Seapoint go down fighting
By John O Donnell
Turner's Man of Match performance not enough as Seapoint U-16 fail to beat Balbriggan
Seapoint U-16s met Balbriggan in the Leinster U-16 Division 1 League on Sunday 17th December for the second time in only a fortnight. Even with home advantage, this was always going to be a big ask for the Kilbogget residents, given that they were well beaten in the previous encounter and they were still missing a couple of their key players. Hope amongst the supporters and parents was diminished further when the Balbriggan team took the field, the Balbriggan side were significantly bigger and heavier than their Seapoint opponents.
However Seapoint came to play rugby and they produced a wonderful performance both in defence and attack. Initial pressure from the Balbriggan side was stoutly defended for the first five minutes and when Seapoint finally got possession they exhibited superb handling skills and pace to exert some pressure of their own, resulting in Manning going over for the opening try which he duly converted. Several minutes later David O'Dowd made one of his by now trademark 'show and go 's and then had the pace to finish under the sticks. 14 points unanswered to Seapoint and all of a sudden Balbriggan were wondering what had changed in two weeks.
However Balbriggan countered and a couple of uncharacteristic mistakes by Seapoint and some loose clearance kicking resulted in Balbriggan scoring two tries of their own to level up the score at half time, 14 points each. Seapoint had suffered two further casualties in the first half, Ross Gallagher being substituted after just 10 minutes, and Cillian O'Donnell taking a blow to the cheekbone which ended his participation. Not surprising as Cillian had put his body on the line several times in the first half and put in some crunchingly effective tackles.
The second half started similar to the first, with Seapoint moving their heavier opponents around the pitch,utilising a combination of fast running and slick handling to create a try for Thomas O'Shea which Manning converted. Then David O'Dowd displayed his Gaelic football skills, gathering his own kick forward one handed with an athletic leap into the air, and again showing the pace to score under the posts once he had made the initial breakthrough. Manning again successfully converted. However Balbriggan are not unbeaten in this tournament by accident and duly countered with two tries of their own. This left the score poised at 28 points to 26 with Seapoint two points ahead. Sustained pressure by Balbriggan resulted in their fifth try, which they failed to convert but this gave them the lead (3 points) for the first time in the encounter. With 4 minutes left on the clock Seapoint threw everything they had into their last attack and continued to exert pressure, however Balbriggan defended resolutely to deny Seapoint what would have been a famous victory.
Incredibly hard to pick out candidates for man of the match, from 1 to 17 every player gave his all. Liam Hurley never shirked a tackle, Sean Downing was immense, Agatowski led by example, Alan Casey was very effective. David O'Dowd produced magical running and kicking scoring two tries, Manning tackled like a demon, scored a try and converted all four. However for heart, bravery and hard work, this weeks Man of the Match goes to Sam Turner, not for his customary impact with ball in hand, but because of his work rate in defence, his counter rucking and his non stop encouragment and leadership to the rest of the team -- well done Sam T.