SHANNON have been cut seven points adrift in the relegation battle at the foot of Division 1A of the AIL, following their 20-14 defeat to Clontarf at Coonagh on Saturday.
Shannon face another massive test in their bid to haul themselves off the foot of the 1A table when they renew rivalry with local rivals UL-Bohsâ€™ under the Thomond Park floodlights on Friday night (7.30pm).
Boosted by their recent improved displays, and with Munster number eight Paddy Butler lining out in their back row, it looked as if Shannonâ€™s revival might continue when they went 9-3 ahead midway through the first half.
Place-kicking scrum half Rob Guerin put them in front with an early penalty and Leinsterâ€™s Noel Reid, who lined out at full-back, levelled for â€˜Tarf.
But indiscipline in the heavy conditions gave Guerin two more shots at the posts which he gratefully accepted.
The match took a turn in Clontarfâ€™s favour though when Shannon openside flanker John Shine was yellow carded. While he was off, Clontarf winger Michael McGrath swept through for the first try of the year.
Reid converted and he also added the extras to McGrathâ€™s second touchdown as he took his tally for the league campaign to five tries.
Shannon kept in contention thanks to a try before the break from lock Emmet McLoughlin, which left the Limerick men just 17-14 in arrears. However, the only score of a turgid second half was a Clontarf penalty from Reid.
SCORERS â€“ Shannon: Emmet McLoughlin try, Rob Guerin three pens. Clontarf: Michael McGrath two tries, Noel Reid two pens, two cons.
SHANNON â€“ Richie Mullane; David Oâ€™Donovan, Eric Moloney, John Clogan, Mike Dâ€™Arcy; Tadhg Bennett (Capt), Rob Guerin; Gary McNamara, Duncan Casey, Kevin Griffin; Fergal Walsh, Emmet McLoughlin; James Murphy, John Shine, Paddy Butler. Replacements: Jason Cronin, Mike Essex, Mike Culhane, Dan Heffernan, Willie Oâ€™Connor.
CLONTARF â€“ Noel Reid; Mick McGrath, Killian Lett, Evan Ryan (Capt, Timmy McCoy; Darragh Fitzpatrick, Dermot Oâ€™Meara; Ben Barclay, Cathal Oâ€™Flynn, Royce Burke-Flynn, Marc Flanagan, Ben Riley, Conor Oâ€™Keeffe, Adrian Dâ€™Arcy, Martin Garvey. Replacements: Jonathan Larbey, Tadhg Furlong, Frank Cogan, David Shanahan, Matt Dâ€™Aarcy