Majella Ryan PRO
Clonmel through to All Ireland Semi-Final
AIL Junior Cup Quarter Final: Clonmel 12 Westport 3
Midway during the first half of this game an interested observer - a Clonmel exile living in Galway - stated that the game was "sterile". Perhaps he had a point as both teams complained afterwards of not having played well. However, it is more likely that he was not emotionally involved. Make no mistake about it this was a great contest between two fiercely committed and hungry teams with Clonmel emerging deserving winners. Westport braved snow and icy conditions to travel by bus for over 5 hours to Ardgeeha. They came with a big pack, a big reputation and an infamous South African International in their ranks. They also came to win this game and those folks who were sceptical about the merits of this All Ireland Junior Competition should have been converted. Westport left beaten but gracious enough to acknowledge that the better team won. Interestingly, none of the team or mentors blamed defeat on the pre-match comments made on their website either!
After just one minute of play, the Westport Number 8, JP Walsh, made the first of his many breaks. However, we were warned about JP and the need to take him around the ankles and the Clonmel defence coped well. After 4 minutes, Neville Melbourne won the first of many clean line-outs for Clonmel. After a well organised and controlled maul, Westport were forced to concede a penalty. It could have been given for offside, in at the side or the tackle on Paul McCarthy such was the pressure felt by the retreating Westport pack. In the end, it was a well-won and hard-earned 3 points converted by Morgan Lyons. This facet of play became a pattern as the Clonmel pack dominated their opponents. Our sources up West cautioned against taking on this Westport pack and advised moving them around the paddock. Our sources forgot this is Munster and after 10 minutes gone, Clonmel won another penalty after another well organised maul. This kick was missed. As the half wore on, the backs got in on the act when a huge tackle by Niall Grogan on the impressive Westport full-back, Ryan Cafferty, forced a turnover and an exciting counter-attack involving Morgan Lyons twice, Tommy Barry and David Joyce. Westport then started to impose themselves on the game and spent 15 minutes on top. At one point, their left winger seemed to have space following a great break by Cafferty but failed to capitalise. With Clonmel defending like tigers Westport needed to take their chances but didn't. The siege was lifted and Clonmel spent some time on the attack. After another lineout the ball was worked from side to side with virtually all 15 players handling. Tommy Barry was hauled down 5 metres from the line when it looked like he was through. Referee, Brian Montayne from Seapoint - the holders of this Cup - awarded Clonmel a scrum for safety reasons just when it looked like Tommy was going to snap in half! From the scrum, Clonmel earned a penalty from another Westport infringement at the breakdown and Conor Cooney converted to put us 6-0 ahead approaching half time. All the hurlers on the ditch agreed that 6 nil would be a good lead in such a tight game. Clonmel attacked again from their own half but conceded a penalty for not retreating 10 metres after a good kick and chase by Cooney. Eddie Walsh - one of four Walsh brothers on the field for Westport - kicked a massive 3 pointer after this offence. It was a cheap and frustrating 3 points to give away. 6-3 at half time.
The second half saw the introduction of Westport folk-hero and player-coach, Marius Bosman who played for South Africa against the Lions over 20 years ago. He's a big man and he received a big welcome too - especially from our own folk hero in the front row! Westport started this half well and after Clonmel's first mistake at lineout time attacked through No 8. During this period, Clonmel seemed to forget about taking 'em around the ankles and Westport went forward. The Clonmel defence was tested and came through well. Niall Grogan and Tommy Barry defended well and Conor Cooney typified the effort with a crunching tackle into touch on a man twice his size after Westport had a rare overlap. Following a relieving penalty to touch on the "Stand side" of the field, the Clonmel pack gathered and mauled forward over 20 metres forcing Westport to concede another penalty. The ref had to take action and Westport second-row Gerard Scahill saw yellow. Cooney converted a fantastic kick: 38 metres from goal and virtually on the 5 metre line. 9-3 to Clonmel: a good lead but not a comfortable one. Virtually all the play took place in the Westport half of the field and after Brenny "Ronaldo" Mullen dribbled the ball forward, huge pressure by Padraig Leahy forced a Westport knock-on. He may be nick-named Pooch but he played like a terrier here and a quality No 7. Huge pressure from the Clonmel pack forced another penalty which Cooney again converted to make it 12-3 to Clonmel after an hour of play. Most of the rest of the game was played in the Westport half. Westport had plenty of possession but were forced to run everything due to the gale they faced. This was fruitless given the quality of defence with John Stokes and Paul McCarthy prominent in the trenches. Neville Melbourne forced another Clonmel penalty but this difficult kick was missed. As the game neared an end Tony Grogan and scum half John Long both made great breaks that could have ended in scores but for the final pass not going to hand on one occasion and a foot in touch the second time. The final whistle sounded much to the delight and relief of the supporters who braved artic conditions. Hot whiskeys awaited.
This contest reminded many of all that is good about rugby - a ferocious contest, many flashpoints, hard tackles and hits and all of it left on the pitch. There was genuine respect between the teams in evidence as they clapped each other off the pitch and all adjourned to the Club House where links were developed between the Clubs. In a friendly and warm atmosphere, teams and supporters mingled for hours which doesn't happen that much any more. Perhaps it was the Ireland match on TV, the Saturday kick-off or the fact that the Westport boys had no difficulty in telling their bus driver to "hang on another while". It was great. Pat and Alan Normile provided the usual high standard of hospitality that all in Clonmel RFC are grateful for. It's back to Munster fare now and important to remember that we've won nothing yet: a point Jake will be making this week no doubt! However, coach Fergus and Captain John Long can be proud of this effort (and their rendition of "Bread of Heaven" after Gatland's Wales beat England). Let's build on this win while looking forward to the Westport Tour later in the year!!
Next fixture: Away to Old Christians on Sunday 10th February in Round 2 of the Munster Junior Cup, KO 2.30 pm.
Clonmel ladies get International caps
Ireland 19 - Italy 0
Clonmel's out-half, Niamh Briggs, and No. 8, Kate O'Loughlin were capped in the opening match of the six nations against Italy on Friday, 1st February, in St. Mary's College, Dublin. All the scoring took place in a frenzied 15 minutes in the second half and was enough to secure victory for the home team who had been frustrated by a tough Italian defence in the opening period of the game. The comfortable lead allowed Ireland coach John O'Sullivan to clear his bench with five new players being capped. With a long, tough tournament ahead of them, getting that first international experience is all important. We wish the two Clonmel RFC girls the best of luck against France next weekend.
Aidan Clifford PRO
Killorglin Rugby Club's annual Quiz night will take place in Kingston's Soda Club on this Thursday night, February 7th at 8pm. Teams of four cost €40 and all are welcome.
Killorglin Rugby Club Senior Team was due to play Galbally in the Munster Junior League last Sunday, but due to heavy rainfall on Saturday night, the pitch was deemed unplayable. The Under 18 team, however, were in action in the semi-final of the West Munster League away in Corca Dhuibhne. On a day made for tight rugby, Killorglin's forward pack proved better than their opposition coming out with a 13-8 victory, with a penalty from Luke O'Shea and a try each for loosehead Barry Sheehan and hooker Stephen Cotter. Killorglin look forward to a final against Tralee on Saturday 16th February. The venue and kickoff time have yet to be announced.
Killorglin U18 Rugby Team: - 1 Barry Sheehan, 2 Stephen Cotter, 3 Michael Breen, 4 Shane Costello, 5 Daniel Clifford, 6 Declan Lillis, 7 John James Johnson, 8 Liam Walsh, 9 Pa Knightly, 10 Luke O'Shea, 11 Lorca Maher, 12 Chris O'Sullivan, 13 David O'Sullivan, 14 Donagh McGillicuddy, 15 Noel O'Reilly.
Sub: - Stephen Mullins for Declan Lillis.
Senior Team Training takes place Every Tuesday at 7pm and Fridays at 7:30pm at the Dragon's Den All-weather pitch. All new players are welcome.
60 Minutes of Pride
The Clonakilty Travelling Faithful were pleasantly surprised by a full-blooded performance from a team starting short at least nine first team regulars in this AIB All Ireland Cup tie. With only five or six players that could expect to be automatically pencilled in for an AIL game it was expected that St. Mary's would run riot on their home patch. In the event Clon were very much in this game for 60 minutes before the power of the division one side prevailed and the concession of a number of soft tries gave the scoreboard a lopsided look. With the score at 11 - 3 in favour of the Dubliners going into the last quarter a 37 - 3 final score does not give any indication of the positives that the club can take from those sixty minutes. A master class in kicking from the hand by Gary Cribb and a huge game from captain David Lombard allied to gutsy displays by John O'Regan, Peter Stoutt, Cathal Kirby and John O'Donnell kept Clon competitive for most of the game. The visitors did in fact dominate the first 20 with St. Marys taking the first quarter to come to terms. The Clon line-out contributed to the loss in no small way as with so many personnel changes there was no cohesiveness. In contrast the scrum was surprisingly solid and did not give out until the last quarter when strategic substitutions by the St. Mary's coach gave their pack the drive to set up the victory. The Clon senior panel for so long a very small group has out of necessity been enlarged and players coming in have stepped up to the plate and demonstrated a potential that would otherwise have escaped notice. The squad was John O'Donnell, Shay O'Donovan, Darragh Lynch, David Lombard, Noel O'Sullivan, Gary Cribb, Eric Murphy, Eoin Murphy, Cathal Kirby, Peter Stoutt, Mike Keohane, Sean Dignan, Aaron Spring, John O'Regan, Eoin Scannell, Eddie Knowles, Hugh O'Neill, Dan O'Donovan, Felim O'Neill, Derek Dillon, Paul Dillon and John Darvil.
This Saturday the serious business of the AIL returns with yet another visit to Dublin to take on Wanderers. Clonakilty and Wanderers have met four times and the West Cork club have had the better of the exchanges winning three and losing one. Clon lead Wanderers in the table at the moment but if Wanderers, currently fourth from the bottom, were to lose they could find themselves occupying one of the relegation spots so they will not lack motivation. Likewise Clon could jump another two places depending on other results with a big win but Leinster has not been a happy hunting ground for the club. The under 14s lost to CBC in Cork 32 -12 and the under 18s had a useful run out against Bandon Grammar. Having been idle for some time it was not surprising that they would be rusty and they went down by 7 - 10 but it will be of benefit. The Bulldogs returned to winning ways with a highly credible win over Carrigaline in The Mick Barry Cup by 18 - 10. They will probably face Shandon this Sunday in the last game of this league phase but confirmation awaited.
This Weekend's fixtures:
Sat 9th Under 14s League Crosshaven The Vale 12.00
Seniors All Ireland League Wanderers Dublin
Sun 10th Bulldogs Mick Barry Cup Shandon Cork 3.00 FixtureTBC
OLD CRESCENT RFC