Connacht Junior Cup Quarter-Final.
Connemara RFC 20, Creggs Rugby 14.
Connemara march on to the Junior Cup semi-final following an enthralling game against Creggs on the Sky Road in Clifden on Sunday.
Yet again Connemara saw off Creggs’ challenge in a high intensity game which was a credit to the fitness levels and skills of both teams.Connemara started with a try by winger Shane Sweeney in the third minute when they passed the ball along the three-quarterline at top speed to unleash their flying winger who touched down for a superbly executed try.
Fullback Henry OToole added a penalty after 9 minutes before Shane Purcell landed a fine penalty to get Creggs off the mark.
Another OToole penalty edged the home team ahead by 11 to 3, but Shane Purcell kept Creggs in contention with another beautifully struck penalty in the 16th minute when Connemara strayed offside in midfield.
Creggs played some excellent rugby during the second quarter but Connemara’s midfield defence proved impregnable. Likewise, the Tom Callaghan and Eoghan Coyle partnership in the Creggs midfield was impressive.
Following a great move involving the Dowd brothers, Creggs were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty try in the 35th minute when their rolling maul had Connemara in all sorts of trouble but referee Andy Fogarty deemed a penalty and a yellow card for the Connemara player to be sufficient punishment for what was clearly a deliberate collapse within five metres of the try line.
Shane Purcell converted the penalty to reduced the deficit to 2 points. Connemara then showed their experience during this period of numerical disadvantage by slowing the game down before breaking upfield for a penalty which winger Shane Sweeney slotted to leave Creggs trailing by 14 points to 9 at the break.
Connemara gained a foothold in Creggs territory in the early stages of the second half and pushed further ahead with two penalties by Henry O’Toole.
Creggs then dominated both territory and possession for long passages during the second-half but just could not close the gap on the scoreboard. A couple of kickable penalties were spurned in favour of kicks to the corner but Connemara were too well organised to concede the try Creggs desperately needed as time began to ebb away.
Ceggs finally made it over for a try in the last minute, but by then it was too little,too late.
There were heroic displays all over the pitch with massive hits given and taken with the minimum of fuss, in a game which had everything except a much sought victory for the big travelling Creggs supporters. Creggs could (and possibly should) have won this game away in Clifden but the resilient and more experienced Connemara team continued its recent dominance of Connacht Junior rugby. 13 of the Cregg’s starting 15 on the day have an average age of just 22 and all have come through the ranks within in the club, which bodes well for the future.
Next Sunday, Creggs First resume Connacht League action away v Monivea, who have just reached the Junior Cup semi-final on Sunday last. Another tough encounter in prospect, but one that will give payers another opportunity to hit top form.
Creggs Rugby: Shane Dowd, Kevin Gavin, Eoghan Coyle, Tom Callaghan, Ronan Dowd, Shane Purcell, Andrew Callaghan, Tom Fleming, Maurice Buckley, Aidan Leech, Brian Donohoe, Kevin Brandon, Peter Lohan, James Brandon, Brian Diffley (Captain), Danny Arnold, Eoghan Farrell, Ronan Cahill, Mark Brandon, Ryan Horan. Sean Og Higgins had to withdraw from the squad after picking up a calf injury in the team warm-up session.