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Club News Weekending 29th April 2007

24th April 2007 By Munster Rugby

This week’s club news,views and reviews from around the province.

Loosehead PRO

Wonderful Season Closes With Disappointment

Greystones 18 Clonakilty 14

It was a season of highs and lows for the rugby fan. Ireland celebrated a third Triple Crown in four years while dealing with the loss of the Grand Slam. Munster led its red army on the road again reaching the knock out stages in defence of their European title only to fall at the quarter-finals. Clonakilty, against all the odds, reached the knock out stages of the league in their first year in division two and bowed out in the semi final. Was the glass half full or half empty? Certainly at the end of that remarkable season last year when Clon dominated division three to win promotion as champions to division two there would not have been a club member who would not have settled for a guarantee of finishing 14th and safety. Instead they were treated to a season of scintillating rugby with their senior side reaching the semi-final of The Munster Senior Cup, the semi-final of the championship, the semi-final of the AIB All Ireland Cup going down to the eventual winners Garryowen in a memorable game and finishing a highly creditable third in the 2nd division of The AIB All Ireland League. Clon may not have won any silverware at senior level this year but they have emphatically won the respect of the rugby establishment the length and breadth of the island. The West Cork club now rank 19th in all Ireland, 7th in Munster and 3rd in Cork and the list of illustrious clubs in its wake is a remarkable testament to the club’s 30 years of progress. The ambition is as strong as ever and next seasons campaign is already in the planning. Half full doesn’t even come close! The magnificent facilities in the Co. Wicklow seaside resort of Greystones were fitting surroundings for this great match. Dr. Hickey Park boasts four full sized pitches, one floodlit, a grandstand and a clubhouse that provides the best catering in Ireland. The teams took the field to a Sky Sports/Heineken Cup style welcome with flag waving youths providing a guard of honour corridor onto the field. The scene was set and the "gladiators" did not disappoint. It was a great match full of movement and excitement and the professionalism of the home side won the day as they played the elements and the opposition to perfection. Clon kicked off in to a strong wind and early shows from Declan Coppinger, Paul Dillon, David Lombard and Eddie Knowles made light of that disadvantage. Captain Eoin Scannell led from the front and his fielding in the air under pressure was a highlight. The game see-sawed but there was doubt in the ‘Stones camp as the wind and their slight advantage in the scrum was not producing scores. Eddie Knowles and Dan Whelton were involved in everything. Two players, ironically that had retired at the end of last season and had responded to emergency calls early season when injuries to key players threatened to rule Clon out of any meaningful assault on the league, were absolutely on top of their game. The final fifteen minutes of the half were almost entirely with Clon. Colin Murphy was providing a continuous and flawless link as the visitors went through the phases, recycling with Paul Dillon, Mike O’Hea, Dan Spencer and Derek Dillon outstanding. However it was the home side that opened the scoring just before the interval with a great try from their winger coming inside the Clon defender to link with the far winger in midfield and split the defence to score between the posts. The easy conversion made it 7 – 0 at half time. With the wind and the slight incline in Clon’s favour in the second half there was no despondency in the huge travelling support from West Cork. Their optimism seemed well founded when Clon were in front after only 10 minutes of the second half. The first penalty from Gary Cribb after good work from Alfie Harte came on five minutes. Great play from Scannell and Lombard gave Cribb his second chance from 40 metres and again he goaled. Whelton claimed his second restart imperiously. Clon were playing with great confidence and then the try that set the crowd on fire came. Pressure defence and a great trademark tackle from Paul Dillon was rewarded with another penalty which was quickly tapped and moved across the line. Towering second row O’Hea appeared on the wing and made the decisive move. A looping pass out of the tackle found Shay O’Donovan and Derek Dillon coming into the line from full back created the extra space for brother Paul to scythe through the defenders for a great score. Although the conversion was missed Clon were ahead for the first time and it really seemed destiny that they would go on to extend and win aided by the wind. Greystones seemed to share that feeling as their coach made a big gamble in a do or die decision. He made a four man simultaneous substitution. It would either work or blow up in his face. It worked. The game plan was carried out with ruthless professionalism as they played for territory and kicked the penalties. Clon must accept some blame as they conceded the penalties too close for the wind to be a problem. One of these, albeit a harsh one for disputed crossing, narrowed the gap to one point before a clever cross grubber caught Clon’s wide defence flat footed and the score was conceded a bit too easily. An exchange of penalties left the score 18 – 14 to the home side with 12 minutes of normal time remaining. Greystones demonstrated great coolness and patience at this stage. They made no attempt to run the ball which was their forte but executed their game plan to isolate Clon’s counter opportunities and strike runners by keeping the ball in mauls to run down the clock. It succeeded but only just as Clon put in their trademark grandstand finish with a flourish started by David Cookson. Cookson who had missed much of the season through injury added a spark when introduced and his break sent Tadhg Wright bursting down the sideline and only a despairing hand trip prevented the flanker getting a scoring pass away. The squad was: Derek Dillon, John O’Donnell, Paul Dillon, David Lombard, Shay O’Donovan, Gary Cribb, Colin Murphy, Eddie Knowles, Alfie Harte, Dan Spencer, Danny Whelton, Mike O’Hea, Eoin Scannell (Capt), Declan Coppinger, Mike Keohane, Sean O’Neill (Skibb), Felim O’Neill, Batt Duggan, Tadhg Wright, David Cookson, Colm McCarthy (Kinsale), Lenny Harte and Eoin Murphy.

Season Not Over Yet

Waterpark 20 Clonakilty 21

Clonakilty’s season is not over yet. This Saturday (probably in Muskerry at 2.30pm) Clonakilty’s under 20s will take on Castleisland in the final of the South Munster Cup. Comprehensive defeats by a very good Thomond side and an even better Cork Constitution side on successive weekends was consigned to the bitter bin of experience as the 16 fit and available Clonakilty under 20’s travelled to play Waterpark in the Div 2 Cup semi final on Saturday. They recorded an exceptional victory over a good home side which was made up of Waterford local and College players. The game started at a high tempo with the wind to Clon’s advantage. After 15 minutes J.D. O’Mahony created space for winger Sean Young to make a break in which he used his power and strength to beat three would be tacklers and score an excellent try which was converted by Ciaran Calnan. Soon after Ciaran Calnan created good field position and a subsequent lineout was mauled over the line for a Hugh O’Neill try, which was again converted by Calnan. Excellent Captain Michael Peter O’Regan found himself sin-binned shortly after and during his absence Waterpark scored an excellent try after a flowing back movement which they converted and they kicked a further drop goal to leave the score 14 – 10 at the break. Waterpark reduced the arrears to just one point early in the second half and attacked the Clon defence at will in search of the winning score. However, the Clon side had worked hard on this aspect of the game recently and it showed as they constantly soaked up the pressure until the turning point when in desperation the home side went for a failed drop goal. This allowed Clon to lift the siege and they went up the field against an ever-increasing wind to force a lineout close to the line. Again the ball was won and the pack rolled over the line for Hugh O’Neill to claim his second touchdown and Calnan kicked a magnificent conversion. Waterpark eventually breached the Clon defence for a converted try on the stroke of fulltime and at the final whistle the disappointment shown by the opposition confirmed that this was truly a top drawer victory by a determined and hardworking Clonakilty team. On the day the pack was excellent and the backs played to the very best of their ability, however, it would be unfair to single out any player for special mention as it was a complete team effort. Team James Deasy, Sean Young, JD O’Mahony, Conrad Lehane, Owen O’Driscoll, Ciaran Calnan, Eric Murphy, Stephen Lowney, Hugh O’Neill, Patrick O’Sullivan, Sean Dignan, MP O’Regan, Tim O’Regan, Stephen Coomey, Shane Deane and Sam Dignan. Exciting for Clonakilty is that the majority of the panel are under age again next season and will be augmented by very good under 18 draft coming through. And so a season of undoubted achievement on many levels draws to a close and it will be celebrated in style in The Fernhill Hotel on next Sunday 6th May (Bank Hol Weekend) when the annual dinner and dance will also mark 30 years of achievement with a massive birthday party for the club. It will be a formal event and a reception at 8.30pm will be followed by Dinner at 9.30pm SHARP. Spot Prizes, Surprise Guests and music by The Starlight Wranglers and Disco Joe Stapletune will ensure a great night of celebration. Tickets are only €40 each to mark the occasion and are strictly limited to 200. Don’t miss out. At the time of writing 140 of the 200 tickets have already been taken and the traditional last day take up is sure to catch many out this year. The remaining tickets can be booked with Pat Hogan, Andrew Bradley, Maria Dillon, Barry McAdams, Rosie Murphy, Kevin Dillon, Deirdre Scannell, Emmet O’Donovan, Anna Quirke, Mike Murphy or Roy Maguire. Don’t be caught out! Book your tickets now phone 086 60 111 11.

Pat Rickard PRO

As we enter the dying embers of the season the focus shifts to the underage section of the club. The under 20s played their North Munster under 20 cup quarter final against Garryowen last Wednesday night in Dooradoyle. For much of the game we enjoyed parity with our near neighbours and were only 5 points behind entering the final quarter but a couple of errors resulted in tries which sealed the result for the home side. The under 16s hosted Abbeyfeale on Sunday morning and ran out winners of a very entertaining game. They are playing their cup semi final this weekend – venue and opponents still to be decided at the time of going to press. For all updated information on club matters, please visit our website http://www.oldcrescentrfc.com/. The under 14s head to France this weekend for their end of season tour and we wish them bon voyage. The under 13s made the journey to Midleton on Sunday and played some good rugby in a very enjoyable game. The under 8s hosted Clanwilliam on Sunday morning and both our sides put in brave and committed performances. The mini rugby season concludes this Sunday morning and the usual end of season party will take place after training for all age groups which commences at 10am. We are also for the first time running a Rugby Summer Camp commencing the last week of June for those aged 12 to 14 and for the month of July for those aged between 7 and 11. The camp will be managed by our head coach Mark Ring with the assistance of a number of our 1st XV players. If you are interested in sending your children to the camp please contact Mark Ring at 087-2796954 or Gerry Reynolds at 087-2905490. The club launched its Development Programme on Friday morning last at a press briefing at the club. We wish to thank all those club members who assisted in putting the programme together and securing a Sports Capital Grant to assist the club in funding the long overdue development of the club grounds. The AGM of the Club will take place on Wednesday May 23rd at 8pm in the club house. We would ask as many members as possible to attend.


Denis Ryan PRO

The All Ireland League is like a heavyweight boxing championship fight, played over 15 rounds. It may not be necessary to win every round, but the important thing is to avoid being knocked out early, and to finish with a flourish. UL Bohs travelled to Blackrock at the weekend, and while the hosts had nothing to play for but pride, that was in sufficient supply to enable them manufacture an injury time try to deny the visitors the victory which would have given UL Bohs a home semi final. To add to the drama, with Shannon and Garryowen both winning their games, a nail-biting few hours ensued until it was confirmed that UL Bohs had indeed qualified for the playoffs. The club is fortunate to have so many doctors numbered among the membership, as this side produces heart-attack inducing performances on a regular basis. The reward for the defeat in Dublin is an away game to Cork Con, but since our ambition was to contest the final, and the likely opponents would have been this opposition, fate has merely brought the contest forward one week. We will now see if our objectives were over ambitious, but considering that we lost the league game early in the campaign by just a few points, this should be another contest decided by a narrow margin. It hardly needs to be said that all available members should head to the southern capital for the weekend and support our side.
The under-15s returned from the Easter tour of the London area, and enjoyed themselves so well, that they fell victims to a very strong Newcastlewest side in the cup.
The U-14s also had mixed results after their trip to Wales. On Sunday the Hawks met St Senan’s in Shannon and were well beaten 26-5 by a team which had been comprehensively defeated in the league. Was this a case of post tour fatigue, or have St Senan’s improved to that extent? A bit of both, it seems as UL Bohs lacked commitment, which the home side had in abundance.
On Monday the Hawks travelled to Young Munster, and this was in marked contrast to the previous day’s game as UL Bohs just got home by 15-17. Both teams gave their all but UL Boh’s came out on top in the end thanks to some great forward work and excellent defending from the backs. Young Munster registered the first score with a converted try, before Eamon Farrell crossed the line for UL Bohs but was well held up. From the 5 meter scrum Niall Horan crashed over and Eamon kicked the conversion. After this score, Young Munster put us under pressure and got in for a try. They continued to dominate for the remainder of the first half and were rewarded with a penalty before half time leaving them ahead by 12-7. In the second half and we competed well in defence with some great work from Enda Carroll, Steven Leddin and Douglas Plummer in particular. A well kicked penalty from Eamon Farrell allowed us to work our way into the Young Munster 22 and after a period of pressure, Tadhg O’ Sullivan scored our second try off the back of a ruck. As pressure mounted, captain Cormac O’Connor led by example and crossed the line for the final score of the game with only a few minutes remaining.
Overall this was a great all round performance with every player giving their all to the team! We now meet Shannon in Coonagh in the next round on Thursday at 7.00pm

Aidan Clifford PRO

Killorglin played host to Wendons Ambo RFC, a touring team from Essex, on Saturday last. Killorglin won the game rather easily, but a friendly game was the best way to describe it as keeping score took the back seat for once. Everyone involved had a great day and a great evening.

Killorglin will concentrate on more serious affairs this weekend though as they host Abbeyfeale in the Galwey-Foley Cup semi-final on Friday at 7:30 in the Techfield Langford Street. All support would be very welcome on the final weekend of the season.

Andrew McNamara PRO

Where does one start in even attempting to convey the despondency felt in Coonagh last Saturday. The drama which unfolded may well have feed the media’s, and the neutrals appetite for an unparalleled and exciting finale to the AIB league , but for the collective personnel of Shannon , it was a mere sideshow as we came to terms with our exit from the campaign. It may well have come down to a separation of 2 scored points when the final table was eventually confirmed , but that too was an irrelevant fact. We were out , simple as that. However let this be said and taken as gospel, it was not for lack of commitment , dedication and an unending desire to retain the AIB league from the entire squad and management. It was a long and often difficult season and perhaps it should not have come down to the last game of season to seal our fate, but that analysis is for another time. On Saturday , the lads did what they were asked to do , albeit a little late in the game , and scored a bonus point win over a Dolphin side who to their credit played the game as if their survival was dependent on the result. Perhaps there was an outside chance that the result would decide their status in the 1st division , but they took no chances and raced away into a seemingly ever increasing lead. It was nervy stuff as we battled had to get a grip on the events. But we did get the bonus point and with time up, it was time for the calculations and then the gut wrenching realisation of our fate. There’s nothing to be gained in going into the ifs, buts and maybes of the day. Perhaps the only conclusion worth including is that results throughout the season were not consistent enough and therefore we paid the ultimate penalty. It could well be pointed out that this is a side in transition with 10 of last season’s U/20’s involved to some degree or other along with several other players involved in 1st division rugby for the first time , but that would be an injustice to the values and core belief amongst the senior squad which concludes that when you put on the jersey you aim to win at all times.

However, therein lies the positives from the season. A group of young and success hungry players whose disappointment will slowly fade and evolve into an unrivalled determination to put right the wrongs of what’s passed.

The club is not a one team show and the season rolls on for many of our sides. On Monday evening the U/20’s were highly impressive as they dispatched Garryowen for the third time this season. On this occasion it was the semi final of the North Munster Cup and the final score of 29-11 reflects the nature of the game. The strong wind was blowing straight into our faces, but the lads quickly established a pattern of play that would see then comfortably overcome the challenge. Throughout the game there was some outstanding rugby played with both sides contributing to a fast pace and entertaining spectacle. Micheal Hickey darted over for our first try and that was soon followed by Niall Sheehan’s effort. With the winds at their backs in the second half the lead was increased when Eoghan Grace raced in for a superb individual effort. Keith Ellis rounded off our scoring and although the pace slackened for the remainder, the outcome was never in doubt.

Young Munster are our final opponents which takes place next Tuesday evening in the Canal bank at 6.45.

The thirds play their final game of their hugely successful season when they play in the Munster league final on Sunday in Musgrave Park. It would be a richly deserved success if they beat Cork Con, but it’s going to be a monumental task. If the seniors had reached the playoffs , than most of our supporters would have travelled to cork for the semi final . Well, we know that’s not happening , but we urge everyone to defer that proposed journey for 24 hours and travel to support the Thirds. They are more than deserving of the support of everyone in the club and every bit will help against a side that are practically playing at home. Kick-off is at 2.30. BE THERE.

On Monday evening in Coonagh the seconds are scheduled to play UL/Bohs in the North Munster league at 6.30.

The U/14’s advanced to the semi final of the cup when they beat Garryowen by 29-10 . It was a tight opening half but our lads eventually wore down the resistance and scored two penalties and a try from Barry McNamara to give a comfortable half time lead, the lead was reduced soon after the restart , but a quick response followed with Keith White crossing. Garryowen were not lying down and gave the lads a few more nervy moments when they scored another try. At 18-10 there was a danger that Garryowen could play themselves back into contention, but through a determined forward display , it never came to pass. The result was put beyond doubt when Alan Dempsey scored a penalty and then Raymond Barron scoring the final try.

By the time this notes are published the semi final will have been played and hopefully a final place secured in Monday nights final.

On Sunday the traditional Alan Oakley day wraps up the underage season fro most of the teams and it should be a great way to end another wonderful year for our underage. Notice(s) of Motion to be submitted, in writing, to Tadhg Crowe, Hon Sec, by Thursday, 10 May 2007.


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