Rhys McCabe
17: Ciaran Mattocks
18: Victor Amand
19: Ross Cleary (for Smyth)
20: Ross Fitzsimons
21: Darragh Gyves
22: Rian Pearse