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Focus On ‘Next Minute’ Pays Off For Ruddock’s Lansdowne Side

Focus On ‘Next Minute’ Pays Off For Ruddock’s Lansdowne Side

Lansdowne head coach Mike Ruddock was delighted to see his squad prevail in an exciting Ulster Bank League Division 1A final on Saturday, especially given the fact that 13 players from their 2012/13 title-winning side are no longer at the club.

At times, preparation has been a struggle for Lansdowne this season because of college and provincial Academy commitments, however Mike Ruddock knew his young troops could deliver a one last win of a long but rewarding season.

Their character was certainly tested by defending champions Clontarf who, thanks to an early spurt in the second half, moved 17-8 clear following Matt D’Arcy’s intercept try and two Rob Keogh penalties.

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Crucially, though, Lansdowne replied before the hour mark with a maul try from man-of-the-match Joe McSwiney and then ex-Munster player Scott Deasy stepped up to the plate, landing a difficult conversion with the aid of the right hand post and following up with a peach of a penalty from the right wing.

The combined scoring efforts of the former Cork Constitution duo were ultimately enough as Lansdowne held off Clontarf’s attempts to mount a late rally at the end of a compelling RTÉ 2-televised encounter.

Giving his reaction afterwards, Ruddock said: “It’s very pleasing because I think obviously Clontarf have lost players, but the mainstay of their squad were there. Some experienced players as well, experience through the team.

“We’ve got a lot of Academy boys, very often we don’t see them until Thursday night. I planned a training day for Monday, double sessions, and then half the boys had exams. We had to abandon that.
 
“Also, some boys couldn’t make Tuesday night because of exams, so we pulled it together Wednesday and Thursday. Of course, we didn’t panic because we knew the work we had done all season. It was a great league final. It was worthy of the stadium, worthy of (live) television. A formidable team against us and we managed to close it out.”
 
With 16 wins from 20 games across the regular league season and play-offs, Lansdowne have certainly been the most consistent team in the top flight. However, in a similar vein to their dramatic semi-final victory over Young Munster at the same venue, the headquarters club were put under severe pressure by ‘Tarf.

Despite falling nine points in arrears and suffering the setback of prop Adam Boland’s sin-binning, Ruddock knew that his players would not panic as the importance of the ‘next minute’ had been emphasised throughout the current campaign.
 
“We had a sort of catchphrase all season, which was ‘next minute’. You can’t change what’s gone on before. There’s no point in us blaming somebody for what’s gone on before. There’s no point in us blaming somebody for an intercept try, or blaming somebody for a yellow card, or blaming somebody for a penalty.
 
“Our focus has always been, ‘right, if something goes wrong, forget that part of the game. We can’t change it. No matter how much energy, we won’t ever change that. You won’t change that referee’s decision, you won’t change that try being scored. What we have to do is concentrate on the next minute’.
 
“I felt our composure shone through. We didn’t buckle mentally. We stayed strong, we stayed in our belief that we could change the game, and in the next minute and the minute after that. That’s what we did. I thought it was a fantastic effort by the boys to come through that test.”


 
In recent seasons, the Ulster Bank League has proven to be a solid stepping stone for players who have aspirations of progressing to the professional game. From the Lansdowne team that secured the league title against the same opposition two years ago, Craig Ronaldson, Clive Ross and Charlie Butterworth have all moved on to provincial set-ups and, of course, young tighthead prop Martin Moore now has two RBS 6 Nations winners’ medals to his name.
 
Ruddock also sees a big future for his current crop of club players, and in particular championed the cause of hooker Tyrone Moran who was involved with Leinster in the latter stages of 2014.
 
“He (Tyrone Moran) is physical. He’s a big physical unit. His darts are good generally. His scrummaging is strong as well. Certainly he is one that could be looked at. He has got a physical size for the pro game, there’s not a doubt in my mind,” added the former Ireland Under-20 boss.