1st XV win at Connemara to keep promotion hopes alive.

Instonians keep their AIL promotion hopes alive with important bonus point win away to Connemara
Connemara 25 – Instonians 32


Date: 2-30 pm Saturday, 6 April 2019
Venue: The Monastery Field, Clifden, County Galway
Fixture: All Ireland League Round Robin Playoffs
Conditions: Dry sunny day, firm pitch with gusting wind from West.


After the disappointment of losing at home to Enniscorthy in the first round of this All Ireland Round Robin series of playoffs this was a vital game for Instonians if they were going to retain any hopes of promotion this season. They travelled down to Clifden to play Connemara, the Connacht champions, in the beautiful, scenic setting of the Monastery Field, just outside the town. 


They had made five personnel and one positional change to the starting line up from the Enniscorthy game. In came Donal Maloney and David McGovern on the wings. While the front row remained the same the second row was completely changed with Lewis McNamara and Sean Shuttleworth starting this week. James Martin moved back to his normal position of number 8 to be joined by, fit again, Paddy Bell and Massimo Kiri Kiri. It was great to see Paddy back again after a lengthy lay off following a shoulder dislocation.


Instonians kicked off into the wind and won back the ball. A few carries later and they were in the Connemara half and were awarded a penalty at the breakdown. Quick thinking saw scrum half Paul Marshall tap and race away into the opposition 22. He found winger Donal Maloney on his shoulder to sprint in at the corner. Outhalf Richard McCarthy converted from wide out to give Instonians a dream start with less than 3 minutes gone.


Instonians failed to clear from the restart and gave away a penalty on their own 22 line. Connemara put themselves on the scoreboard with a well struck penalty to pull back 3 points on the 5 minute mark. They then launched their first real attack of the game when Instonians kicked out on the full to give them a scrum on half way. Connemara moved the ball wide and set up a series of attacks in the away side’s 22. As they moved the ball wide again winger David McGovern went in to tackle and was, rather harshly, adjudged to have deliberately knocked the ball on. For this he saw a yellow card and Connemara added to their tally with another penalty to bring the score back to 6-7 with 13 minutes on the clock.


Down to 14 men Instonians, paradoxically, enjoyed a real purple patch. They won a penalty for offside at the line out in their own 22 and moved the ball wide. It was Paul Marshall who broke again and had the home side’s defence scrambling back. Young full back Bradley McNamara carried on the move well into the opposition 22. A few phases later, with strong carries from the pack, the ball went wide again to allow flanker Massimo Kiri Kiri to round it off with a sprint into the corner. This time the conversion went wide but Instonians now held a 6-12 advantage with 17 minutes gone.


The rest of the half belonged to Instonians as they grew in confidence. First centre Matt Kilpatrick shot through the defence; he passed to fellow centre Davy Scott who made a huge amount of ground and then the pack carried strongly to the line. When held up they moved the ball wide again. This time it was flanker Paddy Bell who was on the receiving end of the scoring pass. Richard McCarthy was successful with the tricky kick into the wind. Instonians had scored two unanswered tries to go 6-19 up as we moved into the second quarter.


Restored to 15 men Instonians continued their onslaught. The pack was carrying well, with second row Lewis McNamara being particularly prominent. Both centres were having field days and were shredding the home defence. Only handling errors were holding them out and giving Connemara some respite. At scrum time Instonians were completely dominant. This was winning them a lot of penalties. Out half Ricky McCarthy made another break. A further series of charges on the Connemara line looked sure to yield try but a knock on gave Connemara a scrum 5 metres out. They were penalised at this scrum. Instonians elected to scrum again and this time pushed the Connemara pack over the line for number 8 James Martin to claim the score. Another Rick McCarthy conversion left the score at 6-26 in Instonian’s favour at half-time.


With the wind at their backs in the second period there is little doubt that Instonians thought they had the game won. They had a 20 point lead and were dominating Connemara in most aspects of the game. But Connemara had other ideas. Instonians started the second half soundly enough. They were awarded a penalty when Connemara failed to roll away inside the Instonian 22. An ambitious kick failed to find touch and the home side ran the ball back. Suddenly everything changed and they enjoyed a good period of possession. This led to a penalty in their favour and then a second when Instonians brought down the maul on their 22. Connemara kicked for the corner and with a strong maul pushed over for their first try of the game. The conversion failed but the momentum had changed. Instonians did all that they could to change matters. They brought play right up the Connemara posts in a series of strong drives but then steer determination by the home side yielded a rich reward. One of their pack came straight through the ruck to capture the ball before Instonians could use it. Suddenly they were in behind the Instonian defence and in a mesmerising series of half a dozen passes and off loads their scrum half Michael O’Toole was sprinting in under the Instonian posts for a converted try to bring the score to 18-26 as we entered the final quarter. It had taken less than 20 seconds from Instonians hammering the Connemara goal line till they were facing a conversion under their own posts.


They did well to cope with such a reversal. Although they could not recover their fluency of the first period Instonians tightened things up and used their superiority in the scrum to good effect. First, they won a penalty in front of the home side’s posts to allow McCarthy to put his side 18-29 in front. Then full back Bradley McNamara made a lot of ground into the 22. Connemara infringed again and earned a yellow card. McCarthy was on target again from 15 metres to ease his side to 18-32 with 5 minutes left.


Even down to 14 men any thought that Connemara were done was soon dispelled. They won a penalty on the Instonian 22 for “holding on”. A quick tap and a few phases later their scrum half Michael O’Toole was running in under the posts again. A quick drop kick conversion brought the score to 25-32 with a minute left. Instonians held their nerve, won a turnover, but were somewhat relieved when Paul Marshall kicked the ball out to end the game.


It had certainly been a game of two halves. Instonians completely dominated the first with some fine, attacking rugby. In the second Connemara showed their ability and determination to give Instonians quite a scare.


Next week we move on to the third round of the Round Robin. They entertain Munster Champions Clonmel at Shawsbridge in what could well be a season defining game.

Team list: Instonians:15. Bradley McNamara, 14. Donal Moloney, 13. Matthew Kilpatrick, 12. David Scott ©, 11. David McGovern, 10. Richard McCarthy, 9. Paul Marshall, 8. James Martin, 7. Patrick Bell, 6. Massimo Kiri Kiri, 5. Sean Shuttleworth, 4. Lewis McNamara, 3. Alan Whitten, 2.Conor Gallagher, 1. John Andress, 16. Josh Creggan, 17. Tom Matthews, 18. Ross O’Donnell, 19. Wayne Kelly, 20. Colm Creggan.


Photos & Videos:



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13th Apr

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22nd Apr (Mon)

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27th Apr

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