A massive day in both club’s histories took place in Kilballyowen Park on Saturday. Bruff unbeaten all year at home welcomed Malahide in the Playoff Final.
It didn’t take long for Bruff to take the lead in the game as a penalty against Malahide for not rolling away was given after just 1 minute. Bruff converted the shot at goal to take an early 3-0 lead.
On the 15 minute mark Bruff would extend their lead, John Shine getting caught on the wrong side of the ruck and pinned, conceding a penalty 30m in front of goal. The penalty was again converted by the Bruff outhalf, extending their lead to 6-0.
It was at this point Malahide started hitting their stride and putting phases together. After 25 mins Malahide finally registered their first score of the game. Having worked through a number of phases David Feenan carried to the Bruff line only to be held up short, a Bruff man got caught up in the resultant ruck and used his hands to spoil the ball. A penalty was given 5 meters from the line and 5 in from touch. Captain Dave Nolan called for a scrum. The pack flexed their muscles and put major pressure on the Bruff scrum. Forcing the scrum infield opened up the blindside for Brendan Guilfoyle to work the short side and offload for Marcus McAllister to dive over in the corner. The touchline conversion was missed by Shane O’Brien but Malahide were right back in this game, 6-5.
In the dying minutes of the 1st half Bruff would go on to extend their lead to 13-5. A lineout maul from just outside their own 22 meters was worked upfield and following some heavy carries and a fortunate bounce of the ball they found themselves in open space behind the Malahide defensive line. A couple of fantastic offloads and passed later it was the winger who managed to break clear of the defence to touch down. The outhalf converted the extras making the score 13-5 at half time.
The 2nd half didn’t start much better for the Malahide men as Darren Morrin saw yellow for what looked to be a fair rip of the ball in the tackle. Nonetheless it was 10 mins in the bin for the tighthead.
Despite being down to 14 men Malahide went hunting in numbers. Some fantastic pressure in defence and skills on show in attack led to the Bruff Hooker giving away a penalty for slapping the ball from Bobby Holland’s hands in a ruck. He too saw yellow and Shane O’Brien stepped up to kick the penalty bringing the score to 13-8, a one score game.
From the kickoff Malahide began to build phases yet again. The pressure finally told after strong carries from Simon Malone and Reece O’Connell gave platform for Shane O’Brien to slot the ball in behind the Bruff defence. Superb work in the follow up by Marcus McAllister and Bobby Holland caused a turnover on the Bruff 10 meters line. Scrum Malahide. From the back of the scrum the ball was played wide into the hands of Dan Hayes, who carried hard and recycled the ball. A bulldozing carry from Dave Nolan set the platform and Shane O’Brien whipped the ball into the hands of Rory Kavanagh who danced his way under the posts to put Malahide into the lead for the first time in the game. Shane O’Brien converted extras bringing the scoreline to 13-15.
Malahide gained possession back from the kickoff and a deft kick in behind the defence caused a nightmare for the Bruff winger who had to deal with Dan Hayes hunting him down. Hayes tackled him into touch and Malahide had possession with a lineout on the Bruff 22 meters line. Morrin would come back into the game at the lineout. A fantastic forwards score would come next, as they mauled their way over from the lineout with Morrin dotting down at the back of the maul, more than making up for missing the previous 10 minutes. O’Brien continued his fine form from the tee with the extras. 13-22 to Malahide.
With just 10 minutes left on the clock Malahide decided to step it up another gear and try finish the job. Fantastic pressure in defence ended up with Malahide winning a turnover thanks to a Danie Poolman tackle. From the scrum Malahide were relentless in their carrying and racked up 35 phases before going over the line. 13 of the 15 players on the field were involved in the action and were expertly marshalled by Bobby Holland and Shane O’Brien, it was Holland who made the final snipe to touch down and take the game beyond Bruff. 13-29 with O’Brien successfully from the tee again.
The Malahide men were not done just yet and had what is possibly the try of the season left in the locker. As Bruff went on the attack a stray pass went to ground. Marcus McAllister picked it up and went for the Bruff line, not content with just doing the usual and trying to finish it himself (not sure he had the gas any ways), he threw the most audacious round the back pass which was beautifully weighted to Dan Hayes who hit the afterburners and finished off the game in style.