Cashel RFC 20 Rainey Old Boys 17 It is not easy make history but that is exactly what Cashel RFC did on Saturday as this extraordinary team became the first team in the history of the All Ireland League to win 100% of their league games. The game was played on a pitch lovingly managed and manicured all season by Diarmuid O’Connor and it was as if the grass stood tall to salute this wonderful achievement and Galtee Mor looked down on this great bunch of young Tipperary men who have gone to the four corners of the country and played a wonderful brand of rugby.
They are a credit to their families and club. They have been brilliantly coached by Ian Dunne and Greg Oliver and the back room team of Davina Hanly, Denis Moran, James Hanly, Sean Curry, John O’Connor and Brian O’Doherty have worked hard all season to support the effort.
Rainey had a powerful scrum and they attacked Cashel in that area all day. However Cashel drew first blood after 10 minutes when Pat O’Connor kicked a penalty from 35 yards. In the 18th minute Rainey were awarded a scrum on halfway. As the ball was picked by the number eight, Ollie McGlinchey pounced, dispossessed him and offloaded to Ed Leamy who as he has done so many times headed for the tryline and scored a great try which O’Connor converted.
Rainey replied with a try which left it 10-5 at the break.
On 47 minutes the Rainey forwards worked very hard to score an excellent try which they converted. The fat was now in the fire and it seemed to spark a Cashel revival. Brian Silke carried deep into Rainey territory. Rory O’Connor and Kevin Quinlan were also running hard at the Rainey defence. Pat O’Connor kicked a good penalty to edge Cashel a point ahead.
With 20 minutes left the turning point came. Kevin Leamy kicked a great ball to touch from inside his 22. He was tackled late and Cashel were awarded a penalty on half way. Conor Quinlan kicked well to touch and from the lineout the Cashel forwards pounded the Rainey defence which eventually opened when the ball went from the left hand side of the field through the backs to Kevin Quinlan who scored in the corner. O’Connor kicked an excellent conversion and the blood pressure of the Cashel supporters began to lower.
It did not stay low for too long as Rainey were awarded a penalty on the Cashel 22 with 7 minutes remaining. Once again their scrum half took a quick tap and scored a try in the corner. From then to the finish it was all hands to the pump as Rainey came after the win. The Cashel defence held solid and the final whistle was greeted by a very loud cheer from the loyal Cashel supporters.
The front row of Michael Kelly, Tommy Flynn and Howard Stanley had to work very hard all day in the scrum. Danny Lambe when introduced was excellent. Sean Walsh and Ailbe Devitt were very effective in the lineout. Again Tommy Flynn’s throwing was top drawer. Philip Ryan and Michael Cross both contributed when introduced with Philip’s experience steadying the ship. The back row of Ed Leamy, John Ed O’Connor and captain Brendan O’Connor were superb. Ollie McGlinchey had a very lively game and Conor Quinlan marshalled the back line very well. Pat O’Connor and Brian Silke in the centre defended very well. Silke made some decisive runs into Rainey territory throughout the game and O’Connor kicked very well. The back three of Kevin Leamy, Kevin Quinlan and Rory O’Connor defended well and were always dangerous on the ball.
Once again Michael Hickey made a serious contribution when he came on. Colin Morrissey defended well when he got his chance and put in a very vital crunching tackle late in the game. The many other players who were not involved in the final day panel must not be forgotten. Some were injured, some were not selected and some were not available but their contribution throughout the season is very much appreciated. They are Lloyd Foote, Eoin O’Connor, Emmett Hall, David McCormack, Kieran Merrigan, Darragh O’Brien, Alan O’Donnell, Jack Ryan, Barry Moloney, Alan Guirey and Conor Byrne. The All Ireland League Trophy, Cashels first senior trophy, was presented to captain Brendan O’Connor by Nicholas Comyn representing the IRFU. It brought the curtain down on a great season for this team and everybody involved can be very proud of this achievement.
Cashel 7 Clonmel 10
Cashel’s third team were narrowly defeated in extra time by Clonmel in the Evans Cup on Saturday. The teams ended normal time at 7 all. The Cashel try was scored by Cathal Ryan which Frank Kelleher converted. The only score in extra time was the winning penalty scored by Clonmel. This is a very young Cashel team with many future players in it ranks. There were also a number of players in the twilight of their careers namely, Eamon Foley, James Hannigan, Dermot O’Brien and Alan Downey. The team was coached by Denis Leamy and managed by John Brosnan.
Cashel 2nds play the final of the Garryowen Cup this week against Nenagh. Watch out for details.