Courtesy of: Roy Maguire, PRO, Clonakilty RFC.
A new year certainly, a new dawn possibly, a new determination definitely! Clonakilty kicked the New Year off with a great win over old friends and rivals Connemara in The Vale last Saturday to record their first win of the campaign. It was a bonus point win with four trys scored by the West Cork side but more than anything else the manner in which the game was managed and put beyond the visitors was most impressive. Clonakilty led by 20 - 0 at half time but they had been in similar situations on occasions this season and lost and they were playing into a significant wind in the second half. There was clear determination evident throughout the squad from the restart, epitomised by captain Batt Duggan exhorting his troops to let nothing through. Try as they might the Connacht men could find no way through a steely defence and Clon put a further 12 points on the board for good measure.
Conditions were poor with wind and rain throughout the game making it difficult for both sides and uncomfortable for the decent crowd on the day. Connemara belied their lowly position in the league in the opening quarter with a worrying ability in defence and attack as Clon got to grips with the conditions. However it was the home side that struck first with Batt Duggan running a great line onto the pass from man of the match Mark Purcell to score a great try following an impressive build up. James Deasy added the two points to give Clon a seven point lead after 10 minutes. He added two more penalties to put Clon out to 13 - 0 on the half hour. These penalties were the result of sustained and disciplined pressure by Clon playing the game in the opponents half with the aid of the wind.
Clon went further ahead with a try when Sean White took a ball behind his back and drove forward and, following multi phases in which Duggan was again prominent, finished it off by getting the final touchdown. Deasy converted to give Clon a 20 - 0 cushion turning to face the elements. Given the conditions and the history of letting leads slip there was no over confidence on or off the pitch. Before a ball was kicked however there was an attitude that was different and immediately apparent as the sides lined up for the restart. This was probably the best balanced squad to take the field this season and there was a confidence backed by determination from the start. The return of David Lombard and Alfie Harte will have helped but there was recognition from the players that they were far better than the results showed.
The half was only seven minutes old when Clon struck the killer blow. It was a dominant scrum, with props Derry O'Neill and Aidan Foley, outstanding and a loose maul that was paving the way as they steamrolled the men from the west from phase to phase with White again getting the touchdown for a 25 - 0 lead. The fourth and bonus point try was scored from this same dominance with a penalty try. This denied Courtney Canning a certain and deserved try as the scrum drove for the line a Connemara player in desperation lay on the ball to prevent Canning picking. Deasy's conversion gave Clon a welcome and timely 32 - 0 win.
The squad was James Deasy, Kieran Howlin, David Lombard, Alan Long, Kieran O'Donovan, Joe Lee, Mark Purcell, Derry O'Neill, Stephen Cotter, Aidan Foley, Tomas Keogh, Sean White, Batt Duggan (Capt), Tony Illston, Courtney Canning, Mark Purcell, Joe Lee, Gary Shannon, Ger McCarthy, Alfie Harte, Ciaran Calnan and Luke O'Shea. Kieran Howlin and Alan Long were constant threats to the Connemara defence with pacy breaks. Kieran O'Donovan didn't get many chances to show his attacking ability but his defence was impenetrable. Joe Lee never put a foot wrong taking all the right options and Tony Illston marked his AIL debut with a superb second half.
It was a great squad performance and there was no sign of triumphalism or anyone getting carried away by the result which moved Clon up the table and out of the danger zone for the moment. Instead there was a realisation that they had let similar results behind them this season and there was a long way to go before the job is complete. The win was well-merited with the work that had been put in leading up to this vital clash and the same application will surely reap further rewards. They face the difficult challenge of Navan next Saturday 19th in The Vale. The clubs have only met once before when Clon defeated the Meath men at the same venue in 2000 in the All Ireland junior clubs provincial champions play-offs for AIL status. The result then was a convincing 25 - 10 win for the home team but this time they will meet a Navan side that has only lost twice this season and are placed sixth in the table. A win in Clonakilty could see a return of title aspirations for the Leinster club and a loss the disappearance of same. They will not lack motivation.
The seconds put in a good performance going down to Skibbereen 10 - 7 last Sunday in Skibb. Despite having the better of the exchanges for most of the match and ample territory and possession they fell behind 10 - 0 to a converted try and penalty which looked to have secured victory for the home side. However Clon continued to press and were rewarded with a well worked try by Donal Dignan following massive mauling by the pack. James O'Driscoll converted and there was great hope that they could go on to turn the possession and territory stats into scores. However a stubborn Skibb defence held out for the victory. Feidhlim Dignan, Eric Kingston and particularly Tom Beamish caught the eye in a game although played in poor conditions was very entertaining. The squad was Brian McSweeney, John O'Sullivan, James O'Driscoll, Sean Beamish, Feidhlim Dignan, Eric Kingston, Shane Deasy, Sean Wycherley, Paul Deasy, Josh Wilcox, Sam Dignan, John Collins, Colin Barrett, Donal Dignan, Peter Deane, Richie Ellis, Cathal O'Regan, Mark O'Donovan, Garret Boohig, Packie O'Leary and Tom Beamish.
Pick of the fixtures this weekend is the South Munster Under 17 League Semi-Final featuring Clonakilty and Midleton. Kick off in The Vale is at 11.00am on Sunday 13th.
YOUNG MUNSTER RFC - Courtesy of Killian McCarthy
Whether it was Alan Cotter setting off on a 60-yard sprint, a horribly hooked last-minute penalty, or a mad bout of post-game pugilism, there was something about last season's games against Old Belvedere.
Something. I'm not sure what, but it gave off a taste of more (not unlike the hospitality in the clubhouse bar, but that's for someone else to plug).
So, less than a week into 2013 when we'd had our fill of Christmas cheer, we turned up in the rain for something that certainly promised to be intriguing.
And we weren't to be disappointed.
Granted the weather was foul, the pitch was heavy, and the opposition had a barnstorming Kiwi locking the scrum, but 20 minutes in nobody cared.
After Brian Haugh and Belvo' winger Josh Glynn had traded early penalties, the visitors started to rack up penalties on the deck, which ultimately saw former UL Bohs loosehead - and Tralee native - Pa O'Regan dispatched to the sin bin.
Three minutes and at least a dozen phases later No.8 Neville Melbourne was wriggling over the line at the Raheen Square end. It was the Tipp' man's third carry of the move and the score owed much to the patience and discipline of the entire XV with backs and forwards carrying, clearing out, and putting in a Trojan effort for as long as it took.
Haugh added the extras and tacked on a penalty from more-or-less the same spot 10 minutes later to leave the score 13-3 to Young Munster, which was how it remained right up to the short whistle.
In the run-up to half-time the men from Anglesea Road did manage to ratchet up the pressure but their best chance of troubling the scoreboard was a long-range Josh Glynn penalty that drifted to the right of the posts.
The evergreen Mike Prendergast also had a go at a snap drop-goal not long afterwards but seemed put off attempting to convert from the opposition's half rather than his own.
The second 40' began as the first had ended, with Old Belvedere in the ascendancy but Munsters' disciplined attack was mirrored in defence as they absorbed the pressure, forced the mistake, and cleared.
Sean Duggan was a towering strength in the lineout (photo by Brendan Doyle)
Minutes later rangy second row Seán Duggan was haring after a Ger Slattery kick through and in the spirit of self-preservation winger Eddie Devitt had little choice but to gift the Cookies a lineout 5m from the Belvo line. Although nothing came of it directly, the visitors soon coughed up a penalty at a ruck and Haugh made no mistake from 30m out on the left hand side.
On the hour mark, Old Belvedere were treading desperately close to another yellow card when they handed Haugh another routine penalty in front of the posts and with the score standing at 19-3 the murmurs on the sideline were that the game had been put to bed, but it should be tucked in with a bonus point.
Centre Lukas Kuntz touches down (photo by Brendan Doyle)
With 13 minutes to go we were halfway there. The ball was turned over on Munsters' 10m line. Brian Haugh kicked through into the heart of the Belvo' 22 and with confusion reigning full-back Danny Riordan was caught in two minds between claiming the ball and keeping an eye on speedster Dom Lespierre. In the end he did neither and third man on the scene Lukas Kuntz picked up the ball, scampered over the line and dotted down. With Haugh's conversion the scoreline stood at 24-3. Result beyond doubt. Clock ticking.
With 71 minutes on the clock a lovely line from centre Mark Doyle had play up to the Belvo' line but the Dubliners decreed that any 5th point was going to be hard earned so as with the first try of the day, the third was to be scored by going through the phases. Neville Melbourne very nearly bagged his brace but ultimately it was livewire winger Darragh O'Neill who drove the ball the final few inches to score.
Haugh notched his most impressive kick of the day from the left touchline and suddenly the crowd was willing referee Kieran Barry to coax enough time from his stopwatch for a fourth try to be scored.
Darragh O'Neill gets over for his second try of the day (photo by Brendan Doyle)
Darragh O'Neill tries are like buses, apparently because after waiting practically the entire game for his first he was soon bagging his second. Old Belvedere spilled the ball in midfield and two fly hacks later O'Neill was outpacing Eddie Devitt to dot down in front of the clubhouse. He was promptly swamped by his teammates and in the ensuing giddiness not many noticed Haugh scoring his fourth successful conversion before referee Barry brought proceedings to a close.
5 points bagged, 5 points off the top and with first playing second next time out (while we're on the road against Dolphin) something special could well be brewing for 2013.
Final score: Young Munster 40 - 3 Old Belvedere
Young Munster: Alan Cotter, Ger Slattery, Hugh McGrath, Sean Duggan, Johnny Moroney, Neville Melbourne, Luke Russell, Mark Rowley, Brian Haugh, Mike Prendergast, Darragh O'Neill, Lukas Kuntz, Mark Doyle, Dom Lespierre, Craig O'Hanlon.
Subs: Ger Bourke, Darragh Cantillon, Mike Madden, Declan Bannon, Gareth Quinn-McDonagh.
Old Belvedere: Pat O'Regan, Mark Cooney, Declan Lavery, David White, Dean Moore, Jonathan Slattery, Kieran O'Gorman, Leo Auva'a, Brian O'Neill, Stephen Crosbie, Eddie Devitt, Ben Woods, John Kennedy, Josh Glynn, Danny Riordan (Capt)
Subs: Adam Howard, Paddy Hogan, Josh Eden-Whairtiri, Alex Kelleher, David Moore
Elsewhere on Saturday the Under 21s team had a 28-0 bonus point victory over Thomond.
Special 20-Year Anniversary Function
The spirit of '93 lives on… On Friday February 15th a special dinner will take place in the Greenhills Hotel celebrating the AIL winning team of 1993. Tickets are €35 available from Fergal Deegan 086-2265692 or Michael O'Donoghue 087-7626163. Book immediately as places are limited.
Congrats to our Under 12s Squad who won the Lysaght last Sunday Morning beating a brave Richmond Team 6 to Nil.
Sunday 13th January
Under 11s League: Young Munster v Ballina/Killaloe 10.30am Deryknockane