â€œI am the captain of the Pinafore and a very good captain too. I am good but it must be understood I am captain of a very good crewâ€.
This is how Cashel president, Patsy Oâ€™Connor, addressed the large gathering of patrons, supporters, sponsors and volunteers at the pre-match lunch on Saturday at Spafield to kick off the new All-Ireland League season.
The overall complex looked extremely well after the refurbishments carried out during the summer by Patsyâ€™s â€œcrewâ€. Afterwards it was on to rugby and a teak tough game with Banbridge, played in a great spirit.
Banbridge took the lead with a penalty. Cashel missed a penalty in the 11th minute and in the 20th minute a clever kick ahead by Banbridge bounced kindly and they scored a very good converted try. Cashelâ€™s Brian Silke was bundled into touch on the line after a fine 30 yard run. His pass to the winger on another occasion for what would have been a certain try was deliberately knocked on and the Banbridge player received a yellow card. Jonathan Ruru kicked a fine penalty in the 27th minute to give Cashel hope but this was cancelled out 10 minutes later by a Banbridge penalty and the half time score was Cashel 3, Banbridge 13.
Cashel upped the ante in the second half and in the 55th minute Jonathan Ruru kicked a fine penalty and there was a more confident cut to the Cashel team. In the 60th minute Silke broke from halfway and offloaded to Alan Oâ€™Donnell, who brought it to the five yard line. From the queue of players available Kevin Leamy made the touchdown. Jonathan Ruru leveled the score with the conversion and Cashel were back in the game. 7 minutes later a sweeping backs movement earned a scrum on the five yard line, Banbridge conceded a penalty and Jonathan Ruru put Cashel ahead. He added a further three points on the 70th minute with a fine kick from the 10 yard line. At this stage Cashel were totally on top and they ran from all angles. John Ed Oâ€™Connor broke from the Cashel 22, he fed Brian Silke who ran deep into Banbridge territory, and Silke fed Darren McGrath who scored in the corner. Jonathan Ruru converted. The final score was Cashel 26 Banbridge 13.
It was a very competitive game and there were some excellent Cashel performances. In the front row the two under 19s, James Maxwell and Niall Fitzgerald were outstanding as was their older colleague Danny Lambe. Young Brendan Crosse and Sean Walsh were excellent. Ed Leamy was his usual self and was well supported by John Ed Oâ€™Connor and Kieran Murphy.
The half backs, Darren McGrath and Jonathan Ruru worked well together and Ruru kicked well. Alan Oâ€™Donnell and Brian Silke are coming together as a good midfield pairing. Defensively they are very solid and Silke made some excellent line breaks. The wingers Kevin Leamy and Andy Kelleher were full of running and Pat Oâ€™Connor was as solid as a rock at full back. Next Saturday Cashel travel to Naas for round two and another tough encounter is anticipated.
Cashel - J Maxwell, N Fitzgerald, D Lambe, S Walsh, B Crosse, K Murphy, J E Oâ€™Connor, E Leamy, D McGrath, J Ruru, A Kelleher, A Oâ€™Donnell, B Silke, K Leamy, P Oâ€™Connor, C Oâ€™Donnell, R Foote, K Gleeson, R Mullane, J Ryan. Andrew Wallace was unavailable due to injury.