SHANNON U-21s completed the North Munster Cup and League double with a nail-biting victory over UL-Bohemian in a Cup final at Rosbrien on Monday night.
The winners had to withstand a strong late rally from their opponents before victory was secure. An injury time try from UL-Bohs’ replacement back-row forward Brian O’Hara gave the Annacotty side hope of snatching a dramatic late win.
However, JJ Hanrahan’s difficult conversion attempt from an acute angle flew narrowly wide much to the relief of the Shannon players and supporters.
Shannon’s victory will have been all the more satisfying because for 20 minutes of the game they played with just 14 players as two players were sin-binned either side of half-time. This period was perhaps the most crucial of the game as Shannon conceded a single penalty, while they managed a converted try and a penalty of their own during that period. UL-Bohs’, backed by the breeze in the opening half, began the game with intent and in the 10th minute notched a converted try.
Niall Kennelly’s kick to the corner created the chance for the pack to maul over and John Sutton was credited with the touchdown. Kennelly kicked a fine conversion. However, Shannon hit back with two Ben Sergeant penalties reducing the UL-Bohs’ lead to a point, 7-6, after 25 minutes.
The North Munster League champions then struck for a try from a scintillating 36th minute move which number eight Brian Walsh eventually finished at a time when Shannon had a player in the sin-bin. Sargent converted and the lead had grown to six points. Close to half-time, UL-Bohs’ threatened to score a second try, but were denied when a Shannon player was yellow carded for slowing the ball down at the breakdown.
Replacement JJ Hanrahan landed the resultant penalty for UL-Bohs’ to reduce their arrears to three points, 10-13, at the break. Shannon opened the second period brightly and the ever-reliable Ben Sargent landed two further penalty goals in the third quarter to stretch their advantage to 19-10 with 15 minutes remaining.
Scrums then went uncontested due to injuries in the UL-Bohs’ front-row soon after. The exciting Hanrahan slotted over a penalty in the 68th minute for UL-Bohs’ to get his side right back into the match. UL-Bohs’ now needed a converted try to snatch the silverware and deep in injury time Brian O’Hara crossed for a fine score.
However, Hanrahan’s conversion attempt was off target. UL-Bohs’ had time to launch one more attack, but Shannon’s defence held out for a gritty success.
SHANNON: Luke O’Dea; Darragh Turner, Shane McNamara, Ben Sargent, Darragh O’Doherty; Gareth Quinn-McDonogh, Rob Guerin; Aaron O’Brien, John Randles, Brian Downey; Sean Duggan, Mike Madden; Dan Heffernan, James Murphy, Brian Walsh. Replacements: Peter Murray for Guerin, Mark Croby for O’Brien, Mark Deegan for Downey, John Sheerin for Madden,
UL-BOHEMIAN: Alan Rossiter; Darren Moroney, Niall Kenneally, Chris Nairn, Graham O’Keeffe; Rob Buckley, Tim Rafferty; Tom Doyle, John Sutton, Cian O’Sullivan; Ed Kelly, Tom Goggin; Eoin Sweeney, Rory Kerins, Rory Cunningham. Replacements: JJ Hanrahan for Buckley, Gavin Duffy for O’Sullivan, Tadhg Power for Duffy, Brian O’Hara for Cunningham, Ross Mullane for Rossiter, Keith McManus for Kerins.