Our Lady’s Boys Club and Westport each rescued a draw from uninspiring performances; avoiding ignominious losses the pair of them but squandering golden opportunities apiece to secure a win. 

OLBC opened the account first with a penalty (Dave Dooley, 15) but Westport got the real rugby rolling with the first try before the quarter hour was up. Westport, by their own admission, were down-on-power with 11 first-team starters missing through illness, injury and availability but presented at the College Road Sportsground with a well-populated bench and no shortage of enthusiasm.

Boys Club was without barnstorming eight Dave Reilly and Cawley Cup winning skipper James Moran but was otherwise well-stocked with First XV regulars.

Hailed as a potential masterclass in defensive excellence given both sides’ points-against and tries-against records as the league’s best on offer, it played out largely as expected with only two kicks and five tries troubling the scorers. 

Boys Club’s first came via a Westport clearance which found Dooley 55m from his own line on the lefthand 15m. He outpaced two wouldbe tacklers heading for open space, beat one jinking inside, fed captain Dave Prior who in turn embarrassed another, and linked well with co-captain and midfield flatmate Conor Mulligan (12), who crashed through one weak tackle wide out right, was stopped, and started again through two more woeful excuses to dot down for an 8-5 lead. 

Twelve minutes later Dooley again fielded a clearance and beat two valiant efforts before busting through two much flimsier attempts from 28m out to go in under the bar for a seven-pointer, 15-5 to the hosts.

Westport had an opportunity two minutes from the break to close the gulf by three with a handy penalty 26m out but it fell short and wide. Boys Club couldn’t manage to clear territory though and quick thinking from the Westport playmakers sent a tactical crossfield kick bouncing awkwardly for an isolated Eamonn Dowling on Boys Club’s left wing, whose vocal plea for defensive company only moments before had gone unheeded, and Kevin Corcoran latched onto it to go in for a five-pointer several metres wide of the right-hand upright.

Bizarrely, the conversion went astray.

Down by five at the break, Westport not only had to conjure up some sort of makeshift midfield defence to maintain some parity but had to breach what was shaping up as a near-impermeable Boys Club goal-line fortress and start hitting their goalkicking targets.

Even after a string of penalties against them in their own 30m – one of which earned the luckless Shaney Connors (OLBC 7) some quiet time on the sideline – Boys Club managed to repel assault after assault. 

That said, Westport finally dived over from the fringe to score 27minutes into the second spell less than a foot from the righthand postpad and drew scores level. 

They then promptly missed a conversion most under-12s could have put over off their wrong foot, wearing wellies. 

It was not a great day for either kicking camp as Dooley missed two long-rangers in the final six minutes, one dropping short by a foot and a half from 32m out, the other glancing wide by less than a metre from 39.

Not a great advertisement for Division One junior rugby all said and done, but not without its virtues either. Dogged individual determination from tryscorers Dooley and Mulligan, and occasional innovation from the Westport halves brightened what would have been an otherwise forgettable fixture.

Luke O’Donnell

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