Omagh are playing hosts to Midleton in the Second Round of the AIl in Thomas Melon Park at 2:30 on the 23rd of September. Both teams are coming off the back of opening round victories, Omagh coming off the worst, however, with a number of documented injuries. John O’Neill has an increasing pool of players to pick from, enabling different personnel able to tog out each week without any major drop in skill level. The travelling squad faces a long trip to be ready for the battle that no doubt awaits them. It is up to coach John O’Neill and skipper Rob Smyth to ensure that the Midleton men are fresh enough for the match, aiming for a strong start against the relative newcomers to the senior ranks. The aim for the opening four rounds of the AIL is to come away with maximum points, two games are left in the first block following the Omagh match, Bangor at home and Bective Rangers Away. Both of which will be a tough day out for the Midleton men.
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.
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.
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.
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!
The Munster Senior Cup initially took place on Tuesday afternoon in Cork where Midleton were drawn against a Garryowen side who out muscled their Limerick rivals Young Munster in the Charity Cup. However, due to some unforeseen circumstances a re draw took place on Wednesday evening. It was a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire as we have now drawn Old Cresent, former Division 2C rivals. This game will take place on Saturday the 9th of September in Towns Park.
Saturday the 26th of August saw the Senior Firsts take on Cashel at home in what was a hard-fought game. The South Munster Charity Cup has had a number of different formats over the past few years, including a gruelling full day blitz, which this year saw the Cup and Shield being split up from the beginning. This means that the competition starts with semi-finals, Midleton vs Cashel on one side and Sundays Well vs Clonmel on the other. Typically used as a pre-season warm up match for the All Ireland League, it is an opportunity to showcase new things learned in the previous few weeks as well as to try out new combinations and structures. As well as this it is fantastic to play rugby with the sun out, a rare enough occurrence.
The heat was on the home side from early on in the match with a rabbit in headlights style of play for the opening 15 minutes. Cashel ran in three tries in quick succession to put them in a leading position, one which they would inevitably hold for the rest of the game. Once Midleton got over the shock of the opening it was a far tighter affair. The first try for the men in red was scored by Michael “Yorkie” Cronin after a good passage of play that lead to a quick tap penalty on the Cashel 5 meter line. This put the score line at 7-21 to the visitors going into the break.
Martijn Korterik, who was pulling the strings from out half in the absence of Stuart Lee, added 3 points early in the second half to put the score 21-10 with plenty of time left on the clock. This was added to by Brian Moore who came off the bench at half time replacing new comer Dylan Purvis, who dotted down after a good passage of play. Martijn failed to add the extra points leaving the score at 21-15 with 10 minutes to go. The Cashel defence put in a strong display to keep the home side out and the game finished with a turnover in midfield which was then kicked out to put an end to it.
The next competitive match will more than likely be in the Munster Senior Cup, the draw for which is being made on Tuesday coming. AIL, however, is fast approaching with only three weeks until the opening game against Seapoint on the 16th of September at home.