This was an unbelievable match to watch from the sideline, it had it all in patches, bone crunching tackling, tough mauls, scrums going for and against the put in. line-breaks, line breaks shut down. ooooohs and aaahs from those of us on the sidelines who at times just closed our eyes and prayed that both players would get up again…….
The Aura of prayer to the patron Saint of lost causes was working overtime on Shannon’s behalf this time around however when Bruff went to eighty-five minutes with an eight point lead and everyone expecting them to wind down injury time and wrap it up.
Things were scoreless for the first 19 minutes of this tough hard encounter until Bruff opened accounts with a Brian Cahill penalty. Defence was the order of the day and both sides faced up to each other admirably on this front, Shannon doing most of the attacking and Bruff just squared up and sucked it down. 6 minutes later Shannon’s attacking efforts were eventually rewarded with a penalty inside the Bruff twenty two, a quick tap from Donovan and he almost made the line, Ben Sergeant completing the five pointer in the finish.
Donovan failed with the attempted extras but made amends a couple of minutes later when Bruff were pinged for coming in the side, 8-3.
A scrum on the Shannon 22 for a Shannon knock on during a reprise attack by Bruff led to sweet break from Eoghan Maher and the out-half Tony Cahill ending up with Captain Cathal O’ Regan striking from twelve meters to cross and touch down between the posts, Brian Cahill added the two points and Bruff had the lead again. 10-8.
Five minutes later Brendan Deady closed off a great break touching down in the corner to put the first chink of daylight between the sides. With Brian not successful with the two pointer, the restart was cleared to touch and Bruff went into the break seven points clear.
The second half began with more of the same, Early pressure with the kickoff being cleared to touch, the resulting lineout causing a penalty which David Donovan pulled wide of the mark.
ac ouple of minutes later, some Aerial ping pong between the full backs finished with Shnnon kicking into the corner, and from the lineout Shannon Hooker Duncan Casey touched down to the line. Again Donovan was wide of the mark with the two pointer. With the Shannon clearance from the drop-off going straight into touch, advantage was played after an infringement in the following lineout but Bruff were awarded a penalty, duly slotted by Cahill from about thirty meters to put Bruff clear by five points again. Bruff sensing the romp along the home straight, upped the ante and were awarded another three pointer for yet another ruck infringement during a Bruff attack. Cahill obliged with another three points, play continued over and back neither side gaining advantage and finally we were on eighty minutes with two scores needed for Shannon to come back.
With lactic acid setting into the muscles, Bruff started to make some small mistakes and maybe take some wrong decisions, running in midfield rather than kicking the ball dead in the opposition twenty two. Shannon managed to clear the one ball from their twenty two to the Bruff twenty two with five minutes of injury time played. A steal of the resulting Bruff lineout led to another try and Ben Sergeant having taken over the kicking duties, he added the two points with seven minutes of injury time played. Again everyone still assumed that that was it, but play continued for another three minutes, Shannon attacks in midfield led to them grinding their way within drop goal range and as Paul O’ Connell famously put it, a “manky” drop goal slewing along fifteen feet above the ground gave Shannon the win.
Many many positives to be taken out of this, maybe we weren’t quite cute enough at times with decision making, the ruck infringements were a pain for both sides and we’ll have to suck it and see how the new interpretations play out during the season, It’s a bit of a Lottery at the moment. I am really looking forward to the re-match in the Munster Senior Cup in three weeks time at Kilballyowen.
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