The inaugural Rory Cleary Perpetual Rugby Cup Final was played on Monday May 9th in Clonmel RFC, with Colaiste an Chraoibhin, Fermoy taking the honours in a tight battle with the Abbey School, Tipperary.
Colaiste an Chraoibhin opened the scoring ten minutes into the game with a try from flanker Anthony Coady, which wasn t converted. The Abbey School responded with a try under the posts by Eoin McCarthy, which was converted by Darren Lowry to give the Tipperary side a two point lead. Fermoy edged ahead once more with a try from the dynamic Darren Hartnett, but The Abbey School levelled the score with a penalty from Darren Lowry before half time.
After the restart, Darren Lowry secured arguably the best score of the match with a well executed and confident drop goal against the wind. The battle between the teams was intense in the second half, with Fermoy adding the next score with an opportunistic try from captain Maurice Lenihan after a block down from a line out, with outhalf Thomas McAuliffe converting. The try was a killer blow to the Abbey but they continued to contest vigourously for possession. Fermoy edged away with a well taken try from Ken O Flaherty. The Abbey weren t content to give up without a fight and with just minutes remaining, Darren Lowry added another 7 points to his tally, scoring a try himself and also converting it. It was a brave effort, but not enough to deny Colaiste and Chraoibhin the historic victory.
With two such well matched teams, and such a high scoring game, it was certainly a terrific spectacle, with some fantastic talent on display. Darren Lowry scored all but five of The Abbey s 20 points, while try scorers Eoin McCarthy and Declan Ryan showed a maturity beyond their years. On the winning team, captain Maurice Lenihan at scrum half was inspirational as captain and posed a huge threat to the opposition throughout. Add to that the talents of Darren Hartnett, Stephen Brophy and Anthony Coady who also stood out in the midst of a supreme team effort.
The Cleary Cup is an East Munster competition for Associate and C schools, and the Cup is sponsored by the Cleary family of Clonmel in memory of the late Rory Cleary, whose family have strong ties with the High School and rugby in Clonmel. This new U14 competition was played in a league format, with The Abbey School, Doon CBS, High School Clonmel, and Colaiste Dun Iascaig, Cahir all taking part.
It was a fantastic achievement for Colaiste an Chraoibhin, Fermoy, picking up their first major win in the sport after introducing rugby just four years ago. The school enjoys close links with Fermoy RFC, with club men Kevin Aherne and Eamonn Hickey very much involved in rugby activity in the school. Paddy Crowley from Colaiste and Chraoibhin was thrilled with the win, and said it s a good competition- especially for the development of the game. The schools play at a very good standard with great sportsmanship on display. You d really notice how players come on and improve from playing these competitive matches.
Mr. Kieran Cleary presented the cup to the Fermoy captain Maurice Lenihan, while Ger Slattery of the Munster Rugby Schools Committee presented the medals to the victorous team.
With thanks to Paddy Crowley, Colaiste and Chraoibhin and Thomas Franklin, The Abbey School