All Photos from courtesy of Gerard Mulhall.
A debut double from young gun Kevin Varga sought off an ever heroic Vikings side, as Longhorns RL start their McGettigan’s All Ireland title defence in 2018.
The Vikings looked ever dangerous with some good ruck play from Irish international Alan McMahon and strong runs, but they were at loss with the dangerous experience that the Longhorns have built up through their short campaign gained in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup. Experience that will be invaluable to them this season.
The opening moments of play were full of some pre-season rust and new combinations learning to play alongside each other, however it was clear to see that the intent was there from both sides.
With the lions share of possession and territory, Longhorns RL built up a head of steam on the scoreboard owing to some scintillating attacking play.
Brothers, Matthew and Andrew Coade marshalled the Longhorns around the park in Ashbourne RFC with dominant runs from the pack, lead primarily by Darcy Fergus the new Longhorns recruit and Alan Wall.
The Longhorns had built a commanding lead coming to the half however a Vikings try just before the break followed by one after the break gave life to the Vikings who awoke from their slumber to build pressure upon the Longhorns from the Vikings youngsters, who later set up a wonderfully worked try through a beautifully crafted offload.
After conceding a few back-to-back trys the Vikings were in contention, however a number of injuries, to the travelling Munster men seen the side suffer.
Dan Norton and Longhorns debutant, Ronan Michael were impressive of the bench and played a hand in turning the tide.
Against a tiring away side, the Longhorns ran in a number of long range tries through Matt Connolly and Luke Lehane, to run out 68 points to 20 victors, in a result that does an injustice to the effort and performance of the visitors.
Longhorns RL captain, Matt Connolly says the youth coming through the Longhorns is going to put pressure on the older players going forward.
“Firstly I want to thank Vikings for playing the game it’s not an easy task traveling that far with 12 players, and putting us under pressure throughout the game. Credit to them. The scoreline doesn’t reflect the effort from the Vikings.”
But I want to say a big well done to the boys with a very young team on our first run out of the year for being so clinical and performing as a team, it puts the more experienced players under pressure for starting places when we get a full team back.”
We are only back together and have lots of aspects to work on defensively but I’m proud of the boys on a good win.”
Meanwhile Vikings player/coach, Alan McMahon says his side have a lot to improve on going forward, but he is happy with the heart shown from his team.
Both teams will look to improve massively for the next round of fixtures and will both be in the mix come playoff time.
Next week, the Waterford Vikings look to rectify this result when they take on Athy Sharks, who lost out to a strong Galway Tribesmen side 28 to 58 in favour of the visiting Tribesmen, while the Longhorns have a week off to prepare for the Dublin City Exiles on June 2nd.
A special mention to the fighting hearts of the Vikings supporters also who made their voices heard and to Gerard Mulhall for the pictures.
Words by Sammy Bashford and Emmet Banahan.