17 May, 13:32
A selection of players from the Daughters of Charity in Munster recently took part in a challenge match at Garryowen Rugby Club.
Dolphin went into the match with several key players out, with the pack missing several players while star out-half Barry Keeshan was also out with an injury. Despite this, they weren’t willing to accept defeat against a strong looking Shannon side and battled right until the bitter end.
The early exchanges saw plenty of high kicks being made by both sides but it was the Limerick side who managed to establish some initial territorial advantage thanks to some fielding and kicks by David O’Donovan. Tadgh Bennett slotted two penalties between the posts for the visitors in the opening minutes and they looked to increase their advantage.
They had a couple of attacking opportunities but were finding it hard to make any inroads as the Dolphin pack got stuck in. Ronan O’Neill and Aiden Foley were applying pressure at the scrum while George Finn was slowing down a lot of Shannon ball at the breakdown and was ever alert to any loose balls in the ruck.
With an early lead established, Shannon were looking to get their back-line more into the game. They looked to produce a skip-pass move following a scrum but the ever alert Sam Cronin read the move and raced up to intercept the ball. He had three-quarters of the field clear in front of him and just raced all the way to score despite a last ditch effort by the pacey Craig Hanlon. Cormac O’Flynn slotted over the conversion to put the Cork side into the lead for the first time at 7-6.
Shannon looked to strike back but were struggling to win the battle at the break down as the Dolphin forwards continually threw their bodies on the line. They finally made the breakthrough just before half0time with a half-break by Tadgh Bennett into the Twenty-Two putting the Dolphin defence on the back-foot. The ball was quickly recycled and Bennett was once again involved with his soft pass putting Eoghan Grace into a one-on-one situation with the powerful flanker showing a mean side-step to evade the last Dolphin defender. Bennett rounded it off with the conversion to leave Shannon with a 13-7 lead at the break.
Dolphin were still very much in the game and increased the pressure in the second half. Barry O’Mahony was causing havoc with the Shannon defence with some powerful bursts into the Twenty-Two and Rory Kenneally’s speed also saw him make some inroads. The Shannon defence stood firm when they had to and only conceded three points at the mid-way point of the half through a penalty by O’Flynn.
The Limerick side managed to get back into the game thanks to some powerful drives by the pack and a couple of plays by Stephen Kelly. One break by Kelly allowed him to create space for the on-rushing Grace who powered into the Twenty-Two. There was still a lot of work for the big flanker to do but his mixture of power, pace and balance allowed him get round the remaining Dolphin defenders to crash over for his second score. Bennett converted to give his side a 20-10 lead with eight minutes remaining and it looked as if the game was wrapped up.
Dolphin responded immediately and a magnificent effort by Eric Moloney saw him weave past several opposing players to touch down under the post with O’Flynn converting.
This left the crowd in for an exciting finish and while it wasn’t quite as comfortable as Shannon would have liked, they didn’t threaten to concede a score and held on to book their place in the last four.
Shannon will now face UCC next weekend in the Semi-Final at a limerick venue, while the other semi between Cork Constitution and Young Munster will be taking place at Temple Hill. Both games will kick off at 2.00.
Scorers for Dolphin: E Moloney, S Cronin tries, C O’Flynn pen, 2 cons.
Scorers for Shannon: E Grace 2 tries, T Bennett 2 pens, 2 cons.
Dolphin: D McCarthy; N O’Driscoll, E Moloney, K Lynch, R Kenneally; C O’Flynn, S Cronin; R O’Neill, T O’Callaghan, A Foley; K Dwyer, T Keogh; G Finn, B O’Mahony, H O’Flynn. Replacements for Dolphin: C Rowe for Keogh 53, P Hurley for O’Driscoll 61, J O’Sullivan for Foley 66.
Shannon: D O’Donovan; C Hanlon, M Lawlor, R Mullane, S Kelly; T Bennett, R Guerin; L Hogan, M Essex, G McNamara; P O’Brien, F Walsh; P Butler, E Grace, D Quinlan. Replacements for Shannon: J O’Connor for O’Brien and F McNamara for Guerin both 58, K O’Neill for G McNamara 68, B Gibbons for Grace 75.
Referee: T Collins (M.A.R.)
All other competitive games in the Province over the weekend were postponed due to the weather.
ODM Munster Senior Cup:Dolphin 17,Shannon 20;
Saturday 2nd January:
ODM Munster Senior Cup Semi Finals:
Cork Constitution v Young Munster, Temple Hill, 2.00;
Shannon v U.C.C., Limerick venue,2.00;