SHANNON will be aiming to overturn the result of last season’s dramatic Limerick Charity Cup final showdown with Young Munster when the sides renew rivalry in this season’s decider.
Twelve months ago, Willie Staunton’s extra time penalty goal ensured Munsters’ retained the Charity Cup in thrilling fashion at Thomond Park.
However, based on their impressive performance for much of this semi-final win over UL-Bohemian at a wet Annacotty on Friday night, Shannon will fancy their chances of denying the Clifford Park side a hat-trick of wins in the competition.
The season may still only be in its infancy, but there was much to admire about the slick, cohesive nature of Shannon’s play for the opening hour of this semi-final.
While UL-Bohs’ dominated territory and possession for the opening 10 minutes, the home side lacked the cutting edge to unlock the defence.
And once Stephen Keogh’s Shannon side began to get their hands on possession, they quickly put daylight themselves and their hosts. The vastly experienced Mossie Lawler bagged the opening try in the 12th minute in the left corner following a flowing move in which the excellent Luke O’Dea, Gareth Quinn-McDonogh, Killian O’Neill and Dave Quinlan were prominent.
Two further penalty goals from the boot of the highly influential Tadhg Bennett in the 15th and 17th minutes helped Shannon into a significant 11-10 lead.
UL-Bohs’ were coughing up possession all too easily and the number of turnovers the visitors conceded was bound to tell against them.
New signing Aaron Spring instigated the move which led to the Shannon’s second try on the half hour mark with an enterprising break out of defence. Spring linked with David O’Donovan who was in the support. The full-back spotted O’Dea who was sprinting up the right wing and his beautifully judged crossfield kicked was gratefully collected by 21-year-old Munster Academy player who touched down unopposed. Bennett’s conversion helped Shannon into an 18-0 half-time lead.
The game was held up for over half an hour early in the second half as an ambulance was called for an injured UL-Bohs’ player.
Shannon continued where they had left off when play resumed as replacement Alan Bennie found O’Dea with a perfectly timed pass and the winger stormed over for his second try. Bennett’s conversion helped the visitors into a 25-0 lead. By the time UL-Bohs’ began their spirited final quarter comeback the game was already gone from their grasp.
UL-Bohs’ reward was a pair of tries from Tom Goggin just after the hour mark and Rory Cunningham late on. Ed Torrie converted both.
Shannon finished the game with 14 players as veteran number eight David Quinlan was red-carded for dropping a UL-Bohs’ player to the ground after tackling him. A yellow card may have been more appropriate.
In the other semi-final, Young Munster proved much too strong for Thomond as they recorded a 42-6 win. Declan Brown, Sean Duggan and Shane Hassett all touched down to help the Cookies to a 20-3 half-time lead. Wayne Murphy’s penalty was Thomond’s only response.
Murphy closed the gap early in the second half with another penalty but two tries from former Thomond player Darragh O’Neill and one from James O’Neill helped Munster through to their third Charity Cup final in a row.
UL-BOHEMIAN - Alan Rossiter; Joe Keane, Darren Moroney, Niall Connelly, Chris Nairn; Ed Torrie, Cathal Sheridan; David Kilcoyne, Sean Henry, Felix Ross; Tom Goggin, Ed Kelly (Capt); Eddie Rossiter, Eoin Sweeney, Rory Cunningham. Replacements- Darragh Cantillon, Tadhg Power, Darragh Murphy, Gearoid Phelan, Rob Buckley, Mark Egan, Kevin Flanagan, Sean Rennison.
SHANNON- David O’Donovan; Luke O’Dea, Mossie Lawler, Garreth Quinn-McDonogh, Aaron Spring; Tadhg Bennett, Rob Guerin; John Randles, Duncan Casey, Killian O’Neill; Ken Hanley, Dan Heffernan; Stephen Keogh, Paddy Butler, David Quinlan.Replacements- John Deegan, Mike Madden, Alan Bennie, Shane McNamara, Willie O’Connor, Gary McNamara, Kevin Griffin.
YOUNG MUNSTER - Harry de Stacpoole; Declan Brown, Matt Costelloe, Luca Kuhns, Darragh O’Neill; Willie Staunton, Declan Barron; Donal Murphy, Ger Slattery, Hugh McGrath; Sean Duggan, Darren Gallagher; Mark Rowley, James O’Neill, Shane Hassett. Replacements (all used): Ger Flaherty , Johnny Griffin, Ger Bourke, Brendan Guilfoyle, Neville Melbourne, Sean Upton, James Jackman.
THOMOND - Jamie Finnan; Martin Casey, Mike Ryan, Richard Ryan, Dara Hartery; Wayne Murphy, Kevin O’Mahony; Tom Burke, Alan Airey, Ben Rowley; Colin Liston, Dave Foley; Gary O’Donnell, Leonard Slattery, Wayne Mullany. Replacements (all used): Dave Quinn, Eugene Payne, Owen O’Neill, Matt O’Neill, Brian Collins, Craig Airey, Michael O’Donnell.