Monday, September 01, 2014

Leinster-7 Ulster-10

Diarmuid Tempany offers his thoughts on Leinster v Ulster in Tallaght last weekend

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ULSTER JUST!

In perfect playing conditions at the Shamrock Rovers' home pitch two Irish provincial teams got a run out. 

The collection of cameo appearances satisfied the crowd of over four thousand. There was no man of the match but my impression of Paul Marshall Ulster (Ireland?) no. 9 was that he made most impact with snappy service and a few clever breaks.  

Jared Payne was a strong presence, tackling and carries for the men white. He certainly put his hand up for the Green 13 jersey. While in the past he might have worn all black, he certainly now looks the full Irish.

Ian Humphreys slotted right back into 10 very capably as if he'd never been away.

The Leinster purists amongst you can argue that the key moment of this friendly was at 74 minutes. In Ulster's 22 metre line George Clancy decided to award Leinster a penalty, the score was 7-10. 

What happened next? Take the easy 3 for the draw or... Madigan goes into the corner flag. Ulster defended stoutly and kicked up the pitch. Headlines could read 'Leinster don't settle for a draw'...or perhaps ‘this friendly squad want to give the visitors a happy homeward present of the victory’. 

Sean O’Brien was his normal huge self. Herculean carries through the middle of the pitch. Leading by example, he was blood substituted. Its a rare game where Sean doesn't spill some claret on the pitch. Wisely he held his captaincy till minute 58 when he was called ashore by Mr O'Connor.

Mick Mc Carthy robust and looks fit. Two steps ahead of the rest. Transformation from Connacht complete. Future captain material.

Sadly there was neither Kearney, nor Heaslip nor Reddan, nor Strauss in blue and no Trimble, Henry, Best nor Jackson for Ulster amongst other no show internationals. So with over a dozen missing internationals the game lacked it's usual La crunch.

John Andrews' yellow card for taking out Isaac Boss at the base of a ruck might well have been a red but for the relaxed nature of the day.

Other notable moments were:

Fergus' MacFadden made two dashing solo runs through a butter-like Ulster defensive line in each half, nearly making the try-line only to be thwarted by the scrambling defence.

Brendan Macken showed real expression and confidence by breaking the Ulster line with purpose.

Cian Healy played with energy and concentration in the moment, befitting this robust international.

So overall this was a workout for the squads.  Leinster's squad looks younger and fitter but need to grow the knowledge nous edge to their game.

Diarmuid Tempany - dad, fan of Leinster rugby supporter of all good rugby. Writing on  games and team issues for a positive angle.  I too would like my son to see Sexton play each weekend at the RDS. 

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