The Shannon side who won the Webb Cup last weekend
LAST week saw the 2018/19 season complete its lengthy fixture list with Shannon winning the Webb Cup, Newcastle West taking the Transfield Cup, Bruff surviving a nail-biting relegation/ promotion 80 minutes and the Munster Junior team putting up a brave show away to Leinster.
All in all, it has been a decent season for Limerick’s junior clubs. Richmond were terribly unlucky not to come out on top in three competitions. They were pipped by Bandon for the division one league title, beaten by Cork Constitution in the final of the Munster Junior Cup and went down to Newcastle West in the Transfield Cup decider. No doubt they will be a force to be reckoned with next season.
St Mary’s join the junior elite in division one after finishing runners-up in division two and a number of players from local clubs tasted inter-provincial rugby as part of the Munster squad.
Four days after the disappointment of losing their Bank of Ireland Munster Junior Cup final to Cork Constitution, Richmond suffered another set-back last Thursday when they lost to Newcastle West in the final of the Transfield Cup.
This was a hard-fought affair but it was the county side that took the spoils. Leading 13-6 at half time, Newcastle West stepped up the momentum in the second period and while Richmond added 12 points to their tally in an exciting second 40 minutes, they just could not get the vital scores necessary to snatch a victory.
Dual NCW/Bruff player Sean Herlihy continued his recent good kicking form and he landed a brace of penalties to add to a penalty try in the opening half. Richmond’s response was two successful kicks from the tee by Brian Mullins.
Two tries by winger Keelan Stephenson, one converted by Brian Mullins kept Richmond in the game but Newcastle West pulled away with Herlihy kicking two penalties and converting a try scored by Sean Ivess. Final score in this Transfield Cup decider, Richmond 18, Newcastle West 26.
There was a lot of anxiety amongst the home support in Kilballyowen last Saturday as Bruff clung on desperately to their senior status. The final whistle signaled both relief and celebrations from the Bruff faithful but it took a late seven pointer to see them remain in AIL2C next season.
The home venue hasn't witnessed a match of this drama and intensity for some time with the outcome going right down to the wire. It was a tremendous game, Bandon getting the perfect start with a converted try on 16 minutes but three minutes later it was 7-7 when Davy O'Grady got over under the sticks and Tony Cahill converted with ease. With 23 minutes played, Bruff, who were without their captain John Hogan, went 14-7 in front when Cillian Rea scored his side's second try, converted by Cahill and Bandon suffered a blow when they lost a player to the sin-bin two minutes before the break.
Bruff went into a 17-7 lead 18 minutes after the re-start, Tony Cahill kicking a penalty, but Bandon showed their determination to move into senior ranks by reducing the lead to 17-12 with an unconverted try on 62 minutes.
The home support was rocked with the clock reaching the 70 minute mark when Bandon got in for a third try to level the tie at 17-17. The remaining minutes provided anxious moments for both sets of supporters but Kilballyowen went wild when Bruff scored another converted try near the finish, that will be remembered for some time by the home club.
While the result provides welcome relief for Bruff RFC, Bandon put up a very good show and if they can retain their squad for another season, they could well achieve their dream of senior status at the end of 2018/19.
While the Munster junior team, competing in this season’s interprovincial tournament, have lost their two opening games to Ulster (24-0) and to Leinster (27-16), their performances have shown plenty of promise. This Saturday they play Connacht in Old Christians ground in Cork and Munster are hopeful that this time they can prove their worth with a victory.
Winners of the title two years ago, the southern juniors were unlucky not to run Leinster closer. They led early with Eoin O’Dwyer .getting in for a try and the lead could have been more with Abbeyfeale’s Derry O’Connor unfortunate with misses from the tee that could have made a difference to the result. Leinster kicked a penalty, conversion and had a try from the impressive Mike Russell and led 10-5 at the break.
The home side added another seven pointer early in the second half but Munster replied with a second Eoin O'Dwyer try to edge closer at 17-10. Derry O’Connor’s penalty left just four points in it but Leinster saw out the final stages to win 27-16.
Local players in the Munster Junior squad are Brendan Childs, Galbally; Oisin Walsh, Galbally; Derry O’Connor, Abbeyfeale; Sean Herlihy, Newcastle West; Warren Kelly, St Senan’s; Paul Loughran and Keith McManus of St Mary’s. John Keehan is head coach.
“We need to beat Connacht at the week-end if we are to move up the table,” selector Christy McNamara of St Mary’s said this week.
“We had some good chances against a very efficient Leinster team but a few basic errors proved costly. We need better preparation for this competition, but with the fixture list so full every season, getting a side together is always difficult.”
In the final of the Webb Cup, Shannon and Old Crescent provided wonderful entertainment with the Parish boys just shading it, 21-16.
Scorers for Shannon were, Ben Sargeant two tries and a try by Shane Ryan with Ben Sargeant and Dara O’Doherty kicking a penalty each.