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Club Notes Weekending April 1st 2007

26th March 2007 By Munster Rugby

All the latest club news, views and reviews from around the province.

GARRYOWEN FC
Christopher Barry PRO

Flanker Anthony Kavanagh continued his rich vein of form by scoring two tries to take his tally to five in his last two games as our seniors beat Blackrock 39-5 in the AIB League in Dooradoyle last Saturday. Leading 22-0 at the break, the expected fight-back from the Dubliners never materialised and we went on to increase our try haul to six by the finish. David Sherry, Cillian O’Boyle, Adam O’Loughlin and Gerry Hurley were the other try scorers. Conor Kilroy added a conversion and an in-form Gerry Hurley kicked two conversions and a penalty. Fionn Carr got a consolation score for the visitors just before the final whistle. However all the teams above us in the table won and it will come down to the last two games to determine who books a semi-final place. The AIB Cup semi-final sees the novel meeting of Garryowen and Clonakilty in Dooradoyle at 2.30 on Saturday. The Cork side have been putting some very impressive performances in at the top of Division 2 and it promises to be a fascinating game. Weather conditions were almost benign last weekend and the quality of back play was a noticeable feature. With the ground set to turn firmish, the game may turn out to be a high scoring affair. The penultimate stages of the Munster Junior Cup take place on Sunday and traditionalists couldn’t have asked for a more appropriate semi-final pairing than Garryowen and Young Munster. The team had a warm up game away to Cashel last Sunday and although we took time to establish control, we eventually ran out 31-3 winners. John Paul Hartigan, Niall O’Driscoll and Fredrico Quaglia (2) were the try scorers. John Paul added two conversions and scrum half Alan McNamara also kicked a two-pointer. The venue for this eagerly awaited game was still unclear at time of going to press. Should the game take place, it will surely go down to the wire with precious little between the teams at the end. The Webb Cup semi-final turned out be a real humdinger of a match that ended Garryowen 6 Old Crescent 6 after extra time. A tough uncompromising game saw both teams play some excellent football and it would have been an injustice for either to have lost on the day. Crescent took the lead with a first half penalty and Fergus Sheahan brought us back to parity just before the break. The second half was much of the same with Crescent taking a 6-3 lead again from a penalty and Dave Madden replied with another penalty to leave the sides level again. Extra time was scoreless although Dave Madden was very unlucky with a difficult penalty that just skimmed the upright. Finnian Chesser had a fine game, as did Niall Keogh and John Mark Griffin. Damian Fahey was the pick of the backs. Both teams will have do it all again on Saturday in Rosbrien at 1.00. The under 14s progressed to the North Munster Final with a fine 15 -8 win over UL Bohs. Three well worked first half tries by Ben Drew (2) and Andrew Fullen paved the way for a satisfactory win. While there were many excellent individual performances, it was our back line that defended and attacked very impressively and eventually turned the game. Up front Ronan Hogan and John Fyfe led the way with a lot of very strong running and tackling. On Sunday they play a fancied Shannon team in the Final. Having narrowly lost last year’s Cup final, the squad is keen to make amends. Tom Barry’s U16’s had a bit too much gas for Newcastlewest in the NML, eventually running out comfortable 22-0 winners. Alan Barry, Cian O’Shea 2 and Eoin OToole were the try scorers. Eoin also added a conversion. Meanwhile Tom Butler’s U13’s kicked off their NM Cup campaign with a hard fought 15-5 win away to Scarrif. Liam Glynn and Seamie McDermott’s U18’s have been coming along nicely in training and they play St. Mary’s on Sunday in the NM Cup.

SHANNON RFC
Andrew McNamara PRO

With just two matches remaining in the AIB league our destiny is very much in our own hands. After Saturday’s historic game in Coonagh we remain in forth position, albeit on point’s difference from Garryowen and the simple equation is five into four won’t go. Despite the 26-17 win over Lansdowne the players were a little disappointed in themselves for failing to grasp a bonus point, but Gallimh and Co., quite rightly, quickly pointed out the facts of the day. They had just beaten a good Lansdowne side that still had a chance to qualify and played some good rugby along the way. Granted there was some mediocre rugby also, but the good outweighed the bad and the lads are chomping at the bit for the last two games. It was a very young side that lined out with several regulars out due to injury and provincial duty, but those that started were not found wanting. Few sides in the league could lineout with five of last seasons U/20’s with a further two coming into the game later on, and win. Joe Manuel started his first ever AIB league game and barely put a foot wrong , while for second half replacement Jason Cronin, it was his first ever involvement in a league game. Jason has lined out with the club since he was eight years of age and is a prime example of dedicated club man. Coonagh looked resplendent for the occasion and great credit is due to John Horan, Tadgh Crowe and Jim Mc Nicholas for their efforts, not alone last week, but throughout the season. The only slightly negative side to the day was the smaller that expectant crowd, but hopefully that will rectify itself in the coming weeks. As for the game, it was very similar to the corresponding fixture last season with Lansdowne starting very well, our lads playing catch up, taking the lead in impressive fashion, and then letting the foot of the pedal slightly. Dave Quinlan was on hand to finish off Colm Mc Mahon’s superb break and a couple of minutes later AIB man of the match, Dave O’Donovan took up and excellent line and no one could stop his gallop. Andrew Thompson’s 16 point haul included his second half try which further extended our lead and although the visitors clawed back a try enough was done to claim the points which maintained our interest in the league. It’s going to be mighty interesting in the coming week’s, but this Saturday the focus switches to the AIB Cup and our semi final date with Belfast Harlequins. Our recent away trips to Belfast have not yielded pleasant results, but Saturday is cup rugby and our pedigree is well known, but nothing can be taken for granted. Immediately after the senior game on the Well field our thirds qualified for yet another final, but only after they were forced to withstand a late rally from Kilfeacle. It was a little close for comfort at 14-11 with the visitors having a penalty to draw the game at the death. As in previous games, we were fortunate that it drifted wide and passage to our third final of the season was secured. It was a great win for Locky’s men, but the nail biting finale should never really have come to pass as we looked comfortable in all facets of the game. We did start slow and Kilfeakle took the lead with a penalty and it took until the 33rd minute before JP Tucker converted our latter dominance into points with a well taken try. Tony Hall converted to give us a 7-3 lead at the break. It was reduced with another Kilfeakle penalty, but soon after Peter O’Dea scored another try, the genesis of which came from a brilliant catch from Stephen O’Brien in his own ’22. A sweeping move followed and Peter’s try was top notch. Neil Whelan converted and it looked as if we would maintain our comfortable stance, however Kilfeakle played some impressive rugby to claw their way back into contention. A try was just reward for their efforts, but it wasn’t enough to halt our lad’s progress to the final and their ultimate dream of a clean sweep. Another step towards that takes place in Coonagh this Saturday when Ballincollig are their opponents in the Munster league. With the seniors in Belfast and few counter attractions I would urge our supporters to come out and see this fantastic side in action. Kick off is at 3pm.
The U/14’s were also in semi final action, a reply, against UL/Bohs and qualified for the final. The Coaches had the lads well prepared and the players were clearly focused on the game. The opening 10 minutes saw both sides tease each other out, but we soon gained the upper hand when Alan Dempsey crossed for our opening try. Further tries by Alan McNamara and another from Alan Dempsey left the half time score 15-0 in our favour. The domination continued and UL/Bohs had no answer for the power play of our lads. Conor Barry crossed for two tries while Alex McNamara and Cormac Ryan added one each. Garryowen will be their opponents in Sunday’s final which takes place in Annacotty at11.30. Best of luck lads.
The U/18’s also recorded a win over Richmond by 22-8 while the U/16’s were victors over UL/Bohs by 14-0.
As well as the U/14’s final the 13’s play Thomond in the Cup with an 11.30 start in Woodview. The U/16’s play Old Crescent in Coonagh and the U/18’s also play at home against Newcastlewest at 12pm.
The U/20’s head to the sunny climes of southern France fro their tour. Biarritz is their destination and no doubt they’ll enjoy their trip.
The Shannon RFC Golf Classic takes place on the 11th and 12th of May and there are still tee times available. Details and bookings can be obtained from Jack Keane. jack@cratloewood.ie .

TRALEE RFC NEWS

Arthur Townsend, John Curneen, and Der O’Sullivan, these are some of the names from the past of Tralee Rugby Football Club. In the club this year it’s all about the past. The club is gathering all past and present players and club officers in another event to celebrate the 125th birthday of the Club. This mega event is to take place on the 13th of April at the Grand Hotel Tralee kicking off with a drinks reception at 7 o’ clock. Tickets for this celebration are available from Grace O’Donnell or through the Grand Hotel for €30 each. It is hoped that some of the more famous of the Clubs past members such as Internationals Dick Spring might grace us with their presence to share their memories with the current members of Tralee, who are making a name for themselves on the international and national fields of play. I am of course referring to Munster’s John O’Sullivan who is the aforementioned Der’s son and Irish youths Danny Barnes and Sean O’ Mahony.

Club Memories come flooding back as I write this and I know everyone has a different story to tell, this will be a night of telling stories good and bad. Memories created on the field and in the bar, will be remembered. Memories of famous club dances which were held in the Meadowlands or in the Parklands Hotel. There were many sweethearts found at Rugby Club Dances. As one member recently recalled there was as many hearts broken at these dances then there was on the field of play. Two well known past members were heard to recall these dances. "I scored many times at the Rugby Club Dances." The first remarked. "It was well you scored somewhere because you never scored during a bloody game" the second rebuked. The fifties and sixties were only two decades of the last 125 Years, bring your memories to a magical night as we celebrate our birthday. Get your tickets now! They’re going like hot cakes.

The cynics say nostalgia is a thing of the past. Well! As part of the celebrations to mark the 125th birthday of the Tralee Rugby football Club a night of Nostalgia is planned for the Friday the 13th April. All the past and present players and officers are being gathered for a night of memories in the Grand Hotel Tralee. The memories of the 125 years are many, some of which were recently recalled by Trevor Giles, days when the conditions for the players were not as luxurious as those which the current members enjoy.
"I remember" said Trevor "when we shared changing facilities with McCowen’s horses in the field above where the Fairies Cross Filling Station now exists. Other Memories were made in the bar and not on the football field remarked another member who at this time should remain nameless. This was a memory shared by those who were remembering the prefabricated clubhouse in Killeen, which the club shared with the Scanlon family. Great Players who have graced the various fields of Tralee Rugby Club have earned prizes on the National and International rugby circuit. Internationally we had Dick Spring while currently we have John O’Sullivan on the Munster team and on the youths international team we have Danny Barnes and Sean O’Mahoney. A great night is in store for all concerned, past and present members will mingle for a night which promises to be another memorable night in the calendar of events set to mark the 125th year of Tralee Rugby Football Club. Please bring along your memories to this night. The night will kick off at 7oclock with a drinks reception. The Tickets at €30 can be purchased from the Grand Hotel or from Grace O’Donnell 087 2399940.

Michael O Donnell.


UL BOHEMIAN RFC
PRO Denis Ryan

The club remained in the play-off hunt as they ran three tries past Dolphin at Musgrave Park to remain third in the table with the Division One semi-finals looming. Tries from winger Martin McPhail, who touched down for the ninth time in this season’s league, and centre and captain Colman Finn helped Bohs to a 12-3 interval lead. Dolphin cut the gap to six points before Coleman Finn crossed for his second try, converted by Ben Martin, which seemed to signal a comfortable victory. However, further scores by the home side left the game nicely balanced at 19-12 with UL Bohs happy to hear the final whistle. A Dolphin player received a serious leg injury during the course of the game, and we wish him a speedy return to action. The final home game of the season will take place on 7th April against Galwegians, and we will expect Annacotty to be jammed for this historic game.
The U-20s had a good run out against Shannon in preparation for their All Ireland League play-off game against St Mary’s of Dublin in Annacotty on Saturday. This will be a match well worth seeing and all support will be welcomed.
In the U-14 Semi Final at Dooradoyle Garryowen who led 15-3 at the break, beat the UL Bohs Hawks by 15-8. The home side started well and went ahead with three early tries scored out wide. After this UL Bohs got into the match with some great work from the pack led by Enda O’Carroll along with some strong runs from the back line with Breen Long in particular standing out. The result of this pressure was a converted penalty just before half time by Barry Neville. In to the second half and we dominated up front but struggled to retain possession in Garryowen territory. Again however our pressure paid off and Tadhg O’Sullivan crossed the line of the back some great work by Niall Horan. The conversion attempt hit the post and the scoreline remained the same until the final whistle in spite of some hard work by the team.
In the Under 14 League Semi-Final replay at Annacotty the UL Bohs Eagles were well beaten by Shannon as the 35-3 scoreline suggests. This was a very poor display and difficult to understand considering how close we came to beating them in the drawn game. Shannon were on top for 90% of the game and we can have little cause to complain about the result. However there was a period with the game at 10-0 when we might have scored twice but for a lack of patience. During this same period we lost our captain and no 8 Conor Clancy. This was a big blow to us from which we never recovered. Overall we had a good league campaign but to end it in such a manner was most disappointing.
The U 7’s joined the U9’s for their annual trip away to Galway on Sat 24th for a marvelous day out. It started with rugby against Corinthians RFC at their home ground where we had 2 teams in action. The Stags played 2 games and had 2 convincing wins 9 tries to 0 and 5 tries to 0. A fantastic team performance on the day with Adam Myers, James Quinlan, Conor Purcell, Jake Murphy, Michael Kitt and Brian Madden all putting in big performances and scoring multiple tries. The Lions also played 2 matches, won the first one 6 tries to 1 while the second one was a much closer affair at 1 try each. The games featured some excellent tacking and passing by the UL Bohs youngsters where Con Hourigan, Kieran O’Malley, Sean Finucane, Kieran O’Shea and Philip O’Dea put in outstanding performances. It also included a very enjoyable trip to the pool in Leisureland and some food and drinks on the way home. All in all a very enjoyable day for all – even the coaches!
On Sunday 1st April, the UL Bohemian Race Day will be held in Greenmount Racecourse and tickets may still be obtained from Brendan O’Dowd at 061 228368 or any member of the committee for what promises to be an outstanding day’s fun.

CARRICK-ON-SUIR RFC
Dermot Keyes PRO

Munster Junior Plate: Tralee 30 Carrick-on-Suir 15

Carrick’s long trip to Kerry unfortunately bore no fruit as our First XV’s excellent Munster Junior Plate campaign came to a halt on Sunday last. But the final score was a tad misleading given how close the match remained going into the final quarter, as Carrick competed well all over the park against a physical Tralee outfit. Tries from Jamie Walsh and James Heffernan kept Carrick in contention during a bruising match and its outcome was still in the balance as the game entered its final 10 minutes. But, with the match being played on a pitch and a half by the dimensions we’re accustomed to (Tralee’s pitch is 75 yards wide!); we found the pace a little too hot in the match’s final exchanges. Peter O’Loughlin added a penalty and conversion to Carrick’s total as the curtain was drawn on a fine Plate campaign.
The O’Sullivan Cup remains the last nut to be cracked this season, and hopefully the men in red and blue will avail of their home draw to see off Waterford City at Tybroughney, with the date and time of that fixture to be confirmed as these words were being scripted.
The past few weeks of Plate action has seen the lads produce the sort of intensity and level of performance which would surely have reaped a greater benefit during the League season. But with one trophy left to play for, let’s hope the positive momentum in performance which has been gained in recent weeks remains intact for what’s left of the season.

Carrick XV: B Dignam, N Griffin, L Phelan; A Hunter, P O’Loughlin, J Wallace, J Steele; A Murray (c), W Stokes, J Heffernan; B Phelan, J Phelan; P Lanigan, J Walsh, B Slattery.
Replacements: E Lonergan for N Griffin and M Carroll for B Phelan.

Fixtures next Sunday
At the time of writing, we weren’t in a position to confirm that both First and Second XVs would be in action next weekend, but one can write with a fair degree of confidence that both sides ought to take to the Tybroughney sod next Sunday. Players are asked to reply to the follow-up text messages they’ll receive about both matches during the week.

Email Carrick Rugby
If you’d like to drop a line to Carrick RFC, then feel free to email carrickrfc@yahoo.ie

KILLORGLIN RFC
Aidan Clifford PRO

Killorglin Rugby Club finally made the trip to West Cork last Sunday to play their previously postponed South Munster J2 Cup game against Bantry. Killorglin spent much of the first half camped inside their own 22, defending against a powerful Bantry pack. However they held out and 20 minutes into the game made their first venture into the opposing half and, with it, won a penalty. Paul O’Connor slotted for Killorglin to put the score at 3-0. The remainder of the first half was a period of Killorglin dominance. Shortly after slotting the penalty, Paul O’Connor scored his first try of the day coming from a flowing backs move passing the ball to wing Jody Riordan, who handed off his opposing man and off loaded to O’Connor. This put the score at 8-0 to Killorglin. Two more tries in quick succession followed before half time, one by scrum half Dave Coffey and another from Paul O’Connor put the score at 18-0 at the interval.
Bantry came out fighting in the second half, putting together another now familiar forwards move, picking and driving up the field and after 10 minutes of sustained pressure on the Killorglin line, they eventually bundled over the line under the posts. They missed a relatively easy conversion to leave the score 18-5. On Killorglin’s next venture up the field to Bantry territory, they scored from a drop-goal courtesy of fly half and skipper Ronan Curtayne to stretch the visitor’s lead to 21-5. Bantry fought back again and scored another try from the same forwards move. 21-10 to Killorglin.
Killorglin turned on the style then, with centre Kieran Crowley breaking through the Bantry line and scoring under the posts for an easy conversion for O’Connor. O’Connor himself finished off a fine move then to complete his hat-trick and put the score at 33-10 to Killorglin with 5 minutes to go. Bantry got a consolation try at the death and converted to make the final score: Killorglin 33 – 17 Bantry. Every one in the Blue jersey played well on the day, especially the heavy hitting Andrew O’Reilly and Brendan ‘Fox’ O’Sullivan, the high-flying Greg Bird and Paul O’Connor who got a massive 20 point haul.
Killorglin team:- 1 KJ Daly, 2 JP Kissane, 3 J ‘Twin’ O’Sullivan, 4 F Foley, 5 C Stephens, 6 S Joy, 7 G Birdthistle, 8 B ‘Fox’ O’Sullivan, 9 D Coffey, 10 R Curtayne (c), 11 T West, 12 A O’Reilly, 13 K Crowley, 14 J Riordan, 15 Paul O’Connor
Subs used:- D Flynn for Kissane, V O’Callaghan for Riordan

CLONAKILTY RFC
Loosehead PRO

Clonakilty Almost There

Clonakilty 12 Midleton 9

Barring the most bizarre series of results next weekend Clonakilty will secure a top- four championship play off spot for the second year in succession. Last year Clonakilty contested the Division Three Championship and won the title defeating Bruff in the semi-final in The Vale and Suttonians in the final in Lansdowne Road. This year they will contest the Division Two championship facing Greystones or Old Belvedere in the semi-final away to their opponents and the other in the final at a venue to be confirmed as Lansdowne Road is being redeveloped. The four points secured in defeating Midleton last Saturday has all but guaranteed the West Cork Club their day in the sun for the second year in a row. It was not an easy victory and it was Carlow and Dublin University all over again as Clonakilty dominated the game but looked destined for defeat until a piece of Alfie Harte magic changed all in injury time.

It was a beautiful day in The Vale with the pitch and conditions perfect and suiting the running game synonymous with Clonakilty. This running game was much in evidence as Clon took control from the kick off and dominated the possession and territorial statistics for the entire first half. It was the opinion of all observers from both sides that Clon could have been 30 points to the good by half time. Instead they were three points to nil down at the break from a penalty having been unable to convert any of the many scoring opportunities created. It started from the kick off when a great take from Paul Dillon and a well-supported driving run took play from the Clon 22 to the Midleton 22 where a knock on gave Midleton relief. Then good work from Eddie Knowles earned Clon a penalty and Cribb gave Clon the lineout just outside deep in the visitors half. A series of attacks had Midleton defending desperately but another penalty for holding lifted the siege. Against the run of play it was the East Cork men that opened the scoring with a penalty from Tyrone Taipea. A lineout move from the front had Alfie Harte and Declan Coppinger heading for the line but a knock on put paid to that chance.

Superb back play and angles saw Derek Dillon at pace receiving a sublime inside pop from brother Paul and crossing the line but he was called back for a forward pass. A great penalty kick to the corner from Cribb came to nothing when Midleton pinched the throw. Clon’s mistakes were keeping the visitors in the game. Dan Spencer had an opportunity but chose to feed Shay O’Donovan 15 metres out but he winger was covered. John O’Donnell was also close but the ball was slow in reaching him and the defence recovered. Mike Keohane started another move and a great run from Mike O’Hea took play into the Midleton 22. Paul Dillon fielded the clearance and he transferred quickly to Alfie Harte in midfield. Derek Dillon, O’Donnell and Paul Dillon combined well and won a penalty at the breakdown but the kick was just wide.

Fabulous play from the home side had the ball transferring through the whole team with forwards and backs interchanging effortlessly and O’Hea just hauled into touch five metres from the line. The same player stole the lineout and his lunge for the line was just short. The one time that Midleton threatened Clon’s scrum drove them off the ball and regained possession from a penalty for holding on the ground. Yellow cards for Alfie Harte and Midleton’s second rower, O’Connor disrupted both sides and probably Clon more so yet a series of penalties to Clon just before half time were all off the mark and Clon had absolutely nothing to show for their total dominance.

The second half started as the first had finished with Clon turning the screw. The kick off was well chased and Dan Spencer pressured the kick for a Clon lineout on the visitors 22. Once again the attacking opportunity came to nothing as Midleton took Clon’s ball. Clon’s attacks were producing gritty and desperate defence from the visitors and inevitably they transgressed and another player was yellow carded for repeated infringements. Another penalty for Clon was missed but the deserved breakthrough eventually came with a superb try from John O’Donnell. O’Donnell’s strength in the tackle was a feature. Double-teamed by the defence a metre from the left touchline it was nothing short of miraculous that he managed to twist and stay in the field of play. The recycled ball was moved across the backline and O’Donnell popped up on the right to finish the move. The conversion was missed bringing to 14 the number of points that the normally reliable Clon kickers had failed to take. However Clon were in the lead 5 – 3 and it was expected that they would go on from that score to pull away convincingly.

It didn’t happen and Taipea restored the lead to Midleton with a penalty and when he increased the lead with another there were serious doubts surfacing. Midleton were being beaten everywhere except on the scoreboard and in their hearts. They never once dropped their heads and looked as if they would get the points they so desperately needed with full time on the clock. Then came the Alfie Harte magic touch. Clon with typical determination produced a barnstorming finish with Tadhg Wright prominent. Wave after wave of assaults with great ball retention and recycling established a strong field position in injury time. The forwards picking and driving sucked in the defence and created an overlap for Clon. Harte had the ball but there was a danger of the ball not reaching the unmarked players through the hands as space was running out with the defence closing 15 metres from the line. The hooker with great awareness put in a perfectly weighted cross kick that beat the defence. It did not bounce kindly and was helped on by O’Hea into the path of Spencer. The big prop only had to drop on the ball for the try but was taken out from behind. There could be no argument and indeed there were no protests from Midleton as referee Trevor Collins went straight for the posts to award he penalty try. The conversion from Cribb gave Clon a12 – 9 victory that, while deserved, had not looked likely in the dying minutes, as the East Cork defence had been superb.

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, Tadhg Wright, Declan Coppinger, Mike Keohane, Joe Knowles, Hugh O’Neill, Eoin Scannell (Capt), Lenny Harte and Felim O’Neill.

Clon will now focus on the big game this Saturday as they travel to Limerick to take on the might of Garryowen in Dooradoyle. This AIB All Ireland Cup semi-final is being televised by RTE for the Against The Head programme such is its stature in the rugby calendar. Garryowen’s 39 – 5 drubbing of Blackrock College last Saturday is ominous for the West Cork men but Terenure and Greystones will have warned the Limerick men against complacency. Likely division one top four championship finalists, Garryowen will be the biggest challenge Clon have faced to date.

Bulldogs
Skibbereen 18 Clonakilty 14

The Bulldogs travelled to Skibbereen in confident mood at the end of their excellent league winning season. They returned to Clonakilty with their tails between their legs however, chastened by a narrow loss to their neighbours in the semi final of the J3 Cup. Having beaten Skibb twice in the league they had every right to expect to repeat the dose but they came up against a strengthened, committed and skilful unit and also it is fair to say they contributed to their own downfall.

Clonakilty started brightly and were winning the early battles at the set-pieces as the front-row of Stephen Lowney, Cathal Kirby and Mike Murphy were posing problems for the opposition at scrum time while John O’Regan and Brian Blackwell were punishing any loose Skibb throwing at the line-out. Early pressure led to Clon seizing the lead through the boot of fly-half Joe Lee who slotted a long-range penalty after some indiscretion by the Skibb forwards at the ruck.

Skibb’s aggression was restricting the flow of the Clon play and on fifteen minutes the visitors suffered a blow as captain Mike Murphy sustained a heavy tackle and was forced to retire. With Clon still adapting to the introduction of the new personnel, Skibb nipped in at the corner for a try, exploiting some hesitancy in the Clon defence to take a 5-3 lead. The visitors regrouped and, following sustained pressure on the Skibb defence with Jonas Harte in particular leading the charge, Joe Lee restored Clon’s advantage with another well-taken penalty, punishing further Skibb indiscipline at the breakdown.

Right on the verge of half-time Clon were left ruing further defensive deficiencies. Ironically it was Clonakilty’s senior physiotherapist, scrum-half Dave Williams, who was Clon’s tormenter-in-chief. A series of jinking runs and a searing counter-attack by Williams led to Skibb possession inside the Clonakilty 22. The Skibb out-half exploited the out-numbered defence on the far side of the pitch with a cleverly-weighted cross-field kick to restore the lead to Skibb at 10-6 with a try.

The introduction of Lenny Harte tightened the defence in the second half and the pressure slowly began to mount on Skibb as Clon, driven on by the determination of Alan Harte and Bartle Murphy, began to threaten. The introduction of Kenneth O’Regan also served to strengthen the Clon effort. After swapping penalties to bring the score at 13-9, it seemed that Skibb had reorganised their defensive line well. The Clon attacks were stemmed but outstanding young prospect J.D. O’Mahony did well to evade the covering tackles by cleverly switching play to the blind-side and scampering over the line for an excellent score as the lead again switched hands.

The resulting touchline conversion into a gusting wind was well-struck by Joe Lee, leading to a division amongst the touch-judges as to whether it had bisected the uprights. "The Bear", Clon’s flagman was sure it had gone over but the Skibb touch judge was not so sure and the referee controversially disallowed the two points. Clon retained the slenderest of leads at 14-13 with ten minutes of play remaining. The outstanding score of the game arrived at this juncture as some wonderful ball-handling and off-loading from Skibb led to the winning unconverted try. Clon’s grandstand finish did not yield any further score as Skibb stood strong taking advantage of the strong wind at their backs to relieve pressure at every opportunity while Clon will inevitably wonder why they failed to make better use of speedster Killian O’Donovan who was left kicking his heels on the wing throughout the game.

Despite the inevitable disappointment of Clonakilty to have come so close to reaching the chance for a historic double, Skibbereen were worthy winners on the day. fixture. The balance swung right throughout the game and the outcome remained uncertain right up until the final whistle as Clon fought hard to steal a late winner in vain. The quality of play demonstrated by both sides impressed the assembled onlookers from both West Cork towns and with the number of youngsters participating it should be a source of encouragement for the futures of both clubs.

Skibb will now await the outcome of the other semi-final between Kanturk and Fermoy for the opportunity to win the coveted J3 league. Clonakilty will reflect on a season that came perilously close to perfection, having lost only three matches at this level throughout the entire season in all competitions, including two narrow semi-final defeats Last week’s league victory will remain a source of immense satisfaction for all associated with Clonakilty R.F.C

The squad was: Squad:, Stephen Lowney, Cathal Kirby, Michael Murphy (Capt), Jonas Harte, Bartle Murphy, Alan Harte, Brian Blackwell, John O’Regan, Ian Murphy, Joe Lee, James Kingston, Conor Moloney, J.D. O’Mahony, Killian O’Donovan, Gearoid O’Rourke, Kieran Terry, Hugh O’Neill, Kevin O’Regan, Tim Walsh, Tim Boohig, Lenny Harte, Phil Hayes and Mike Buckley. The manager was Kevin Dillon and Senior Bagman Gerry O’Sullivan also officiated.

This Weekend’s Fixtures: It is unfortunate for Clon that the under 20s All Ireland semi-final clashes with the senior game on Saturday.

March Sat 31 Seniors AIB All Ireland Cup Semi-Final Garryowen Limerick 2.30
Under 20 All Ireland Semi-Final Kilfeacle The Vale 2.30
April Sun 1 Extra-Firsts Cork Junior League Quarter-Final Sunday’s Well The Vale 2.30

OLD CRESCENT RFC NEWS

Pat Rickard PRO

A very busy week of action on the playing front!!

Our 1st XV made their final journey of the regular season on Saturday when they travelled to North County Dublin to play Suttonians in the first ever fixture between the sides. With still a mathematical chance of making the playoffs it was important that we continued our recent run of good performances. We started brightly and went into the lead with a try from Lorcan Bourke excellently converted by Brian Begley.
However we then proceeded to let our opponents back into the match by conceding a penalty which was dispatched to cut our lead to 4 points. We extending our lead back to 7 points with another Brain Begley penalty and held this lead into the interval. The second half of this game was a scrappy affair with our only score coming from the boot of Brain Begley and with Suttonians scoring a unconverted try and were unlucky not to add when a knock on in the in goal area deprived them of another try. We held on to win by 13 points to 8 and still maintain a slim chance of making the final four but we are dependant on results elsewhere working out in our favour. This weekend the 1st take on Nenagh Ormond in a friendly in Rosbrien on Saturday at 3pm.
The 3rd XV made the short journey to Dooradoyle to play our near neighbours Garryowen in the semi final of the Webb Cup. This was a typical derby encounter with both teams playing with passion and commitment. Defences were on top and there were very few try scoring chances created. Our team played some excellent rugby and were perhaps a tad unfortunate not to win the game. It finished 6 points apiece after 80 minutes and the teams could still not be separated after 20 minutes of extra time. The replay takes place on Saturday in Rosbrien at 1pm and we would encourage as many members as possible to attend to support the team.
The under 20s returned to competitive action on Sunday when they hosted St.Senan’s in the North Munster under 20 cup. Despite not having played for a number of weeks, they put in a n excellent performance winning by 28 points to 12. They now face Kilfeacle in the next round.
It was an extremely busy Sunday for our under age section with no fewer than 5 age groups in action. The under 10s hosted Abbeyfeale, Newport and Young Munster in a club day and both our sides put in brave displays. The under 11s hosted Newcastle West and our two sides winning two drawing one and losing one of the four matches played. The under 13s travelled to Young Munster and were narrowly defeated in the under 13 cup while the under 14s hosted Bruff and were winners by 34 points to 22. The under 16s were also at home on Sunday playing St. Senans in a league fixture in which they were victorious. But the highlight of the weekend was the visit of the Heineken Cup and a number of Munster players to the club. This was part of the under 11 coffee morning to raise funds for their upcoming trip to the UK. The amount of buzz generated by the visit of the players and the trophy was amazing. Watching this all made us all the more proud of this fine Munster team and the individuals comprising it and the off field personnel too and we wish the best of luck to Declan and the team on Friday evening in Llanelli as they defend the Heineken Cup. Ken Lyons and Brian Nolan, both Old Crescent stalwarts, and Munster Branch representatives were present too- amongst a number of our club past presidents who also attended. Our thanks to the Munster Branch for making the Cup available to us and to Ian Fleming who minded it throughout the morning.
Lastly thanks to the raffle sponsors and winners – Kay Lawlor and Susan Hanrahan winners of 2 I Keano tickets compliments of Michael Murphy at The University Concert Hall and to Robert Mc Killican winner of lunch for two at the Clarion Hotel, compliments of Maria O’Gorman Skelly at The Clarion.
Training for all age groups on Sunday commencing at 9.45am.
Finally this week safe journey to those members traveling to North Wales to support Munster this weekend.


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