SO reports of Shannon’s demise have been at least somewhat exaggerated, then.
The nine-time All-Ireland League champions gave themselves a lifeline in their quest to pull clear of the Division 1A drop zone when recording an 18-6 victory over city rivals UL-Bohs, their first success of the campaign at Thomond Park on Friday night.
Although Shannon remain rooted to the foot of the table, this was nonetheless a significance win. After a series of much-improved performances recently which only yielded losing bonus points, ‘the Parish’ side finally recorded a confidence-boosting victory.
The AILs most successful club is far from out of the woods yet in terms of their relegation worries, lying eight points off safety. However, at least they have given themselves a sporting chance of extricating themselves from their lowly position.
A smashing second half try from James Murphy, and 11 points from the dependable boot of scrum-half Rob Guerin, helped Shannon record a deserved victory.
The manner in which Shannon succeeded in turning things round, after their old boy Mossie Lawler shocked them with a first half try, will instil plenty of confidence ahead of their next crucial outing at home to Clontarf on Saturday, January 26 and the return match with UL-Bohs at Thomond Park on Friday, February 1.
Shannon head coach, James Hickey said: “There is still a lot of work to do, we are still at the bottom of the table, but hopefully we can continue to move up with Clontarf in our next game and then the return match with UL-Bohs.
“Hopefully after tonight’s performance we have momentum behind us.
“There is a belief back with us. There is an honesty there which was coming and coming. 2012 is gone. We are one from one in 2013. We need to push on from here.”
“The players have been very committed and the work rate is excellent. We got a couple of breaks too with the injured players coming back.
“We are very lucky to have Brian Tuohy involved as backs coach. Brian is very experienced through being a pro in the UK and his time with Connacht. His commitment has been huge. He is a great guy to have there.”
For UL-Bohs, coached by former Shannon supremo, Colm Tucker this was a bitterly disappointing defeat, leaving them to occupy the relegation play-off spot in the top flight. Leading 8-6 early in the second half, the Annacotty side looked in a strong position to claim the spoils.
However, while UL-Bohs exerted plenty of pressure over the closing half an hour, they lacked the craft and guile to unlock Shannon’s stubborn defence. The absence of the likes of Martin McPhail and Darren Moroney from their backline did not help their cause, although neither player could have helped their line-out which misfired all night.
Perhaps it was a case of UL-Bohs suffering a hangover from their heartbreaking Munster Senior Cup final defeat, but the Red, Red Robins will need to bounce back quickly for the January 26 clash with Old Belvedere if they are to approach the return game with Shannon with any great level of confidence.
SCORERS – UL-Bohemian: Mossie Lawler try, JJ Hanrahan pen. Shannon: James Murphy try, Rob Guerin three pens, con.
UL-BOHEMIAN – Ben Martin; Alan Rossiter, Mossie Lawler, Niall Kenneally, Tim Rafferty; JJ Hanrahan, Cathal Sheridan; Tom Burke, Eddie Rossiter, Gary Walsh; Ed Kelly (Capt), Darragh Frawley; Conor Kindregan, Ian Condell, Sean Rennison. Replacements: John Sutton, Darragh Lenihan, Jack O’Donoghue, Brian Walsh, Derek Farrell.
SHANNON – James Loxton; Mike D’Arcy, Eric Moloney, Richie Mullane, David O’Donovan; Tadhg Bennett (Capt), Rob Guerin; Jason Cronin, Duncan Casey, Garry McNamara; Sean McCarthy, Michael Culhane; Emmet McLoughlin, James Murphy, Mike Essex. Replacements: Mark Corby, Gordon Birchfield. John S Shine, John Sherin, Willie O’Connor.
REF – Peter Fitzgibbon (IRFU)