VIRGINIA U18 START SEASON WITH A WIN
Virginia U18 finally got their season on the way when hosting Longford in a friendly fixture.
In an entertaining game both teams compensated the early season lack of organisation and structure by great energy and endeavour.
With both teams having to deal with injuries and players away on GAA duties the game was played at 14 a side. With a full complement of forwards both team lined up without a full back.
Virginia stung Longford early in the game with a try from centre Charlie Reilly on the 1st minute. Longford received the kick-off and went through a couple of phases when Virginia hooker Evan Charters ripped the ball away from one of Longford forward. The ball went wide to Gareth Mannion who took a gap, he off loaded to the oncoming Reilly who ran unopposed to cross the line. Daragh O’Leary added the conversion, 7-0.
Longford set foot in Virginia’s half but the local team defended very well. Virginia were awarded a lineout in their 22m after stopping one of Longford attempt to break the line. The ball was secured and found Nial Preston in the middle of Virginia attacking line. Preston broke the line with a strong carry, once again Reilly was in support to receive the off-load. Reilly carried for another few metres before kicking the ball forward. Rioghan Smith chased well deep in Longford territory. He, in turn, kicked and chase once more to outpace the last defender and score. No conversion 12-0.
Third try was a copy and paste of the previous one, where the lack of cover in the back field due to reduced numbers was once again exploited. Nial Preston managed to turn possession over in Virginia 22m, a couple of kick and chase later saw winger Anthony Moore scoring this time. 17-0 as the conversion was missed.
Centre Charlie Reilly doubled his tally when he ran through Longford defence from a scrum half way up the pitch slightly on the right hand side. The ball was secured in the scrum spread to Reilly who exploited a weak tackle from a Longford defender to score in the corner. No conversion, 22-0.
Gareth Mannion added a fifth try shortly after when he out-flanked Longford defence. O’Leary kicked the conversion over bring the score to 29-0.
Longford managed to squeeze a score of their own before the break when they exploited an overlap on the right hand side of the pitch. The tough conversion was missed and the referee called for half time shortly after on a score of 29-5.
The second half saw more of the same from Virginia with another 4 tries scored by Nial Preston from a strong run straight from the second half restart. Rioghan Smith add another from close range. Two more tries followed by Anthony Moore and Daragh O’Leary. With two conversion added Virginia final tally stood at 53 points. Longford upped their performance in the second half and with more accuracy in their game managed to score 2 converted tries. The referee ended the game on a final score line of 53-19.
A good outing for both teams. From a Virginia perspective there is a lot of positive to be taken of the first game of the season but also a realisation that a lot of work remains.
Next weekend Virginia will host their Donegal Town counterparts in their first league fixture.
Virginia RFC U16s Edge Titanic Battle
The U16s headed to Fivemiletown on Saturday morning knowing they were in for a very tough early test in the second round of the Ulster South League. It was a damp morning but the rain held off for the start of the game, and both teams went at it from the start.
Clogher Valley took the game to the visitors early on, having much of the territory and possession. Virginia held firm though, defending their line well with James Farrelly and Callum Finane giving no quarter. They gradually worked their way into the game with Jason Henderson supplying good ball off the back of the breakdown, and Adam Charters, Niall Carolan, and Conor Nulty continually asking questions of the Clogher defence. The set piece was as solid as ever with Ryan McGuigan and Killian Collins controlling things on their own put in against a very good Clogher pack, and it was Virginia who were to make the first breakthrough though when a typically barrelling run from tight head John Smyth made space for Adrian Lynch to force his way over. Aaron Mannion slotted the conversion for a 7-0 lead. With their noses in front Virginia continued to take the paly to their hosts, and forcing a kickable penalty they instead kicked for touch. They were soon to rue this decision, as Clogher attacked swiftly off a number of phases sneaking into the corner for an unconverted try just before the break to make the half time score 5-7.
The second half continued in much the same vein. Virginia brought on Adam Sherriff at scrum half and quick ball allowed Paddy Gordon and David Gibney to test the Clogher defence out wide. Callum Caswell was also introduced into the second row and gave a typically gutsy and aggressive performance which was much needed. The host’s penalty count began to rise, with Aaron kicking one to take the score out to 10-5. Shortly after another penalty opportunity was missed which would have given the visitors the comfort of an eight point advantage, but due to some terrific defending from Robert Lochaden and Cai Walker Virginia saw out the match for a crucial 5-10 away win.
That’s two from two at the start of their campaign to hold on to the Ulster South title, and next Saturday they welcome Donegal RFC to The Deerpark.
Squad: Ryan McGuigan, Killian Collins, John Smyth, Callum Finane, James Farrelly, Adrian Lynch, Cai Walker, Robert Lochaden, Jason Henderson, Adam Charters, David Gibney, Niall Carolan, Conor Nulty, Paddy Gordon, Aaron Mannion, Thomas Sheridan, Ryan Moloney, Callum Caswell, Mark Gibney, Adam Sherriff, Jake White-Duffy, John Dolan.
VIRGINIA U14 v CLOGHER VALLEY – ULSTER LEAGUE SOUTH
CLOGHER VALLEY 10 VIRGINIA 54
Virginia RFC U14s travelled to Clogher Valley on a damp Saturday morning where they were to take on their first league game of the season after Ballyshannon conceded last week.
Virginia started very strongly, within four minutes they were on the scoresheet with an opening try by Nathan Tobin under the posts, converted by Malachy Walker. The second try wasn’t long coming scored by Mathew Byers off a pick n go straight through the Clogher Valley pack, again under the posts. Kieran Duffy and Conan Fitzpatrick fought well in the ruck, allowing a great pass by Oscar Erikson to free Nathan to score, both again converted by Malachy. Virginias tackling and defence in this game was second to none. Darren Kavanagh produced another good tackle on a Clogher Valley player who spilled the ball from from which Glen McCabe won possession, good rucking by Aidan Kiernan and Gordon Lochadan and another quick pass by Oscar freed Jack Carroll who made good forward yards to score Virginias fourth try beside the posts again allowing Malachy to convert. Virginia were well organised and disciplined displaying great team work. Matthew forced another good turn over ball back to Gordon, who passed it out to Malachy whos pop pass to Nathan allowed him to complete his hatrick giving the visitors a 35-0 lead at the break.
The second half started like the first half, a very good run by Tyrone Tynan to the corner but he had no support and penalty was given away for holding on. Clogher Valley tried to run the ball out from the penalty but it was dropped forward, the ref played advantage and Killian Smith pounced giving quick ball out the back for Malachy to score a try, well supported by Ben Curran & Tyrone Tynan. Concentration began to wane and Virginia started to give away too many penalties in their own half resulting in Clogher Valley scoring an unconverted try. Virginia made some replacements, Patrick Sheridan on for Eoin Bogan and Tiarnan Walsh on for Ben Curran. The next few phases of play was great to watch leading to Tyrone scoring a great try, as he went for the gap with support from Killian on his outside, Malachy again converting. Another great phase of play led to Malachy running up the line and score his second try, then converting to make it 7/8 from the boot. Virginia made some more replacements bringing Harry Leddy on for Oscar, Aaron O’Dowd on for Aidan Kiernan, Cameron O’Reilly on for Killian, and Declan Burns on for Glen. This made no difference to Virginia’s game when they came on, but a late missed a tackle let Clogher Valley in for another unconverted try. Virginia had another good phase of play leading to a scrum, where they won the ball and it was promptly kicked out by Kieran Duffy, the game finishing with a 54-10 win for Virginia.
Team 1. Aidan Kiernan 2. Gordon Lochaden 3. Darren Kavanagh 4. Glen McCabe 5. Eoin Bogan 6. Conan Fitzpatrick 7. Mathew Byers 8. Kieran Duffy 9. Oscar Erikson 10. Jack Carroll 11. Killian Smith 12. Nathan Tobin 13. Malachy Walker. 14. Ben Curran 15. Tyrone Tynan
Replacements: Patrick Sheridan, Aaron O’Dowd, Cameron O’Reilly, Harry Leddy, Declan Burns, Tiarnan Walsh.