When the going gets tough the tough get going. After the poor performance in Dublin against Old Wesley there was much soul searching in Cashel. The players and coaching staff realised there was a need to up the physicality and Tuesday night’s training session was not for the faint hearted judging by the number of bumps and bruises evident later in the week.
There was an air of anticipation on Saturday as the game against City of Derry RFC approached. Derry shaded the early exchanges with their heavier pack taking the game to Cashel. The Cashel defence was in much better shape and there was no way through for Derry. Cashel fought for every ball as if their lives depended on it. Philly Ryan had to leave the field after 10 when stitches burst after a collision. He was replaced by Michael Cross who went on to have an excellent game. The pack slowly got on top and some good interplay brought them into the Derry half.
On 17 minutes Cashel were awarded a penalty which Pat O’Connor kicked. This was cancelled out a minute later by Derry and as the game went from end to end Pat O’Connor put Cashel 6-3 ahead with a penalty on 20 minutes. On 27 minutes Cashel were awarded a penalty just inside the Derry half. Andrew Kelleher took a quick tap, passed to Rory O’Connor. Rory took it on and offloaded to John Ed O’Connor who fed Brian Silke who scored in the corner. It was an excellent try with excellent passing right through.
Three minutes later Derry narrowed the gap with a penalty. At this stage Cashel were in control. The scrum was good as was the lineout. The front row of Howard Stanley, Danny Lambe and hooker Cian O’Donnell were more than a match for Derry. O’Donnell had an excellent game and carried a lot of good ball all day. Cross and Sean Walsh were excellent and the back row of Ed Leamy, Brendan O’Connor and above all John Ed O’Connor was magnificant. He covered every blade of grass and put in some huge hits. Three minutes before half time Giles Boland, Brian Silke, Rory O’Connor and John Ed O’Connor ran with great determination. A definite try was on but Derry deliberately knocked on. Their player was sent to the bin and Pat O’Connor kicked the penalty to leave the half time score, 14-6.
The second half started at a higher pace again and Cashel used the maul to great effect to bring the ball to half way. Ten minutes into the second half Brian Silke left the field with a rib injury. He was relaced by Alan O’Donnell. Silke had been playing well on his first day back in 6 weeks following injury. On 52 minutes Derry narrowed the gap to 5 points with a penalty. Again the play was going from end to end and one slip could have been fatal. On 62 minutes Cashel were awarded a penalty. They opted for a scrum as at this stage Derry were down to 14 men.The scrum went down 3 times and eventually the referee lost patience and awarded a penalty try to Cashel which Pat O’Connor converted.
For the last 10 minutes Derry threw everything into attack. The defence stood solid. With 4 minutes left Alan O’Donnell put in a wondeful tackle and Cashel cleared the danger. The backs were well organised. Andrew Kelleher had a good game as had his replacement Michael Hickey. Conor Quinlan at out half had a solid game. The combination of Silke and Giles Boland in the centre was excellent. Rory O’Connor and Kevin Quinlan were full of running and Pat O’Connor had a very good day at full back. Overall this was a much better performance from Cashel. With 4 wins out of 7 it leaves Cashel in the top eight of the table going into the Christmas break. The physical demands of this division are greater than Division 2B was last year but Cashel are holding their own and can look forward to the second half of the league in the new year.
Cashel; H Stanley, C O’Donnell, D Lambe, P Ryan, S Walsh, E Leamy, J E O’Connor, B O’Connor, A Kelleher, C Quinlan, R O’Connor, B Silke, G Boland, K Quinlan, P O’Connor, P Maher, M Cross, I Stanley, A O’Donnell, M Hichey
Munster Senior Seconds League
Highfield 20 Cashel 11
On Sunday Cashel travelled to Cork for a league match with Highfield. Down a number of players due to injury they still turned in an excellent performance against a much bigger Highfield team playing at home. Highfield had the upper hand early on but gradually Cashel got into the game. Astute kicking by Ollie McGlinchey and Darren McGrath kept Highfield in their own half. In the first 20 minutes Cashel lost Kieran Gleeson with a broken nose and Pat O’Connor with a dislocated shoulder. The penalty count for some reason was 6-0 against Cashel at this stage.
However they stuck to their task and were rewarded after 20 minutes when from a scrum on the right Darren McGrath fed Ollie McGlinchey, Darragh O’Brien cut in from full back and the ball went through Alan O’Donnell, Andrew Wallace to Frank Kelleher who scored in the corner.The heavy Highfield pack forced their way over for a try on 36 minutes but Ollie McGlinchey had Cashel ahead 8-5 at half time with a penalty.
There is a consideable slope in the Highfiled pitch and Cashel had to play up hill in the second half. They started well and within 2 minutes McGlinchey had them 6 points ahead with a penalty. Highfield turned up the heat and on 48 minutes a cross kick by the Highfield out half was caught by the winger who touched down in the corner. Cashel were still ahead with 16 minutes left in the game. The ball was brought into contact on the halfway line. The Highfiled tackler did not release the Cashel player but the decision went against Cashel for holding on. A penalty which should have gome Cashel’s way went Highfield’s way. They kicked to the corner, used the maul to great effect and scored in the corner. Cashel in injury time were holding on for a losing bonus point but they could not hold out and Highfield scored a try to secure a bonus point win which was cruel justice. Each Cashel player from 1 to 20 played his heart out and it was an excellent performance which did not reap a point which would have been well deserved. Cashel - I Stanley, T Flynn, C O’Donnell, K Gleeson, A Dwyer, P Maher, N Fitzgerald, A Downey, D McGrath, O McGlinchey, A O’Donnell, A Wallace, M O’Connor,P O’Connor, F Kelleher, K Sweeney, M Cross, F McCormack, D O’Brien, J Ryan.