Nenagh 30 Cashel 14
There have been many hard tough, but fair, encounters between Cashel and Nenagh over the years. This is Cashel's 6th season in the All Ireland League and Nenagh had not managed to beat them in that time.
However on Friday night, prior to the game, one detected a quiet confidence and a steely determination in the Nenagh supporters that this was not going to continue. The game was played under lights in front of a large crowd on a perfect pitch in windy conditions.
Cashel had the better start and for the first 5 minutes, owned the ball and were rewarded with a Conor Holland penalty after 5 minutes. Nenagh came storming back 5 minutes later with a penalty to level the game. Both teams played running rugby and the hits were hard, both defences good and the crowd contributing to a great atmosphere.
On 17 minutes after constant pressure Cashel were awarded a 5 metre scrum. They pushed over the line and James Ryan touched down for a try. Nenegh used the maul to great effect and 8 minutes later drove for the Cashel line.
As they went through the phases the Cashel defence stood solid. Just when it seemed the siege was lifted a Nenagh centre threw an amazing reverse pass 25 metres to the winger who crashed over for a try to level the game. It was one of those passes that could have landed in the middle of the stand as easily as the winger's hands. Once again Cashel came storming back with Conor Holland kicking them ahead with a penalty. With play going from end to there was no letup in the pace. Nenagh leveled the game two minutes before half time with a penalty. Half time score Nenagh 11 Cashel 11.
Cashel's Ed leamy, who was outstanding in the first half, did not appear for the second half due a a calf injury. One could not have anticipated the second half turnaround. Cashel attacked and missed a easy penalty three minutes into the second half and for the next 9 minutes it was honours even. Then in a 5 minute spell two Cashel mistakes resulted in two Nenagh tries.
On 52 minutes Cashel lost their own lineout on the Nenagh 22. Nenagh swept up the field and when the ball was kicked through their winger won the race for the touchdown for a converted try.
There was still time for a comeback but 5 minutes later a Cashel player was caught in possession on his own 22, Nenagh kicked to the corner and mauled over for another try to put 12 points between the sides.
Cashel came back and Ollie McGlinchey kicked a penalty 3 minutes later. Cashel did not give up the fight but the bigger Nenagh pack eventually ground them down. The Nenagh defence was solid and 5 minutes into injury time they went looking for the bonus point. The onslaught was intense and while Cashel defended like demons the defence was eventually breached and Nenagh scored another converted try. Final score Nenagh 30 Cashel 14. Nenagh fully deserved their victory and have a good look about them this season. Their tall men in the second row, John and Kevin O'Flaherty and back row players Anthony Grey and Lameka Viapula caused havoc in the lineout and were excellent around the field.
In their outhalf, Clayton Stewart, they have a player of immense talent. He pulled the strings in the backline and is an excellent kicker and they have two very pacy wingers in Ethan Maloney and Ger O'Gorman. The smaller Cashel pack did well in the scrums but fared poorly in the lineouts.
Ed Leamy, James Ryan, Phillip O'Connor and Cian O'Donnell did well. Michael Hickey had a good game at scrum half and centre Brain Silke tackled hard all night. Hard working Nenagh president Sean McCullagh had a smile as wide as the Devils Bit after the game and can look forward to a very successful season with this team. Cashel have a bit of work to do to get back on track but they have what it takes if they persevere.
Cashel : C O'Donnell, R Coates, M Ryan, P O'Connor, S Walsh, A Butler, E Leamy, J Ryan, M Hickey, C Holland, A Wallace, B Silke, C Baker, R Kingston, A O'Loughlin, N Fitzgerald, T Allen, M Crosse, O McGlinchey, J Pickering.
Nenagh : F Brislane, C Muldoon, C Gleeson, J O'Flaherty, K O'Flaherty, M Slattery, A Grey, L Viapula, P O'Leary, C Stewart, G O'Gorman, W O'Connor, W Coffey, E Maloney, M Walsh, J Healy, J Hayes, A Mackey, S Carey, D Mackey.