Blow to Creggs’ league hopes

Following a long break from action, Creggs played a number of games recently.

Connacht Junior 1B League
Portumna 10 Creggs 8
Portumna dealt a severe blow to Creggs’ league prospects by virtue of a narrow victory in Sunday’s game played in ideal conditions at the Shannon Oaks grounds.
Creggs started brightly, and subjected the home team to intense pressure in the opening exchanges. Following a speedy move along the backline Tom Fleming was on hand to crash over for a fine try after just six minutes of play. This spurred Portumna into action, and they began to test the midfield defence with some powerful bursts of their centres Ronan Moore and Eamon Lynch. However, with Ruairi Leddy and Barry Egan defending stoutly, they could not make much progress.
Creggs were strong in the scrum, but found Portumna well organised and so they struggled to create space for the outside backs. Also, wrong options were taken on a few occasions, which were to prove crucial to the final outcome.
Portumna got through for a vital try just before half time when lively scrum half John O’Meara took full advantage of weak Creggs tackling to touch down under the posts, making the conversion kick a formality for full back Eoghan O’Toole.
Shortly after the resumption, Portumna went further ahead when Creggs conceded a penalty at a ruck, and O’Toole calmly slotted the goal to give his team a five-point lead. In a match where scoring chances were at a premium, this put pressure on Creggs to respond, which they duly did with a Ja Hughes penalty after good work by the pack.
With the forwards beginning to take control, Creggs piled on the pressure but conceded several penalties with the Portumna line in close proximity. Portumna were boosted by those mistakes and they doubled their resolve with some tremendous tackling, which prevented Creggs from gaining the upper hand. Portumna No. 8 Mark Headd was very prominent with some strong running which lifted the siege on several occasions, while full back O’Toole also impressed in executing his defensive duties.
With twelve minutes remaining, Creggs were given a lifeline but unfortunately their normally reliable place kicker Ja Hughes missed an easy kick at goal.
The final ten minutes were played at a frantic pace, with Creggs trying everything in search of the winning score, but a combination of dogged defence, poor decision making and sloppy handling prevented them from overhauling a very determined Portumna outfit.
And so Creggs head into their final two league games against Ballyhaunis and Gort requiring two wins to consolidate their position in the top four. With Portumna, Gort and NUIG also in contention, anything less than two victories could see Creggs losing out in the scramble to finish in the promotion positions.
Creggs: E. Collins, B. Kilcommons, R. Leddy, B. Egan, M. Conway, T. Callaghan, C. Brandon; P. McNeill, M. Corcoran, N. Glennon, J. Clarke, P. Coffey, T. Fleming, J. Hughes, K. Brandon, E. Mulkerrins, L. Mannion, J. Jones.
Portumna: E. O’Toole, J. McGrath, R. Moore, E. Lynch, A. Keady, P. Cuddy, J. O’Meara, M. Moran, J. Moran, A. Doyle, G. Horan, M. Brady, C. Nolan, D. O’Hara, M. Headd, P. Kelly, K. Callaghan, M. McGann, M. Harding, J. O’Halloran.

Connacht Junior 1B League
Creggs 16 Buccaneers 17
Creggs came up just short in a highly competitive encounter at the Green against Buccaneers. This was a game that Creggs could have won, with a little more composure required on a few occasions when scoring opportunities were presented.
However, Creggs played with great spirit and no little skill to give a real fright to this high-flying Buccaneers squad, which has sailed unbeaten and untroubled through the league campaign so far, amassing a huge points scoring differential along the way.
When the teams took to the field, one couldn’t help but notice the sheer bulk and superb conditioning of the Buccaneers team, man for man each looking bigger and more powerful than his counterpart.
However, once Creggs got stuck in to the contest, the mobility of the home pack began to have an impact while the Creggs scrum held up superbly under pressure and drove Buccs backwards on several occasions.
Buccaneers got an early try following a series of scrums close to the Creggs line, and only some last-gasp tackling prevented a second try as the Athlone outfit dominated the first quarter.
Ja Hughes landed a penalty for Creggs from 40 metres to narrow the gap before Buccs added another try following a backline move. Another penalty by Hughes left Creggs trailing by 10-6 at half time and when he kicked another superb penalty in the 52nd minute to leave only one point between the teams, it was really game on. Buccs reacted by unloading their bench featuring several players of considerable AIL experience, and this enabled them to regain control in the forward exchanges.
Eventually Buccs’ dominance yielded a try, which they converted to go 17-9 ahead, but Creggs responded with some excellent rugby, which created a try scoring opportunity for Leddy, who crashed over in the right corner for a fine try. Ja Hughes’ touchline conversion was a top class effort, and it split the posts to leave Buccaneers holding on by the narrowest of margins at the finish of the game, which leaves Creggs in a strong position in the table, but there are some difficult games coming up over the next month,
Creggs: D. Flahive, B. Egan, R. Leddy, C. Brandon, B. Kilcommons, T. Callaghan, N. Flynn; P. Coffey, P. Comiskey, P. McNeill; K. Coyne, T. Fleming; K. Brandon, K. O’Shea, J. Hughes, M. Conway, E. Collins.

Junior 2 League
Creggs 19 Sligo 15
Creggs finished strongly to edge out Sligo in an entertaining seconds game at the Green. Following a disrupted games schedule due to bad weather, Creggs played with great determination to snatch victory in the closing minutes. Both sides attempted to move the ball at every opportunity and this resulted in an open contest with Creggs wingers Conway and Quinn being brought into action frequently.
Despite conceding an early try, Creggs recovered to launch several attacks, which yielded tries for Johnny Walsh and Trevor Nee, with Emmet Collins kicking a conversion to leave Creggs 12-7 ahead approaching half time. However, a lapse in concentration allowed Sligo in for a try under the posts.
The second half was a more dogged affair, with the backs seeing less ball than before, and Sligo began to dominate the set pieces. Finally, Sligo got over for a try to go 15-12 ahead before a dramatic late try gave Creggs a hard-earned but well-deserved win.

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