Colaiste Iognaid weathered a quarter-hour long onslaught in the final stages to not only preserve their tenuous four-point lead in the dying stages of Tuesday’s Connacht Senior League fixture, but extend it by another five on full-time.

The 19-10 scoreline flattered The Jes’ slightly given a Philip Murphy breakout from just beyond his own 22m took play to within several feet of the Marist line, although the eventual result fairly reflected the tide of battle throughout.

Marist – with Connacht starter and college old boy Rob Henshaw watching sideline – drew first blood with a penalty, well-struck from 38m out. The Jes’, having missed an earlier attempt, replied in kind eight minutes later to draw even from just under the bar.

The Jes’ dotted down for the first try two-thirds through the first half and while Cian Shaughnessy was unsuccessful with the handily-placed conversion, he atoned moments later with a second penalty to go 11-3 up at the break.

Marist hit back firmly after the break using ball-carrying backs in open space to do much of their damage. A try came in due course and, converted, squeezed the deficit to one with 22minutes to play. 

The Jes’ rarely struggled to retain their own possession but found few holes in a swarming Marist defensive pattern, and despite a wealth of ball at their disposal they made only the one serious foray into opposition territory.

Marist, by contrast, turned their possession into territory with relative ease but two sustained assaults on the Jes’ line yielded no fruit. 

Murphy at outhalf in maroon sold a dummy from a turnover, broke a weak one-armed tackle, swept crossfield from right to left and straightened to carve off more than 60m on foot. Marist did well to snuff out that particular snipe but, with less than two minutes remaining and four points adrift of the Galway locals a length-of-the-field clincher was always going to be a big ask. The Jes’ scored within three phases to put the match result beyond conjecture.

Colaiste Iognaid simply wore down the clock for 90seconds between the two 10metre lines from the kickoff, although their insistence to keep it infield on full time rather than hoof it into the Corrib could have gifted the opportunistic Marist a losing bonus point on any other day. 

A messy maul and tumbling melee close to Marist’s right-and touch bundled beyond the paint and three short sharp blasts signalled The Jes’ first Marist Athlone scalp in three seasons.

Marist, rebuilding after a meteoric 2012-13 grand slam league/cup Junior/Senior double and sevens title, go one from two after a narrow three-point pipping of Garbally in round one. The Jes’, topping the table courtesy of a hefty 71-nil drubbing of Gallen College in their first fixture meet perennial heavyweights Sligo Grammar next up in the League.

Luke O’Donnell 

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