Creggs Rugby 23, Carrick on Shannon 17.
Creggs 2nds produced an excellent display to defeat a strongly fancied Carrick Firsts side in Sunday’s Ard na Cregg Quarter-Final clash at The Green. With Carrick having recently qualified for the Junior 2 League Final, so they were strong favourites heading into this game.
When Creggs conceded a try in the opening minute, the signs were ominous but Mark Brandon slotted a penalty to reduce the deficit to 7-3 in the 8th minute of an absorbing contest.
Carrick went further ahead when a mistake at the back of a Creggs scrum led to an easy try. However, Creggs hit back with some powerful forward play which culminated in winger David Hoare sprinting 50 metres for a superb try under the Carrick posts, leaving Mark Brandon with a simple conversion .
Carrick turned around at halftime leading 12-10, but Creggs now enjoyed the advantage of a strong downfield breeze, which Mark Brandon and Stephen Kilcommons used to good effect to pin Carrick back at every opportunity.
With Eddie Conlon and Trevor Nee carrying strongly in attack, Creggs looked to be gaining control until Carrick’s impressive outhalf Will Weaver evaded several Creggs tacklers to score a superb solo try in the 58th minute to put his team 17-10 ahead.
Significantly,the conversion flew wide of the posts,thereby leaving Creggs trailing by seven points, heading into the final quarter. Creggs applied severe pressure but with Sean McKeon, Steven Guckian, Padraig Gleeson and Weaver to the fore, it was proving difficult to breach a well-organised Carrick defence.
The breakthrough finally came in the 72nd minute,when the impressive Creggs centre Luke Meehan powered his way through several attempted tackles for a tremendous try, which Brandon converted to the tie the scores at 17 all.
Then Carrick lost a player to the sin-bin and this gave Creggs a significant advantage in the closing stages, and Mark Brandon turned the contest firmly in the home side’s favour with two well struck penalty goals.
Carrick fought to the finish, but Creggs held out to qualify for a home semi-final against old rivals Ballina Seconds, who defeated Westport Seconds last Sunday.
Creggs Rugby Seconds Squad: Stephen Kilcommons, David Hoare, Rory Collins, Luke Meehan, Conor Gore, Dara Gilleran, Mark Brandon: Brian Coady, Peter Heavey, Eoghan Cahill, Declan Nee, David Naughton, James Ryan, Damien Nolan, Eddie Conlon, Paul McNeill, Steve Crehan, Trevor Nee, and Dylan Keaveney.