Inishowen Rugby Club Notes: I XV 24 – 0 Finn Valley RFC I XV + Enjoyable Blitz for the Mini section @ Finn Valley

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Inishowen 24 – 0 Finn Valley
Report by Jeremy Blackman

“.. he crossed the mountain and the rain continued to fall, thumping in paradiddles on the canvass across the shoulders of his fathers borrowed donkey jacket. The rain ran off the high moss banks and onto the stone of the road, picking out the bright coloured agate, scooped by the yellow diggers from Johnny Paki Anne’s gravel pit down by the river, and fixed in the Councils tar dressing like ancient beetles trapped in amber that he had once seen on a school trip to the National Museum of Ireland.
He had been up since first light to help his father move the last of the bedraggled sheep off the mountain and down to the field by the road, ready for the mart the following Monday. Then there was tea, and brown bread and boiled eggs, and the tinny peals of the mid day Angelus from the small wireless in the kitchen. Saturday afternoon. At last he was free for a few hours, he was free from the farms demands and his fathers quiet company, and now he was tramping his way across the mountain to the companionship of other young men, their laughing banter and earnest fraternity that this afternoons match would evoke.
With his kit bag slung over his shoulder, Neilly quickened his pace, his energy matching that of the rain upon the road as they both quickly bounced and ran down the mountain, towards the town, towards the playing field, towards the rugby match and the confirmation that he was a young man in a world of young men.”
Excerpt from John B Keane’s, “One eyed Gillespie and the leather egg”

Inishowen travelled to Ballyboffey to face Finn Valley, and had the honour of being the first team to play against the home side at their new pitch. It was the return encounter for Inishowen, having played Finn Valley at the first game of the season in September, that day was a beautiful bright and clear autumn day – but Saturday’s game was to played under much tougher conditions with horizontal rain lashing the pitch and sending the nearby river Finn into flood.
A quick review of the match report from their first encounter highlighted the fact that although Inishowen won the match comfortably enough, the most dominant theme was enforced errors and an inability to produce a structured performance. This encounter would help serve as a datum to measure if there had been any significant progress from that game to this.
Whilst the wind and rain had made playing conditions challenging at the ‘Dragons Den’ making the surface very soft, Inishowen, having the experience of playing at a very boggy Moss Road, started very positively. Receiving the kick off, they proceeded to gain territorial advantage through well structured and executed phases, the forwards showing patience establishing field position for the backline to attack.
Scrum half Greg Byron, deputising for the mysteriously absent Seamus Hickey at late notice, was happy to let his pack take control of preliminary play before sending the ball out to Mark Glasha at stand off, who utilised the ever effervescent centre Mojo Harkin to punch holes in the defence for the pattern to be repeated by the forwards again.
With the disruptive weather, and the aggressive home team defence, it took Inishowen the best part of twenty minutes to register their first score, which was taken by Paul Cassidy who touched down under the posts after a tap penalty was played through the hands and out to the backs.
From that point and for the rest of the first half, Inishowen were able to maintain this pattern, when in their own 22, the wind was used to clear the ball down field, and in more favourable territory, the forwards were utilised to establish good attacking options for the backline to exploit. Before the half time whistle, Inishowen had crossed the line once more, a try by Mojo opening up a comfortable margin.
The second half, with the strong wind making clearance kicking far more challenging, Inishowen were obliged to utilise their forwards more and more in order to engineer attacking options. Whilst in the first half, emerging all star hooker Eamon Bushman stole regular ball from opposition scrums, an injury to the Finn Valley front row forced uncontested scrums and gifted Finn Valley with much more possession than they had enjoyed in the first.
This added a different dimension to the game, for long periods Inishowen were deep in their own half of the pitch, either defending or trying to run the ball out. It is perhaps this period that helps illustrate the change in Inishowens performance from that first game to this, structure was far more evident, the execution of phases was more controlled and deliberate and there was a general confidence that best options would be identified and attempted, rather than the more headless performance that September’s match had delivered.
Playing in this manner enabled Inishowen to score twice more before the final whistle, Connor Mulkearns and Paul Cassidy touching down to put the game beyond doubt, with the final score 24 – 0 to Inishowen, the extra points earned from the boot of mark Glasha. In the first game, the scoreline read 52 -10 to Inishowen, and whilst this might seem a contradiction to the notion that the Peninsula men have shown good improvement, several factors have to be acknowledged. Firstly, that wet and windy weather took it’s toll on continuity, with numerous knock ons and dropped greasy balls, secondly and most importantly, Finn Valley, with a few games under their belts have shown very positive improvements, what they might lack tactically is more than made up by their aggressive tackling and spirit – congratulations to Finn Valley in this regard, it is without doubt that future encounters will continue to become much more challenging for Inishowen.
A summation of the day would suggest that this was a good solid performance, structure and execution have improved enormously, and Inishowen are able to produce some very confident and mature rugby.
Turnip of the week was awarded to Mark Glasha, who earned this honour not on the pitch, but after the final whistle had blown. Mark combined this fixture with a customary pre nuptial soiree, his upcoming wedding to the lovely Julie giving the squad the chance to mark the occasion with a few babychams. His fashion sense let him down entirely, and although Gok Wan might suggest that it is the done thing in Oxford Street or the watering holes of Soho – wearing a skin tight baby pink romper suit around the drinking establishments of Donegal was something of a fashion faux pas and earned him the legume based award.
On returning to Carndonagh on Saturday evening, the mystery of the disappearance of Seamus Hickey was eventually solved. It appeared that he had tied the knot on the cord of his pyjama pants too tightly and couldn’t undo it to get dressed in time to meet the bus. Donegal Fire service being called to eventually to cut him out of the offending garments.

Enjoyable Blitz for the Mini section
Inishowen mini section had a very enjoyable blitz the previous week at Finn Valley where they played teams from Donegal Town, Tir Chonaill, Finn Valley and Ballyshannon. Blessed with a bit of sunshine, there were some excellent games to be enjoyed. There was very positive improvement from all of the players, and this will continue as the season goes on.
Thank you to Finn Valley for their hospitality, and we hope to return this when they and Donegal Town come to Inishowen on the 10th of December

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