Clonmel RFC open up eleven point lead at top of the league

Clonmel RFC open up eleven point lead at top of the league

Clonmel's Luke Hogan and Luke Noonan close in on a St.Senan's winger

After last week’s 13-0 win over nearest rivals Newcastle-West, Clonmel had a chance to open an eleven-point gap at the top of the table as West’s game against Richmond had been postponed due to the death of Richmond president Joe Sheehan. 

And they did so with a hard-earned 22-17 win.

St. Senan’s have been the Tipp side’s bogey team in the past and have taken the Clonmel scalp a number of times when they were not expected to. 

For much of Sunday’s game, it felt like this pattern would continue. 

. The opening exchanges were dominated by the home side's forwards and backs. 

Their pressure paid off in the 5th minute when they took a quick tap penalty to score a fine try which they converted to leave the score 7-0 

They continued to dominate the game until Conor Cooney converted a penalty in the 15th minute to give Clonmel a foothold in the game. 

Clonmel were unable to impose the usual rucking and running game with the result that the home side got a second converted try on the 30th minute leaving the score 14—3. 

In the last 10 minutes of the  half the scrum got on top which resulted in  Cooney kicking two more fine penalties to leave the score 14—9 at half time. 

Clonmel began the second half with greater purpose and determination. The scrum was now completely on top but for some inexplicable reason the referee failed to give Clonmel a legitimate penalty try. 

The game ebbed and flowed with both sides trying to break the stranglehold. 

St. Senans were awarded a penalty which their out half Declan Rowe kicked from the half way line to leave the score 17—9. 

From the restart Clonmel backs made a great break out after the forwards had provided them with a good platform for Robbie Carroll to score a well-deserved try. 

They failed to convert but were now within striking distance. The forwards  began to impose themselves with some good rucking and mauling led by Ronan Crosse, Neville Melbourne and captain Tony Cantwell .

The backs also came to life with some great line breaks by Dean Slattery as well as Greg and Robbie Carroll.  

As he has been doing all season, Luke Hogan finished a well worked move to score a well taken try which they failed to convert leaving Clonmel in the lead for the first time in the game at 19-17 and Cooney added a late penalty to complete the scoring.

There are only two games left  in the league. Clonmel play Middleton in the next round of the Junior Cup next weekend in Ardgeeha,  followed by a home game against AbbeyFeale in the league the following week. Depending on other results, this could be the crucial game in Clonmel’s season. 

Clonmel   - 15. Conor Cooney 14. Greg Carroll 13. Luke Hogan 12. Robert Carroll 11. Paul Denn 10. Dylan Cadogan 9. Alex Sheehan 1. Billy OKelly 2. Gareth Mulcahy 3. David OGorman 4. Neville Melbourne 5. Ronan Cross 6. Ciaran Burke 7. John Gallagher 8. Tony Cantwell Subs: 16. Brendan Lawlor 17. Niall Campion 18. Mark Corby 19. Dean Slattery 20. Luke Noonan