Clonmel U19’s travelled to Cork on Saturday to take on senior club Highfield in the Pan Munster semi final. Clonmel entered the game as underdogs being the first Clonmel underage team to reach this stage of the competition.
Clonmel elected to play up the hill in the first half and started the game like men possessed. It was clear from the kick off that both teams came to play and Clonmel took the game to Highfield in the opening exchanges. Relentless pressure for the first ten minutes reaped reward with a Dylan Cadogan penalty to open the scoring. Highfield settled into the game after this and the match ebbed and flowed with massive tackles being made by both teams and great carries from both backs and forwards.
Highfield finally got a lucky break when they managed to slip in for a try just before half time. With the score at 5-3 Clonmel tried to play the game at an even higher pace to stretch the Highfield defence, unfortunately in trying to play they conceded a penalty on the stroke of half time for Highfield to lead at the break 8-3.
Clonmel had the advantage of the hill in the second half and Dylan Cadogan began the second half playing the percentages and pinning Highfield into their own half. The pressure began to mount as Clonmel attacked Highfield in waves. Great carries by the forwards and varying this with decisive backline attacks finally yielded its just reward with a great try when Billy O’Kelly was driven over by his fellow forwards - 8-8 and game on. Both sides went at each other in an effort to break the deadlock. Every single Clonmel player stood up and was counted, made the crucial tackles and carried the hard yards.
Disaster struck with 4 minutes to go when the Highfield 10 was tackled short of the line but managed to reach to touch down for the decisive score to make it 13-8. For the last 4 minutes Clonmel tried everything possible to get the try they so badly wanted but alas it was not meant to be.
This game could have gone either way and Highfield’s delight at the end was evident to the fact they were very very fortunate to come away with the win. Clonmel can be very proud of themselves. They were involved in a fantastic game of rugby played to the highest standard. On another day they would be preparing for a Munster Final.
Now they must pick themselves up to prepare for the East Munster cup campaign. A big thank to all the great support that travelled to the game, the team sponsor Glessons Bar and Martin’s Fruit and Veg for the box of fruit.
Squad for the day was - Billy O’Kelly, Dave O’Callaghan, Zbigniew Lukasinsk, Joel O’Dwyer, Ryan Gallagher, Podge Keating, Joey Purtill, Daragh Foley, Alex Sheehan, Dylan Cadogan, Conor Tobin, Aidan Rea, Stephen Carey, Luke Boland, Darren Cass, Barry Mulcahy, Daniel Ronan, Stuart MacLeod, Aaron Eade, Adam Gillessen, Ethan Mulvee, Sean Toomey, Joseph Keane.
The Club extends its gratitude to this excellent team and their triumvirate of super coaches PJ Mulcahy, Ed Flannery and Brian Condon who has recently joined the coaching staff as backs coach. Well done to all !!
Fixtures: 1st XV play Ennis RFC in the Munster Junior Cup at home in Clonmel. Kick-off is at 2.00pm.