Nov 142017
 

Midleton Senior XV took on Malahide on November 11th in Towns Park in their final game in this run of three, having lost previously to Thomond and Sligo in the last moments of the game.  This was a must win for Tom Mulcahy’s men, who were sitting in 9th place in the table going into the match.  If the two previous losses, to second and first placed respectively, were anything to go by, this Midleton team has a lot of potential and fire power.

Malahide are new-comers to division 2C, having come up from the Junior ranks the year previously, despite this they have been playing well, going into the match with three wins and three losses, picking up a number of try bonus points on the way.  This may have been the cause of the slow start from Midleton, were they wary of the firepower Malahide clearly possessed?  That said, the first points of the game came from the ever improving Stuart Lee, who added 16 points in total for the day.

However, Malahide found themselves comfortably on top after 25 minutes, leading 3-17.  Their two tries coming from a strong running combination involving backs and forwards.  A Malahide scrum on Midleton’s 5 meter line put them in the driving seat and following a few pick and gos they went over the whitewash to add their first five pointer of the day.  With conditions good, but still wet and heavy underfoot from the previous days rain, there was a strong kicking element to the game form both sides, where on a number of occasions a series of kick tennis ensued.  One wayward kick from the home sides 22 found its way into the hands of the Malahide full back, John O’Brien took advantage of the slow kick chase to sythe his way through the defense from 40 metres out.  He offloaded to his support runner who made a long floating pass into the hands of the waiting winger who went over for a second five pointer of the day.  All of this was in the first 25 minutes, with the home side failing to make a foot hold in the oppositions 22. 

It was at this point that Tom Mul saw he had to make a few changes, and brought on a few of the more experienced players to offer a lift to the team.  The results were instantaneous as Stuart Lee found time to take another penalty kick.  The Midleton pack seemed rejuvenated having discovered a new burst of energy and started to assert their dominance at set piece time.  Malahide ceased to challenge in the air, in order to attempt to stem the surge of the maul, Midleton began finding holes and weaknesses.  Good carries again drawing in the defence ensured that the outside backs would have some room to maneuver, and that is just what they did.  Kieran Moynihan received a wide pass from Lee on the opposition ten meter line and pinned the ears back, dodging and weaving his way over the line, a number of defenders left red faced in his wake.  Lee failed to make the conversion, going into the half time break with the scores at 8-17, Malahide were not to score for the remainder of the game.

The second half started at lightning pace, with Malahide failing to deal with the kick off, Midleton found themselves on the front foot.  Following some good running from Kevin Brierly and Aidan Ware, Stuart Lee was confronted with a hard up defence, a deft kick over the top left the Malahide back three scrambling, but too late as Lee got to the ball first and dotted down, before converting his own try, 15-17.

Tom Mul used his bench wisely throughout the game, resting players at vital times to bring them back with minutes to go.  This ensured that Midleton were able to close out a game, something they had failed to do in the previous two outings.  The game seemed to be won by Malahide having been 3-17 up but as Midleton have proved already this season, they are willing to fight until the end.  Having pulled back to 15-17 with 10 minutes to go cool heads prevailed.  Patience was the theme of the day as Rob Smyth marshalled his troops for another excursion into the Malahide half, were they conceded a penalty for going off their feet on their own 10 metre line.  Some on the sideline were calling for a kick to the corner, which based on the set piece dominance would have been a logical choice, however, Smyth made the call to go for the posts, which Lee easily kicked to put the home side one point up.

Patience again prevailed as Michael “Yorkie” Cronin led fro the front to put the home side again into kicking range of the posts.  Another penalty, this one for offside.  The final five minutes held echoes of the previous week were Lee missed a kick at goal at the death to win the game.  Having found his confidence again, Lee stepped up to split the posts, 21-17 to Midleton, three minutes to go.

It was now that the previous two games showed their worth to Midleton, having lost at the death twice in a row, they were not going to let it happen again.  The experience earned on those occasions ensured yet again that patience was the theme of the day, the referee informed Smyth that it was all over, and Stuart Lee blasted the ball too touch.  21 – 17 to Midleton.

 

 

Oct 032017
 

Midleton Senior 1st IX played against a travelling Bangor side on Saturday the 30th of September in Towns Park.  Final score read 8 – 15 to the visitors in  what was a tough game for the home side.  Telling signs from early on in the game through the set piece, which Bangor had full control of.

Buoyed by a late converted try to secure a bonus point draw last weekend away to Omagh, the Midleton men started on top with some good running rugby and soft hands from the pack, finding the soft shoulder and winning collisions for the first 10 minutes.  This early pressure led to a well taken try from Rian Hogan who dotted down in the corner, Rob Smyth claiming the assist.  This seemed to wake up the travelling side who then started to mount the come back.

With both sides playing a similar brand of attacking rugby it was difficult to see where the defensive walls would be broken.  Time and time again the respective forward packs would lock horns around the ruck and the 9/10 channel, none able to claim dominance.  It was at scrum time that a well versed Bangor pack showed the damage that they could do, with the Midleton men having to scramble to claim their own ball.  The conditions had calmed from the earlier warning of heavy rain and it was dry for the most part, however, there seemed a layer of damp on the ball at all times as the knock-ons  were consistent throughout, to the dismay of the home side.  The effort at scrum time began to tell as the visiting team found a few gaps.  Scrum half, Lewis Bret, burst through the defense to find himself one on one between the fullback and the try line.  Some foot work and power put him over the white wash by a matter of centimeters.  The visitors converted to make the score 5-7.  Respective outhalfs traded penalties to send the sides 8-10 going into the break. That was to be Midletons last score in the game.

The second half story line went much the same as the first, with Bangor unable to convert there dominance in the scrum.  A number of key substitutions made by Tom Mul before and at the break may have contributed to this, with the introduction of three new faces into the tight 5.  This gave Yorkie Cronin some extra time at the back of the scrum to  retrieve the ball, ensuring more of a contest on our own set piece.

The travelers added a further 5 points following some miss communication in the outside backs which led to a lineout on the Midleton 5 metre  line.  Bangor knocked on the door for multiple phases before fining a weakness.  The home side were not getting around the corner of the ruck quick enough, giving some of the big men a chance to run at the backs from close range.  The ensuing conversion hit the crossbar, the home side leaving out a sigh of relief.

The final stages of the game were touch and go as Bangor pushed for more points and Midleton desperately held on for the losing bonus point.  The final phase of the game came in the shape of a scrum, just outside the Midelton 22 slightly left of the posts, what would be a perfect kicking position should there be a penalty.  The call came in from the Bangor management to try and eek a penalty out of the past scrum, however, the visitors were too eager.  They got the ball back to the number 8s feet and were abut to begin their surge forward when a slip happened.  With the ball at the back of the scrum referee, Tim Townend, ordered Bret to use it.  Mercifully it was kicked to touch to end the game at 8-15, both sides managing to go away with points.

The next game is against Bective Rangers, in Donnybrook on Saturday 7th October.  This will be the last game in a block of four before a deserved two weekend break from AIL.  The next home game is against Munster rivals Thomond on the 28th of October.

Sep 262017
 

The Senior IX made the long trip away to Omagh on Saturday, 23rd September.  The lengthy trip proved to take its toll on the Midleton men, who made a slow start to the game conceding early tries.  However, the team showed fantastic spirit to claw back a draw with the last play of the game.  The try was scored and converted by Stuart Lee, who added 14 points to his tally of 15 last week.  This consisted of three conversions and a penalty, all in conditions that were less than favorable for the kickers on each side, however, it was Lee who came out on top, with the Omagh kicker Scott Eliott going wide of the posts on three occasions.

From the first play of the game it was apparent that the Omagh backs had a thirst for the wide spaces on the pitch, and a knack for exploiting them excellently.  A few good runs, offloads and lucky bounced saw the home side go 10-3 up early on in the game.  Rob Smyth rallied the troops and held out until half time without conceding any further.  The wind again was playing a huge factor for both teams, with kicks and lineouts going awry throughout the game.  It blew straight across the pitch, offering no distinct advantage to either team.

The second half opened much as the first, with the home side pressing hard, looking to score more tries and get that bonus point.  Going 17-3 down made the travelers dig deep to get a five pointer.  This came through a lot of hard work from the pack, earning the hard yards driving into the home 22.  Lee unleashed the outside backs who dotted down in the corner, which was expertly converted. With the score now at 17-10 the home side dotted down again to go 22-10 up.  This was narrowed shortly after from a strong forward effort and superb carries from the big men who added another 5 points.   Now at 22-17, Omagh took their chances well, despite a questionable call from referee, Brendan Cuttriss, failing to call what both sets of fans thought was a knock-on, and scored again to go 29-17 up.

John O’Neills men rallied strong to come back with further tries, backs and forwards claiming one a piece, to earn a hard fought draw.  The next home game is this coming weekend, 30th of September, against Bangor.  Kick off is at 2:30pm, for information on the pre-match lunch please contact Niall McCarthy on 085-7273190 or Andrew McCarthy on 087-9384903.  We look forward to seeing you there.

Sep 192017
 

Stuart Lee doing the damage with his boot

Saturday, 16th of September, saw the opening round of the Ulster Bank All Ireland League played out in Towns Park.  Many saw this as a must win game for the Midleton men, having stuttered to a third from bottom (7th) finish last season, against a Seapoint team who took all points on offer.  The key here is to set the scene.  Both teams fielded were much changed from last year’s opening round, with Midleton fielding nine different faces.  The preceding matches against Cashel and Old Crescent did not tell a good tale for the home side, having gone down in both of them.  However, Midleton were now in AIL mode.  The rust was gone.  The minds were sharp and the hands were crisp.  Midleton opened their campaign with a convincing win.

From the get go the Midleton men were on-top in all areas of open play, with Seapoint struggling to get their hands on the ball, which the home side moved the width of the pitch and back with ease.  Strong carries from every member of the forwards pushed the visitors back deep into their own half where the inevitable happened and Midleton found themselves 3 points up.  The pack, assisted by a pair of strong running centres, put Stuart Lee in the driving seat again to put the home side 6 points up.  This was followed later by a further 3 points to send the home side into the break 9 points clear.

The second half started much as the first finished, with Midleton looking untouchable in defence, not letting anything through without a fight.

Scenes of victory in the dressing room

Another surge forward from a strong Midleton pack followed by a good carry from Rory Horgan, playing first centre, put Midleton in a commanding position just outside the opposition 22.  Stuart Lee gathered lightning pass from skipper, Smyth, to set up Yorkie Cronin who came in hard off his shoulder.  Breaking up the middle, thundering towards the try line went Yorkie, before he was taken down.  A quick battle for the ball ensued, Midleton winning, before Lee found himself with the ball in hand again.  He held on just long enough for the gap to open up out wide, and floated a perfectly weighted pass into the hands of young Rian Hogan who went over in the corner.  Lee missed the chance to put the gap at more than 14 points.  From here the home side set themselves back up in the opposition half to add a further 6 points, giving a 20-0 lead with ten to go.

The effort began to tell on the home side as tackles began to lose their sting and Seapoint made their way into Midleton’s half.  They dotted down twice for 2 unconverted tries to leave the score at 20-10 in favour of Midleton.

A strong display in all from a much improved Midleton side, however t John O’Neill and his men will need to be iron a few creases over the season to secure a place in the top four.

Sep 122017
 

A strong wind on the day made lineouts tough

Last Saturday the 9th of September, saw Midleton take on Old Crescent in Towns Park for a 2pm Kick Off.  Perhaps it was the early kick off, it is usually 2:30pm, which saw the Midleton men napping for the first 15 minutes to allow the visitors to establish a lead before finally putting points on the board.  There were a few absences on both sides as they prepare for the AIL this coming Saturday, however, both teams were still gunning for the win.  Following some strong forward play from both teams, leaving the set piece in a deadlock, the backs were given room to move the ball and exploit the wide channels.  This Old Crescent did more effectively and always seemed to find an overlap.  This was caused, in part, by the effort the forwards were putting in at set piece, as they became slower to come around the corner to support a backline that was without Captain Rob Smyth as well as the injured Dan Murray, who broke his jaw against Cashel two weeks previous, we wish him a speedy recovery.  This resulted with Old Crescent going into the break with a three tries to two lead at 20-26.  Scorers for Midleton were the returning Paul Daly, who came off the bench, who made a glorious sliding catch from a Stuart Lee cross field following a bullocking run from Rory Horgan, to dot down over the line.  Lee easily landed the conversion which added to his earlier penalty. The second home try came from new comer, Aidan Ware, who scored a neat pick and go following some strong running rugby by Michael “Yorkie” Cronin and Jon Gardiner.  The theme for Midleton Continued with the two aforementioned forwards combining with the ever present Kevin Brierley, who made the hard yards in to the opposition 22 to give Stuart Lee a chance to add a further 3 points to bring us into the break.

Stuart Lee lining up a successful conversion

 

It was the travellers who came out refreshed and started strong, adding a further four tries to the three they scored in the first half.  Disappointing to see considering how strong the Midleton men were going into half time, it was all set up for a glorious come back that just wasn’t to be.  A further try came from Yorkie but it was too little too late for the home side as the game finished up 25-45.  A few injury concerns came up for the home side with prop Tom Keavney and second row Aaron Hogan both going off injured.  It is always tough to see someone getting stretchered off but we wish Padraig Monoghan a speedy recovery, from all in Midleton RFC.

A lot of work to be done by the Midleton men before their opening game against Seapoint, who are travelling down from Dublin.  It must be noted that we succumbed to Seapoint on both occasions that we played them last year but it has to be said that the brand of rugby played on both days was open and exciting, with little to separate the sides.  We hope  it is the same this Saturday, 16th at 2:30, except with a more favourable result!