For seventy minutes, it looked as if the rival kickers, Pat McCarthy with four penalties and a dropped goal for Con and Andrew Thompson with three penalties for Shannon would have the final say. When the tries came, though, they were superbly executed. Prop Tony Buckley got the game breaker on 73 minutes. Andrew Thompson's failure to add the points still left Shannon a point in arrears but they came back in style and Eddie Halvey contributed handsomely to the winner by Brian Buckley.
The second-row still had twenty metres to go when he collected Halvey's superb long, overhead pass and it hardly looked possible that a man with so little football behind him and at the end of an energy sapping encounter could make the line but he did so in quite magnificent fashion. "We were the better team" stated Geoff Moylan with a reasonable degree of justification.
"I don't think Con ever looked like scoring a try. We stuck it out to the end and our fitness kicked in and credit is due to Dave Mahedy for that. Seeing a second-row power down the wing at the end to go in at the corner says it all. Brian has been out with pneumonia and he added something very special to the forwards, something we've been missing for the past couple of months."
Buckley certainly was the hero of the hour from a Shannon perspective but nevertheless many were left to wonder why Mick Galwey was left to warm the bench until the match was two thirds old. Moylan has been steadfast in his resolution to concentrate almost exclusively on players available to him on a regular basis and given his results, few can argue with this policy.
"We sat down during the week and made the hard decision", he declared. "Mick has commitments at the moment other than to the club; you saw Trevor Hogan today, a Munster panelist, Tom Hayes, also an outstanding second-row, at number eight, Mick Galwey and Brian Buckley. We have a wealth of talent in the position. We told Mick where we stood during the week and he agreed 100% so long as he got a run and I think he made a huge difference when he came on. The game was tight and we needed an experienced head out there."
It was, of course, a bitterly disappointing result for Constitution having led for so long although coach Chris Cantillon dismissed suggestions that making the knock-out stages might now be outside of their reach. They played well in patches but it was significant that Anthony Horgan on the left wing never got a single chance to show his paces, while a defence that had been excellent for the most part, crumbled badly at the end and especially in conceding the first try.
"We had our chances and we were leading and defending well but allowed them to attack us and stood off them a little bit," Cantillon accepted. "All our backs got stuck in a ruck for the second try and we ended up with a second-row and a hooker and so on trying to defend out there which is next to impossible. The result makes it harder but losing away to Shannon isn't the end of the world and if you win five or six matches, then the chances are you will make the last position in the top four. We're not giving up the fight."
SHANNON: J. Lacey; N. McNamara, A. Thompson, E. Cahill, M. Lawler; D. Delaney, F. O'Loughlin; F. Roche, J. Blaney, T. Buckley, T. Hogan, B. Buckley, E. Halvey, C. McMahon, T. Hayes. Replacements, M. Galwey for Hogan 62 mins; D. O'Donovan for Delaney 67.
CORK CONSTITUTION: D. O'Brien; D. Dillon, R. O'Donovan, C. Mahony, A. Horgan; B. Ronan, P. McCarthy; I. Murray, J. Fogarty, M. Ross, M. O'Driscoll, U. O'Callaghan, J. Murray, J. Sheahan, F. Cogan. Replacements, K. Coughlan for Cogan 65 mins; temporary, D. Fogarty for Sheahan. Yellow card, J. Fogarty.
Referee D. Courtney (Leinster)