Naas beat Tullamore 49 to 30 in a high scoring and exciting Leinster Senior Shield Semi-Final at Forenaghts.
Whereas the score-line records a 19 point win for the home side, this game was in the balance until extra time.
Tullamore were unfortunate not to win in normal time when a tremendous drop goal attempt from their impressive out-Half Aaron Deverell came off the post and into the hands of Naas Full Back David Ahern who immediately set up a counter attack resulting in a penalty on the oppositions 30m line from which the Ahern coolly converted to draw the match.
Naas winger Ben O’Connor started the scoring spree when he finished off an attacking move which saw him speed past two defenders to touch down on the 8th minute to give the Kildare side an early lead.
This early score seemed to spur Tullamore on and they scored two tries in the next seven minutes. The visitors first try came off a great diagonal run by David Clavin opened up the home side’s defence to score on the left. To top this off Brian Geraghty at full back took a high ball deep inside his 22 and set up a counter attack which he finished off a superb try after he got in past a flatfooted Naas defence to score under the posts.
Before half-time, quick ball out to a mobile backline was on and Sam delivered a fast pass to Osbourne who exploited a gap in the Tullamore defence to drive across the line and touch down to leave the score at 15-12 after Davy Ahern converted.
At half-Ttme Naas Management took the opportunity to introduce more young players with Ryan Casey coming on at wing forward and John Jennings on the right wing.
On the 14th minute of the 2nd half Henry Bryce touched down after a typical powerhouse surge through the Offalymen’s defence. Tullamore responded and put the Nass defence under pressure and following a tackle 5m from the line under the posts Johnny Holmes was sin binned harshly for not releasing and Tullamore converted the penalty to retake the lead 18-17.
Tullamore a very successful and experienced team who were promoted to Senior Ranks for the first time in their history took the game to Naas throughout and took each home-side score on the chin and counter attacked the Naas line with intent.
Every time Naas went ahead Tullamore responded to retake the lead and so it was until extra time.
Now it was down to ‘will to win’ and fitness and unfortunately for Tullamore the youthfulness of Naas and their superior fitness won the day when they outscored their opponents four tries to one in the extra time.
Naas’ final five pointer was scored by Johnny Holmes who was a torment to the Tullamore men throughout. The Army Officer signed off a great game with a superb individual try following a 40m break to earn his lead 49 to 25 until the last minute when Tullamore scored on the death to at least have the last say in an enterprising game.
This result means that Naas will meet their North Kildare neighbours NUIM Barnhall in the final in mid-November.
Naas: 1 Dan O’Byrne, (Eoghan Griffin 70 mins) 2 Charlie Kings (Bryan Gallagher 50 mins), 3 Jason Harney, (Andrew Shirley 40 mins), 4 Garry Rowan, 5 John O’Brien, 6 Cillian Dempsey (Ryan Casey 40 mins) 7 Johnny Holmes 8 Andrew Kearney©, 9 Sam Sutton, 10 Peter Osbourne 11 Ben O’Connor Johnny Delaney 65 ins), 12 Henry Bryce, 13 Darragh O’Shea, 14 Rob O’Connor (John Jennings 40 mins), 15 David Aherne. Subs: 16 Bryan Gallagher, 17 Andrew Shirley 18 Ryan Casey, 19 Eoghan Griffin 20 Niall Carson 21 Johnny Delaney 22 John Jennings