Provincial Towns Seconds Cup: Saturday 22.04.23
North Meath 14-35
North Meath's brave and at times dramatic run in the Provincial Seconds Towns Cup came to an end on Saturday at the hands of Tullow.
The Carlow team, who also made the final of the Town's Cup proper, were simply too good for the Meath men from start to finish.
Played in Ashbourne, Tullow led from the whistle and kept the score board ticking over for the 80 minutes. North Meath fought bravely with tries from captain Eanna Finn and Graham Boland. But victory proved a step too far.
However, the North Meath squad can look back proudly on their best run in the prestigious Towns Cup competition since winning the trophy back in 2011.
It was a cup run that included an epic encounter with Mullingar where more than half the squad were forced to fly back from a trip to Scotland to watch the national team in order to fulfil a fixture that would not be moved.
Having won the game, the players then raced back to the airport and were back in Glasgow that evening to toast a famous win.
It has also been emblematic of the impact made by coaches Simon Deevy and Conor Grey. Since the duo took over the senior squad, the playing numbers have swelled to more than 40 and the silverware has followed with a league and cup double and promotion to Leinster League 2 next season.
Such has been their impact that the club now has a second team whose exciting blend of youth and experience has seen them battle through to the semi-final of the Anderson Cup to face Ratoath away on April 30.
The quarter final against Navan was played under lights on Friday evening. With four games to be played in the space of seven days, coach Deevy was forced to coax some players such as Eric Szymanski and Sammy Rogers out of a long hiatus for one last rage against the dying of the light.
But the bulk of the squad came from the club's 18 and 19 year olds with Sean O'Reilly, Conor Rennicks, Louis Finnegan, Finn Mullan and Carl McGovern all starting.
While things were fairly even up front, Navan could not live with the pace of the North Meath backline. Rennicks and Mullan were especially electric with ball in hand and the latter deservedly got on the score sheet finishing off a fine move to touch down under the posts. Finnegan also grabbed two tries of his own and Deevy completed the try scoring.
The big boot of Oisin McDermott was also a welcome relief whenever North Meath came under any pressure, whether that was clearing the lines or knocking over a penalty to extend the lead.
It was also a welcome sweetener following the bitterly unlucky defeat in the week to Balbriggan in the McGee Cup. A similarly youthful team had stayed ahead all game but as the game reached its conclusion, their energy and luck ran out and they lost out 34-29.
Seconds Towns Cup Team: Joe Carry, Jordan Herring, Cian Doogan, Eanna Finn, Ruben Mostert, Conor Grey, Nathan Kiernan, Padraic McGurl, Killian Flanagan, Jack Yore, Graham Boland, Ciaran Cullen, Eoin Briody, Senan McDermott, Ben Shine
Replacements: Theo Chamberlayne Daye, Eoghan Cosgrave, Adam Deighan, Sam Bashford, Louis Finnegan, Simon Deevy, Kevin Dowds, Oisin McDermott
Tries: Finn, Boland
Cons: Carry (2)
Anderson Cup Team: Sean O'Reilly, Finn Mullan, Oisin McDermott, Carl , Louis Finnegan, Ciaran Dowds, Simon Deevy, Adam Deighan, Sammy Bashford, Eoghan Cosgrave, Hugh Briody, Curtis Hunter, Cailum Kiernan, Eric Szymanski
Replacements: Sammy Rogers, Harry Keane , Brian O'Connor, Henry Armstrong, David Lynch, Andy Monaghan, Paul Butler
Tries: Deevy, Finnegan (2), Mullan
Cons: McDermott (4)
Pens: McDermott (3)
*Pics courtesy of Mark Wiseman