Naas RFC

Founded 1922

Co. Kildare

Match Report from Naas V Garryowen - AIL Sat 17th Feb 2024

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Garryowen 56 – Naas 5

Match Report: Mark Herbert

Photos: Naas Rugby Photographs

Exactly 14 weeks ago Naas produced the comeback of all comebacks, overcoming a 33-point deficit against Garryowen. It was one of the most dramatic games ever played in the Energia All-Ireland League Division 1B, or any league for that matter. Last Saturday afternoon Naas travelled to Dooradoyle for the rematch, knowing full well that the Limerick men would be hell bent on revenge. That became all the more obvious when the Garryowen side was announced, as it contained no less than eight Academy players.

Conditions were not great for this fixture with many heavy showers throughout the afternoon, and Naas were forced to make one late change to their side before kick-off, with Cillian Dempsey coming in to replace Paul Monahan.

The home side started brightly, and Naas were forced to soak up some early pressure, before eventually conceding the opening score after 11 minutes. An overthrown line-out by the visitors gave Garryowen possession just outside the 22, they quickly moved the ball out to Bryan Fitzgerald in the centre and he sliced through the Naas defence to score. Dylan Hicks added the conversion.

It was all one way traffic at this stage and it took a great tackle by Fionn Higgins on Bryan Fitzgerald after 16 minutes to stop another try, when almost immediately afterwards Oisin Kearney was held up just inches short of the Naas line. The visitors though did go further behind after 21 minutes. Again, an overthrown line-out conceded possession to the home side and after a series of phases Max Clein powered over from close range beside the posts. With Dylan Hicks tapping over the conversion Garryowen led by 14 minutes to nil.

The second quarter was largely uneventful with Naas dealing well with anything that Garryowen threw at them. With 40 minutes on the clock it appeared that the visitors would go in at the interval 14 points down and within touching distance of Garryowen, but referee Max Weston somehow found eight minutes of first-half injury time, and they were to be costly for Naas. Firstly, Cillian Dempsey received a yellow card for a high tackle and the subsequent penalty for this offence was dispatched to touch. The line-out was taken by Jeronimo Ureta Saenz Pena and Garryowen proceeded to pound away at the Naas line, before Donnacha Byrne crashed over for a try. Dylan Hicks converted to leave the interval score at 21-0 in favour of the home side.

Naas needed a quick start to the second-half but they fell further behind within five minutes of the restart. They conceded a scrum penalty which was kicked to touch. From the line-out a driving maul was set up before Donnacha Byrne broke from the base of it, he passed to Max Clein and the hooker raced away to score. Hicks was again on target with the conversion.

There was to be no dramatic fightback on this occasion!!

Max Clein was again on the scoresheet after 57 minutes and then a Naas turnover led to another Garryowen score after 65 minutes for Donnacha Byrne. With Dylan Hicks converting both tries the lead was now 42 points.

To their credit Naas kept battling away and were rewarded when Muiris Cleary showed great strength and determination to get in for a try after 72 minutes. Although the conversion was narrowly missed by Sam Cahill, Naas were not to leave the venue scoreless.

But Garryowen were not finished yet and added further tries in the closing stages by Neil Cronin and Colm Quiligan. Both were converted by Kelvin Langan to leave the final score 56-5 in favour of the home side.

There can be no arguments regarding this result. Garryowen were the superior side from start to finish and Naas will have to dust themselves down quickly for their remaining four games in the league. Next up for them is a visit to St. Mary’s College on March 2nd. The Dublin team have been the outstanding performers in the league all season, and wrapped up the division by defeating Highfield last Saturday. It will be a big test for Naas but one they will relish, as they have a great record against Mary’s over the last number of seasons and won at the venue by 27 points to 20 last season. Kick-off is at 2.30pm and as always all support will be greatly appreciated.

Garryowen: Colm Hogan, J.J. O’Neill, Bryan Fitzgerald (capt), Jack Delaney, Oran McNulty, Dylan Hicks, Neil Cronin, George Hadden, Max Clein, Oisin Kearney, Cian Hurley, Kevin Seymour, Jeronimo Ureta Saenz Pena, Jack Daly, Donnacha Byrne. Replacements: Dean Fanning, Darragh McCarthy, Des Fitzgerald, Sean Rennison, Kelvin Langan, Colm Quiligan.

Naas: Fionn Higgins, Donal Conroy (capt), Charlie Sheridan, Lance Batten, Sam Cahill, Peter Osborne, Derry Lenehan, Conor Doyle, Neil O’Hanlon, Adam Coyle, David Benn, James O’Loughlin, Cillian Dempsey, Muiris Cleary, Connor McVerry. Replacements: Francisco Bartorelli, Stephen Lackey, Evan Coyle, Eoin Walsh, Jack Sheridan, Ethan Travers.

Referee: Max Weston.

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