This was never going to be a classic example of flashy running rugby. The last time these teams faced off against each other was over twenty years ago, after that Thomond joined the ranks of the AIL and Bruff, well you know how we got here by now. This was the first of Two “Limerick Derby” games this season and as Aidan corr said to me following Thomond’s game in the Cup against Garryowen, the better pack would win on the day.
Bruff’s had two stages where they ruled the roost, the first and last twenty minutes, Thomond took control of the middle period of the game with a stranglehold.
Early on the Bruff scrum caused serious problems for the Thomond pack. Out half David Maw was targeted very early on by the Thomond Back Row and following a very early hand injury which ended up causing him to be Blood replaced he missed two very kickable penalties before the 16th. minute first try of the game. Scrum half Joe Lyons took a quick tap penalty and ran in for the opening try but it remained unconverted.
Brian Cahill stretched the lead on 22 minutes a penalty and to be honest at this stage Bruff looked to be heading for the final post but just couldn’t seem to punish Thomond and get points on the board. Thomond however came right back into the game and with two penalties by Declan Cusack one on 25 minutes and another on the stroke of halftime (After two misses), they went into the half time break trailing by a mere 2 points. Bruff’s kicking downfield to the Thomond Full back, Warren Kelly were returned with vengeful incisive running.
At eight minutes into the second half Thomond took the lead for the first time with another Cusack Penalty and at this stage it was backs against the wall for the Bruff side, the defence held however and the score didn’t change until the final quarter. When Bruff Scrum Half joe Lyons was binned, Davy Maw was finally called ashore and replaced by Player/Coach Eoin Cahill. A missed penalty by Brian Cahill who had taken over the kicking duties and things were starting to look a little hairy. He made amends two minutes later when he slotted over another penalty to give the home side a slender two point lead with ten minutes left on the clock.
Peter Malone, Martin O’Rourke and team captain Cathal O’Regan began to take charge and their team-mates responded well to their leadership. But just two minutes after going in front, an intercepted pass led to a kick ahead by Declan cusack, with Dara O’ neill winning the chase to the line. Cusack again converted to make the score Thomond 16, Bruff 11. 8 minutes left.
All of a sudden, the Bruff pack sensed the game slipping away and what followed was five minutes of constant pressure on the Thomond line. The play didn’t move any further than ten metres out and finally after a five meter scrum, Peter Malone touched down to level the score. Brian Cahill’s Conversion meant that two minutes later Bruff ended up with the Four points, Thomond had to be satisfied with the losing Bonus.
You could say we got out of jail, a bit like Thomond Park on Friday night, but we had put ourselves there and strength of character brought us home.
There are some photos posted up in an earlier link.
BRUFF: Brendan Deady, John Malone, Gary Leonard, Brian Cahill, John Moore, David Maw, Joe Lyons, David Horan, Cathal O’Regan (Capt), Liam Herlihy, Dermot Murnane, Alfie Laffan, Peter Malone, John S. Shine and Martin O’Rourke.
Scorers: Bruff: Tries:2, (J. Lyons, Peter Malone), B. Cahill 1 conv & 2 Pens 18
Subs: Eoin Cahill for David Maw, Andrew Cashman for Garry Leonard and Alan Bourke for Alfie Laffan.
THOMOND: Warren Kelly, Mark Cosgrave, Brandon Grant, Henry O’Neill, Dara O’Neill, Declan Cusack, Anthony Hartery, Donal Murphy, Alan Airey, Eddie Fraher (Capt), Declan O’Connell, Colin Liston, Damien Keogh, Conan Lang and Brian Buckley.
Thomond: 1 Try: Dara O’ Neill, D. Cusack 3 pens & 1 conv. 16
Sub: Tom Clifford for Alan Airey.