WATCH: Slick Mullingar begins Leinster League campaign with a comprehensive win
Mullingar 45 N Kildare 7
In very difficult conditions, Mullingar started their Leinster league campaign against North Kildare - the hardy souls who turned up to watch the match were glad of the new stand, and in fairness, Mullingar served up some entertaining rugby as well.
There were some new faces in the team this year with Ben McCarthy and Matias Pfaff joining the club and also some graduates from the under age system in the form of Jack Boyan, who made an appearance for the Leinster U19s during the summer and Conor Moore, who played with the Leinster under 18s the previous summer. Conor Gibney also returned after a two season hiatus with Trinity. Hugh Rock and Matthew Bruton completed the list of graduates from the underage system. Luke Finegan also returned after missing the previous season with injury.
The first opportunity for Mullingar to open the scoring came from a penalty on the 10-metre line, following a high tackle from North Kildare. However, a malfunction with the kicking tee meant Matias Pfaff had to kick off the ground and unfortunately the kick just drifted to the right.
The next opportunity came after a break by Matias Pfaff, who beat his defender and offloaded to David Lynam on the inside; David Lynam linked up with scrum-half Arthur Brabazon, but unfortunately Brabazon couldn’t find the final pass to Ben McCarthy, and the opportunity was lost.
Mullingar finally made the breakthrough when Conor Gibney regathered a long clearing kick by Ben McCarthy; several phases later North Kildare infringed at the ruck and club stalwart Daryl Quinn took a quick tap penalty and scored from about seven yards out. Matias Pfaff added the conversion.
From the kick-off, Mullingar kicked the ball back down into the North Kildare 22 and good pressure forced North Kildare into a loose kick, which Ben McCarthy regathered and found young tyro Conor Moore, who stretched the North Kildare defence before being tackled. Ben McCarthy picked at the back of the ruck, managed to slip through the North Kildare defence and dotted down for Mullingar’s second try. Matias Pfaff again added the conversion from a different angle.
Mullingar scored their third try when good pressure by Sean Cronin on the opposition line out forced a turnover. Conor Gibney tidied up the loose ball and allowed Mullingar to get into its attacking shape. Ben McCarty slipped Sean Cronin through a hole in the defence with a clever pass and Mullingar were in behind. Cronin squared up the line and passed to Matias Pfaff. One more pass to Conor Moore allowed Moore to dot down for a second try. Matias Pfaff added the conversion again to make the score 21 nil.
Mullingar secured the four try bonus point just before half-time. It appeared that their attack was going nowhere when captain Paul Maxwell was able to find a gap in the North Kildare defence, and he showed a clean pair of heels from 30 meters out to score underneath the posts. The half-time score was 28 nil to Mullingar.
After the half-time break, North Kildare started brightly and pinned Mullingar back in their own 22. Mullingar initially defended well but started to give away several penalties and eventually the referee showed yellow cards to Conor Gibney and Jack Boyan in quick succession. Arthur Brabazon also suffered a heavy knock and had to be replaced by Lee Ryan. North Kildare capitalised on the numerical advantage and scored under the posts to make the score 28-7.
It looked like it could be a difficult end to the game for Mullingar, but they managed the 10-minute period with 13 men with plenty of resilience and some fresh legs of the bench with Ben, Glennon, Alan Naughton and Matthew Bruton all entering the fray. Matias Pfaff kicked another penalty to make the score 31-7, and that seemed to kill off North Kildare’s hopes of a comeback.
Mullingar finished off the scoring with two further converted tries. The first came as a result of some quick thinking from Ben McCarthy, who took a quick penalty and scored under the posts. The second was perhaps the moment of the match: Conor Moore made a lovely break after a show and go and then found Jack Boyan with a clever flick pass to put Boyan away to score in the corner.
Final score, Mullingar 45 - N Kildare 7.
Overall, Mullingar will be pleased to get off to a positive start in the league and while there was plenty of effort and ability on show, there is plenty of room for improvement. They face Newbridge away next weekend which will be their first away trip.
Squad: 1. Donal McGovern, 2. Hugh Rock, 3. Chris Fox, 4. Luke Finegan, 5. Daryl Quinn, 6. Sean Cronin, 7. Paul Maxwell (c), 8. Niall Hannon, 9. Arthur Brabazon, 10. Ben McCarthy, 11. Conor Moore, 12. Alan Brabazon, 13. Conor Gibney, 14. David Lynam, 15. Matias Pfaff, 16. Matthew Bruton, 17. Ben Glennon, 18. Alan Naughton, 19. Jack Boyan, 20. Lee Ryan