DOLPHIN 16 SHANNON 20
Shannon came away 20-16 victors over Dolphin in the final of the ODM Munster Senior Challenge Cup at Musgrave Park, but not without a strong fight from the Cork side who led 10-3 at half time, and continued to mount waves of attack even in the dying moments of the game. It was an historic day for both sides, with Shannon going for seven in row, and their 18th title in all, while Dolphin were competing in their first Senior Cup Final in 30 years, and aiming to win the title last won by the club 50 years ago. In the end, it was to be Shannon s day, but a determined Dolphin certainly made them fight hard for the victory.
Shannon fielded a strong team for this final, which included a number of their Munster contingent, with Mossy Lawlor, Ian Dowling, Stephen Keogh, Tony Buckley and Trevor Hogan all named in the starting fifteen while their Munster team mate Tomas O Leary was named for Dolphin. In fact Dolphin got the better start, with centre Aidan O Shea touching down six minutes into the game after an impressive 30 metre run from an intercept. Barry Keeshan converted to give Dolphin a 7-0 lead. Three minutes later, Shannon out their first points on the board with a penalty converted by outhalf David Delaney. The contest at the breakdown was a key factor in the game, with dogged work by both packs to secure possession. Fourteen minutes into the first half, a long range penalty kick by Keeshan found its mark, giving Dolphin a deserved 10-3 lead. Buoyed by this early advantage, Dolphin sought to keep Shannon under pressure throughout the half, playing a fast game, and keeping play well inside the Shannon half in a determined performance. Ian Dowling impressed for Shannon, whether in attack or fighting for possession at the breakdown. Dolphin winger Shane O Halloran posed a real attacking threat, while the half back pairing of O Leary and Keeshan worked particularly well, as Shannon struggled to impose themselves on the game. At half time, Dolphin led 10-3.
On each side of the break, two penalty attempts by Keeshan failed to hit their mark, however, he made amends in the 50th minute with a terrific drop goal. Three minutes later, Shannon s Dave Delaney scored a penalty, which certainly gave the side a lift. In the second half Mossy Lawlor at full back came into his own, and sought to lead the assault on Dolphin. Likewise, Shannon No. 8 Stephen Keogh was a real threat from the back of the scrum, however great defence by Dolphin, and in particular captain James Coughlan and flanker George Finn kept Shannon from scoring. The turning point in the game was the introduction of Andrew Thompson and Donnacha Ryan for Shannon, who made an immediate impact. Less than a minute on the field, Thompson got stuck into proceedings by setting up Ian Dowling for a fantastic try. Thompson s pass to Dowling was textbook, and Dowling ran from inside the half way line, beating six Dolphin defenders to score a try, in a well executed display of pace and power. Delaney s conversion levelled the score, with 15 minutes left on the clock, setting up an exciting climax to an already entertaining game. On 71 minutes, a break by Delaney and the offload to captain Colm McMahon gave Shannon their second try of the day, with McMahon scoring under the posts, which Delaney converted. Three minutes later, Keeshan added another penalty to his tally, to bring Dolphin up to sixteen points as opposed to Shannon s twenty. Despite having put in a huge effort for the entire game, Dolphin threw everything at Shannon for the last ten minutes of the game, and although they kept play inside the Shannon 22, Shannon s defence held firm, and they held on for their seventh Munster Senior Challenge Cup victory in a row.
It was a well contested final and a fitting end to this competition, which received a new lease of life this season with the sponsorship of the competition by ODM Registered Auditors and Accountants from Bandon in Co. Cork. During the presentation after the game, ODM partner, and Immediate Past President of the Munster Branch, Niall O Driscoll announced the renewal of their sponsorship of the competition for next season, which was met by great enthusiasm.
15. Darragh O Mahony, 14. Shane O Halloran, 13. Aidan O Shea, 12. Colin Healy, 11. Ed Mills, 10. Barry Keeshan, 9. Tomas O Leary, 1. Fergus Gately, 2. Kieran Murray, 3. John O Sullivan, 4. Rory McGrath, 5. Dave Harty, 6. George Finn, 7. Donnchadha Muurphy, 8. James Coughlan (Captain)
Replacements: Garry O Keeffe for O Halloran (50), Richie McKinney for O Sullivan (64), Kevin Coughlan for Harty (70).
15. Mossy Lawlor, 14. Pat O Connor, 13. Brian Tuohy, 12. Ian Dowling, 11. David O Donovan, 10. David Delaney, 9. Frankie McNamara, 1. Les Hogan. 2. Paul Ryan, 3. Tony Buckley, 4. Eddie Halvey, 5. Trevor Hogan, 6. Colm McMahon, 7. John O Connor, 8. Stephen Keogh
Replacements: Padraic O Brien for Hogan (30), Donnacha Ryan for Halvey (60), Andrew Thompson for O Connor (64).