Swords Rugby Club kept their Leinster Division 3 play-off hopes alive with a stirring bonus point victory over Athboy at the ALSAA Sports Complex on Sunday afternoon.
It was a day laced with emotion for the Swords players as they held a minute’s silence beforehand in memory of club member and coach Ivan O’Kelly, who passed away suddenly earlier this month.
The home side got the bonus-point win they required in order to ensure they retain a mathematical chance of finishing in the top two, with second-place Garda to visit on the final day on March 11.
In wet and windy conditions, it was Athboy who struck first with a well-taken try in the corner midway through the first half. The resulting conversion attempt was missed.
Eight minutes later, Swords were level as Carl Reilly burst through an attempted tackle and crossed the whitewash. Again, the extras were missed and the game was tied 5-5.
Athboy were soon back in front thanks to a penalty conceded in front of the posts, and the Meath side could have been forgiven for thinking they’d take that lead to the break.
However, a good take from Charles Butler on the wing on the stroke of half time saw him run clear and touch down in the corner, but kicker Collie Ryan couldn’t execute the tricky conversion.
Try number three arrived early in the second half as Butler bagged his second, gathering a kick through following a turnover, and Ryan added the extras to make it 17-8.
The bonus point was secured in the dying moments of the game as Ryan crashed through to leave the final score 22-8.
“Ivan O’Kelly passed away there the week before last,” Swords captain Paul Orr told the Dublin Gazette.
“This game was supposed to be last Sunday but Ivan’s funeral was on the Saturday so it was rescheduled to this weekend.
“He was the forwards coach for a number of years, but he had been back this year to do specialist scrum and lineout work with us.”
Much now depends on the outcome of second-place Garda’s visit to RCSI next week – a draw or win for Garda there will seal their spot in the play-offs at Swords’ expense.
All Swords can do is concentrate on their own game and hope the College of Surgeons can do them a favour and keep their interest alive.
“It’s out of our hands,” said the prop. “The only game we have left is against the Gards so all we can do is focus on what we have to do and whatever else happens, happens.
“With any luck, something might go our way and things could change and it could be back in our hands.”