Athlone IT: 12
DCU squeezed out a win by the narrowest of margins at home to Athlone IT in the Colleges and Universities Rugby League game in St. Clare’s last Wednesday.
DCU were forced to wear training bibs for the entire game due to the late arrival of their new kit, however the jersey situation had minimal effect in a match heavily affected by harsh weather conditions.
The home side started with an extremely strong wind at their backs, as Athlone out-half Ben Porter kicked off the game only for the wind to throw the ball back towards his side which resulted in a DCU scrum.
Athlone found it hard to settle with the strong wind in the opening minutes, and on 8 minutes a tackle from the side of the ruck resulted in a penalty for DCU 25 metres out, but captain Richard Keane didn’t account for the breeze and struck to the left and wide.
However, it was the captain who opened the scoring ten minutes later when he nailed his penalty between the sticks.
Although DCU had the advantage of the breeze, Athlone did show more creativity and, through winger Jordan Conroy, nearly touched down after 26 minutes but his kick skidded over the end line.
The away side did force their way up the pitch towards the end of the first half but found it difficult to break DCU’s defence down.
Keane did have two dead-ball opportunities to stretch DCU’s lead before half-time but struck left on both occasions as his side went into the break 3-0 up.
Fortunately for the Glasnevin side the breeze had settled down over the interval but the start of the second period looked bleak as Darren Brady was sent to the sin bin in the 42nd minute.
Athlone won a series of penalties in the oppositions half but chose to kick for touch as they sought the elusive try with their extra man advantage.
As Brady came back on, DCU prop James Puthaaree was yellow carded. Athlone finally made the extra man count in the 54th minute when Jordan Conroy raced into the corner to score the first try of the game. Full-back Peter O’Neill missed the conversion.
In the 57th minute DCU won a penalty 30 metres out and chose to go for the posts against the breeze. Cormac O’Leary took over kicking responsibilities and duly converted his monstrous attempt which turned out to be a turning point in the game.
Shortly after, a fantastic run and side step by O’Leary opened up the Athlone defence and the ball was popped off to substitute Paddy Thornton who touched down under the post. Keane converted to put the game at 13-5.
Then five minutes from time Conroy broke through once again and touched down for his, and Athlone’s, second try. Peter O’Neill converted to set up a tense finish but DCU’s resilience saw them over the line.
DCU: Darragh Ballanova, Eoin Ferry, James Puthaaree, Ben Mortimer, Andrew Dalton, James O’Reilly, Jacob O’Keefe, Darren Brady, Mark O’Reilly, Richard Keane C (5 points, 1 pen 1 conv.), Cian Browne, Gerard Young, Cormac O’Leary (1 pen), Sam Murphy, Elliot Stone. Subs: Rob Jones, Eoghan Quinn, Ollie Hamilton, Padraig Wall, Conor Reilly, Conor Ryan, Paddy Thornton (1 try), Owen Waldron.
Athlone team sheet unavailable.
Picture credit: David Clarke