Seapoint 6 - 0 DLSP (Div 8 League final)
By Eoin Shanley
Seapoint's third XV win the Division 8 league title
The Seapoint "thirsty thirds" beat DLSP in a tightly contested 6 - 0 league final in Kirwan Park on Wednesday night; and with that win they gained promotion to Division 7 and the inaugural Gerry Maher cup.
DLSP had the home fixture due to a comprehensive 15-3 win over Seapoint just a week and a half ago in both teams' final normal league match; finishing joint top of the table with Seapoint, but with a better head-to-head points difference.
The thirds were determined to make amends for that loss and from the start worked hard to cancel out Salmo's big ball carriers. Both teams made brief forays into the other's 22, but a strong defense at either end of the pitch allowed lines to be cleared.
'Point's lineout functioned much better than in the previous match, with great accuracy from hooker Ian to the jumpers Peter and Rob (Bertie), who secured possession well. A couple of rolling mauls from the lineout saw Seapoint make good gains up the pitch, until the ref judged the maul to have been collapsed illegally; between Salmo's 22 and 10 meter lines. The penalty kick from a tough angle was pushed just to the left of the posts; however when a second penalty from a similar position was awarded to Seapoint, Justin Kinch securing the 3 points with a fine kick.
Soon after however, David Roche was penalised for a high tackle; and was sent to the bin for 10 minutes. The resulting penalty was missed, so again Seapoint were able to clear their lines. Fintan Day's introduction to the match made up for being a man down, with constant hard work at the breakdown to turn over possession on several occasions – adding to the huge amount of hard work from Niall Heffernan. The remainder of the half continued to be a very close affair; Point's backline looked sharp and through a combination of Roche's direct running and McLaughlin's pace were able to make a lot of ground, but were unable to get away the final pass that may have provided a try - leaving the score 3-0 to Seapoint going into the break.
The second half was much the same - solid defending and big hits from both teams stopping each other from creating many scoring opportunities. Ed Whelan's introduction shored up the scrum, and also added big ball carries and defensive work. Salmo probably came closest to a try; when quick hands from their scrumhalf and number 8 at the breakdown saw their winger break down the blind side and step inside a couple of tacklers to make it as far as the Seapoint 22. With what was most likely a match saving tackle, full back Rory O'Connor stopped both the attacker and any chance of an offload. Seapoint turned over possession and cleared to touch.
The 'Point lineout continued to function well and the ball was mauled up the pitch on a few more occasions, but time and time again the Salmo defence held firm and were able to make their own territory gains with very strong running in both the narrow and wide channels. They had another chance to equalise the score with a penalty, however the kick was missed to keep the score at 3-0.
With 10 minutes left on the clock, a DLSP transgression gave Kinch another opportunity to kick at goal from the 10 yard line. Despite the distance, Justin made no mistake, doubling the lead to 6 points.
With 5 minutes to go, it was all DLSP. Seapoint saw a second yellow card when the Salmo winger slipped going into contact; resulting in what was judged to be a high tackle. As the 80 minutes were now up they could not kick to touch and use the solid platform of their lineout. Their strong runners ran hard at the Seapoint defense to make it to the 22. However, strong tackles pushed back their attacking line, until eventually an accidental offside resulted in the final whistle to the relief and delight of the Seapoint team and vocal supporters.
The thirds would like to extend their thanks to their manager, Les Grant. Les has constantly worked extremely hard for the team over the last number of years, and is an ever-reliable and essential part of the set up. Gerry Paley has also assisted the team greatly, and our thanks go to him too. Billy Byrne took over the forwards coaching from thirds' stalwart Joe Duignan; both of whom deserve praise for adding that extra bit of insight to the team's pack to finally get us over the line.
Finally – a word of thanks to DLSP who were gracious hosts and opponents. The points difference over the last 5 games between the two clubs is just three (two wins each and a draw), which reflects the closely contested nature of the final.
1 Eoin Shanley
2 Ian Law
3 Eoghan Dalton
4 Rob Fitzgerald
5 Stephen Apied
6 Nial Heffernan
7 Alex Kirker
8 Peter Pollock (C)
9 Shane Martens
10 Justin Kinch
11 Tom O'Dea
12 David Roche
13 Alan McLoughlin
14 David Chapman
15 Rory O'Connor
16 Ed Whelan
17 Alastair White
18 Fintan Day
19 Stephen Dunne
20 Andy Sloane