Barnhall R.F.C. 17

Tallaght 1sts: 40

Try: Rob Hudson, Penalty Try, Simon Collie, Denny McCarthy, Andy Rudd, Aaron Shanahan
Con: Rob Hudson, Denny McCarthy 3

Metro League Division 6
Tymon Park

The Tallaght men’s first team bounced back from their first defeat of the season last week by comprehensively beating Barnhall to go top of Metro League Division 6. In the first fifteen minutes Tallaght dominated possession and their backline was cutting Barnhall to shreds with their angled running. However the tries just wouldn’t come for Tallaght as the final pass went wrong on three or four occasions where they looked certain to score.

Barnhall then had a spell in the Tallaght twenty two when they tried to smash their way over through their big pack. But the Tallaght defence held them out with centre Luke Maher making several big tackles. They did concede a kickable penalty though but Barnhall turned down the easy kick at goal to go again for the try. But the Tallaght defence, led by the hugely physical front row pair of Andy Grace and Ken McGovern, held out again and eventually turned Barnhall over in what was a crucial moment in the game. The next time Tallaght were in the Barnhall half they won a scrum on the twenty two. Number eight Adam Nolan took the ball from the base and passed to scrum-half Andy Rudd who timed his pass perfectly to put Rob Hudson away to score a try which he converted himself to make it 7-0 to Tallaght.

Barnhall did hit back with a long-range penalty to make it 7-3 but it was only a brief respite for the Kildare men. Tallaght full back Simon Collie took a ball deep in his half and set off on a superb run that left several tacklers in his wake. He passed to Hudson who looked certain to score but was stopped by a high tackle. The referee immediately awarded a penalty try to give Tallaght a 14-3 lead but Hudson had to leave the field injured as a result of the tackle and the Barnhall player really should have gotten a yellow card too.

Tallaght were playing with great confidence now and the likes of Jack Russell, Al Moore and Kevin Quinn were all making huge yards from strong carries. The next Tallaght try was expertly conceived and executed. From a lineout, centre Denny McCarthy took the ball and chip-kicked to the right wing. Hudson’s replacement Aaron Shanahan timed his run perfectly to catch the ball and immediately offload to the onrushing Simon Collie who raced away for a try under the posts. McCarthy took over the kicking but misjudged the simple conversion to kick it under the bar to leave the half-time score at 19-3 to Tallaght.

Tallaght kept the intensity up in the second half and Barnhall were unable to cope. After one too many high tackles they were shown a yellow card and Tallaght took advantage when McCarthy broke through several tacklers on to score an outstanding individual try under the posts from the halfway line. This time McCarthy made sure to put his foot through the ball with the simple conversion to make it 26-3 to Tallaght. Tallaght were cruising now and the tries kept on coming. Scrum-half Andy Rudd sold a dummy from a scrum and then raced away to score a fine try in the corner. McCarthy then expertly nailed the touchline conversion to make it 33-3 and redeem himself for the earlier miss.

Not long after Tallaght were on the scoresheet again. A break from out-half Dave Clarke put them in position and then Adam Nolan put in a perfect cross-field kick for Aaron Shanhan to gather and score his third try in two games. McCarthy added the conversion to make it 40-3 with twenty five minutes still to play. Vice captain Simon Collie was then substituted on the express orders of his fiance Aoife Davoren who wanted to get on the road early to a party in Derry. In fairness she had her hair done special like and Tallaght coaches Tom Leigh and Gary Brennan wisely chose not to argue with her.

Somewhat understandably with such a big lead, Tallaght’s performance levels dropped in the last twenty minutes. They started giving away some soft penalties and eventually Denny McCarthy capped an eventful day by being shown a yellow card after giving away one too many penalties at the ruck. Barnhall took advantage to score two converted tries to make the final score 40-17 but they were little consolation on a day when they had been comprehensively outplayed.

Tallaght coach Tom Leigh was delighted with his side’s performance. “I thought we started the match well but the final pass was letting us down. Then they came at us hard but we held them out superbly defending with real aggression. Once we scored our first try we really kicked into gear and for the next forty minutes either side of half-time we played some of the best rugby I’ve ever seen from a Tallaght team. Our execution was so good and we got six excellent tries. And yet the lads came off the field talking about three or four tries they left behind them so they know they can be even better. 

“Towards the end of the match, the man of the match question was brought up and all the coaches were struggling to pick one player as basically everyone in the 22 played so well. Our front five provided great ball and our set piece was rock solid. All our back row carried strongly to give us momentum and our half backs kept things moving fantastically. Because of injuries we had to chop and change our outside backs throughout the match yet everyone just slotted in seamlessly and the backline was unplayable at times. And all the subs who came in off the bench made a massive contribution too so we have just named the whole squad as the joint men of the match. We have one more game against bottom placed Guinness before Christmas. But good as we were today we can’t allow ourselves to be complacent and we need to stay humble and work hard in training this week to win next Saturday and then enjoy the Christmas break as league leaders.”

Men of the match: The whole match-day squad.

Tallaght RFC

1. Alan Sower
2. Ken McGovern
3. Andy Grace
4. Alan Moore
5. Scott Hyland
6. Kevin Quinn
7. Jack Russell
8. Adam Nolan (Captain)
9. Andrew Rudd
10. David Clarke
11. Rob Hudson
12. Denny McCarthy
13. Padraig Jones
14. Ciaran Rudd
15. Simon Collie
16. Tony McManus  
17. Andy Caswell
18. Niall Mahon
19. Luke Maher
20. Karl Segrave
21. Aaron Shanahan
22. Colin Morrison

Report: Jim O’Connor
Photos: Anne Kavanagh