Padhraig Jones shows off his war wounds

AIB 22

Tallaght 1sts 21

Try: Adam Nolan 2, Karl Segrave
Con: Rob Hudson, Shane Guerrine 2

Metro League Division 7
DCU Sports Campus

Tallaght took on AIB in Division 7 of the Metro League looking to maintain their place at the top of the table. After a delay of kick-off for twenty five minutes because the referee couldn’t find the ground, Tallaght played into the wind in the first half. The Tallaght pack was dominant but they couldn’t turn it into points as two kicks at goal drifted wide into the breeze. Tallaght were carrying powerfully through Ken McGovern, Jack Russell and Alan Moore but they suffered a blow when they lost their prop Andy Grace early to a back injury.

AIB had little enough ball but when they did they showed how dangerous they could be with both their centres showing good footwork and footballing skills. Against the run of play the AIB openside flanker showed a serious turn of pace as he broke through some weak tackles and sped away for a fine try which was converted for a 7-0 lead. Tallaght fought back and the forwards were producing good ball in great field positions but some poor decisions and handling from the backs let AIB off the hook. Finally just before half-time skipper Adam Nolan took command and scored a try from a tap penalty and Rob Hudson converted to make it 7 points all at half-time.

Tallaght started the second half strongly and looked to have scored an excellent try after David Clarke put Hudson away and he beat his man to score in the corner. Incredibly the referee, who had been well behind the play, decided the Tallaght fullback had been in touch even though Hudson was at least a yard clear of the sideline. AIB couldn’t believe their luck and from the lineout they cleared the ball and the returning kick back from Tallaght went straight into the hands of their openside flanker and once again he showed his speed to scorch away for his second try of the match. AIB converted to make it 14-7 and so it was a fourteen point turnaround on the back of a truly terrible call from the referee.

Things got worse for Tallaght as they lost Padhraig Jones for fifteen minutes to a bad head cut and he was soon joined on the sideline by Alan Moore who hurt his calf and Rob Hudson who broke a finger. AIB took advantage with a superb team try featuring several offloads to take a 19-7 lead. With AIB now playing the fast-paced game that suited their strengths Tallaght looked to be in trouble but their defence, led by David Clarke and the relentless Mark Keogh held them out. Then skipper Adam Nolan took the game to AIB again running a smart, direct line and then exchanging passes with Tony McManus before scoring a fine try in the corner.

Out-half Shane Guerrine, who was making his Tallaght debut, stepped up to take over kicking duties from the injured Hudson and he nailed a beauty of a touchline conversion to make it 19-14. AIB won a penalty from the restart though and converted it to take a eight point lead into the last ten minutes of the game. But Tallaght kept coming and replacement winger Karl “Moonbeam” Segrave scored a fine try in the corner and once again Guerrine scored an excellent conversion to make it a one point game at 22-21. Tallaght had three minutes left to find a winning score but they ill-advisedly tried to run the ball out of their own twenty two instead of kicking for territory and they turned the ball over and conceded a couple of penalties. In the end AIB were happy just to kick the ball out to seal the win.

Tallaght coach Tom Leigh was disappointed with the result but proud of his team’s commitment. “They’re a good team and the league looks to be a very tight race between us, them and Clontarf. Clonarf beat AIB, we beat Clontarf and now they’ve beaten us so we can see how competitive it’s going to be. But when we went 19-5 down, they looked full of running and it could have turned into a bad beating. But led by our excellent captain Adam Nolan we got it back to within a point at the end. This earned us a losing bonus point that keeps us ahead of AIB and level with Clontarf on points at the top of the table.”

“We came back at them despite losing important players like Andy Grace, Rob Hudson and Alan Moore to injury. Padhraig Jones got a bad cut but got patched up and went back out there and Ken McGovern and Mark Keogh picked up knocks during the game but played through the pain so I’ve got to pay tribute to the team’s character.”

“We got on the wrong side of a few refereeing calls but if we’re honest, we played well in certain areas but still aren’t performing as well as we can, especially in attack. We need to work harder on getting good ball to our explosive runners out wide. We know we’re capable of doing that as we’ve done it before, so we just need to work harder in training to get our skills back to that level. We’ve two league games against Bective and Navan and then a cup final against DLSP before the Christmas break. If we win all three games, we are going to be in great shape for the second half of the season.”

Man of the match: Adam Nolan

Tallaght RFC

15. Rob Hudson
14. Aaron Shanahan
13. David Clarke
12. Padhraig Jones
11. Ciaran Keane
10. Shane Guerrine
9. Andrew Rudd

1. Tony McManus
2. Ken McGovern
3. Andrew Grace
4. Mark Keogh
5. Alan Moore
6. Jack Russell
7. Alan Sower
8. Adam Nolan (Captain)

Substitute Positions

16. Andy Caswell
17. Karl Segrave
18. Daryl Keogh
19. Kevin Quinn
20. Simon Collie

Report: Jim O’Connor
Photos: Jim O’Connor