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Cavan Under 16's Emerged Victorious Over City of Derry at Swellan Last Saturday

Co Cavan U16's 8
City of Derry 0
Both teams required a win to remain in contention for a Cup place in this years Ulster Carpets Under 16’s Cup Competition. With soft conditions underfoot this was never going to be a kicking game and both teams kept the ball in hand for most of the game. It was important for the Cavan men to try and get points on the board early and the opening exchanges looked promising with fullback Daniel Watson and winger Dillon Cooke making good ground.  The half back combination of Eoin Mc Donnell & Stephen Mc Donald choreographed some lovely well executed moves to try and open up the tough Derry defence, but it was a tough nut to crack and Cavan got no joy in first 20 minutes.
Cavan knew the big Derry pack were going to be a threat up front but in the first scrum of the day they were given no chance to demonstrate their power as Cavan dominated their opponents to ensure quick ball which almost crossed the line via centre pairing of Sean Smith & Padraig Keady, however Derry somehow managed to clear their line, and they surely breathed a sigh of relief from the unrelenting Cavan side.
Soon afterwards, following a lineout, the ball was secured from touch and a rolling maul was driven towards the Newry line led by props Stephen Lovett & Ryan Mc Carville, aided all the way by loose forwards Donnacha Comiskey, Aaron Cosgrove & Jaime Mc Quaid, some fine rucking by the Cavan forwards maintained possession and Barry Fay crossed over in the corner, however, the referee couldn’t see the ball being grounded and the try was not given. In the 20th minute Cavan took play back into the Derry half winning a penalty which captain Mc Donald slotted over to leave Cavan ahead by the narrowest of margins, 3-Nil which was the score at half time. The first half was an impressive Cavan display of controlled rugby, which frustrated Derry as they found it very difficult to get their hands on the ball, starving their fast backline of any chance to attack and it seemed like all Cavan had to do was maintain their high intensity to secure the win, but nothing is ever that simple.
Cavan coaches Gary Farrell, Gary Browne & Niall Patterson have been trying to ensure total commitment from their charges all season, the half time talk must have contained some praise for the first half efforts, however, rugby is a game of two halves and this Cavan squad must also have been warned they could not rest for a moment because the second half was even more fierce than the first.
Derry camped in the Cavan 22 yard area for the third quarter, but they couldn’t capitalise. Cavan were resolute in defence and fiercely competitive for the entire duration of the match but especially so during this period. The wonderfully superb Cavan defence held their the line and the crowd were treated to some superb tackling from Elan Farrell, Jermaine O’ Rourke, Philip Speares, Darragh Gaffney, Conor Ellis and Liam Berry.
With Derry only 5 yards out from the Cavan try line, the Cavan fans were heard to groan when one of their front row forwards was sin binned for reckless use of the boot, and with the resulting penalty it appeared the wheels may have come off Cavan’s great march forward, however captain Mc Donald put in what surely must be the tackle of the season on a Derry forward and under the stewardship of pack leader Michael Wilson Cavan forwards somehow managed turnover ball for O’ Rourke to make clearance kick which allowed Cavan breathe, even if only for a minute.
The coaches must surely be proud that Cavan steadfastly refused to yield ground even though their lungs were burning. This game was still on a knife edge and the 14 man Cavan squad played intelligently keeping the ball and frustrating their opponents in the middle half of the field until their sin-binned colleague returned to the fray. With Cavan were back to full strength the momentum swung ever so slightly in their favour and the relentless pressure took its toll on Derry when their open side flanker saw yellow for a late and dangerous tackle on hooker Conor Ellis who was as steady as a rock in the tight play all through the game. Derry were to finish the game with 14 men and with only three minutes to go until the final whistle the unbending Cavan march forward was rewarded by a try near the corner from the hands of Padraig Keady. Following an unsuccessful conversion the final whistle went for a seriously relieved Cavan side delighted to take all the points with the scoreline reading 8-Nil.
This game was a tight as they come and Cavan know they have a big job on their hands for the return fixture in Derry next February. For Cavan Under 16’s, their season took a serious upward turn last Saturday and hopefully these young lads will now really start to believe that they have the ability to achieve much in the second half to this season and hopefully qualify for a cup place. If fortune really does favour the brave then it should only be onwards and upwards for this team, but only with maximum effort and commitment put in by every single player will this team achieve a Cup place.
The Cavan squad pictured included Stephen Mc Donald (Captain), Michael Wilson (Pack Leader), Barry Fay, Aaron Cosgrove, Stephen Lovett, Donncha Comiskey, Dillon Cooke, Daniel Watson, Jaime Mc Quaid, Padraig Keady, Ryan Mc Carville, Eoin Mc Donnell, Darragh Gaffney, Jermaine O’ Rourke, Conor Ellis,  Philip Speares & Liam Berry, (injured Jack Lynch).