Connacht Junior Cup Semi-Final
Catlebar RFC 25, Creggs Rugby 15.
26 years ago Creggs narrowly overcame Connemara in the Sports Ground to record the last of their six successes in the Connacht Junior Cup. Creggs haven’t reached the Final since, but Sunday March 24th. will see a repeat of the 1993 Final with both Creggs and the All-Blacks having booked their places with away wins in their respective semi finals.
Connemara having effectively claimed the League title with their recent defeat of Creggs in The Green, and on Sunday last they overcame a doughty Tuam 18-6. At the same time in Mayo, Creggs always had that little bit to spare over Castlebar, their vanquished opponents in the Cawley Cup Final earlier this season.
Castlebar were nonetheless unrecognisable from the side which succumbed so meekly in their recent League encounter and Creggs can be thankful for their good start which saw them rack up a 10-nil lead within 10 minutes of the kick-off.
Playing with wind advantage Creggs shut out their opponents in the opening minutes and following a period of sustained pressure opened the scoring with a Ronan Dowd penalty after 7 minutes. A converted try quickly followed with Sean Og Higgins touching down from a lineout drive and Shane Dowd bisecting the posts in tricky wind conditions.
After that Castlebar came more into the game and Creggs found themselves scrambling in defence with Liam Molloy crossing for Castlebar in the left corner before Chris Duignan did the equal and opposite to leave his side 15-5 ahead at the interval.
That lead was cut to 7 points when Castlebar slotted over a penalty within 2 minutes of the re-start but Creggs centre James Brandon restored the gap finishing off a sweeping move in the right hand corner 10 minutes later.
Creggs looked to have the game sewn up when Chris Duignan in fine form broke out of defence with a spectacular run 4 minutes later but Creggs failed to finish the move and instead Castlebar were awarded an alleviating penalty.
On the half hour mark a Creggs turnover sent Brandon on a 40 metre run along the left touchline for the clinching try and whilst Castlebar continued to take the battle to the visitors and deserved their break-through when it came, David Staunton’s try 2 minutes from time was strictly a consolation score.
So with the Junior Cup Final looming on the distant horizon, this Saturday Creggs play their penultimate League game away to Buccaneers – kick off at Dubarry Park 7.30.
Creggs Rugby: Ronan Dowd, Thomas Flynn, Eoghan Coyle, James Brandon, Chris Duignan, Shane Dowd, Andrew Callaghan, Tom Fleming, Maurice Buckley, Aidan Leech, Sean O’ Higgins, Brian Donoghue, Ronan Cahill, Alan Brandon, Brian Diffley, Eoghan Farrell, Brian Coady, Mark Brandon, Michael Holland and Michael Fleming.