Cup Final Fever Grips Clonakilty
There's always a silver lining - and sometimes you don't have far to look for it. While Clonakilty are currently having a tough time at senior level the underage section continues to thrive and give great confidence for the future. In particular the Under 15s and 17s are underlining the belief, that if all things are cyclical, great times again await Clonakilty Rugby as the wheel nears the full circle. The Under 15s will contest a South Munster Final this Saturday and that will be followed by the 17s contesting a Munster Final - see fixtures below.
Bruff 3, Clonakilty 5
Last Sunday Clonakilty's U17s were on the road yet again. This time they travelled to Ballyowen Park, one of the most intimidating venues in Irish Rugby at any level. Hosts, Bruff, had competed in the All- Ireland final of this competition last year and were fancied to repeat that again this year. There is never an easy game in a semi-final and this was no exception. The score line tells its own story - only one score apiece with Clonakilty's fortunately being the higher in quality and value. Conditions were very cold and blustery in Limerick but conditions under foot were excellent considering the inclement weather. Clonakilty fielded a team without their regular full back and second row, both out through injury, however, this did not weaken a side that showed great determination from the off.
Bruff drew first blood with a penalty after ten minutes after sustained pressure forced Clon to try and run out of defence and in so doing conceded the penalty. Clon attacked Bruff through the pack bringing a heightened physicality to their game and setting the platform for some great ball which was distributed excellently by impressive scrum half, Rob Howick. Phase after phase was taken on by the pack with Phillip Poillot punching big holes in the opposition but great credit to Bruff's defence they weathered the storm.
Bruff themselves were not sitting around and the game developed into a dog fight in the centre of the park with the odd breakout up and down the field. It was anyone's game and the only indication that Clon were beginning to get the upper hand was in the set piece. Constant pressure by Olan Deane, Paul O Regan and Mark Lynch on Bruff's ball in the line out was presenting Clon with extra possession and there was some excellent maul ball off their own throw. Clon may well have shaded the possession and territorial stats but they were still three points behind at half time.
The second half was more of the same but Clon were now more direct in their intent with Joe White outstanding at first centre and perhaps a little more support on his shoulder might have produced a score. Clon went to Bruff's line four times in a row only to be denied by some excellent defence and handling errors. Halfway into the second half Clon were clearly dominant but they were still three nil down. Little mistakes were denying them the elusive score and keeping Bruff in the game with every chance of it finishing with just that score. Doubt may have begun to creep into the large band of travelling supporters but not the Clon players. A few fresh legs and a second wind for a pack that had to work so hard up front started applying new pressure and with Eoghan Deasy using an abundance of possession to get the backs moving constantly Clon remained on the offensive for the remainder of the game.
Pressure always pays off and one such backline move brought play from deep within the Clon half. The breakdown was well supported and the ball recycled and moved to the wing where forward Olan Deane was there in support. As he looked for a back to take an offload his awareness in spotting that it was a prop who was challenging him changed his mind. Backing himself he rounded his man, beat the cover defence and sprinted over in the right hand corner to send the Clon fans into ecstasy. The difficult kick to convert was missed and the last eight minutes were nail-biting as Bruff threw everything into it but Clon closed out the game by holding on to the ball and attacking through their pack.
The final whistle was a welcome sound and prompted a rendition of "Clon Boys", which brought back some great memories for the elder lemons and indeed this game will stick in the memories of these young players and indeed in the memories of those who were privileged to witness such a marvellous game of rugby.
The squad was Bobby Smith, Ogie Scannell, Shane Scannell, Aran Hayes, Andrew Cullinane, Joe White, Eoghan Deasy, Rob Douglas, David Walsh, Darragh McCullagh, David Jennings, Robert Kingston, Ross O'Connor, Tadgh Dignan, Frazer Pock, Conor Madden, Paul O'Regan, Olan Deane, Phil Poillot, Mark Lynch and Denis O'Driscoll. Great credit is also due to their coaching/management team of Paudie & Mark O'Connor and Rob Walsh. The final has been fixed for 12.30pm in the Mardyke this Saturday 16th where Waterpark will provide stern opposition. The East Munster club are the only team to beat Clon all year when the West Cork lads travelled to Waterford on that occasion. There was only a score between them then so it makes for a fascinating final. Please support these young men from West Cork in their quest for Munster and All-Ireland glory - and indeed make a day of it by supporting the Under 15s beforehand at 11.00 in their league final against Skibb nearby in PBC Wilton.
The senior seconds went down to Kanturk in the George O'Connell Cup Final in Musgrave Park. They had their moments and were not outclassed but once they had conceded the initiative to the North Cork side they were unable to catch up. However they will be better for the experience going into the first round of the J2 Cup this weekend. They will meet neighbours Skibbereen in The Vale on this Sunday at 12 noon.
Congratulations to Laura Guest, a member of the Irish Ladies squad that beat France recently to seal the Six Nations Championship. With that and the Triple Crown already in the bag their sights will be firmly set on Italy this weekend and a win would give the Ireland Ladies and Laura an historic Grand Slam for the first time. Laura, who featured in the great Clonakilty ladies team that dominated Irish rugby some years ago has been lining out for Highfield since the break-up of that team and the club wishes her the very best of luck to cap a wonderful career with the ultimate reward.
Watch this space for news next week of a very important club fundraiser scheduled for May. Support for this essential and worthwhile event will be greatly appreciated.
South Munster Under 15 League Final, Clonakilty V Skibbereen, PBC grounds Wilton, 11.00am.
Munster Under 17 League Final, Clonakilty V Waterpark, The Mardyke, 12.30pm
J2 Cup South, Clonakilty v Skibbereen, The Vale, 12.00pm
U13 North Munster Cup: Ennis Black v Shannon Black, Ennis RFC 10th March 2013
Score Ennis Black 19 Shannon Black 8
Two evenly matched and committed teams took to the pitch in a wet and sticky Showgrounds on Sunday last.
Having chosen to play with the aid of a strong breeze in the first half Shannon immediately took the game to Ennis. In fact Ennis were slow to get up to the required pace for this highly anticipated encounter between two well drilled sides. The early pressure showed as Ennis struggled to clear their lines on a number of occasions and were penalised for infringing at the ruck to allow Shannon take an early 3 - 0 lead. The pressure continued after this as Shannon used big forwards to drive down the field and were awarded with a fine score in the corner and an 8 point advantage.
After some twenty minutes of play Ennis had yet to threaten the Shannon rear-guard. However after about 20 minutes of the half there was a significant turning point when Ennis heaped the pressure on the Shannon scrum and won two against the head. This lead to some lovely back play with Shane Brennan and Ronan Lanigan giving Frank Roche a chance to score in the corner. This was held up and repelled temporarily. However increased pressure and strong carries from Elias Kunz and Stephan Dolan led to superb back play through the hands of Oisin Mangan to Shane Brenna to draw two players and give a fine pass for Joseph Connaughton to touch down to give a half time score of 8 - 5 to the visitors.
This gave Ennis a real impetus for the second half which they dominated from the kick off. The front five of Aaron Hennessey, Martin McCormack, Eldon Nolan, Harry Talty and pack leader Eoin Clancy began to square up to the Shannon pack and gain hard yards. Tom O Brien and Oisin Mangan continued to offer a slick half back partnership and using the wind to his advantage Mangan continued to pin the Shannon team back in their 22.
Superb and relentless pressure from both Roche and Zach Whelehan on the wings put paid to any return from Shannon who both showed superb skill and anticipation to follow kicks and pressure the Shannon back 3. After further pressure from the pack and in particular David McNamara who was outstanding a penalty was awarded about 5 meters from the Shannon line. Oisin Mangan took the opportunity to burst through the would be disorganised defence to score beside the points. Tom O Brien duly converted. The pressure was constant at this point and a final foray into the Shannon 22 allowed Harry Talty to burst over the line after big carries from Stephan Dolan, Aaron Hennessey and Elias Kunz. O Brien added the points.
The reward for this hard fought but well deserved victory is a meeting for the first time in the clubs history of the two Ennis U13 sides after the Ennis Red side defeated Shannon Blue in the same round of the competition last week thus ensuring one Ennis side in the semi final of this seasons cup.
Ennis: Aaron Hennessey, Martin McCormack, Eldon Nolan, Harry Talty, Eoin Clancy, Stephen Dolan, David McNamara, Elias Kunz, Tom O Brien, OIsin Mangan, Shane Brenna, Ronan Lanigan, Frank Roche, Zack Whelehan, Joseph Connaughton. No subs used.
With our Junior Plate fixture against Castlisland being postponed, the only Old Crescent senior team in action last weekend was our Thirds who took on Shannon in a friendly under light in Rosbrien last Friday evening.
Shannon got on the mark early with a converted try and went into a 0-10 lead soon after from a penalty, but our Thirds kept going and were eventually rewarded with a try by winger James Gaffney. The conversion was missed unfortunately. We dominated possession and after some good hard lines of running making ground, a beautiful switch from Niall Liston to Rob Gloster saw the latter cross the line under the posts to score a well worked try. Dave O'Carroll added the conversion this time and Crescent led at half time 12-10.
Shannon weren't beaten yet and in the second half our Thirds found it difficult to get the ball for any length of time. Eventually this pressure told and Shannon scored a try and converted it to lead 12-17. There was plenty of time left though, and we eventually got our hands on the ball and started building phases of play only to be stopped short a number of times. As the game wore on, it looked like we were going to have another hard luck story, but our players kept working hard and after numerous phases of play Jack Cahill ran a beautiful line and crossed the whitewash to level the scores 17 all. Dave O'Carroll slotted the conversion to take the lead. That proved to be the final score in the game.
So a good win for our Thirds and some good performances as well. Dave O'Carroll again playing well at outhalf, outside his buddy Hugh Mulcahy who directed the forward pack very well. Jack Cahill stepped in to play centre for the injured Brian Clancy and looked back to his best after a few niggling injuries. Rob Gloster showed up very well for the pack, not only in his try scoring but his all round work around the park. It was great to see Maghnus Collins back playing for Old Crescent and to see that his foreign adventures haven't quelled his appetite for the game. Man of the match would go to Dave O'Carroll for running the game at out half and he's really coming into his own at that position as he gets more games there. Next up for our Thirds is the Webb Cup first round away to Bruff on the 23rd March.
Last weekend was a very busy one for our younger members, and pride of place must go to our Under 15s who won the North Munster League last Sunday, beating Shannon 8:0 in a final replay in very difficult conditions and in a very hard fought battle. This win goes to all 32 members of our U17 panel who played in one or more games since September. The fact that we won this league without losing a game was a great achievement, but to do it without a number of players lost to Schools Junior Cup commitments shows we have a strong squad and players are prepared to step up a level when asked.
The victorious U15s Squad
The final was played in Greenfields and from the start the tempo of this game was up a level or two compared with the first final. The Shannon forwards were relentless in their attack and edging up to within smelling distance of our line, but the Old Crescent forwards were fantastic in defence, driving off the line to steal possession and clear our lines time after time. The discipline shown was fantastic.
The game was nil all at half time. In the second half we got more ball to our backline and with a number of very good line breaks gained a lot of territory but no score. Until the 12th minute, after a fantastic combination of forward play and backline passing, we gained 45mtrs for Daniel Hurley to score in the corner, but didn't convert. Within 8 minutes we converted a penalty, kicked by Brian Ryan, to bring the score 8:0, the minutes ticked by very slowly with very strong Shannon attack but again fantastic defence, it was nail-biting stuff and difficult to watch. At 3 minutes to go the players could smell victory, and when the ball was finally kicked out of play from a scrum and the whistle blown, the celebrations started.
It is a pity that there has to be a looser in a game like this as the Shannon players were really committed and gave everything, and were gutted at the loss, but Crescent were the better side on the day. It was great to see our full squad at the game and many parents as well. There were quite a few Old Crescent faces at the game and hopefully this is the start of more to come.
Our Under 17s odyssey came to an end last Sunday in Rosbrien when they lost to Waterpark in their Pan Munster semi-final. We started the game well with an excellent foothold in Waterpark territory but our sets piece was under pressure very early on with Waterpark contesting our scrums and line outs to good effect, which forced us to scrap for possession. Thankfully a number of their early clearances were direct to touch and we were able to maintain territory, coupled with very good kicking, from the hand, by Shane Eades, Michael O'Neill and Jack Harrington.
Our pack continued to work extremely hard and we won a penalty mid way between the 10 meter line and their 22, which, despite the ball 'wobbling' on the tee, was calmly converted by Michael O'Neill to give us an early lead. This was doubled shortly afterwards with a further penalty from slightly further out, which Michael also slotted to give us a 6-0 lead. Try as we might, we really only laid siege to their line for one short period of pressure, with Ian Clein going closest to going over. And for all the amount of possession Waterpark were having, our Under 17s were able to contain them and held their lead to half time.
With the elements now favouring Waterpark, they began to turn their possession into more territory in the second half. Our defence was excellent but it was hard to sustain that level continuously and eventually they barged over from a series of rucks and mauls near the posts, which they converted to take a 7-6 lead. Back they came as we found it increasingly difficult to get out of our own half and they scored again a little wider out this time and converted to lead 14-6 with 20 minutes to go and us needing to chase the game now as they had a 2 score advantage.
Old Crescent Under 17s dug deep and got some possession and territory, and when we were awarded a penalty just inside their meter line, we were awarded a further 10 for dissent, which make the kick a little bit easier. Shane Eades converted to make it 14-9 with 5 minutes remaining Try as we might and Michael O'Neill made on terrific break up the far side, it was not to be and Waterpark held out to go through. All credit to this Old Crescent team who had a great run in this event and who gave their all yesterday, with Andrew Harrison and Sean Fitzgerald, in particular, leading by example. We have many stars of the future in this side.
Our Under 11 team played in the prestigious Willow Park Tournament in Dublin last weekend. They were entered in the A grade and were pooled with St. Michaels School, Tullamore RFC and DLSP. This was a tough draw against strong opposition but our players held firm losing only to St. Michaels. Having been placed 2nd in the morning pool, in the afternoon we were graded with other clubs who had also come 2nd in their grades, Wanderers, Gorey and Clontarf RFC. We achieved two draws and a win which placed us top of that pool. It shows how close the standard is between Under 11 club sides. In what is as close to an All-Ireland as you'll get at this age group, 55 teams from all over the country took part, our coaches and travelling parents were immensely proud of our Under 11 players.
Finally, Old Crescent congratulates the Crescent Comprehensive Senior Cup team on their last minute victory over CBC in their MSC semi final replay in Cork last Tuesday. Deep in injury time, Greg O'Shea scored a vital try and Gearoid Lyons converted to give the Limerick side the narrowest of victories by 7 points to 6. We send them our best wishes for the final against Rockwell at 2.00pm next Monday in Thomond Park.
Next Friday evening our Under 13s play Presentation in Rosbrien at 7.00pm under lights and on Saturday our Under 15s play Newcastlewest in Rosbrien at 11.30am.
Young Munster win U21 AIL South West Conference
Young Munster captured the Under 21 AIL South West Conference title after beating UCC 17-5 in Greenfields last Saturday. Going into the game Young Munster were five points ahead of Cork Constitution in the league and needed at least a losing bonus point to win the title.
The Young Munster senior team were playing Dolphin in the Ulster Bank League on the same day and, as a result, the Under 21 team were missing four players from the squad: Jake Considine (Capt.), Shane O'Leary, Harry Mc Nulty and Daniel Montgomery.
Young Munster U21s had won their previous 10 matches in the AIL SW Conference competition and succeeded in winning all 11 matches this season. This win has followed on from them winning the Under 21 North Munster League in what has been an outstanding season for this squad.
UCC provided a very stern test for the side with many players re-acquainting themselves from last year's Senior Cup Schools campaigns. UCC started the brighter and were difficult to contain as they had a very physical set of forwards and a lively backline. Young Munster were first to strike though in the 15th minute when, after a series of rucks on the UCC line, Brendan McSweeney burrowed over the line to go 5-0 ahead. UCC responded quickly and after stretching the Young Munster defence they scored and converted a try after 25 minutes. Both sides were playing an expansive game and some excellent defending from Evan Mulcahy, Eamonn Carr and Darren Shannon stopped a certain UCC try.
It remained 7-5 to UCC at half-time and upon the resumption, Young Munster, with a slight breeze at our backs, started to dominate the forward exchanges. This was helped by Darren Ryan, Cillian Mc Donagh and Evan fitzgerald.
After 58 minutes Young Munster went ahead when Pat Ryan noticed an opening in the UCC midfield, he used his quick feet to evade the UCC centre and raced in under the posts. This was converted by Greg Barry who was having a fine game at outhalf.
The rain started to come down for the rest of the proceedings and both sides were still willing to move the ball. UCC were running the ball from deep in their own half at times and were making large inroads in the Young Munster defence. A series of lineouts and scrums were halted by Young Munster with ten minutes to go and this was due to the tremendous work of Gavin Ryan, Eoghan Bedford and Gary Hoban.
In the 74th minute Young Munster worked their way back into UCC territory and excellent work from Eamonn Carr set up Greg Barry to cross for another try. The final few minutes were played out in the UCC half and on the final whistle the Young Munster players celebrated undefeated, after winning all eleven matches in the competition. John Noonan from the Munster Branch presented the trophy to the Vice Captains Brian Danagher and Evan Mulcahy.
Young Munster will now play Old Belvedere in the All Ireland Quarter-Final on Saturday March 23 at 2.30pm and will also try and go one step further than last year in the U21 North Munster Cup (they were beaten by UL Bohs in the final last year.)
Final score: Young Munster 17 - UCC 5
Under 21 Squad: Gavin Ryan, Paddy Marks, Evan Ryan, James Reeves, Daniel Montgomery, Eoghan Bedford, Evan Fitzgerald, Brendan McSweeney, Ritchie McNamara, Gary Hoban, Cillian McDonagh, Brian Danagher, Cian Ryan, Jake Considine, Darren Ryan, Evan Mulcahy, Gavin Heuston, Shane O'Leary, Greg Barry, Eamonn Carr, Harry Mc Nulty, Pat Ryan , Cormac Murphy, Darren Shannon, Sean Markham, Glenn Browne, Evan Bennett, John Madigan, Owen Tarrant
Management: John Keehan (Coach), Damian Gavin (Forwards Coach), Joe Arthur (Medical-First aid), Paul O'Byrne (Manager)
Ulster Bank League Round-Up by Killian McCarthy
When your squad is depleted by injuries, your title hopes are all but gone, and the weather takes a distinct turn toward the Arctic, then you'd be forgiven for griping at a third away fixture in the space of 14 days.
Such was the lot of our senior team as they made the trip to Musgrave Park to take on Dolphin last Saturday.
After heavy back-to-back defeats to Clontarf and Lansdowne, the effort to rouse the players for another effort must have been considerable, but twenty minutes into the Dolphin clash you'd have been forgiven for thinking otherwise.
Despite the bitter cold, the Cookies had more than broken even with the hosts and had it not been for an unluckily wayward Shane O'Leary penalty, Munsters could well have had their noses in front.
As it was, a fourth minute Shane O'Leary penalty, cancelled out eight minutes later by Barry Keeshan left the scoreboard reading 3-3 at the end of the first quarter.
Disciplined Munsters' defence was dictating the game, and frustrating the Cork side until the game was sapped of its momentum by a nasty-looking clash of heads between Dom Lespierre and Dolphin centre Chris Bannon. Thankfully both players were fit to continue though the prolonged stoppage seemed to deaden the pace of the game.
Late on in the half, Munsters managed to gain a foothold in Dolphin territory only for another O'Leary penalty to clatter off the left hand upright.
Moments later however, possession was handed back to the Cookies and a penalty from a similar position to O'Leary's last effort was dispatched to touch.
At that point Dolphin hooker Niall Scannell had been sin-binned for straying offside and, minus a man in the pack, the lads in black and amber pressed home the advantage. Mark Rowley seized the ball at the tail of the lineout and the ensuing pushover try was eventually credited to second row Darren Gallagher.
O'Leary's conversion was comfortably on target but there was to be a sting in the tail before anyone could retreat to the comfort of the dressing rooms; Keeshan punishing Munsters for not releasing after Mark Rowley had athletically fielded the restart.
A four point lead at half-time was more than satisfactory for those who had made the journey from Limerick, although sadly, the lead was to be short-lived.
Successive Keeshan penalties in the 47th and 53rd minutes edged Dolphin ahead, and then came a telling intervention from referee Mark Patton. Both teams were reduced to 14 men as Seán Duggan and Dolphin openside Miah Cronin had been sin-binned, and it was the hosts who responded better to the numerical loss.
A sweeping move in the 54th minute saw tighthead Christy Condon sell a dummy and give the scoring pass to winger James Kiernan. Keeshan's conversion attempt from wide on the right was off the upright but in what had been a tight game, a seven point lead looked significant.
Indeed, that significant lead became insurmountable as Keeshan tacked on further penalties in the 58th and 73rd minutes. Munsters' efforts to claw their way back into contention were repeatedly thwarted by indiscretions that were ruthlessly penalised by referee Patton. Indeed, many of those indiscretions were exacerbated by dissent, such was the frustration felt by the team.
The final score of 23-10 is perhaps a little harsh on Young Munster who kept plugging away right to the end.
The schedule from here doesn't get any easier with Cork opposition again pencilled in for this coming Saturday. After a last-gasp conversion handed Cork Constitution a win in the return fixture in Temple Hill, our lads will undoubtedly be looking for revenge so come on out and support the team as we face into the final few games of the season.
Final score: Dolphin 23 - 10 Young Munster
Dolphin: John Leahy, Niall Scannell (Capt), Christy Condon, Dave O'Mahony, Darren O'Shea, Rob O'Herlihy, Miah Cronin, Brian O'Callaghan, Brian Slater, Barry Keeshan, Garrett O'Suilleabhain, Chris Bannon, John Gleeson, James Kiernan, Eamon Mills. Subs: Will Foley, James Cronin, Chris Rowe, Paul Hurley, Cian Bohane,
Young Munster: Ger Flaherty, Ger Slattery (Capt), Alan Cotter, Sean Duggan, Darren Gallagher, Colin Liston, Mark Rowley, Neville Melbourne, Mike Prendergast, Shane O'Leary, Darragh O'Neill, Lukas Kuntz, Mark Doyle, Dom Lespierre, Craig O'Hanlon. Subs: Daniel Montgomery, Hugh McGrath, Jake Considine, Tom Goggin, Harry McNulty.
Fixtures: Saturday March 16th 2013
Ulster Bank League: Young Munster v Cork Constitution, Tom Clifford Park 2.30pm
Peter "Nobby" Clarke R.I.P. by Johnny Brennan
The recent death of Peter Clarke was felt with great sadness in Young Munster RFC. He was a lifelong supporter and attended most games down the years. Born in Thomondgate, he spent most of his life in the southside of city. In 1984 he was involved with Junior XV which won All-Ireland glory. He will be missed by all at Tom Clifford Park. To his wife and family deepest condolences. RI P
On Friday 22nd March, a Ladies Night will take place in the Young Munster Pavilion, for a ladies-only night of fun and frolics! Music with DJ John Crofton, raffle with lots of spot prizes. Doors 8.30pm, limited tickets €10 available from Anne Marie 086-1599018.
Clubhouse open Sundays and available for functions
The clubhouse at Tom Clifford Park is open every Sunday with all pints just €3.50. To enquire about having functions in the clubhouse contact Frank Corr 087-2901015.
Young Munster U11's went to Willow Park (Blackrock College primary school) last weekend and returned home with the best club trophy. This well-drilled team were placed in group A at the event and through some smashing rugby they overcame all and won their group. Next stage saw them come up against the some formidable school teams and try as they did, this became a very hard task. To all coaches, players, parents and the U10s who travelled also, well done on representing the club and once again to the team you did all of us proud.
Underage Results Sunday 10th March
Under 17s Friendly: Young Munster 28 Clanwilliam 12
Under 12s Blitz: Kilfeacle Tournament Played 4, Won 4
Underage Fixtures Bank Holiday Monday 18th March
Quarter Final U17s Cup: Young Munster v Garryowen, Tom Clifford Park 11.30am