THOMOND RFC head coach, Brendan Guilfoyle said the side’s unfaltering self-belief had been a key factor in achieving promotion to Division 2A of the All-Ireland League for next season.
Thomond bounced back from the disappointment of missing out on automatic promotion from 2B on the final day of the regular season to secure 2A status for 2014/2015 via an exciting play-off win over Highfield at Woodleigh Park on Saturday last.
Thomond recovered from an early 10-0 deficit to score a thrilling 14-10 win over their Cork opponents.
Brendan Guilfoyle said: “It was an enormous relief to hear that final whistle sound on Saturday and to know we had achieved what we set out to do in Tralee in September when we went down there and set out our goals. It was a great feeling, brilliant.
“Even when we conceded the soft tries against Highfield, the lads felt they had more rugby in them than Highfield had, if they just calmed down a small bit. That was the case. I think that was what got us over the line – our self-belief – rather than any miracle plays or work rate. We always believed we could get back into the game and if we played the brand of rugby we had been playing all year, there was a belief we could beat them. That was great for us as coaches. As I said, there had been an attitude in the club that we win at home and hope for the best on the road. We set about changing that straight away. Every game is winnable.
“Gerry Casey, who came in during the year to help out with the coaching side of things, made a really good point before the game, that it was 15 years ago to the day that Thomond were promoted to a senior club and spoke about how much it would mean to everyone and it brought it back to a lot of people that this game was part of the club’s history, how far it has come over the past few years.
“Because we won the play-off, hopefully it will make it a little easier to entice some of our older players to get it another season, entice some of our younger players to stay with us because we are pushing in the right direction and we are now only one division below Shannon and Garryowen now.
“We would hope that the brand of rugby of rugby we are playing along with being promoted might help us recruit a handful of players. But it is not going to be a mad rush to sign loads of players.”
SCORERS – Dermot Fitzgerald try, two cons, Darragh Payne try.
THOMOND – Dermot Fitzgerald; Dean O’Brien, Darragh O’Neill, Niall Sheehan, Ger Finucane; Kevin O’Mahoney, Fiach O’Loughlin; Owen O’Neill, Eugene Payne, Tom Burke; Darragh Payne, Wayne Mullally; Diarmuid Ryan, Leonard Slattery, Brendan Guilfoyle. Replacements: Alan O’Donnell, Dave Quinn, Eoin Cunnane, Dave O’Halloran, Michael Ryan.