Cashel's Pat O'Donoghue with his sons Fearghail and Hermain at the Munster v Southern Kings game in South Africa on Saturday night. Photo - Bridget Delaney
On Saturday last before the start of round seventeen of the All Ireland League, all teams in Division 2A had something to play for.
Two had the potential to win the league, four to qualify for the playoffs and four were fighting relegation.
At the end of the day that number had been reduced to eight as Galway Corinthians were relegated and Queens University can neither go up or go down.
Malone were nailed on to win the league but lost to Highfield who are now only three points behind them.
Cashel by virtue of a 27-24 four try bonus point win over Blackrock are still in the thick of the action for a playoff position and are in a dogfight with Nenagh and Armagh City for the last two playoff positions.
Next weekend’s games will be intriguing. However back to Blackrock's visit to Cashel and what a game it turned out to be with the result in doubt right to the final whistle as Cashel defended their three point lead with every fibre of their being and held out for the win.
Cashel lost James Ryan to injury during the week but lined out with a strong pack. Starting well they forced four penalties from Blackrock in the first five minutes.
Kicking to the corner they won the lineout and set up a ruck and as they went through the phases Josh Pickering gave a switch pass to Niall Fitzgerald who scored in the corner. It was a perfect start but the lead lasted all of four minutes as Blackeock roared back with a converted try.
Then disaster for Cashel as talisman Ed Leamy was injured in a tackle. It looked like a serious knee injury and he was unable to resume.
Cashel were then left with a very young pack but they responded well and forced a penalty in a scrum on the Blackrock twenty two-Darragh Lyons added the points.
At this stage Blackrock were growing in confidence and fighting for their lives as they were one of the four teams fighting relegation. On twenty four minutes they kicked a penalty to the five metre line, set up a maul and scored another converted try.
Then seven minutes later it was Cashel's turn to kick a penalty to the corner. The ball was run swiftly through the backs where Brian Silke sold a wonderful dummy to score a try. Blackrock had the last word just before half time with a penalty. Half time score Cashel 13 Blackrock 17.
Cashel spent the first fifteen minutes of the second half on the attack but could not break through a stubborn defence. The one area they dominated all day was the scrum and when they were awarded one on fifty six minutes they drove Blackrock off the ball and were awarded a penalty try to edge 20 points to 17 ahead.
The lead lasted only four minutes. Blackrock ran a penalty from half way and their winger sped up the right wing to score a converted try under the posts.
Ten minutes of Cashel pressure eventually yielded fruit and again it was the scrum dominance that paid off as they were awarded another penalty try after a number of Blackrock infringements. Cashel now had the try bonus point but that was no good without the win.
The last ten minutes were hectic as Blackrock knew that another try for them would yield a bonus point win and safety from relegation. The tackling was ferocious but Cashel held out for a very important victory.
They now head to Galwegians on Saturday next requiring only one point to be sure of a playoff place.
Cashel team (1-20) C O'Donnell, N Fitzgerald, J Kendrick, R Moran, B Crosse, E Leamy, T Anglim, M Casey, J Pickering, D Lyons, C Cashman, B Silke (Captain), A McMahon, R Kingston, F Kelleher, M Kelly, K Melbourne, Paul Hayes, S O'Connell, O McGlinchey.