AIL Division 2C Rugby
Pens (2) and Conversion Stuart Lee, Try Louis Farnham
Pen and Conversion Karl Dunne, Try Eoin Farrell
Midleton welcomed Tullamore to Towns Park for the resumption of the second half of the AIL Division 2C fixtures which are the reverse of the opening half. That means that Tullamore were the last side Midleton played before Christmas so this back to back fixture would be an opportunity for Tom Mulcahy’s side to keep the pressure on leaders Ballina who will visit Towns Park on February 16, so a home win was vital.
Midleton, to their credit delivered the result against a tough Tullamore side on a perfect day for rugby. It took an injury time Louis Farnham try converted by Stuart Lee to turn impending defeat into a glorious victory for the home side. It was tough luck on a Tullamore side that dominated for long periods against a Midleton side that at times looked flat.
The opening score went to the visitors with Karl Dunne slotting over a difficult 40 metre penalty to give Tullamore a great start. Midleton were slow to settle and when they did look like creating something, they took a wrong option with Benji Cottle over throwing a pass when Midleton looked set to score. It was that kind of afternoon, but Midleton did draw
level by the 20th minute when sustained pressure yielded a penalty that saw Stuart Lee convert. Neither side could get a grip on proceedings with Barry Bracken and Laurius Viapulu making good breaks for the visitors who took the lead coming up to half time. A period of sustained pressure by Tullamore saw Sam Burns kick to the corner with full back Sean McCabe going highest to knock the ball into the path of Eoin Farrell who got over in the corner. Karl Dunne slotted the conversion from a very difficult angle as Tullamore led by 10-3 at the interval.
Things were slow to improve for Midleton but Benji Cottle did make a good break, with Stuart Lee kicking ahead but Tullamore won the race for the touchdown. On the hour mark the Midleton pressure yielded a penalty and wisely captain Stuart Lee decided to take the points on offer rather than go for the corner. In hindsight this proved to be the correct decision in a game that was incredibly tight as Tullamore forced Midleton to defend for long periods, and when Midleton did get upfield Tullamore also kept them out with some fine defending.
On a day that Midleton looked as if they would have to settle for a losing bonus point, they came up with a match winning move. The Midleton forward division will hardly have had a tougher outing but in time added on for injury they conjured up one final effort. Several stages of carrying the ball were repelled forcing Rob Smyth to look to the wings and with a tiring Tullamore struggling to get across, the ball was flung out to Louis Farnham who used his speed and strength to get across the line for the winning try. It put Midleton 1110 in front and a marvellous conversion from Stuart Lee saw Midleton snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. It was tough luck on a gallant Tullamore side that more than played their part in this hard-fought contest. They did get a losing bonus point at least for their efforts.
Midleton must go on the road next with a trip to City of Derry next weekend and they will need to perform much better if they are to keep their winning run going. Prior to the game both sets of players stood in silence for the memory of Ann McCarthy and Pierce Smyth both who passed away in the previous few days. May They rest in peace.
Midleton: Kevin Brierley, Bryan Moore, Mark Corby, Jon Gardiner, Denis Broderick, Charlie Murphy, Aidan ware, Rob Carey, Rob Smyth, Stuart Lee Captain, Rian Hogan, Martijn Korterik, Benji Cottle, Maurice Daly and Daniel Murray.
Replacements used: Cormac Ryan, Ger McIntyre, Stephen Hickey, Michael Cronin and Rob Mitchell.
Tullamore: Mather Murphy, Cathal Feighery, Eamon Bracken, Laurius Viapulu, Scott Rigney, Ken Browne, Gavin Ridgeway, Barry Bracken, Sam Burns, Karl Dunne, Eoin Farrell, Brendan McSweeney, Dylan Kelso, Tom Gilligan and Sean McCabe.
Replacements: Conor Ennis, Andy Hyde, Stephen Pyke, Mike Tormney and Cathal Behan.
Referee: Daithi Flood
Midleton Coach Reaction
Midleton Head Coach Tom Mulcahy was hugely relieved but at the same time delighted with his sides display that saw them show character to turn defeat into victory. We were on a good run up to Christmas and it was important that we carried it into today but for some reason we were very flat and made a huge amount of handling errors and a few poor decisions as well. I think we butchered two try scoring chances, but at the same time you would have to give credit to Tullamore, they really made us fight hard for everything.
To be honest I would have taken the losing bonus point such was the way things were going but credit to the lads, they dug deep and showed great character to come up with the winning try. I did not even see the conversion I was so excited at getting out of jail. We all know that we have Ballina coming up in a few weeks, but that is for another day and it was important for the boys to focus on the task in hand today and not to get ahead of ourselves. Thankfully the lads kept their focus and believed in themselves and we got out of jail. Tullamore have some fine players and they caused us plenty of problems, without getting across the line.
Obviously for the backs to do well then, the forwards must get on top in the scrum and lineout and to be fair I think we struggled at times at that part of the game as Tullamore disrupted several of our moves. I am just delighted that the lads did not drop the heads and you can see what it means to them in the dressing room as that win was huge for us. Yes, we have a long journey next week, but it is all still to play for, and we will take it one game at a time. We are in a much better position now than we were twelve months ago so overall, I am delighted with the effort today with Louis who is just getting back from injury turning out to be the hero for us at the death he said.