Cashel 23 Cork Con 20
In the greatest day in Cashel RFC’s 92 year history, a Cashel man got to lift the biggest cup of them all, the Munster Junior Cup. This was a proud day to be a Cashel man, as the 15 players on the pitch were not just playing for themselves but for every Cashel rugby player and fan both past and present. They won this cup the hard way as the fought like tigers for 80 minutes and simply refused to leave the cup behind.
The opening minutes were always going to be tough as Cork Con like to gain the upper hand from the start and they usually don’t concede it for the match. Cashel however knew that it was them that needed to get their noses in front and on the 6th minute they did just that. A wayward kick by Cork Con was fielded by Daragh O’Brien just inside his own half with time and space and he decided to use it, He took off down the line and ghosted past the first man, he took the tackle from the covering defence but off loaded the ball to John Ed O’Connor.
He continued the move as he drove deep into Cork Con’s 22 and in a great piece of support play Eoin O’Connor was right on his shoulder when John Ed got tackled and he crashed over the line as the Cork Con full back could not stop the Cashel man. This was a top try at any level and it showed just how dangerous Cashel could be with the ball in hand.
O’Brien finished off the try with a touch line conversion to put Cashel 7 nil ahead.
This try rattled Cork Con and five minutes later Cashel nearly added to the score as John Ed split the Cork defence with only a great tackle preventing him going all the way. After this scare Cork Con decided to keep the game tight and just simply not give the ball to Cashel. They got their big pack rumbling and they picked and drove their way into Cashel’s 22. The Cashel defence was superb but unfortunately this came at a cost as Cashel had two men sent to the sin bin. Even with 13 men they managed to hold Cork Con out, but 13 men can only do so much and eventually Cork Con broke the Cashel line and scored a try in the corner on the 30th minute. A great conversion from the touch line saw Cork Con level the scores at 7 all.
Although Cashel conceded the try they did use up all of the time for their sin binned players and at the kick off they came back onto the pitch. They made an immediate impact as Cork Con themselves conceded a penalty in their own half. Up stepped they ever reliable Daragh O’Brien to put Cashel 10-7 ahead and that’s how it stayed to half time.
Cork Con got the upper hand early in the second half and they levelled the scores on the 45th minute with another well taken penalty. They continued this dominance and 5 minutes later they went ahead for the first time with another penalty. Cashel at this stage looked in danger of drifting out of the game. Although their defence was excellent they just could not get their hands on the ball.
Defence however can be a form of attack and a great turn over saw Cashel break down the line, Brendan O’Connor drove through the winger and found himself with open field in front of him and just before he was tackled by the covering Cork Con defence he off loaded to Ed Leamy who great speed as he raced 40 yards down the touch line to score in the corner to make it 17-13.
From the kick off Cork Con pressed Cashel, a rushed pass by Cashel saw the Cork Con winger intercept and race down the pitch to score Cork Con’s second try. This was converted and put Cork Con again ahead at 20-17.
There were 15 minutes left and for many players probably the last 15 minutes they would ever play in a Junior Cup. However Cashel were immense. The players shrugged off conceding the try and they threw everything they had at the Cork Con men.
It was now the Cork men on the back foot as they tried desperately to keep Cashel out. This defence came at a cost as they conceded two penalties in a five minute spell. As ever O’Brien calmly kicked Cashel into the lead at 23-20. After his last penalty Cashel had 8 minutes left in the match. It was now Cork Con who had to dig deep. And dig deep they did as they set up camp in Cashel’s 22. Cashel defence as it has been all season was a rock. Not once in these last 8 minutes did Cork Con get behind them. Cashel discipline was fantastic as they never conceded a kickable penalty. After 4 minutes of injury time the referee blew the final whistle to this top class cup final. The Cashel crowd went hysterical at the final whistle as everyone invaded the pitch to celebrate with the team.
Captain Brendan O’Connor stood proudly in front of the Cashel crowd as he accepted the cup from his grandfather Eddie Ryan. This moment showed what this Cup means to people in Munster. In 1954 Eddie failed to lift the Cup but 57 years later he did as he gave it to his grandson. Brendan expressed this as he told everyone that the Munster Junior Cup wasn’t won by the 20 players that played but it was won by everyone in the club both past and present that believed in Cashel RFC.
Cashel squad: Howard Stanley, Robert Coates, Ed Horgan, Ailbe Devitt, Eoin O’Connor, John Ed O’Connor, Brendan O’Connor, Ed Leamy, Ollie McGlinchey, Conor Quinlan, Pat O’Connor, Brian Silke, Rory O’Connor, Kevin Quinlan, Daragh O’Brien, Alan Guiry, Michael Kelly, Phily Ryan, Diarmuid O’Connor, Kevin Leamy, Jack Ryan, John Silke. Coach: Ian Dunne, Manager James Hanly