Courage, Commitment, backbone and a never say die attitude.
When it comes to writing the history of Bruff RFC, and when they scribe in the history books about occasions that could stop people’s hearts, Today will go down in Bruff and County Limerick Folklore as one of those days, and words like those above will be used in the description. We should be used to it by now, it’s becoming common for this team to surprise everyone but the last twenty minutes of the Bateman Cup Semi-final in Kilballyowen today will linger in our memories for a long, long time to come.
With cars parked on the training field, this was never going to be an even split support wise but the Students tried to make up by volume what they could not provide in numbers. The roars and sign rattling that met their team’s entrance to the playing field gave a sample of what was to come for the rest of the day. Not to be outdone however, Bruff’s now legendary legion of supporters more than matched the volume without the aid of the infamous vuvuzelas.
Bruff started well and our pack seemed to take charge with Cathal O’Regan leading from the front. The forwards dominated at the scrum to such an extent as to make no difference who put the ball into it. As a result it was no great surprise when the Bruff pack were awarded a penalty try for consistent infringements at scrum time and when the UCD front row popped while Bruff drove them towards the line from a five meter scrum. Brian Cahill’s added the extras to give them the full value for their pressure.
The restart looked like providing more of the same but a couple of line-outs deemed not straight lifted the pressure on a struggling UCD pack and allowed their pacey back line the opportunity to create havoc on the outside on a couple of occasions. 24 minutes in and James Thornton duly converted a penalty award to claw back three points. Ten minutes later, A break on the right hand side and a brace of missed tackles and suddenly Captain Andy Cummiskey crossed in the right hand corner to open their try count. Thornton added the extras and it was game on, Thornton missing a penalty opportunity just before the break to stretch their lead, the students went into the break with a one score lead 10-7, following the binning of Bruff player coach Peter Malone for killing the ball on the deck just before half-time.
Bruff didn’t start as well in the second half and some beautiful passing from the students back-line coupled with defensive errors on the Kilballyowen side allowed the lead to be stretched again on 48 minutes when the UCD centre Dave McSharry touched down stretching the lead finally making use of the numerical advantage, Thornton slotted the conversion , 17-7 to UCD.
It looked like the Bruff fairytale cup run had finally come to a close when the students full back Michael Twomey crossed seven minutes later. The vociferous travelling supports chants of “Boring, Boring” reverberating around the park as Thornton lined up his kick, he pulled it however and with the scoreline at 22-7, with 25 minutes on the clock, there seemed to be no hope of clawing it back. A penalty, a conversion and two tries needed to bring it back. Maybe it just wasn’t coming to pass we thought.
This is beginning to sound monotonous from me at this stage as it happens so often, but I’ll say it again, you write off this Bruff squad at your peril. Yet again the game got turned on its head. A behind the goal line “chat” among the Bruff squad had the required effect, resulting in a renewed vigour in the Bruff side, the pack exerted their dominance again, and finally made use of it, punishing UCD time and time again at scrum-time. Whether offensively or defensively it seemed that the ball was coming Bruff’s way at the scrum no matter what. The maul made huge inroads into the students territory. Four minutes of this inside the UCD 22 and the students coughed up the first break when John Shine was awarded the five points after the consistent pounding on the students try and defensive lines.Tony Cahill took over kicking duties with Brian off the field and duly slotted the conversion from in front of the posts. 14-22
When the siege on their line was lifted by the referees whistle, (bizarrely at scrum time) five meters out allowing UCD to clear their lines, the students rallied for a couple of minutes but yet again the dominance of the Bruff pack paid off in spades, resulting in a penalty award in front of the posts on sixty-nine minutes, and despite the cries from the crowd to kick for the corner, the self-belief of this squad allowed them the courage to take the three points, suck it up and try to grind out the win, Cahill slotting another to guarantee the final ten minute grandstand showdown.
The cracks had appeared in the student side, Bruff’s dominant pack ensured that the set-pieces were almost owned by Bruff and when the students coughed up yet another penalty at the scrum with only three minutes on the clock, Tony Cahill kicked to the right hand corner. They were going to have a cut .
Following the taking of the ball at the back of the line-out the valiant Bruff squad absolutely pounded the UCD defence for a full three minutes, reminiscent of the last three minutes of the Munster Senior Cup final, this time the roles were reversed and the result was reversed as well. Bruff wing-forward John S. Shine broke to the left of the maul which was their fifteenth phase of possession, cross the three meters to touch down between the posts and send the huge Kilballyowen crowd into a rapturous roar. All that remained was for Tony Cahill to slot the two pointer and the crowd erupted.
There was still a couple of minutes on the referees watch however and despite the dominant phase that Bruff were having, you could not write off the danger that their fast back line posed. After the re-start however and some clever work by Davy Horan, Bruff scrum-half Eoghan Maher calmly passed back to Tony Cahill who drove it out over the touch-line to finish this absolutely magnificent performance and send the crowd to the bar in need of stiffeners to calm down the heart-rates.
Final Score: Bruff 24-UCD 22.
BRUFF: Brendan Deady, Nigel Riordan, Brian Cahill, Eoin Cahill, Paul O’Brien, Tony Cahill, Eoghan Maher, David Horan, Cathal O’Regan (Capt), Gearoid Ryan, Dermot Murnane, Maurice O’Connell, Alan Bourke, John Stephen Shine and Peter Malone.
Replacements: John Carroll for B. Cahill (HT).Colm O’Sullivan for Ryan, John Moore for O’Brien and Michael Carroll for Bourke (All 52).
U.C.D. Michael Twomey, John Conroy, Andy Cummiskey (Capt), Dave McSharry, Andy Boyle, James Thornton, Rob Shanley, John A. Lee, David Doyle, Brian Hall, Brian Cawley, Mark Flanagan, Shane Grannell, Danny Kenny and Kevin Croke.
Replacements: Risteard Byrne for Kenny (64), Kieran Moloney for Hall and Keelan McKenna for Grannell (79).
Bruff: 1 Penalty try, Brian Cahill 1 conv, Tony Cahill, 2 conv, 1 pen. John S. Shine, 2 tries.
UCD James Thornton, 1 pen, 2 conv. Andy Cummiskey, 1 try, Dave McSharry 1 try, Michael Twomey, 1 try.
Referee: Jonathan Peak IRFU