Virginia RFC U14s seal quarter final Ulster Cup victory over local rivals Monaghan RFC
U14s travelled to Monaghan RFC last Saturday for a Quarter Final clash in the Ulster Cup. Both sides had had great seasons and knew it would be a close contest, with the Cavan side knowing that only a top class performance would keep their League & Cup double aspirations on track.
On a beautiful, even if a bit of a cold morning it was Virginia who hit the ground running. From the start they took the play to the hosts with strong uncompromising runs from the forwards. With a powerful surge Michael McKeon-Boyle broke the Monaghan lines to touchdown, and this would be typical of his work throughout the game. Virginias forwards were again comfortable in the scrum on their own put in, with great work by the front row of John Smyth, Jake Sullivan and Killian Collins, and as the half wore on they started to make in roads on Monaghan ball, with scrum half Jason Henderson putting his opposite number under constant pressure. The breakdown was a more even contest, but Robert Lochaden and Adrian Lynch was as always ferocious in the tackle, and Jamie Osbourne and Cai Walker forcing turnover ball whenever possible. As the half wore on Virginia started to shift the ball wide, with the quick thinking and feet of Adam Charters, coupled with the hands of Conor Nulty putting Monaghan on the backfoot. This created the space for Niall Carolan to run two fantastic lines, both resulting in trys, and both converted by Aaron Mannion to give Virginia a 19-0 lead at half-time.
The score at the break probably flattered the visitors as for much of the first half it was an even contest. Virginia again pounced first though, early in the 2nd Half, when Cai picked up a spilled ball in space just inside his own half, and powered his way day the line to extend the lead. Monaghan were not beaten yet though, and their forwards earned territory, eventually forcing their way over in the corner to cut the deficit to 24-5. The next passage of play was crucial as another Monaghan score could of turned the game. Virginia pressed the home lines, and despite some desperate clearing kicks they remained in control of the ball thanks once again to the ever more assured David Gibney at Full Back, and the wrecking ball like runs of John Smyth. Ryan Kennedy was brought on in the backs allowing Paddy Gordon a more central role, and this paid dividends when he cut his way through to score under the posts, again converted by Aaron. Virginia were tiring, due to the physical nature of the game, so fresh blood was introduced. Ryan McGuigan added real power to the front row, seeing Monaghan back peddling at the scrum. John Dolan was quick to the breakdown, stifling any attempt by Monaghan to get back in the game, and Adam Sherriff on at scrum half proved a constant threat with his attacks off the back of the scrum. The home side must be given credit though as they continued to scrap for every ball, even when the hailstones fell as the half wore on. Callum Finane and Mark Gibney were introduced into the Virginia pack, both making their presence felt with some crunching tackles and ferocious battling in the loose, and Jack Vaughan on the wing made a great contribution with a couple of timely try saving interventions of his own. Once again though it was Paddy who would add another nail, as he broke through the Monaghan defence to score under the posts, converted this time by Michael, for a 38-5 lead. The hosts attacked again as the clock wound down, and scored in the corner with the last play to make the final score 38-10 to Virginia.
The Cavan men now have a well deserved weekend off, before a home Semi-Final verses either Omagh or Enniskillen to earn a trip to the final in Ravenhill. The “double” dream is still alive.