Having endured biblically wet conditions last week for their first meeting in Nenagh both
sides were no doubt hoping for an improvement in weather conditions for the return fixture in Navan
last Saturday for Round 10 of the Energia AIL. Unfortunately the heavens opened before the match.
Strong cross winds which would prove to be difficult for both kicking and lineouts were also a feature.
Navan welcomed back some regulars to the starting 15 and from the first whistle it was evident that
they were still reeling from the loss the week before. Some strong carries were met with some great
defence from Nenagh. Both teams found it difficult to utilise the wind which resulted in numerous
scrums throughout the first 30 minutes. Navan were endeavouring at all times to use the ball well and
played a lot of the first half inside the Nenagh half. The Nenagh men came up with some big turnovers in
lineouts from John O Flaherty and Jake Kelly which helped to relieve some pressure. After some
sustained Navan pressure though Mikey Doran was yellow carded for hands in a ruck. Navan kicked to
the corner but once again the Nenagh defenders defused the situation and managed to get through the
lineout and hold up the ball. Eventually though Navan worked the phases and utilised the extra man
when they bounced back blind to create a 2 v 1 where they scored in the corner.
Nenagh worked their way into the Navan half looking to respond and a strong lineout maul found Navan
conceding a penalty 10 metres from the line. Nenagh chose to go to the corner where the maul was
repelled by a good sack. They continued to build phases around the corner until a skirmish happened in
a breakdown which resulted in the Navan second row and Nenagh’s Davy Gleeson getting carded.
Nenagh again applied the pressure on the resumption of play and forced Navan to concede a penalty
under the posts 5 metres out. Nenagh captain Willie Coffey chose to go with a 5 metre tap from which
Dylan Murphy found Kevin O Flaherty who powered over for a try converted by Conor McMahon. As
the game continued, a high tackle from John Healy resulted in yet another yellow card and it was 14 v
13 for the remainder of the half. Navan elected to scrum in midfield from the penalty and with an extra
man you would have expected they would try to utilise this. But from the scrum they kicked in behind
where Conor McMahon got back and touched down for a goal line restart. Nenagh were under the cosh
and were defending for the remainder of the first half. With Navan 5 metres out and carrying hard
Nenagh’s defence was under pressure. Jack O Keefe and Kevin O Flaherty cleverly spotted a ruck with
only one man in however and targeted it, winning a penalty turnover to end the half 7-5.
The second half began with Navan trying to pin Nenagh back into their half. A mix of lineouts and scrums
were exchanged and both defences held firm. It was clear that this was going to be a tough game. As the
second half progressed Navan began to dominate the scrum. However Nenagh managed to muster up a
huge scrum effort against the run of play to win a penalty and Conor McMahon converted it to make it
10-5. Navan were throwing everything at Nenagh in search of a home win. But the away men’s defence
was holding firm. Navan produced a vital turnover on the Nenagh defensive 5 metre line and put it
through the hands to their big number 8 who avoided some tackles and got over in the corner. With the
scores at 10-10 and both teams giving it their all to get a winning penalty some key turnovers from both
teams in defence made it look like a draw was inevitable. Navan managed a penalty in the dying minutes
but to the relief of the travelling Nenagh support the kick was missed. They ran the ball back from the
restart in search of another opportunity and got into a position for a last gasp drop goal. The drop goal
attempt was rushed and to the joy of Nenagh’s defenders the ball was touched down and the game
Nenagh will come out the happier of the sides from these back to back games and now look forward to
welcoming high flying Blackrock at home this weekend. Nenagh will be eager to right the wrongs from
the previous encounter with Blackrock before Christmas where having led for 75 mins and dominating
most aspects of play a late score for the Dublin men took the spoils.
Kick off on Saturday is at 2.30pm in Lisatunny. All support is most welcome.