Extra time was needed to decide the Garryowen Cup final last Friday evening in Kilfeacle. A dramatic comeback by Clanwilliam scoring two tries in the last few minutes brought the game to extra time and then two penalties saw Clanwilliam win the cup.
Nenagh started the stronger as they attacked the Clanwilliam line from the start. After creating a few opportunities, Nenagh took the lead with a try after eight minutes play. Gradually Clanwilliam got into the match and were beginning to play the game in the Nenagh half until a clearance kick by Nenagh created problems for the Clanwilliam defence and ended in a Nenagh try. Ten minutes later with fifteen minutes of the half remaining, Nenagh scored another try against the run of play: again Clanwilliam were attacking but an intercept by Nenagh from inside their own half saw the Nenagh centre run all the way to score under the posts. Nenagh were now seventeen points ahead.
Clanwilliam rallied after this and started playing to their potential as they kept the ball alive and increased the pace of the game. Derek Shiels was moving the back-line well from out-half and Kieran Merrigan was making some telling breaks. Nenagh were defending their twenty two with multiple tackles making it difficult for Clanwilliam to convert their dominance into scores. Eventually just before half time Robert Doyle scored a try near the corner flag to leave Clanwilliam seventeen points to five in arrears at half time.
From the restart Clanwilliam gained possession in the Nenagh twenty two and after few phases play were awarded a penalty which Brian Kissane kicked. Clanwilliam were mixing their game well with the forwards taking the ball into contact and then creating space for the backline to move the ball wide. Eddie Ryan and John Redican were particularly prominent at breaking tackles and making ground. Nenagh didn’t give up space easily and a number of covering tackles kept Clanwilliam from scoring. As the half went on, Nenagh looked like they had weathered the storm as they began to gain territorial advantage coming into the final quarter. The Nenagh scrum was strong and when Nenagh scored a penalty with ten minutes remaining, it looked like ‘game up’ for Clanwilliam.
But Clanwilliam rallied again and as eighty minutes approached, Kieran Merrigan scored a try near the posts to leave a five point gap. A good take from the re-start by Paul Ryan brought play back to the half way line and Clanwilliam worked through a number of phases to get towards the Nenagh line. After a series of attempts by the forwards to drive towards the Nenagh line followed by a solid scrum, eventually Ian Quinlan was at the end of a forward drive to score a try in the corner. The conversion was narrowly wide and the final whistle signalled extra time.
Three minutes into extra time Clanwilliam took the lead with a long range penalty from Brian Kissane. After that, Nenagh were almost in for a try but were denied by the bounce of the ball. Nenagh continued to lay siege to the Clanwilliam line until Ian Quinlan made a great break up-field to relieve the pressure before half time. The last ten minutes of extra time was similar to the first ten minutes. Clanwilliam had the early advantage and took their chance with a Brian Kissane penalty but then had the survive five minutes of Nenagh dominance. First a neat chip ahead nearly caught out the Clanwilliam defence and then in the last minute of play, Nenagh were almost over the line from a maul but Clanwilliam survived to win a very exciting match.
Winning the Garryowen cup was a good way to finish a successful season for Clanwilliam. As the players have shown on a number of occasions, there was great determination in this match to battle back from such a deficit against a strong Nenagh side.
The panel in action last Friday was Robert Doyle,Padraig Ryan, Richard Childs, Kieran Merrigan, Bryan O’Rahelly, Derek Shiels, Andrew Lacey, Michael Doherty, Chris Doyle, Sean Whelan, Eddie Ryan, Brian Kissane, Paul Ryan, David McCormack, Ian Quinlan, Anthony Gilligan, John Redican, Maurice Crowe, Dermot Leahy, Gavin Ryan, Paul Costigan.