Rugby Column Number 137: The Kildare Nationalist – December 29 2018

RUGBY

Thrilling win over Connacht sets Leinster up nicely for trip to Thomond

By Daire Walsh

AS they approach the end of a memorable 2018, Leinster have firmly established themselves as the pace-setters in Conference B of the Guinness PRO14. While they face a daunting trip to Thomond Park this evening (29 December, 5.15pm) to face arch rivals Munster, it will make little difference to their overall standing in the competition.

Courtesy of their heart-stopping triumph over Connacht in the RDS last Saturday (December 22), Leo Cullen’s charges opened up an astonishing 16-point cushion at the summit of the table. With just one defeat in 11 encounters to date, the defending champions are once again the form team in their domestic league.

Glasgow Warriors are also justifiable leaders in Conference A, though three defeats means the gap between them and second-place Munster is just six points ahead of this weekend’s fare.

Whereas there has traditionally been a full programme of St Stephen’s Day action on these shores, a decision was made to stretch it right across the Christmas period. Because he had one eye on the forthcoming journey to Limerick, Cullen selected a fringe line-up for the visit of Connacht to Ballsbridge – their final home game of the calendar year.

Seasoned international campaigners like Rhys Ruddock (captain on the night), Dave Kearney, Dan Leavy and Scott Fardy were joined in the starting fifteen by recent Ireland debutant Ross Byrne. Rory O’Loughlin, Michael Bent and replacement Noel Reid have also lined out for the Green Army in the past, and current stars Sean Cronin and Andrew Porter were suitable bench alternatives to Bryan Byrne and the aforementioned Bent.

Kill’s Adam Byrne was also selected on the right-wing for his seventh start of the season – featuring alongside Kearney and former Ireland 7s starlet Hugo Keenan in the back-three. Connacht lost Tiernan O’Halloran to injury in the warm-up, but with Bundee Aki stepping into the breach, it didn’t curb the enthusiasm of the westerners.

Despite Jamison Gibson-Park setting up Westmeath man Conor O’Brien for an 11th-minute try, Leinster trailed 19-7 at the break. In addition to Jack Carty’s outstanding seven-point salvo, former Blues winger Cian Kelleher and Darragh Leader also crossed over for Andy Friend’s side.

Leinster aimed to restore order on the resumption with a five-pointer from lock Mick Kearney – who was previously a part of the furniture under Pat Lam at the Sportsground in Galway. Connacht were relentless in their pursuit of scores, however, and the outstanding Carty released half-back Caolin Blade for their fourth try.

Indeed, when the Roscommon fly-half increased their lead to 29-12 on 63 minutes, they looked set for a comfortable bonus-point success. Tries by Sean Cronin (continuing the trend of players scoring against their old teams) and Dan Leavy set up a nerve-wracking finale to an absorbing winter contest, however, where Connacht found themselves permanently on the back-foot.

Kyle Godwin’s loose pass presented Leinster with a final chance and Porter duly obliged by crossing the whitewash at the end of a multi-phase attack in stoppage-time.

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Gary Shaw Interview For Nationalist Pull-Out Magazine: The Kildare Nationalist – December 24 2018

FROM A HOOP TO A SAINT

After a frustrating 2018 season with Shamrock Rovers, Gary Shaw is looking forward to making his mark at his new club, St Patrick’s Athletic

By Daire Walsh

FOLLOWING the high of being named Shamrock Rovers’ Player of the Year in 2017, the past 12 months proved to be a frustrating period for Newbridge’s Gary Shaw.

After a personal best of 12 goals in the previous campaign, the powerful centre-forward found starts hard to come by in 2018. Already behind Dan Carr in the attacking pecking order, the summer return of Aaron Greene to the Tallaght Stadium further limited his opportunities in the second half of the season.

He admits being close to leaving the south Dublin club months before his eventual move to St Patrick’s Athletic at the end of the seasond, though it didn’t quite materialise.

“I knew in my head that when we signed Aaron Greene, I was kind of saying ‘I’m not going to hang around here if they’re going to sign Aaron and I wasn’t really playing’. I kind of got the picture there,” Shaw remembers.

“I had in my head that I was probably going to move on. There was talk in July as well, but the move didn’t happen at the time for whatever reason.”

In stark contrast to his 37 starts in 2017, Shaw led the line on just 11 occasions in the past term. Largely restricted to appearances off the bench, he finally opened his account in a 1-0 Premier Division victory against Waterford on July 22.

He was on target at home to Sligo Rovers five days later, but was forced to wait until the penultimate round of the league – a 3-1 win at the expense of Waterford in Tallaght – for his third and final goal of 2018.

Having become a firm favourite with the Rovers fans, Shaw was understandably disappointed not to deliver on a more consistent basis. He had worked hard in pre-season to recover from a broken arm sustained in an October 2017 encounter with Bray Wanderers and believes this injury presented a mental obstacle as well as a physical one.

“I just felt last year I didn’t quite achieve what I wanted to. A big thing for me was when I broke my arm. It was a really bad break and going through the pre-season with the rehab and all that, I felt it was going really well. Then when the season started, you really feel how it is when players are coming in pulling out of you, tackling you or whatever.

“The lads at Rovers knew it was so bad, so they kind of took it easy around me. But when the competitive games came around, you kind of knew. It was in my head then for the season. Couldn’t really trust myself fully.

“You can’t see that behind the scenes, but that period you’re after losing form and you’re not playing to your full potential. A big thing for me is, I’m a target man. I hold defenders off and get the ball into me. I just couldn’t quite do it. Defenders could get in front of me fairly easily and I couldn’t hold them off. It was a big thing and I just couldn’t get it right. The confidence was affected.”

However, rather than dwelling on the past, all of Shaw’s focus will be on an exciting new venture with St Patrick’s Athletic. His departure from the Hoops was officially confirmed by the club on November 4 and just four days later he was unveiled as Harry Kenny’s first signing as Saints boss.

Kenny (a four-time league winner with Shamrock Rovers as a player) was assistant manager to Liam Buckley when Pat’s last won the top-flight title in 2013 and now replaces the ex-Republic of Ireland international in the hot seat.

Despite some much-publicised financial difficulties, the Dubliner guided Bray Wanderers to consecutive sixth-place Premier Division finishes in 2016 and 2017. He has already identified the top-four as a realistic aim for his new squad, as a host of teams aim to take advantage of his namesake Stephen’s departure from champions Dundalk.

“Stephen Kenny was the key to Dundalk. He gathered that group of players together and he made them tick. Taking him away it might disrupt things, it might not. We don’t know, time will tell. Other teams and ourselves, we have to take advantage of that,” Shaw says.

“We have to start the season well and looking back at Pat’s last year, it was just inconsistency that disrupted their season. I think just adding a couple more players, like Harry is doing at the moment, will just bridge that gap. It will definitely improve the chances of getting that fourth spot and even higher maybe.

“He’s run the FAI FAS course in Clondalkin there for a good few years and I’d know of him through my time working with the FAI. I know a couple of his brothers. I’ve heard nothing but great things about him, so I’m looking forward to working with him and hopefully we can achieve good things.”

Without knowing exactly how his new manager is going to develop the side, Shaw believes Pat’s have all the tools to help him prosper in these new surroundings.

“I really feel myself again and obviously first and foremost is to nail down that [starting] position. I don’t even know what kind of formation Harry will want to play. Will he play one up top or two up top, we’ll wait and see. I just have to work hard and get that jersey. Make sure I’m in the 11 on the Friday night when the league rolls around in February.

“I think just the way Pat’s play, it’s going to suit me. They get a lot of crosses into the box. They’ve a lot of attacking players. I think I’ll get a lot of chances and I don’t think I got a lot of chances at Rovers. That’s just one of the things I found, but with Pat’s when you’re playing against them, they use their wide players very well and they get crosses into the box.

“They put the ball into danger areas and I think their strikers always get chances. It’s just about putting them away. I think if I can do that, I can really kick on and get a good few goals. That’ll be the aim.”

Much of his impressively-assembled squad are set to remain in place, but it is still anticipated that Stephen Kenny will leave a sizeable void at Oriel Park. At the time of going to print, Dundalk were yet to appoint a successor to the new Republic of Ireland U21 head – who will take over from Mick McCarthy as senior international supremo in August 2020.

Given all he has achieved with the Lilywhites – four league crowns in the space of five years, alongside double triumphs in the League Cup and FAI Cup – Shaw believes his ascent to the international stage is fully justified.

During the summer of 2015, the then Longford Town striker had his own sliding doors moment. Kenny submitted a concrete bid that could have found Shaw transferring to the county Louth side.

They were well on their way to securing back-to-back Premier Division titles and ended that particular campaign with just one defeat out of 33. There was also considerable interest from Rovers, but Town manager Tony Cousins (who enjoyed a brief spell in charge of Kildare County in 2008) was eager to retain one of his prized assets.

A move to Tallaght ultimately transpired a few months later, and in the meantime, Kilcock native Ciaran Kilduff made his way to Dundalk.

“Any time I’ve spoken to Stephen, I’ve always got on well with him and he has taken a liking to me. You kind of look back to that ‘what if I signed for Dundalk?’ All the what ifs could come across you. The best thing about him, he seems to have a very good eye for a player. That’s kind of what I take away from it. During that time, he obviously saw something in me that I could go on.

“I really hope that he does well and I hope everyone thinks the same. That he goes and does well with the U21s.

“It’d be a nice little stepping stone for him. Being involved in that kind of set-up. I’d imagine he’ll be speaking to Mick McCarthy regularly and he’ll be involved with the senior team just to get a feel for things.

“I think he’s managed and he’s created the best team that’s ever played in the League of Ireland. I think a lot of people would find it hard to argue that. Take Stephen Kenny out of that and who knows what might happen, because I think he’s a big part of why that group does so well.”

Shaw’s off-season transfer to Shamrock Rovers in the winter of 2015 marked a significant shift in his career trajectory. Not only was he moving to a club that hold the record for most League of Ireland and FAI Cup successes – he also became a professional footballer for the first time.

He will continue to operate on a full-time basis at Pat’s, who provide a scholarship scheme in conjunction with Maynooth University. The closing weeks of 2018 saw him sampling life away from football and he is now looking forward to a return to normality!

“I’m actually doing a bit of work for four weeks with Diageo. Going around Dublin to Dunnes Stores and it’s just obviously financially to keep yourself ticking over. You have to do it. It’s a bit of a shock to the system, putting in a long day’s work. Instead of when you’re going to training, you’re training for the hour, two hours and then you’re coming home and you have your day.

“It’s a bit of a shock and you’re trying to fit in family life, gym, work and everything else around it that goes with life. When you’ve been doing football full-time for three years, it’s a bit of a shock. Like I said, it’s only temporary and I’ll be back into the swing of things, thanks God, in January.”

At 26 years of age, Shaw will be one of the younger members in the Saints squad. Conversely, he can also count himself as one of the most experienced players at Harry Kenny’s disposal. It was eight years ago this September that he announced himself on the League of Ireland stage, by scoring on his Bray Wanderers debut in an away trip to Dundalk.

Given how he has become an established piece of the domestic soccer furniture, it is unsurprising that a number of clubs were vying for his signature in the close season. Although the prestige of Pat’s played a major role in his final decision, there were other considerations that came into play.

“I know they [Pat’s] trained up at the Airport, but I think that’s changing this year. I think it’s moving closer to me, which is even better. I had a couple of offers to move elsewhere around the country, which would have involved a bit of travelling. I had to politely turn those down.

“I have a partner here with a child and I just feel that it’s better to stick around and not be going travelling around the country. That was ultimately the decision I came to.

“I’m delighted with it, because Pat’s is a good club. We’ve a couple of lads that I’ve played with before and know a lot of the other lads on the team.

“I don’t think gelling in with the group is going to be difficult. I’ve already met a couple of them and this is going to be my 10th year in the league. I’ve got to know a lot of lads very well through playing against them and they know me. It’s all good.”

With everything in its right place, February 2019 – and the start of his latest LOI odyssey – can’t come soon enough for Shaw.

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2018 Rugby Review: The Kildare Nationalist – December 24 2018

2018 IN REVIEW: RUGBY

WHAT A YEAR FOR IRISH RUGBY

By Daire Walsh

AS a nation, Ireland has always been prone to bouts of hyperbole when it comes to analysing the significance of major sporting events.

Yet, given all that has been achieved in the past 12 months, it is difficult to argue with the assessment – made by many within the media and the public at large – that 2018 has been the greatest year in Irish rugby history.

In addition to securing a second Grand Slam in the Six Nations era (2000-present), Ireland also triumphed against the All Blacks for the very first time on home soil. Throw in a summer series win over Australia and it easy to see why anticipation is so high ahead of next year’s World Cup in Japan.

There are, of course, always obstacles along the road to success – and Ireland’s extraordinary Six Nations campaign was no different. With their Championship prospects under intense scrutiny, Jonathan Sexton landed a truly spectacular stoppage-time drop-goal to get Ireland over the line in a cagey opener against France at Saint-Denis.

It was the catalyst for the Green Army to develop a winning streak that culminated in a St Patrick’s Day triumph over England at Twickenham Stadium. Until injury brought his career to an abrupt halt, Naas’ Jamie Heaslip was a key component of the Irish back-row.

Kildare were still well represented on the international stage in 2018, however. Despite the Kill duo of James Tracy and Adam Byrne missing out on selection for very different reasons, Fergus McFadden (Suncroft) and Joey Carbery (Athy) made their own contributions to Ireland’s Six Nations odyssey.

McFadden was a late replacement for Stockdale in the France game, before enjoying a 17 minute run-out at home to Wales on February 24. After sitting out the French encounter as an unused substitute, Carbery finally made his Six Nations bow in a facile win at the expense of Italy.

He added three conversions to make it a memorable afternoon in Lansdowne Road and was also on target in cameos against Wales and England. He additionally featured in the round four disposal of Scotland (which saw Ireland sealing a third Six Nations crown in five seasons), but found himself playing second fiddle to Sexton at both provincial and international level.

While he ended 2017/18 as a PRO14 and Champions Cup winner with the Blues, he ultimately made a high-profile summer switch to arch rivals Munster. The desire for substantial game time at fly-half was the driving force behind the move – and he joined forces with fellow Lilywhites Jeremy Loughman (also Athy) and Tadhg Beirne (Eadestown) as a result.

From a position where he appeared to be Leo Cullen’s preferred choice as starting hooker, a dislocated elbow curtailed the aforementioned Tracy’s progress. A rejuvenated Sean Cronin subsequently assumed his mantle in the front-row, though Tracy did make a large contribution off the bench in the PRO14 and Champions Cup deciders.

Byrne found himself largely frozen out of the first-team squad at the business of the season and had to settle for a handful of Leinster ‘A’ caps as Cullen’s charges challenged on all fronts.

McFadden was approaching his best form until a hamstring injury in the Champions Cup semi-final win over Scarlets ruled him out for the province’s title run-ins. He is currently sidelined with a similar problem, but Byrne has put himself back in contention with a host of impressive displays in the Leinster back-three.

Eadestown’s Jimmy O’Brien has also graduated from the Irish 7s set-up (he featured alongside Naas man Billy Dardis in this summer’s World Cup in San Francisco) and recently scored two tries in a PRO14 demolition of the Dragons.

The pressure is on Leinster to retain their respective titles in 2019, but they remain the team to beat in both competitions. It is more of a challenge for Beirne, Carbery and Loughman down south – although Munster have the capability of taking on the best when Johann van Graan has a full hand to choose from.

Naas RFC club men Craig Ronaldson and James Connolly can also have big roles to play with Connacht, who are threatening a mini revival under new head coach Andy Friend.

Given we are now heading into a World Cup year, it is understandable that everything is currently geared towards getting the best out of Ireland in Joe Schmidt’s final weeks in the hot seat.

The New Zealander will hand the reins to Andy Farrell in the aftermath of the global competition, when it is hoped the Irish will have left the quarter-final heartbreak of previous tournaments firmly behind them.

On the domestic front, Naas RFC continue to fly the flag for the southern part of the county. They claimed a respectable sixth-place finish in Division 1B of the All-Ireland League last May and currently lie two points adrift of St Mary’s College at the midway point in the 2018/19 campaign.

Newbridge College’s 2018 Leinster Schools Senior Cup campaign came to an end at the hands of Belvedere College in the quarter-final, while their junior side were defeated by St Mary’s in the opening round.

Meanwhile, following the disappointment of last year’s World Cup in Dublin and Belfast, 2018 was always going to be a year of transition for the Ireland women’s senior team. Under new head coach Adam Griggs, they recorded back-to-back wins over Italy and Wales to finish third in the Six Nations.

A combination of a sabbatical and a serious knee injury ensured Kildare native Jenny Murphy was marked absent for Ireland in the past year, but she has a burning desire to force herself back in the mix from 2019 and beyond.

 

Whereas the 15s side are trying to get back to their previous high level, the sevens outfit are currently thriving. Already on the World Series circuit, they secured sixth spot at this year’s World Cup. Their male counterparts won the Challenge Trophy at the same tournament to keep the Ireland sevens programme in full flight for a hectic 2019.

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Annual Dublin Bus/Herald Dubs Stars Football Challenge: Dublin V Dubs Stars – The Evening Herald – December 24 2018

LYNCH IMPRESSES AS GAVIN’S DUBS OUTSHINE STARS

Boys in blue have too much firepower in high-scoring end of season challenge

DUBLIN BUS/HERALD DUBS STARS SF

DUBLIN……………………………..3-19

DUBS STARS FOOTBALL……….1-14

Daire Walsh

OISIN Lynch and Conor McHugh amassed a combined haul of 3-8 at Pairc Barrog on Saturday to propel All-Ireland champions Dublin towards an emphatic triumph in the annual Dublin Bus/Herald Dubs Stars Football Challenge.

Despite the admirable resistance of Kevin McManamon, Sean Bugler and Ryan Basquel for their opponents, the Sky Blues had 11 points to spare at the end of a fast-paced encounter.

Alongside Lynch and McHugh, Cormac Howley and Cormac Diamond also provided Dublin boss Jim Gavin with food for thought heading into a hectic 2019.

With six All-Ireland SFC titles to his name, Kevin McManamon was the star attraction in the Dubs Stars squad – which included six players from club champions Kilmacud Crokes. Former inter-county stalwarts Tomas Quinn and Ger Brennan also made appearances off the bench in the second-half, having recently added an Adult Football League Division One crown to an impressive list of career honours.

While Gavin opted for a largely experimental line-up, senior panellists Andy Bunyan, Conor Mullally and McHugh were given a chance to shine in the Kilbarrack venue. The latter traded points with McManamon early on, before Dublin conjured three points in quick succession through Diamond, Lynch and Howley.

McManamon dissected the posts with a superb strike on the left-wing, but the opening goal of the contest arrived courtesy of Lynch’s close-range finish in the 13th-minute. The Stars offered a temporary release to their under siege defence with a brace of Ryan Basquel points – only for Dublin to respond in clinical fashion. Either side of Howley and McHugh points, Lynch fired an unstoppable shot beyond the reach of netminder David Nestor.

The Stars gained a potential lifeline on 28 minutes, however, when Stephen Smith capitalised on hesitancy inside the Dublin full-back line to set-up Micheal McCarthy for a much-desired three-pointer.

Yet, it was McHugh who had the final say in a frenetic first-half. His sublime chip over the stranded Nestor produced a third major for Gavin’s outfit and consequently established a 3-9 to 1-4 interval cushion.

On the resumption, towering full-forward Jack Hazley got his account up an running with a 0-2 salvo – while Diamond (two), McHugh and Lynch enhanced their own personal tallies to leave all of 17 points between the sides.

To the credit of the Stars (managed on the day by Crokes duo of Jonathan Magee and Robbie Brennan), they persevered with their challenge.

Bugler, Shane Horan, Stephen Smith and McManamon all finding the target in a strong purple patch. Aaron Byrne and Howley efforts ensured Dublin remained firmly in control, though their momentum was halted by another Stars scoring blitz.

Basquel, McManamon, Ger Brennan and St Jude’s wing-back Tom Lahiff split the posts to round off intricate attacking moves. Basquel and McManamon recorded four points apiece over the hour, but with Lynch and Hazley pointing in the dying moments, Dublin brought the curtain down on another outstanding season of success.

MATCH FILE

Scorers – Dublin: O Lynch 2-3, C McHugh 1-5 (0-2f), C Howley 0-4, C Diamond, J Hazley 0-3 each, A Byrne 0-1. Dubs Stars Football: K McManamon, R Basquel 0-4 each, M McCarthy 1-0, S Bugler 0-2, T Lahiff, S Horan, S Smith, G Brennan 0-1 each.

DUBLIN: A Bunyan (Scoil Ui Chonaill); R McDaid (Ballyboden St Enda’s), S McMahon (Raheny), CJ Smith (Lucan Sarsfields); R Gaughan (Ballinteer St John’s), C Mullally (Cuala), D Monaghan (Clontarf); C Howley (Round Tower Lusk), D Gavin (Lucan Sarsfields); C Diamond (St Vincent’s), A Byrne (Na Fianna), S Boland (Castleknock); O Lynch (Fingallians), J Hazley (St Sylvester’s), C McHugh (Na Fianna). Subs: M Shields (St Sylvester’s), N Doran (Clontarf), E Finn (RT Clondalkin), C Murphy (Thomas Davis).

DUBS STARS FOOTBALL: D Nestor; L Flatman, A McGowan (all Kilmacud Crokes), A Fallon (Thomas Davis); C O’Connor (Kilmacud Crokes), C Guckian, T Lahiff (both St Jude’s); A Waters (Ballyboden St Enda’s), M Sweeney (St Jude’s); S Horan (Kilmacud Crokes), S Bugler (St Oliver Plunkett’s/Eoghan Ruadh), K McManamon (St Jude’s); S Smith (Skerries Harps), R Basquel (St Jude’s), M McCarthy (St Sylvester’s). Subs: L Mailey (St Jude’s), G Brennan (St Vincent’s), M McCarthy (St Sylvester’s), R Ryan (Kilmacud Crokes).

MENTORS – Dublin: J Gavin, P Clarke, S O’Hanlon. Dubs Stars: J Magee, R Brennan.

Referee: Sean McCarthy (St Vincent’s).

WIDES – Dublin: 4 (2+2). Dubs Stars Football: 7 (4+3).

CONDITIONS: Bright and breezy with sunny intervals.

PLAYER OF THE MATCH: Oisin Lynch (Dublin).

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Annual Dublin Bus/Herald Dubs Stars Football Challenge: Dublin V Dubs Stars – The Irish Independent – December 24 2018

McHugh rises to challenge for the Sky Blues

Dublin 3-19 Dubs Stars (Football) 1-14

Daire Walsh

Conor McHugh and Oisin Lynch contributed a combined haul of 3-8 to guide Dublin towards a comprehensive victory in the annual Dubs Stars football challenge at Páirc Barróg on Saturday.

With six All-Ireland SFC titles to his name, Kevin McManamon was the star attraction on the Dubs Stars side – a selection based of the finest club talent in the 2018 Dublin club championship.

While it was a largely experimental Sky Blues outfit, Gavin was able to call upon the services of senior panellists Andy Bunyan, Conor Mullally and the aforementioned McHugh.

After the Na Fianna attacker’s opening-minute free was cancelled by McManamon, Dublin added unanswered points through Cormac Diamond, Lynch and midfielder Cormac Howley.

SCORERS – Dublin: O Lynch 2-3; C McHugh 1-5 (0-2f); C Howley 0-4; C Diamond, J Hazley 0-3 each; A Byrne 0-1. Dubs Stars: K McManamon, R Basquel 0-4 each; M McCarthy 1-0; S Bugler 0-2; T Lahiff, S Horan, S Smith, G Brennan 0-1 each.

DUBLIN – A Bunyan; R McDaid, S McMahon, CJ Smith; R Gaughan, C Mullally, D Monaghan; C Howley, D Gavin; C Diamond, A Byrne, S Boland; O Lynch, J Hazley, C McHugh. Subs: M Shields, N Doran, E Finn, C Murphy.

DUBS STARS – D Nestor; L Flatman, A McGowan, A Fallon; C O’Connor, C Guckian, T Lahiff; A Waters, M Sweeney; S Horan, S Bugler, K McManamon; S Smith, R Basquel, M McCarthy. Subs: L Mailey, G Brennan, T Quinn, R Ryan.

Ref – S McCarthy (St Vincent’s).

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Dublin Bus/Herald Dubs Stars Football Challenge: Dublin V Dubs Stars – The Sunday Independent – December 23 2018

McHugh leads way in rout of Dubs Stars

Conor McHugh and Oisin Lynch contributed a combined haul of 3-8 to guide Dublin towards a comprehensive victory in the annual Dubs Stars Football Challenge at Pairc Barrog this afternoon.

With six All-Ireland SFC titles to his name, Kevin McManamon was the star attraction on the Dubs Stars side – a selection based of the finest club talent in the 2018 Dublin club championship. While it was a largely experimental Sky Blues outfit, Gavin was able to call upon the services of senior panellists Andy Bunyan, Conor Mullally and the aforementioned McHugh.

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Dubs Stars Football Challenge 2018: Dublin V Dubs Stars – Independent.ie – December 22 2018

Oisin Lynch and Conor McHugh catch the eye for Jim Gavin’s Dublin in high-scoring win over the Dubs Stars

DUBLIN 3-19 DUBS STARS 1-14

Daire Walsh

Conor McHugh and Oisin Lynch contributed a combined haul of 3-8 to guide Dublin towards a comprehensive victory in the Dublin Bus/Herald Dubs Stars Football Challenge at Pairc Barrog this afternoon.

With six All-Ireland SFC titles to his name, Kevin McManamon was the star attraction on the Dubs Stars side – a selection based of the finest club talent in the 2018 Dublin club championship.

While it was a largely experimental Sky Blues outfit, Gavin was able to call upon the services of senior panellists Andy Bunyan, Conor Mullally and the aforementioned McHugh.

After the Na Fianna attacker’s opening-minute free was cancelled by McManamon, Dublin added unanswered points through Cormac Diamond, Lynch and midfielder Cormac Howley. McManamon reduced the gap with another fine effort, before Lynch rattled the back of David Nestor’s net from close-range.

A brace of Ryan Basquel scores helped the Stars to settle, only for the excellent Lynch to extend the Dublin lead to nine points with his second goal on the 20-minute mark.

A Micheal McCarthy three-pointer offered a potential lifeline to the Stars, but McHugh had the final say in the opening half with an audacious chip over the stranded Nestor – one of five players on show from county champions Kilmacud Crokes.

This provided Dublin with a 3-9 to 1-4 interval platform – and they extended their lead on the resumption via the boots of Jack Hazley (two), Cormac Diamond (two), McHugh and Lynch.

Facing into a 17-point deficit, the Stars developed a much-desired purple patch in the third-quarter – Sean Bugler (two), Shane Horan, Stephen Smith and McManamon all finding the target in quick succession.

Indeed, following back-to-back efforts from Aaron Byrne and Howley at the opposite end, the Stars significantly reduced their deficit with another haul of five points on the bounce.

Basquel, McManamon, Ger Brennan and Tom Lahiff were all on target in this period, but Dublin still managed to close the game out effectively with Lynch and Hazley points.

Scorers

Dublin: O Lynch 2-3, C McHugh 1-5 (0-2f), C Howley 0-4, C Diamond, J Hazley 0-3 each, A Byrne 0-1.

Dubs Stars Football: K McManamon, R Basquel 0-4 each, M McCarthy 1-0, S Bugler 0-2, T Lahiff, S Horan, S Smith, G Brennan 0-1 each.

DUBLIN: A Bunyan; R McDaid, S McMahon, CJ Smith; R Gaughan, C Mullally, D Monaghan; C Howley, D Gavin; C Diamond, A Byrne, S Boland; O Lynch, J Hazley, C McHugh. Subs: M Shields, N Doran, E Finn, C Murphy.

DUBS STARS FOOTBALL: D Nestor; L Flatman, A McGowan, A Fallon; C O’Connor, C Guckian, T Lahiff; A Waters, M Sweeney; S Horan, S Bugler, K McManamon; S Smith, R Basquel, M McCarthy. Subs: L Mailey, G Brennan, T Quinn, R Ryan.

Referee: S McCarthy (St Vincent’s).

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U20 Six Nations Championship Warm-Up: Ireland U20 V Leinster Development XV – The Irish Examiner – December 22 2018

Ireland U20s turn screw with devastating second-half show

U20 Six Nations warm-up

Ireland U20 38

Leinster Development XV 17

Daire Walsh

Energia Park

The Ireland U20s produced an impressive second-half display at Energia Park yesterday afternoon to claim a 38-17 win over a Leinster Development XV.

Played as part of their preparations for next year’s Six Nations Championship, the international side found themselves level (12-12) at the break – before pushing on after the resumption with a succession of tries.

Following an initially cagey opening, Ireland broke the deadlock in the 11th-minute with a try from loosehead Michael Milne.

While fly-half Harry Byrne (younger brother of senior international Ross) converted to stretch their lead, Leinster hit back impressively.

Liam Turner raced over the line via superb build-up from full-back Rob Russell – who was also on hand to supply the conversion.

While Jake Flannery completed an extended attacking move to get Ireland back on track, Terenure College star Adam LaGrue restored party for Leinster prior to the interval.

Both teams made changes to their starting line-up as the action progressed. Byrne’s seven-point salvo on the 50-minute mark created daylight between the teams once again – and acted as a springboard for Ireland to placed the tie beyond doubt, as a matter of fact.

Inside the final-quarter, Niall Murray and replacement back Jonathan Wren had tries in as many minutes to increase the Irish cushion to 31-12.

Cian Pendergast responded for a spirited Leinster in the closing moments, only for Noel McNamara’s Irish outfit to have the final say with a John Hodnett try on the stroke of full-time of an entertaining encounter.

Scorers for Ireland U20: H Byrne try, 3 cons, M Milne, J Flannery, N Murray, J Wren, J Hodnett try each.

Scorers for Leinster Development XV: L Turner, A LaGrue, C Prendergast try each, R Russell con.

IRELAND U20: J Flannery; A Kernohan, S French, S Moore, J McCarthy; H Byrne, C Casey; M Milne, D Tierney, R Lomas; B Luney, C Ryan; N Murray, M Moloney, J Hodnett.

Replacements: B Scanell, J Wycherley, T Clarkson, JJ McKee, C Huxford, C Reilly, D Hawkshaw, I Hughes, C Phillips, J Wren.

LEINSTER DEVELOPMENT XV: R Russell; A LaGrue, O Morris, D Ryan, L Turner; C Kelly, G Curtis; G Coyne, J McKee, C Ward; G Murray, B Deeny; R Byron, R Waters, D McCann.

Replacements: H Noonan, D Adamson, M McCormack, C Prendergast, A Flemming, L O’Reilly, S Madigan, L Faria, H Conway.

Referee: J Lacey (IRFU).

Posted in U20 Six Nations Rugby | Comments Off on U20 Six Nations Championship Warm-Up: Ireland U20 V Leinster Development XV – The Irish Examiner – December 22 2018

Dublin Bus/Herald Dubs Stars Football Challenge Build-Up: David Nestor (Kilmacud Crokes Goalkeeper) – The Evening Herald – December 22 2018

Nestor savouring his latest success

Daire Walsh

WITH five clean sheets to his name from six championship outings, David Nestor’s selection on this year’s Dublin Bus/Herald Dubs Stars football team comes as little surprise.

Ballyboden St Enda’s star James Madden (who was recruited by Brisbane Lions back in August) was the only player to get the better of the Kilmacud Crokes netminder in over 360 minutes of competitive action, as the Stillorgan men captured their first Dublin SFC title since 2010.

The October 29 triumph against St Jude’s was Nestor’s third county final success in a stellar club career – and one that he felt was long overdue for Crokes.

“I’m one of the lucky ones, I suppose. I’ve three Dublin championships and they’re all unique and brilliant in their own way. It’s the camaraderie you have with the guys that you’re playing with and it’s great to enjoy it with them and in the Kilmacud jersey,” Nestor remarked at last Friday’s awards lunch at the Radisson Blu Hotel.

“It was something we talked about. A club the size of Kilmacud and the talent that’s there at underage level, and the work that goes into the club, you should definitely be competing at that level year-on-year. That would be the target. It was great to get back there again.”

A surviving member of the 2009 All-Ireland winning side, Nestor can also count Leinster successes in 2008 and 2010 amongst his list of honours. A third provincial crown was beyond Crokes’ reach this year, however – rank outsiders Mullinalaghta (Longford) enjoying an historic day in the sun at O’Connor Park, Tullamore on December 9.

Despite acknowledging the disappointment of this shock final reversal, Nestor can reflect positively on the progress of the past 12 months.

“It was great to get to a Leinster final. Unfortunately we just couldn’t see it out. That’s something we’ll have to think about over the winter until we get going again.

“If you had said to us 12 months ago, after Ballymun beat us in the semi-final, we’d be back winning a Dublin championship and be in a Leinster final, we’d have bitten your hand off.

“The Portlaoise [Leinster semi-final] game was great. It showed great character in the team, especially in the younger lads, to come through a game that was as open as that.

“Portlaoise are one of the best club teams in Ireland. It was great to get over that.”

Posted in Gaelic Football | Comments Off on Dublin Bus/Herald Dubs Stars Football Challenge Build-Up: David Nestor (Kilmacud Crokes Goalkeeper) – The Evening Herald – December 22 2018

Six Nations Championship Warm-Up: Ireland U20 V Leinster Development XV – Irishrugby.ie – December 21 2018

Strong Second Half Sees Ireland U-20s Defeat Leinster Development Side

The national side responded with the game’s opening try, a powerful lineout maul bringing them up towards the try-line and loosehead Michael Milne managed to crash over under a pile of bodies. Lansdowne clubman Byrne, the younger brother of senior international Ross, converted for a 7-0 lead.

The Ireland U-20s continued to pose a threat through a series of attacks, although they were denied by a couple of handling errors. Indeed, with Russell continuing to impress when on the ball, Leinster squared things up in the 25th minute.

Russell made ground with another lung-bursting run and chipped over the retreating Irish defence, allowing his Trinity colleague Liam Turner to break forward into space and finish off a very well-worked try. With Kelly receiving treatment, Russell took the routine conversion and slotted it over.

It was turning into a frenetic contest with both sides willing to commit numbers in attack. The Ireland U-20s pressed from a series of five-metre drives just past the half hour mark, with Casey then moving the ball out to Byrne and Sean French who sent full-back Jake Flannery over in the right corner.

The Shannon star’s try went unconverted, and Leinster got back on level terms before the interval thanks to a similar attacking move at the Bective end of the ground which resulted in an unconverted score for winger Adam La Grue, who played for Terenure College in the All-Ireland League last Saturday.

As expected, the respective benches were unloaded as the second half progressed. The Ireland U-20s resumed in determined fashion with Ulster Academy centre Stewart Moore haring towards the try-line after intercepting a Kelly pass. It took some brilliant defence to hold him up at the expense of a five-metre scrum.

The province’s resistance was broke in the 50th minute, McNamara’s charges keeping up the pressure before out-half Byrne grounded the ball despite the presence of two defenders. After receiving some treatment for a knock, the try scorer converted for a 19-12 scoreline.

The nip-and-tuck nature of the game continued with Leinster almost replying with a spectacular try courtesy of Kelly’s creative spark. His cross-field kick out to Turner was brilliantly weighted, but the former Blackrock College student knocked the ball on with the line in his sights.

As it transpired, the Ireland U-20s pushed on during the final quarter to take the spoils in clinical style. Fifteen minutes from the end, Shannon scrum half Casey raced through a gap to release Buccaneers’ Niall Murray to score his side’s fourth try of the afternoon.

Replacement Jonathan Wren inflicted further damage to the Leinster defence with an outstanding finish for try number five, just two minutes later. After hitting the woodwork with an earlier kick, Byrne added the extras to bring his tally up to 11 points.

A spirited Leinster fired back in the closing stages when replacement Cian Prendergast touched down at the end of an extended move, but the Ireland U-20s had the final say to round off an encouraging display. UCC back rower John Hodnett carried powerfully to get in under the posts with Byrne landing his fourth conversion.

IRELAND UNDER-20: Jake Flannery (Shannon/Munster); Angus Kernohan (Queen’s University/Ulster), Sean French (Cork Constitution/Munster), Stewart Moore (Malone/Ulster), James McCarthy (UL Bohemians/Munster); Harry Byrne (Lansdowne/Leinster), Craig Casey (Shannon/Munster); Michael Milne (UCD/Leinster), Dylan Tierney (Corinthian/Connacht), Ryan Lomas (Galwegians/Connacht), Bradley Luney (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Charlie Ryan (UCD/Leinster), Niall Murray (Buccaneers/Connacht), Martin Moloney (Old Belvedere/Leinster), John Hodnett (UCC/Munster).

Replacements used: Billy Scannell (Young Munster/Munster), Josh Wycherley (Young Munster/Munster), Tom Clarkson (Dublin University/Leinster), JJ McKee (Ballymena/Ulster), Cian Huxford (Corinthians/Connacht), Colm Reilly (Buccaneers/Connacht), David Hawkshaw (Clontarf/Leinster), Iwan Hughes (Ballynahinch/Ulster), Conor Phillips (Young Munster/Munster), Jonathan Wren (Cork Constitution/Munster).

LEINSTER DEVELOPMENT: Robert Russell; Adam La Grue, Ollie Morris (IQ Rugby), David Ryan, Liam Turner; Conor Kelly, Graham Curtis (Malone/Ulster); Giuseppe Coyne, John McKee, Charlie Ward, Grellan Murray, Brian Deeny, Ruadhan Byron, Ronan Watters, David McCann (Banbridge/Ulster).

Replacements used: Harry Noonan, Declan Adamson, Mick McCormack, Cian Prendergast, Adam Flemming, Louis O’Reilly, Stephen Madigan, Luis Faria, Hugo Conway.

Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)

Posted in U20 Six Nations Rugby | Comments Off on Six Nations Championship Warm-Up: Ireland U20 V Leinster Development XV – Irishrugby.ie – December 21 2018