It was four weeks since Clonmel 1st XV last played a competitive game, and it showed. Last Sunday, playing with a very strong wind at their backs, Clonmel were outmanoeuvred, out-paced, and out skilled by a Cobh Pirates team that seemed to be more determined to win and avoid regulation with surety. As least this is the way it looked in the first half.
Clonmel had to defend for almost 35 minutes of the half. Only for the tremendous tackling of Ray Carroll in the centre, Conor Cooney at fullback, and forwards Ronan Cross, Stephen Carey, Darragh Foley, Gareth Mulcahy and Jonathan Carey (until he was replaced), Clonmel would have been totally destroyed. Ray Carroll was a big loss when he went off injured. However, Cobh Pirates scored two superbly executed tries by sucking in the Clonmel forwards and creating indefensible overlaps out wide. The first try came in the fifteenth minute when Cobh put a series of continued passes together that drew most of the Clonmel defence over to left hand side of the pitch. After eight phases of play Pirates swung the ball wide to the oncoming fullback, Eoin Geary, who scored right of the post, but missed the conversion.
The second try also involved fullback Geary. This time he broke through many of Clonmel’s attempted tackles and was well on his way for his second try when Darragh Foley came from way behind to put in a magnificent tackle. Geary turned in the tackle to pass out to the left open wing for Tom Rice to win the rest of the race to the line.
About five minutes from halftime, Clonmel made inroads into the Pirates’ 22 for only the second time in the half. They remained there for the remainder of the half, but Cobh Pirates went into the break worthy and deserving leaders at 10-0.
Things did not look good for Clonmel. But within a minute of resumption, after the kick-off from Cobh, the forwards set up a good ball for scrum half, Kevin O’Connell (who had a very good game overall), to pass to Morgan Lyons, who in turn passed to Conor Cooney. Cooney danced and jived from nearly the half way to score under the post and convert his own try. With 39 minutes remaining and the score 10-7, it was game on.
Clonmel where the better side by far in the second half with outstanding performances from Foley, Cooney, Cross and Lonergan (B). However it was another 23 minutes before Brian Lonergan rounded off his performances with a try under the post. Cooney converted to bring the score to 14-10.
Clonmel played very well for the next thirteen minutes and all they needed to do was to close the game out. But with three minutes remaining, Pirates took control of the game again inside the Clonmel 22. Once again it was their fullback Geary that crossed the line under the post. Geary converted his own try to make the final score 17-14.
So Clonmel lost the game but gained what might turn out to be a valuable losing bonus point. Before the game on Sunday Clonmel were in eighth position (mid table), “kind of safe”, but certainly not secure. However, after last Sunday’s defeat Clonmel have dropped to tenth on 26 points with one game remaining in the Munster Junior League. Closest competitors Old Christians on 24 points, Waterpark on 22 and St. Senans on 19 all have two games remaining.
Clonmel have to play Tralee (4th in League)(away); Old Christians (11th) play Galbally(9th) and Kilfeakle & District (5th); Waterpark(12th) play Crosshaven (14th) and Skibbereen(3rd); and St. Senans (13th) play Clanwilliam (15th) and Kanturk (2nd).
Clonmel need at least one point from the game versus Tralee. However, a conclusive win would be better. Is this possible ? YES. If Clonmel play as well as they did in the second half last Sunday for the full 80 minutes, then they can definitely beat Tralee.
U-19s get walk over
Last weekend Clonmel u-19s got a walkover from Young Munsters/Ennis and will now play Abbeyfeale in the Pan Munster quarter-final.
u-15s -- Clonmel vs Waterford City and Clonmel v Waterpark
Clonmel under 15 rugby team had a busy mid-term break with two games in four days against Waterford City and Waterpark. This was a difficult ask of these young lads who responded with a perfect mixture of attitude and skill.
The game against Waterford City was played in horrendous conditions in a rain sodden pitch in Waterford. Clonmel played into a Hurricane Katrina force wind in the first half and amazingly barely dropped a ball for the whole game. The boys played like they had velcro sewn into their hands as they played skilful rugby throughout. They say that forwards win matches and backs decide by how much. This was certainly the case in Waterford as the Clonmel eight took the game to their opposition giving them little space and even less of the ball. The Clonmel pack dominated their opposition winning most of the set plays and turning ball over with relentless driving through the ruck.
Clonmel won by a well-deserved 29 points to nil. Stand-out performances on the night must go to the entire back row of Bradley Lyons, Ian Cunnngham and Gavin Rae who seemed to turn up at every ruck. Jack Lonergan, Dylan Todd and Daniel Hyland carried bravely all evening.
In contrast, the game against Waterpark was played in much drier conditions in Ardgeeha although the wind hadn’t calmed in the intervening period. Clonmel got off to an extremely bright start with an early try for Raymond Kennedy coming into the line from full back and scoring in the right hand corner. Fly half and kicker Gavin Whelan converted a really difficult kick to give his team a seven point start.
Whelan in a man-of-the-match performance took the next score himself. He made a monster hit on the Waterpark full-back which was felt by all in attendance, he then had the where-with-all to collect the ball and score beneath the posts leaving himself a much easier conversion this time. This early lead allowed a little edge of complacency slip into the Clonmel ranks and Waterpark came back with a converted try just before the break.
The Clonmel players were visibly disappointed with themselves and shook themselves for the second half to take the game by the scruff again. The forwards stepped up to the plate and with a series of strong offloads and biting pick and go’s pinned the Waterpark XV back in their own 22. A great break burst from Bradley Lyons was fed to rampaging prop Luke McSweeney who mauled his way over the line before touching the ball down for a great team try.
Waterpark are a proud, well-coached club and there could be no surprise when they showed great resilience to come back at Clonmel and score two tries in quick succession. However, Clonmel had more left in the tank and proved as much with another great team try on the right wing.
This was a day in which the Clonmel backs came into their own. Waterpark threw everything at them and they defended forcefully to a man. Joe Sheehan at scrum-half bossed the game and gave smooth ball to outside half, Gavin Whelan. Whelan himself had a magnificent game in defence and attack. Outside him, Jeff Van Dam put his body on the line tackling everything that stood in his way and making a succession of line breaks. Having named individuals, it must be said that this was a real team performance by a fine group of young men who are becoming a very fine rugby team. Clonmel won this game 26 points to 17.
Clonmel U7s, 8s and 9s Take Over Musgrave park
The Clonmel u-7, u-8 and u-9 warriors left Clonmel on Saturday 9 to venture to Cork to shout for their favorite team, Munster. There was much excitement on the bus as coaches tried to explain to the kids why their hero Zebo would not be playing. One of the questions asked was “why are we going so”? That aside there was much anticipation as for most this was their first time seeing Musgrave park and for quite a few it was their first time seeing Munster play live.
After a quick stop in Cork for refreshments it was on to a very wet Musgrave Park. You could see the awe in the eyes of these young warriors as they turned the corner and saw the pitch for the first time. Not even the continuous downpour could dampen their spirits.
It was a slow-moving game until the last 20mins where it exploded into life for Munster to come home with a comfortable win on the scoreboard at least. The kids voted Ian Keatley as their man of the match. When asked why, they all said his kicking was amazing (which is now going to give all coaches nightmares and probably end up with a few rugby balls over the fence at next training session).
The trip back to Clonmel was slightly quieter (only just) as a few caught up with forty winks.
Overall this was an amazing experience for these warriors which they will always cherish. A big thanks to the coaches and parents who ensured this was a great experience for all as well as rotating the many bathroom breaks, which were a decoy by the warriors as the shop was in the same direction.
Thanks to Jonathan Duffy, Assistant Director of Rugby; Bill O’Gorman, Ticket Officer; and the Club for arranging this unforgettable venture for the u-7, u-8, and u-9 warriors.