The U-20 season kicked off proper on Sunday October 9th with a friendly fixture away to Boyne. After two training matches against Trinity and Terenure this was the first full 80-minute regular format game for the coaches Stephen Flood and Darragh Forster to assess our readiness for the Premier II league which commences next weekend. Conditions were tough (wind and rain) and having lost the toss Seapoint played the first half against the elements. Seapoint started brightly, winning the collisions, and dominating possession up front. Any attempt by Boyne to relieve pressure by kicking was dealt with efficiently by Sam Lynch and Oisin Horan. Despite spending a lot of time in the opposition half during the first 20 minutes Seapoint failed to convert possession and territory into scores and when Boyne did get into the Seapoint half, they won two penalties, one of which they converted to take the initial lead by 3 points to nil.
With about 30 minutes gone, having won a counter ruck in their own 22, Jack Reynolds got the ball in space and having created the initial line break had the smarts to see the opportunity out wide. Oisin Horan found Hayden in space on the wing and the hooker showed impressive pace to make it all the way to the try line from just inside his own half, Harry O’Neill putting in a huge effort to be there as a decoy for Hayden’s last dummy. Stephen Manning duly converted giving Seapoint a well-deserved a lead of seven points to three. However, Boyne earned and converted a long-range penalty just before the break to leave the halftime score with Seapoint leading 7 – 6.
With a strong breeze at their backs in the second half, Seapoint looked to run out easy winners but some poor decision making and failure to play the game in the opposition half hampered their ability to score. Twenty minutes in Manning created a line break from just inside his own half, three superbly executed rucks created welcome fast ball and a wide gap for Tochi Oynemelukwe to score their second try. Manning missed the conversion. 12 points to 6 lead with the elements in their favour should have been the catalyst for Seapoint to now build a comfortable win. Seapoint did breach the opposition try line three times in the second half but failed to ground the ball on each occasion. In the closing ten minutes, Seapoint lost both their defensive shape and concentration and as a result of some poor decisions (including one missed interception effort), Seapoint conceded two tries in as many minutes and found themselves trailing by 18 -12 with only minutes left.
Ably led by Hugh Ross, Seapoint didn’t panic and quickly got themselves back down into the opposition 22. Having threatened the line a couple of times this time they spread the ball wide and Sam Lynch danced his way over for the try. Stephen Manning took responsibility and kicked a difficult penalty in windy conditions with the last kick of the game to clinch the win for Seapoint by the narrowest of margins.
A good run out, some excellent performances and the coaches and players learned a lot. The defence for most of the game was organised and solid. Scrummaging was an effective weapon and the maul when set was formidable. There were strong performances from both Harry O’Neill and Stephen Manning. Sam Lynch was dangerous every time he got his hands on the ball. Man of the match goes to Callum Desmond who was tireless throughout the 80 minutes and played his heart out with great effect. The coaches will probably ask him not to kick the ball again this season however !!!
Starting Team: 15 Lynch, 14 Herrero,13 Cassidy,12 Bolger, 11 Horan, 10 Manning, 9 Hoade
1 Desmond,2 Hempenstal, 3 O’Neill, 4 Sheehan, 5 Reynolds, 6 Hughes, 7 Maruma, 8 Ross
Subs: Emerson, Frankling, Hall, Kirby, Hands, Brady, Byrne, Loughlin, Drohan, O’Grady, Oynemelukwe,