When the final whistle of extra time blew in Clanwilliam last Sunday it was a bit like being in Murrayfield at the Scotland v Ireland game a few weeks ago – neither side could believe what had just happened.
Clonmel started off this Munster Junior Cup game against Clanwilliam in great spirit, panache, and a will to win.
Playing with a strong wind at their backs, Clonmel were dominant in the first half. Everything just clicked for them, they could do no wrong.
Conor Cooney, playing at fullback, repeatedly kicked Clonmel into good attacking positions deep inside the Clanwilliam half of the pitch. Sure enough with two minutes remaining in the first half, Clonmel were leading 16 points to nil, the scores coming from two tries and two penalty kicks.
The first try was a beauty. Clonmel had a loose maul inside the Clanwillam half, near the ten meter line. Colm O’Connell slips the ball to Morgan Lyons who deftly passes to the oncoming, at speed, Stephen Pyke. Pyke made 25 meters with Clanwilliam players bouncing off him before he gave a wonderful pass to David Lonergan on the wing to score a try.
The second try started with a tremendous clearance from Conor Cooney from inside his own 22. He kicked the ball and made touch just outside the Clanwilliam 5 meter line. The touch judge deemed the Clanwilliam winger to have touched the ball before it went out over the side line. Clonmel took a clean line out and were mauling their way towards the line when Clanwilliam pull the maul down. Penalty to Clonmel. Clonmel kick for touch, win the line out and start the maul again. Donnacha Cambell peeled off the maul to spin and touch down. The two penalties were from the boot of Conor Cooney.
Clanwilliam’s only reply in the first half was a well struck penalty kick from fullback Robert Doyle.
Within a minute of resumption of play in the second half, Clonmel had restored their 16 point lead with a penalty kick from Conor Cooney.
The large crowd could sense that Clonmel were on a winner here. But alas Clanwilliam had other ideas. Probably it was that they just did not want to be totally embarrassed by getting a routing from Clonmel, but Clanwilliam stemmed Clonmel’s flow and began to fight back.
Seven minutes into the second half, Robert Doyle of Clanwilliam started a run from within his own 22. After 13 phases of play and nearly every Clanwilliam player touching the ball and Clonmel defending fiercely, Doyle was at the end of the line to collect the final pass and sail past the overly stretched Clonmel defence to score in the corner. Doyle converted his own try. So now the score was Clonmel 19, Clanwilliam 10, but Clonmel played so well in the first half there was no need to worry at this stage, they would get back into form again.
However, unfortunately, this was not to be the case. Once Clanwilliam got the momentum going it was very difficult for Clonmel to stop their advancement. Over the next fifteen minutes most of the play was inside Clonmel’s half between the half way and 22. During this time Clonmel conceded five penalties, three of which Robert Doyle converted to bring the score to Clonmel 19, Clanwilliam 16.
With 18 minutes remaining it was all to play for. Clonmel did try very hard and had their chances to close out the game, but they also spilled a lot of ball which allowed Clanwilliam to break out from their 22. In the third minute of injury time Clanwilliam were awarded another penalty, a difficult angle and range for Doyle, but he converted to bring the game into extra time.
With ten minutes of extra time each way to be played it looked like a case of “next score wins”. In the seventh minute Clanwilliam were awarded another penalty just outside the Clonmel 22. Doyle converts again. For the remainder of the first half of extra time and throughout most of the second half, Clonmel had the lion’s share of possession and territorial advantage. But alas they could not translate their supremacy into scores. As a result, the stunned, winners on the day were Clanwilliam by 22-19.
Overall the Clonmel team played very well, they defended well and tried their best. Even though all played very well, it is worth mentioning a few stalwarts that remained consistent throughout the whole day – Mike Sheehan and Stephen Pyke in the forwards and Greg Carroll and Conor Cooney in the backs.
Whelan in superb kicking form for u-15s
On a freezing cold winter’s morning at the toe-end of March, Clonmel’s under 15 team played Clanwilliam on a tough pitch in Tipperary town. Clonmel were coming into this game sore after a bruising encounter the previous week against Dungarvan which left bodies and souls on the floor. The adverse winter conditions left Clonmel short a number of players, so they travelled to the game short of a number of front line players. The team management have emphasised to the team how important the whole squad was and today was the day to put their theorising to the test.
Clanwilliam gave Clonmel an early sharp shock. A beautifully floated kick off from Gavan Whelan was fielded eventually by the Clanwilliam centre who ghosted his way through the Clonmel defence. The Clan ten converted. Clonmel heads could easily have gone down but they refused to. They stayed calm, gathered themselves and struck back immediately. Jack Lonergan scored the first of his hat trick with a fine try. Clonmel saw a crack in the Clanwilliam spirit and took advantage. Tries started flowing. Ten tries were scored in total by a number of players including Gavan Whelan, Ian Cunningham, Bradley Lyons, Daniel Hyland and the pick of the bunch by Raymond Kennedy who took advantage of a great break and fantastic offload by Michael McCarthy.
This team are at their best when they play as a team and there was a real killer instinct in the team for this game. Gavin Whelan had a huge game. He scored two tries and kicked an incredible nine conversions out of ten. That was a remarkable return for any kicker, but considering that five of the tries were scored out wide that was a fantastic kicking display. Dylan Todd worked his behind off for the entire game and did a lot of hidden work that kept the game ticking over all day. Joe Sheehan and Daragh Kelly took one half each at scrum half and both were vital in keeping their pack in line and their back line moving. when Clanwilliam went down in numbers, Dean Slattery and Jeff Van Dam manfully donned the opposition jersey and both tested their friends with great running and tackling. Indeed Jeff scored a try which was a testimony to his great attitude and skill.
Clonmel now face the task of taking on Waterpark in the plate semi-final on Easter Sunday. This game will be make or break for the season. Let’s hope that the same attitude shown against Clanwilliam will be evident on Sunday.
Fixtures: 1st XV play Newport in the Manseragh Cup at 2.30pm in Newport.
Check www.clonmelrfc.com for further details.
Kilfeacle u-13s into East Munster Cup final
Kilfeacle and District RFC U13s 24
Fethard RFC U13s 5
Kilfeacle R.F.C. welcomed Fethard side to Morrissey Park for the Semi Final of the East Munster Cup. The game was of vital importance, as the winning side would progress to the Final to face the winners of Nenagh and Waterpark. Tries by Aaron Ryan Shinner and Ben Quinn with two converted by Tony Byron.
The coach said he was delighted with the result and that the Final would be yet another fiercely contested game. However he brought it to the team’s attention that the visitors had made a game of it and that things had gone Kilfeacle’s way on the day and that he final will be a different prospect and another step up again. He continued by saying that it had been a memorable season so far but complacency could be our down fall. He wished Fethard all the best and thanked everyone for supporting the boys as the support is often the deciding factor during close and exciting games.
Kilfeacle and District RFC U17s 10
Galbally RFC U17s 31
Kilfeacle R.F.C. welcomed Galbally to Morrissey Park for the Quarter Final of the East Munster Cup. This team had put together a string of excellent results to stake a claim at honours this year and a huge stride towards the elusive prize was this enormous task of facing Galbally. Kilfeacle faced this highly fancied team for the chance of progressing further. Kilfeacle RFC were determined when they took to the pitch not to let themselves, their coaches, supporters and club down. Although facing a physically stronger and bigger team Kilfeacle accounted themselves well. When the final whistle sounded the scoreboard showed that the visitors had triumphed by 31 points to 10. Such was the effort and endeavour put into this game by Kilfeacle that the final whistle sounded to scenes of jubilation and relief amongst the visiting support. The team coaches said they were delighted with the display put in by their team and disappointed for the squad with the result. They recognised that the best team won on the day and wished Galbally success in the semi final. They asked that no individuals be singled out and that the squad as a unit be praised for their achievements this year. They thanked each and every player for their commitment. With this quality of players working through the ranks the future of Kilfeacle and District R.F.C. is safe!
Kilfeacle & District RFC hosted the 3rd Johnny Woods U12 blitz festival. Eight teams in all participated in this festival of underage rugby. Clanwilliam, Kilkenny, Cashel, Young Munster, Bruff, Waterpark and Kilfeacle with two teams all took part. All teams played a very high standard of rugby and it was a very enjoyable day on the Hill in Kilfeacle.
The weather was cold and wet but that did not dishearten the children from enjoying themselves.
In the spirit of the IRFU regulations every child who participated received a medal and some food and drink on the day. While all players from Kilfeacle were excellent on the day a few notable players were:- Keelan O’Connor, Kevin O’Connor, Eoin Doyle, Eoin Butler, Thomas Kelly, Bobby Noonan, Bobby Purcell, Larry Quinn, Jack Moriarty, Danny Ryan, Alan Flannery (Captain), Cormac Ryan, Joe Fitzgerald, Lorcan Carr, Liam Crowe and Robbie Byron.
A huge thank you to the committee, the catering parents, the Red Cross, coaches, travelling teams and organisers of this wonderful tournament which will continue in Kilfeacle each year at U12 level, so see you again next year.
Next week’s fixtures list.
Kilfeacle and District RFC versus Cork Constitution, Munster Junior Cup Quarter Final, 2.30pm on Sunday, March 31.