While Constitution started brighter in the second half, forcing Clonakilty onto their line for the opening exchanges, the West Cork side had an opportunity to reduce the deficit with a penalty after 7 minutes. Unfortunately, Cribb's kick hit the upright, but it did signal an increased urgency to Clonakilty's play. They continued to make ground however and pushed Constitution back to defend their line on 52 minutes. However, a penalty conceded not 5 metres from the Constitution line thwarted their efforts on that occasion. Much of the half was a close affair with neither team making any advances on the scoreboard until 27 minutes of the second half had passed when Constitution were awarded a penalty just outside the Clonakilty 22. Lane converted to stretch their lead 21-14 going into the final stages. The try certainly gave Constitution an added boost, with the side upping the ante and replacement prop Tom Ryan diving over for his side's third try after 73 mins. Clonakilty however battled hard to stay in the game, with some great work by Gary Cribb at outhalf, and the back row of captain Eoin Scannell, Tadgh Wright and Michael Keohane causing plenty of problems at the breakdown for Constitution. A minute into injury time Clonakilty's fate was sealed when Diarmuid O' Riordan crossed the line for Constitution. The final score line however, does not reflect the fact that Clonakilty were very much still in the game with 12 minutes to go, when they were trailing by just 18-14. However, Constitution's late surge sealed the victory, setting up what promises to be a thrilling final against Garryowen. Best for Constitution included captain Merle O' Connell, and flankers Brendan Cuttriss and Ross Noonan. In the backs, Richard Lane, Tom Gleeson and Darragh Lyons showed plenty of initiative. Despite not having a Senior Cup title since 1989, Constitution will look to building on this success and will no doubt have their eye on the prize. They have a fantastic pedigree in this competition, with twenty two titles in all.
In the other semi final, Garryowen emerged victorious after an impressive late surge saw them score 4 tries in the final ten minutes of the game, denying Nenagh Ormond a place in the final, despite a strong performance from the Tipperary side who are only in their second season as a Senior club. The Limerick side has a tremendous record in the competition, having claimed the title 35 times. They were finalists in the very first Munster Senior Cup in 1886, when they lost out to Bandon.
Garryowen laid down a marker with a try after 4 minutes from Adam O' Loughlin, which Conor Kilroy converted to give them a 7-0 lead. It was 16 minutes before the next score, with Nenagh's John Lillis kicking a penalty on the 20 minute mark to open their scoring. Five minutes later, Kilroy replied with a penalty kick of his own to stretch their lead once again, adding to it 13 minutes later with another penalty kick. On 38 minutes, John Lillis landed another penalty kick to leave the score line 13-6 in Garryowen's favour at half time. After the restart, Lillis reduced the deficit with another converted penalty on 46 minutes, with a drop goal from his team mate John Keenan 14 minutes later bringing Nenagh to within a point of Garryowen. Kilroy's 66th minute converted penalty put the Limerick side 16-12 ahead. As the clock counted down Garryowen injected some pace into the game, which Nenagh were unable to respond to and resulted in four tries for Garryowen before the final whistle. On the stroke of 70 minutes Alan Kingsley crossed the line for a try, on 75 minutes Ger Harty added another five points, while three minutes later Kevin O' Riordan also crossed the line. Kilroy converted all three tries, and topped off a great performance with a try of his own on the 80 minute mark which he also converted. It was an impressive performance from the full back who scored 24 points in the game. Full credit must go to Nenagh Ormond who were very much in the game with ten minutes to go before Garryowen pulled away. With much of the game played between the 22's, Nenagh put on a strong performance although the try eluded them.
This year's competition kicked off on September 22nd, with seven teams bowing out in the first round of matches, and three teams given a bye into the second round. The following weekend, ten teams competed in five Round Two matches. Of the remaining five teams, two played the quarter final match in the competition, to leave four teams to compete for the semi finals.
Sponsors of the 2006/7 Senior Challenge Cup, ODM Accountants, North Main Street, Bandon, Co. Cork, are long standing supporters of Munster Rugby. They have close links with local club Bandon RFC. All three partners, Niall O' Driscoll, Past President of the Munster Branch, his brother Gearóid O' Driscoll and Dan Murphy are all members of the West Cork club, one of the oldest in the province at 125 years this season. The Munster Senior Challenge Cup has a particular place in the hearts of all those involved in Bandon RFC, as the club won the very first Munster Senior Challenge Cup in 1886, defeating Garryowen one try to nil after a replay. This is ODM Accountants second year sponsoring the competition.
15. Richard Lane, 14. Diarmuid O' Riordan, 13. Tom Gleeson, 12. David O' Leary, 11. Cronan Healy, 10. Darragh Lyons, 9. Peter McKee, 1. Vincent Soden, 2. Robert Quinn, 3. Tim Ryan, 4. Kevin Coughlan, 5. John Maloney, 6. Ross Noonan, 7. Brendan Cuttriss, 8. Merle O' Connell (Captain)
Ed Leamy for Coughlan (49), Des Murray for Quinn (51), Tom Ryan for Soden (51), Dan Nethery for O' Leary (54), Tom Barry for Lyons (76)
15. Colm McCarthy, 14. Shay O' Donovan, 13. John O' Donnell, 12. David Lombard, 11. Padraig Kingston, 10. Gary Cribb, 9. David Cookson, 1. Eddie Knowles, 2. Alfie Harte, 3. Dan Spencer, 4. Dan Whelton, 5. Michael O' Hea, 6. Eoin Scannell (Capt), 7. Tadhg Wright, 8. Michael Keohane
Replacements (not used):
16. Eoin Murphy, 17. Matt Kirby , 18. Batt Duggan, 19. Anthony Neville, 20. Gearoid Ryan
Referee: Darragh McCormack (MAR)
TJ1: Will O' Connor
TJ2: Nessan Frawley
15. Fergus Austin, 14. Kevin O' Meara, 13. Trevor Connolly, 12. Trevor Pole (Captain), 11. Alan Jackson, 10. John Keenan, 9. Michael Fogarty, 1. Alan Guiry, 2. Michale Kennedy, 3. Donnacha Ryan, 4. Brian McLeran, 5. Denis O' Meara, 6. Damien Gavin, 7. Ivan Muldoon, 8. Robbie Pole
2006/7 ODM MUNSTER SENIOR CHALLENGE CUP
Fri 22nd September 2006
Dolphin 0-30 Highfield
Sat 23rd September 2006
Garryowen v Youghal (W/O to Garryowen)
Midleton 13-18 Clonakilty
Old Crescent 31-30 U.C.C.
Thomond 26-6 Sunday's Well
U.L. Bohemian 22-30 Cork Constitution
Waterpark 10-59 Shannon
Byes - Nenagh Ormond, Young Munster, Bruff.
Sat 30th September 2006
Bruff 10-17 Nenagh Ormond
Clonakilty 26-3 Old Crescent
Cork Constitution 29-8 Highfield
Shannon 35-6 Young Munster
Thomond 6-16 Garryowen
Sun 12th November 2006
Shannon 12-16 Cork Constitution
Sat 18th November 2006
Cork Constitution 31-14 Clonakilty
Nenagh Ormond 12-44 Garryowen