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Club News Weekending 11th March 2007
3 March 2007, 9:07 am
Club news, views and reviews from around the province.

GARRYOWEN F.C.
Christy Barry PRO

Our seniors picked up a valuable AIL bonus point when they defeated Dolphin 34-14 in Musgrave Park last Saturday. Conor Kilroy and Damien Varley scored early tries (both converted by the former) but the Cork side fought back to narrow the gap to 14-7. Kilroy added a penalty and Anthony Kavanagh touched down before the break to give us a rather flattering 22-7 lead.

The second half opened with Dolphin applying considerable pressure inside our 22 and it was no surprise when they narrowed gap to 22-14. Some stout midfield defending after that curtailed their run but our supporters were relieved when Anthony Kavanagh bagged a further brace of tries late in the game to ensure maximum points returned to Dooradoyle.

Despite our win we still have it all to do if we are to make the play-offs . Our next game is on 24th March v Blackrock in Dooradoyle. The South Dublin side have been stringing some impressive displays together recently so we will have to be at our very best to halt their progress.

Congratualtions to Peter Malone, Damien Varley and Kevin Hartigan, who have been selected on the AIB Club International squad v Scotland.

There was high drama in Dooradoyle on Sunday in the Munster Junior Cup quarter final v Cork Con. Having set the pace for most of the game we had to rely on a Willie Staunton penalty in the last play to edge into a home semi-final. Cillian O'Boyle scored an early try and Willie Staunton kicked two penalties as our pack dictated matters for much of the 40 minutes. Con always looked dangerous on the counter attack and replied with a penalty to leave us 11-3 in front at the break. A drop goal from Con (neat footwork by their blind-side!) was negated by a Staunton penalty but an uncharacteristic error in our defence gifted a try to the visitors. Crucially the straight forward conversion was missed and another Staunton penalty put us 17-11 ahead. A mistake at a line out inside our 22 was snapped up by the Con back-row and they mauled the ball over far out. Again the conversion was missed but the Temple Hill boys looked to have sealed the game when they kicked a penalty for offside near our 22. Our players showed great fighting spirit in those dying minutes. Frantic attempts by Con to put the ball dead failed as we skilfully maintained possession and edged towards their 22. Even when the penalty was awarded for an infringement, it looked long odds against our out half finding the range into the teeth of the wind. He split the posts with a fantastic effort and the referee immediately signalled the end of the game. It was an excellent advertisement for this famous competition and credit to both teams for their efforts. Unfortunately, Damien Fahey will have to wait a number of weeks before our opponents in the semi final are known.

In the only game this weekend our 3rdXV play Bruff in the quarter final of the Webb Cup on Sunday in Dooradoyle at 3.00.

CLONAKILTY RFC
Roy Maguire PRO

Clon Stay Third Despite Loss

Clonakilty 8

Old Belvedere 10

It's a law of physics. If something is stretched to breaking point and then more pressure is applied it will snap. The heroics exhibited so far this season by a small squad was much in evidence again last Saturday. With eleven of the Clonakilty senior squad that started the season unavailable, mainly through injuries, it was unfortunately necessary for two of those injured to play. Declan Coppinger and Mike O'Hea bravely fielded with Coppinger as expected having to retire and O'Hea, who had limped onto the field, staying the distance but unable to play his customary rampaging game. Both had contributed beyond the call of duty but were effective only in the set pieces and close exchanges. With Danny Whelton abroad Coach Terry Dillon was left to rue what might have been had he had any two of the three fully fit. There were no excuses offered however as Dillon faced the reality of a campaign at this level with the smallest squad numerically in the league.

Old Belvedere had arrived as champions in waiting and by virtue of their narrow win are deservedly guaranteed division one rugby next season. Clon would not be out of place joining them. However the chances of that happening are virtually non-existent now. For this to happen the West Cork club would need to win their remaining three games against. Greystones, Midleton and Old Crescent with a bonus point in each game for scoring at least four trys. In addition they would depend on Greystones losing by more than seven points to Thomond and Suttonians in their final two games. This is too much to expect but stranger things have happened. Clon however can be very happy with their first season in Division Two of the national league. They remain on course for the top four championship plays off and they will contest the semi final of The AIB All Ireland Cup against Garryowen on 31st March. Nobody could have expected such success at the beginning of this season and already next season is being targeted with ambition.

"Belvo" drew first blood in this absorbing if less than classic encounter. It was a soft try but well taken by scrum half Ruairi Cushion who broke on the blind side of a well defended rolling maul. Clon had been defending well up to that point and it turned out to be the killer blow. The exchanges were physical and the Dubliners did not lack size or aggression. They halted Clon's big ball carriers in their tracks on a number of occasions something that had not happened before. A good move for Clon was halted when Alfie Harte was cynically obstructed by his opposite number. The resultant exchange of pleasantries saw both shaking hands on their way to the sin bin. It deprived Clon of a place kicker and forced David Lombard to take all kicks during that period, as Gary Cribb returning for his first game in some time was not called upon.

Lombard who had slotted into the place-kicking role well converted one of two penalties awarded during this period. Clon applied great pressure to earn those penalties and it also resulted in a second Belvo player being yellow carded. Clon went ahead when a kick ahead from former Bath, London Harlequins, UCD, Leinster and Ireland U21 player, Andy Dunne was bravely claimed at the feet of an onrushing Belvo player by David Cookson. He scrambled to his feet and evaded the clutches of the tacklers and broke down field where he fed Shay O'Donovan. The in-form winger out sprinted the cover to score a fine try from 30 metres. The conversion was missed but Clon were looking good. Cookson and O'Donovan figured prominently in many attacking situations. Cookson was on top of his game and the footballing skills of O'Donovan, with perfectly weighted chips when there were no options, had the defence troubled. Dan Spencer was in superb form supporting the ball carriers all over the field and taking it on himself when needed.

Despite this Belvo went ahead five minutes from the end of the half when they mauled over a five metre lineout from a penalty. The penalty count was harsh on Clon with 25 - 5 in favour of the visitors. Clon did not help their cause conceding 10 metres on two occasions for dissent. The second half yielded no further scoring with Clon staging a barnstorming finish running from everywhere. A great opportunity for John O'Donnell was lost when he received the ball a fraction too soon following some adventurous play. The handling skills of the entire team in the closing stages was excellent and Clon would not have been robbers had they snatched a win at the end but Belvo returned to Dublin on Sunday a division one side deservedly.

Arguably Belvo's most famous son Dr A.J.F "Tony" O'Reilly knighted by the Queen in 2001 for his services to Northern Ireland was delighted with his club's success. With 10 Lions caps the knowledgeable, prolific try scorer was however graciously fulsome in his praise for Clon on and off the field. He was impressed with O'Donovan and Cookson and particularly with the ability of Coppinger to halt attacks before they had started a quality often mentioned in this column. The statesmanlike "Sir Anthony" who resides regularly in Glandore and has befriended Skibbereen in the past made many new friends in Clon as he stayed to enjoy the West Cork hospitality on this great occasion for his old club. The squad was: Derek Dillon, John O'Donnell, Paul Dillon, David Lombard, Shay O'Donovan, Gary Cribb, David Cookson, Eddie Knowles, Alfie Harte, Dan Spencer, Mike O'Hea, Declan Coppinger, Eoin Scannell (Capt), Tadhg Wright, Mike Keohane, Joe Knowles, Batt Duggan, John O'Regan, Colin Murphy, Shane Deane and Felim O'Neill.

Better news came from the underage section that weekend. Cup victories recorded by the Under 20s and the Under 16s helped to raise spirits as they triumphed over Bandon and Crosshaven respectively. The 20s won by 20 - 12 and the 14s by 15 - 3.

This weekend's fixtures:

Sat

10

Under 16

Cup

Old Christians

Cork

11.00

Under 18

Cup

Old Christians

The Vale

11.00

Under 14

Cup

Mallow

The Vale

3.30

Sun

11

Extra-Firsts

Cork Junior League

Dolphin

Musgrave Park

2.30

Bulldogs

J3 Cup

UCC

Cork

2.30

Loose Head

KILLORGLIN RFC
Aidan Clifford PRO

Killorglin Rugby Club were due to travel to West Cork on Sunday last, with an away tie in the South Munster J2 Cup Quarter Final against Bantry. However, due to a waterlogged pitch, the game was postponed.

The Killorglin Rugby under-18s travelled to Abbeyfeale on Sunday for the West Munster League Semi final. On a poor day for flowing rugby, Killorglin relied on a good team effort around the field and solid kicking from fly-half Luke O'Shea. The visitors took the lead through penalty and drop goal from O'Shea to make the score 6-0. Abbeyfeale then scored a penalty but missed the conversion to leave the score at 6-5 with half the game to play. Killorglin's defensive line was battered but not broken for the entire second half and held out to secure a final berth with a score line of 6-5. Killorglin will play either Tralee or Castleisland in the final, with dates yet to be confirmed.

Killorglin u-18 vs Abbeyfeale:- 15. Caoinlean Soffer,14. Sam Ireland, 13. Joseph Kelliher, 12. Rikus O'Connor, 11. Colm O'Rourke, 10. Luke O'Shea, 9. Daniel O'Sullivan, 1. Barry Sheehan, 2. Stephen Cotter, 3. Jason Clifford, 4. Shane Costello, 5. Timmy Lynch, 6. John James Johnston, 7. Chris O'Sullivan, 8. Liam Walsh, 16. Ian O'Shea, 17. Cian Kingston.

Finally, Good Luck to The Killorglin RFC touring party heading for Edinburgh this coming weekend for the Scotland v Ireland game. Enjoy yourselves, Behave yourselves and Bon Voyage!

UL BOHEMIAN RFC
Denis Ryan PRO

Saturday in Thomond Park brought a large crowd in perfect weather to witness the battle for vital AIL points between the neighbouring tenants. They got full value with UL Bohs just prevailing by 15-6. Shannon are victims of their own success, as each team they play wants to put one across the AIL record breakers. UL Bohs are no exception, and from early in the season this fixture was earmarked as one which would prove the club's credentials as serious Division 1 players. The home side had given their worst display for 18 months in the previous defeat to Garryowen, and were fully focussed on rectifying that blip. From the outset, they set about attacking Shannon in the scrums and mauls, while also prepared to have a run from anywhere on the field. The back three of Mark Butler and wingers Ian Hanley and Martin McPhail exemplified this with all contributing to Ian Hanley's two tries. In the centre Captain Coleman Finn and Ben Martin were matched up against Munster hero Ian Dowling and Irish Club International Andrew Finn, while outhalf Fergal Lawlor was up against another Club International in AIL record points scorer Andrew Thompson. UL Bohs appeared to shade all these head to heads. Shannon had another Club international and a couple of Munster players in the pack, but UL Bohs more than held their own thanks to an excellent front row, solid locks and dynamic back row. However, even when ahead by 12-6, it was only when Ben Martin kicked a final penalty to push the score to 15-6, with a few minutes remaining, that the UL Bohs support could relax somewhat. Shannon have an enviable record of never being beaten until the final whistle, so UL Bohs showed excellent focus to play for the full 80 minutes. This victory was well appreciated in the club, but UL Bohs are too aware that the sides might yet meet again in the play offs, when the prize on offer will be much greater, as will Shannon's hunger. This was just a step, not the end of a journey.

UL Bohs advanced to the semi finals of the Junior Cup when beating Skibbereen by 13-10 following extra time. Conditions in Skibbereen had a major impact on the proceedings as the team favoured by the gale had to avoid kicking the ball dead while the side playing into the storm struggled to make any headway. The home team used the wind in the first half and their powerful rucking and mauling kept them on the attack. They opened the scoring with a try from a penalty when the quick tap led to an unstoppable drive. Any kick in the conditions was very difficult, so the conversion and a later penalty required excellent control. UL Bohs were happy to be just 10-0 down at the break, but it could have been more as, when a rare visit inside the Skibbereen 22 broke down, the home side started a sweeping movement that was just held up on the visitors line.

The strength of the wind could be gauged when after the break the restart by Skibbereen blew back and landed near their own 22. Once again the storm had a major influence as UL Bohs kept play in the Skib danger area. The controlled kicking of Ian Costello and the strong running of the other backs looked dangerous, but attacks foundered in the face of determined defence. The home team made a few forays upfield through their pack, but one kick brought play the whole way back again. The UL Bohs forwards gradually got on top, with Gary Walsh, Richie Feeney and Frankie Leonard very prominent, while Pat Fitzgerald truly played a captain's role leading by example. The pressure finally paid off when the flying David Moloney blocked down an attempted clearance and was quickest to the ball when it squirted over the line. Ian Costello converted with a magnificent kick, and later added a penalty. With the game tied, UL Bohs fought for the winning scores, and it looked as if they had it when Costello took a penalty from the right touchline and near halfway, only to see the ball clip the upright and fall the wrong side of it.

The sides switched ends again for 15 minutes each way extra time, but the superior fitness of the UL Bohs squad, and the tactical substitution of veteran Christy Neilan, brought stability and control to the visitors. They held the ball against the wind, and then when they turned around, launched regular waves of attacks on the Skibbereen line. As the final whistle approached however, it was discovered that the side which got the first try would be the winner (most unfair in the prevailing conditions) and some panic was noticeable among the visiting support. Not on the pitch however, as the squad stuck to the task and were rewarded with a penalty which Ian Costello calmly slotted. Manager Ken Rennison thanked the travelling support, but particularly his squad, from prop to full back and reserves who beat very formidable opponents, and disruptive weather, to bring the club to a semi final meeting with Crosshaven.

The hospitality from Skibbereen to the visitors after the game was heart-warming, and is what rugby is supposed to be all about.

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