Lady luck shone on Navan as they ended Connemara’s unbeaten home run in an ill tempered clash at the Monastery Field on Saturday last.
Connemara’s profligacy was matched only by Navan’s determination and organisation in defence. Navan were under the cosh for long periods of the game, and defended well, but not always legally as their two sin binning’s will prove.
What could go wrong did go wrong for Connemara, conversely Navan scored two unbelievably fortunate tries. Navan’s first was scored after the ball ricocheted cruelly off Richard Bourke’s foot and into the hands of Navan winger Maurice McCauley.
Navan’s second came as Connemara were chasing the game, a long looping pass from Connemara was intercepted by McCauley, and he went the length of the pitch for his and Navan’s second try. Jack Vaughan continued his great record against Navan in what was only a conciliatory try.
It would be remiss to blame the result on Connemara’s lack of luck as, the Clifden based side lacked their usual incisive backs play and their play looked static for long periods of the game. Kudos though, must go to Navan. The Meath men’s lineout worked superbly well and their number eight Leigh Jackson was a superb ball carrier who made yards on each of his barnstorming runs.
Navan started the game better, they had lots of early territory but never looked overly threatening. Referee S.Kierans was whistle happy and blew twice for offside and high tackle against Connemara, Navan place kicker David Sheridan converted both penalties to the score 6-0 to Navan. 6-0 down Connemara came at Navan with the fury of a team hard done by, and the feeling of unjust would continue for Connemara. After a good backs move, started by Sean Joyce, Connemara scored through Richard Bourke. The try which looked legitimate to all onlookers, Navan and Connemara alike, was disallowed by referee Kierans who adjudged that there was crossing in the build up to the try. On a day more suited to big packs, Navan attempted to bludgeon Connemara up front, the game’s opening try came not from force or skill, but rather from luck. Navan fly half Jack Mullins’ long kick downfield headed toward Connemara winger Richard Bourke, Bourke attempted to control the ball with his foot, due to the rain the ball was wet, but the ball bounced of his foot and into the hands of Navan winger Maurice McCauley, McCauley ran unopposed in for the games first try, Navan centre David Sheridan converted for 13-0 for the Meath side.
Connemara responded well and were agonisingly close to scoring through Richard Byrne, but as was the case all game long Navan defended stoutly. Navan were borderline offside all game long and referee S.Kierans penalised them for the very offence on the stroke of half time. Sean Joyce didn’t strike the ball as cleanly as he usually would, but nonetheless the ball flew over for 13-3 at half time. The second half started as the first half ended, with concerted Connemara pressure. Kevin Keogh looked particularly impressive throughout. Connemara tried all manner of plays and moves, but all were met with the same Navan resilience. After being frustrated in their attempts to break through Navan’s defence, Connemara opted for a drop goal, which Sean Joyce slotted with aplomb. At 13-6 with a large chunk of the second half remaining Connemara would have fancied themselves. A black tide headed towards Navans try line, and in the process of attacking, Connemara conceded. It was maybe a case of rushing a tad, but Connemara attempted a long raking pass which was telegraphed by Navan winger Maurice McCauley who went the length of the pitch for his second and Navan’s second of the game. Sheridan added the conversion for 20-6 to Navan. The home crowd, who were vocal until that point became subdued as the realisation swept home that this wouldn’t be Connemara’s day. Undeterred, Connemara continued to push and probe and were rewarded for their industry. Jack Vaughan, who scored a brace of tries against Navan last season, went in for a try in the corner after a good pass by Alan Keogh. Sean Joyce’s conversion was from a difficult angle and the fly half was agonisingly close to scoring. The score was 20-11 to Navan with time ebbing away fast. A knock on in midfield from Connemara gave Navan a scrum, their scrum was strong and they were awarded with a penalty. David Sheridan knocked over the penalty to make the score 23-11 to Navan, never have Connemara conceded so many unlucky points, similarly Navan will never score a more fortuitous victory. Connemara continued to press, but Navan locked the door and the took the victory. Connemara travel to table toppers Cashel in a fortnight, hoping to make amends.