Well … Sport can be cruel. Ask Steve Stricker or Phil Mickleson.
Everyone involved in Clontarf rugby will have left Temple Hill with that stunned stare of disbelief that comes from watching defeat snatched from victory in the cruellest of finishes an unbelievable 10 minutes into injury time.
This was a game Clontarf should have won. They were the better side in the lineouts and the scrums; they scored two wonderful tries; they had a kicker who was spot on and superior to his opposite man on the day and they defended manfully against a Con side that moved the ball wide with ferocious pace and intent.
They lost because the home side were able to play a counter-attack game at pace while also retaining ball through multiple phases. No better example was Cons second try which came after ‘Tarf had gone 17-3 up after a wonderful solo effort from man of the match O’Meara. Straight away ‘Tarf had Con on the rack again in their 22 and had they scored, would have been deservedly out of sight, instead the ball was turned over and Con attacked left to right and went the length of the pitch at pace. 10 seconds later they were in the away 22 and the visitors were unable to structure their defence and Hurley scored. The final cruel blow came in injury time after a ‘Tarf scrum under the Con posts was twisted and the visitors were adjudged to have transgressed in attempting to secure the ball. Con broke out and after multiple phases in the ‘Tarf 22 scored under the posts for the match.
This really is quite stressful to watch. To see your team go from, an almost certain score for, to conceding one against, twice in the one game, is tooth powderingly annoying. It requires the patience of Job and gallons of beer to dull the pain.
Thankfully while the Club is short on patience, it is long on beer!
And it does have a few optimists and I am one, so for me despite the loss there were significant positives. The scrum and lineout were first class, the place kicking was spot on, the line chase was good, and the defence communication on the pitch was loud. The game plan was structured and consistent and obvious. Plenty to build on for the week and we’ll need to do the work because there is another gang of counter-attackers coming on Saturday from Garryowen with the greatest sniper of them all, Barry O’Mahony.