REPORT Enniskillen 1s v Cavan 1s & Lisburn 1s. U18s v Cavan

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Cavan 8

Enniskillen 27

Enniskillen ladies travelled away to Cavan RFC in a highly anticipated league decider contest last Sunday 28th Feb.

In bright clear conditions the two sides faced off in what proved to be an intense physical encounter for the duration of the game. Within the opening 5 minutes Cavan showed their physicality, particularly in the scrummaging contest, but a great command of the ball and fast offloading between number 8 Leona Connolly and scrumhalf Katherine Dane culminated in a penalty awarded in front of the posts, and an easy conversion for Dane to put the first points on the board.

Cavan responded with a penalty kick of their own within a number of minutes, with threatening speed and power from their left winger earning yards. Possession remained with Cavan following the kickoff, but great Skins pressure in defence culminated in a knock-on and another skins push up the field.

In what was a running theme for the game, the first skins line out was stolen by Cavan, but with the help of some determined defence, play remained around the midfield point. Some powerful charges by the skins pack, namely Ashling Maguire and Alana McCaffrey, brought skins to within yards of the try line, where a number of forward pick and drives sucked in Cavan players in defence. From this play on the right wing the ball was passed quickly through the hands of the backline, with left-wing Leanne Hall bounding across the tryline for her first try of the season, and a beautiful hard-earned team try on the 30 minute mark. Dane’s boot was on point yet again to convert this first try.

Cavan returned to play eager to equalise and proved dangerous at the breakdown where once again Skins were slow to react at the ruck. Although remedying this in the second half, it resulted in a number of turnovers, most notably just before the break when, against the run of play, Skins lost possession through a turnover ball which was passed out to the Cavan 11 who ran from just beyond their 22 to touch down in the left corner. 

Luckily, another penalty kick from Dane left Skins sitting with a 13-8 lead at half time.

Both sides retained their intensity coming into the second half, with Skins focusing more on their rucking and counter-rucking at the breakdown. Play remained largely around the middle of the pitch for the first 20 minutes of the half, proving extremely physical on a soft energy sapping pitch. An injury to Collette McMorrow after a counter ruck saw the introduction of Aine Stennet, and additionally, after providing excellent pressure and charging runs all day, Alana McCaffrey too had to leave the field. 

With both sides tiring from this physical slog it was ultimately the pace of the younger players which gave skins the edge in the final 20 minutes. Dane worked tirelessly at 9 and synced up well with Leona Connolly off the scrums. After a Cavan scrum was turned over, Dane skipped through the Cavan defence, linking up with Connolly whose fancy footwork eluded the remaining Cavan defence and she touched down right behind the posts. Within the final 10 minutes Skins’ mauls off the lineout really came together against a tiring Cavan defence, with returning player Wendy Rodgers lending her experience at the lineout. McCaffrey returned to the field for the final 5 minutes and just before the final whistle the nail in the Cavan coffin came. A Cavan clearance kick within 10 yards of their touch line was caught by full back Alice Hurst, who danced through players from both teams to score a try of her own, again converted by Dane. 

The final score finished 27-8. The work rate and dedication of every player was commendable, with the result of the match a worthy reflection of the hard work of the girls throughout the entire league campaign. With the Ulster League One title in the bag the Ladies continue to compete for honours in the Rosie Stewart Cup, with the next round yet to be drawn. The Ladies would like to thank their sponsor Pat Blake for continued support and all the supporters who travelled for the game.

Lisburn 0 

Enniskillen 36

Enniskillen continued their recent good form on Saturday past defeating Lisburn on their home patch and picking up a bonus point into the bargain. While lisburn are flirting with relegation, Skins have always found it difficult to achieve more than narrow victories against them in recent times.

On a rare dry and sunny day both sides took a little while to settle into the match but after 10 minutes a good drive from Jamie Johnston released Stephen Neill on a good run which brought skins near the lisburn line. Skins then won a lineout fifteen metres out but were unable to force their way over. After 15 minutes the visitors again had an attacking lineout only to lose their throw, but Kaine holden reacted well and charged down the relieving kick for a well-earned try. For the next fifteen minutes, it was lisburn who looked the more likely side and in truth Enniskillen played poorly, losing some lineouts, showing poor line speed and being guilty of some aimless kicking. A good drive by Wilkinson however, raised the siege and shortly afterwards good work by Maguire put James Ferguson away to bring play back to the lisburn line. From this good territory just on halftime Jamie Johnston muscled his way over for a second try to leave it 10-0 at the half.

Skins kicked off in the second half and quickly established control. Following good pressure near the lisburn line Wilkinson forced his way over for a converted try. Skins started to get on top at this stage as the lisburn challenge faded. Play was now taking place mainly in the lisburn half as Skins started to move the ball “through the hands”. Credit to lisburn that the fourth try did not come until the 70 minute mark when Stephen Neill finished off a good move for a try, converted by Adam Lendrum. On the 75th minute Alan Wilkinson continued to lead by example and got his second try after an unstoppable forward drive. Kaine holden capped a fine display with his second try in the closing minutes to seal a comprehensive victory.

A good display from Skins in the end with a bonus point victory to maintain the momentum they have built up since Christmas. Every week now will bring another big game, provided they stay focused on the job in hand there is no reason why this team could not achieve real success before the season is out. The 1st XV now host Donaghadee this Saturday at home and will seek to continue their rampage and avenge a poor display in the away leg earlier in the season.

Skins U18’s win Section 3 league title in tough playoff against Cavan

                                    Enniskillen U18’s 11 vs Cavan U18’s 0

On a crisp dry Wednesday night Enniskillen U18’s hosted Cavan U18’s in a title decider playoff. With both teams finishing top of their league on 26 points each, a playoff was required to decide the victors. Both teams had played each other twice earlier in the league, with each side taking a game apiece this fixture was set for a critical showdown. The Skins coaches and players knew it was going to be a tough encounter and the contest didn’t disappoint.

The game kicked off in front of a great turnout of spectators and supporters and for the first 10 minutes the game was played mainly in Cavan’s half, but the young Skins couldn’t break Cavan’s defence. For the next 5 minutes it was the home side’s turn to defend as they were camped inside their half after a great Cavan clearance kick ended up on the Skins 22 metre line. Skins started playing themselves out of trouble and with ball in hand they were making ground consistently from the big carries of Second row partners Owen Mc Govern and Aaron Kelly. The Skins pack started turning the screw on Cavan and, with back row partners of Conor Maguire and Eoin Cleary working well together and running some great hard lines, Cavan were finding it difficult to resist the onslaught. Skins showed excellent ball retention in this period, going through 18 phases of play before forcing their way up to Cavan’s try line, and scrum half Josh Kyle saw the smallest of gaps between two big Cavan forwards, this proving to be all he needed to pick the ball from the back of a ruck and dive over the try line to score an unconverted try on the 20th minute. For the next 10 minutes Skins continued in the same vein, the forwards carrying a lot of the ball and making great ground through No8 Jamie Kelly who was making great in roads at Cavan’s defence, but it held firm and the scoreline didn’t budge for the time being. Then spotting some space out wide, Skins got the ball out to winger Michael Ohare who made a great break, but again Cavan’s defence again stopped this attempt short. On the 30th minute however, after resisting this long period of pressure, Cavan gave away a penalty just before the end of the half and Skins converted the attempt to finish the first half 8 nil to the good.

Skins kicked off the second half and hounded the Cavan receiver forcing him to spill the ball and give away a scrum to the home side. Credit has to be given to prop David Jenkins, propping against a player twice his size and dominating the encounter expertly. The ball was played out to Out-half Jarlath Maguire who ran a great line and broke Cavan’s defence, but their fullback made a great tackle to stop him and from that ruck Cavan won the ball and cleared their lines, chasing the ball down the pitch. Yet again Fullback Paddy Fee was on hand to catch the ball from his 22 yard line and run 40 metres before he got took down. The young Skins remained in full control of the game, playing against a bigger and older team than themselves. The next score came on the 54th minute when it appeared as if a Skins ruck was lost in front of Cavan’s posts, only for Props Rory Morris and Tomas og McGurran to win it back with such determination causing a Cavan player to enter the ruck of his feet and give away a penalty. Scum half Josh Kyle stepped up for the kick and added 3 points to the score to make it 11-0 to Skins. For the next 10 minutes Cavan started to gain ground and ended up on Skins 5 metre line with a scrum. Captain Kieran Fee won his 3rd scrum against the head and Skins were able to clear their lines. Cavan’s back line tried a move from the line out but Centre partners of Adrian Maguire and Tyler Millar were solid in defence and kept the Cavan attack at bay. Cavan then tried to put the ball wide and bombard down both channels but again they couldn’t break though Skins resilient defence and some great tackles from wingers Aidan McKenna and Lorcan McCaughey. The full time whistle was blown and both sets of players were undoubtedly relieved as it was clear every player from both teams was exhausted, playing for their jersey doggedly until the final whistle. This result secured the league yet again for the Under-18 side, sending them into the Quarter Finals of the Ulster league play off’s against Armagh the following weekend.

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