The day was perfect with the summer work of Noellie Bear O Sullivan very obvious in the resplendence of The Vale, which was a joy to behold as the venue for the semi final of the Charity Cup. No such joy however was to be the lot of the Clon seniors as they succumbed inevitably to the superior physical presence of, arguably, the strongest club on the island, Cork Constitution. Clon started well and indeed worried frowns were conspicuous on the faces of their mentors and supporters that included the great Noel Murphy.
Having weathered the opening attacks of Con, Clon made ground into the visitor s half and Gary Cribb coolly opened the scoring with a penalty goal. A superb try from Derek Dillon following a great steal on the ground from debutante Colin Barrett and a storming drive from David Lombard and good work from Gary Cribb had Cork Con under pressure at the 20 minute mark. Clon continued to have the better of the half and created many chances that would and should have seen them at least 15 0 ahead at the interval. Instead the tide turned and Con racked up a couple of tries, courtesy of untypical home errors and a bizarre ten minutes of added time, to see them ahead at the interval by 14 8.
The second half was more like the script with the much heavier visiting pack grinding down an under strength Clon eight. Missed tackles and in particular touch kicks were responsible for Cork Con using their running backs to outscore Clon on the try front by four to one. Clon s second was by Alfie Harte following a quick tap by Joe Crowley and a break from Gary Cribb who found his hooker in support.
Afterwards a sanguine Player/Coach, Declan Coppinger, better known for his sangfroid, was refreshingly upbeat. He recognised that the side was someway short of their potential and short seven regulars who will return shortly but he was delighted with the showing of those players who were getting the opportunity to claim places in the senior squad for the all important AIL campaign. Cork Constitution in a cup semi final was as difficult an assignment one could imagine for an evolving team and he looked forward to their continued development. His determination to concentrate on the many positives that came out of that game was highlighted by the results of the weekend which saw all sides from Div 3 pitted against the semi professional clubs from Div one lose more heavily than Clon.
The squad was Derek Dillon, John O Donnell, David Lombard, Paul Dillon, Noel O Sullivan, Gary Cribb, Joe Crowley, Eddie Knowles, Alfie Harte, Peter Stout, Colin Bennett, John O Regan, Tadgh Wright, Lenny Harte, Declan Coppinger, Joe Knowles, Ray Coppinger, Kenneth O Regan, Matt Kirby, Denis Stephenson, Tim Boohig and James O Driscoll.
The Extra-Firsts had better fortune when they hosted Kinsale Firsts on Sunday. Sean Beamish who was outstanding throughout, opened the scoring for Clon with a superbly taken try after good work from Matt Kirby to leave the score 5 0 after 10 minutes. It looked as if it would be an easy stroll for the home side but Kinsale had other ideas.
The gap was narrowed by a penalty and then following a 15-minute period of dominance by Clon in the Kinsale 22 the visitors were allowed to break out and a try was the result to put them ahead 8 - 5. Another penalty put Kinsale further ahead and again this was after a ten minute period in which Clon had been camped in their half. Matt Kirby, inventive at out half, created space for Denis Stephenson who made good ground and put Colm Twomey away. The winger beat two defenders to score a try that narrowed the half time deficit to one point at 10 11.
The second half started as the first with Clon scoring. Kirby again broke and found Sean Beamish with some sleight of hand, which had a bewildered Shane Walsh, tackled from behind as Beamish was touching down 20 metres away. Denis Stephenson and James O Driscoll combined well to release Richie Draper from full back and he handed off the last tackler beautifully to score and put Clon out to 20 11. Richie might have been safer to pass to his support runners but as he admitted afterwards in the bar these opportunities are limited for him these days and the hand off was the result as he went for it himself. The captain, Denis Stephenson, showed his experience, cunning and opportunism as he spotted the pack on a rolling maul and joined it at the crucial moment to take possession and crash over. In fairness the pack was short Mel Shanley who had been yellow carded and Dinny was obviously worried that this weight needed to be made up over the final metre.
Clon s Extra-Firsts and Bulldogs manager, Barry Kirby, expressed himself as elated after this impressive win and promised more of the same as his squads build nicely for the league and cup campaigns.
The squad was: Sean Beamish, Colm Twomey, Shane Walsh, Denis Stephenson (Capt|), John Kingston, Matt Kirby, Eoin Ryan, Mike Murphy, Martin Harrington, Joe Knowles, Bartle Murphy, Colin Barrett, Cathal O Regan, Kenneth O Regan, Alan Harte, Cathal Kirby, James O Driscoll, Mel Shanley and Richie Draper.
Fixtures: Saturday; Seniors V Waterpark, Friendly, 2.30pm., Waterford.
Sunday, Bulldogs V Ballincollig, Dennehy Cup, 12 Noon, The Vale.