The score line of Richmond 29, Clonmel 5 belies the quality, gutsy, determined performance of the Clonmel 1st XV in Limerick last weekend.
It was a typical overcast, but mild, winter’s day.
And as always Richmond had good home support to cheer on their side. But the Clonmel supporters, although small in number, out roared the partisan home crowd.
Clonmel, missing a few players in key positions due to injury, were under pressure from the kick-off and spent the first twelve minutes defending inside their own 22.
Clonmel defended with all their might and in a disciplined manner. Eventually they broke out of their own 22 and nearly scored the opening try of the game. Alas it was not to be.
Instead Richmond were awarded a scrum within their own 22. It was a solid scrum. The ball was quickly and cleanly taken out of the scrum and passed to the outhalf. For the next two minutes both sets of spectators were treated to a spectacle of good passing, ball handling and interplay between backs and forwards.
The moves mesmerised the Clonmel backs to the extent a gaping hole appeared to leave the Richmond fullback, Garret O’Hanlon, sail through for a try under the post. The try was converted by outhalf, Brian Mullins.
However, due to Clonmel’s defensive play, with all their power, possession and territorial advantage Richmond had little more to show for their efforts until about ten minutes to halftime.
Then disaster struck on the double. First of all Clonmel had a defensive scrum on the 22. It was a solid scrum and good strike. Unfortunately the ball was not controlled well out of the scrum. The ball bobbed around in front of everybody. Stephen Clancy, Richmond’s inside centre could not believe his luck as he nonchalantly picked up the ball and walked over the line for a try. The try was converted and shortly afterwards Mullins added a penalty to the conversion.
With eight minutes and injury time remaining in the first half, it was Clonmel that finished on the upper hand. They spent most of this time inside the Richmond 22 recycling the ball about fifteen times and stretched the heavy Richmond pack to its limits.
Then, what seemed like a good idea, one of the Clonmel backs decided to chip the ball into the corner for the winger. It would have been a great score to finish the half. But unfortunately the kick was over-cooked and sailed directly into touch.
Clonmel were dominant for the first seventeen minutes of the second half, spending most of the time inside or near the Richmond 22. Then Richmond broke loose and forced Clonmel to defend their goal line again.
A good defence was rewarded with a good ruck to Clonmel ten metres out from their own try line. But Richmond piled in the bodies and turned over the ball. More swiftness of hand and foot saw Richmond flash the ball to the right wing and with a three to two overlap the Richmond fullback, O’Hanlon, scored a relatively easy try in the corner.
Shortly afterwards a mistake in a call from the referee left Clonmel exposed again to allow another Richmond centre, James Kelly, score under the post. Mullins converted to bring the score to 29 points to nil.
Most teams, even good teams, would have given up at this point. But not this Clonmel team.
For the remaining twelve minutes of the game and the ten minutes of time added on, because of a succession of penalties awarded to Clonmel, Clonmel practically owned the ball. All their hard work and effort was rewarded after five minutes when in a super move, even better than the Richmond move for their first try, Conor Cooney put Colm O’Connell away for a try.
With time quickly evaporating, Clonmel kept on trying to score to reduce the deficit and hopefully to get a valuable losing bonus point. But alas, no matter how many penalties they ran, the team just, unfortunately, ran out of time.
Overall is was a “never say die” performance from Clonmel. All nineteen players that travelled to play in Richmond deserve full credit for their efforts. They certainly, as a team, won the admiration of the supporters that travelled to the game.
All Weather Pitches
Clonmel RFC has re-launched its state of the art All Weather Pitch. Sportslawn Ireland have installed a FIFA 2 star VT60 product that meets the necessary performance requirements for top level football.
The pitches are also now fully enclosed with overhead and side netting.
Bookings are now being taken on 087-3724394 and at email@example.com
So please come along and enjoy this wonderful modern facility
1st XV play Kilfeakle & District in the Munster Junior League at home next weekend. Because of the Edinburgh v Munster Heineken Cup game date and time has to be confirmed. Check www.clonmelrfc.com for details.