Clontarf 27 Shannon 9
It has been a long time since the famous black and blue hoops of Shannon graced the Castle Avenue pitch so it was with a sense of history that we welcomed “The Parish” from Limerick to the Parish of Clontarf.
Indeed most of the pre match chat was about past battles which, given Shannon’s history as Ireland’s most successful club, revolved around honourable defeat for Clontarf sprinkled with some moral and some notable victories on our journey to the present League. Shannon have been through a few “cycles” themselves and are currently adjusting to the realities of life in Div 1A after promotion for this season.
They have had a difficult start to their campaign and are digging deep to build momentum. Not surprisingly a visit to the current trophy holders brought out every inch of their Limerick defiance which was evident from the start, and slightly before the start, of Saturdays clash.
That was not unexpected, however, it didn’t help that the home side picked this game to be slightly off centre in terms of accuracy. This resulted in frustrating turnovers and schoolboy penalties which seemed to arrive on a conveyor belt as the first half played out. The only phase of the game in the first half which the referee didn’t ping the home side was at the water break . And, to be fair, it was pretty hard to fault the referee.
So having dominated possession and territory, Clontarf managed to negate that, give the refs lungs a work out, and arrive at half time with a score of 3 9.
As the second half unfolded it became clear that even though Tarf had been hugely inaccurate and hugely indisciplined in the first half, they were also hugely huge on both sides of the ball and that creates an attritional dynamic of its own.
“The bull may be distracted, but it’s still a bull.”
After the half time reset the home side got back on track and route one started to pay dividends. Cormac Daly took a quick tap after a Shannon infringement at a line out and after some impressive rumbling and multiple penalty advantages was on hand to get a clear touchdown and the lead for Clontarf.
That was followed by a debut score for Ben Murphy , subbing for the excellent Owens, who took advantage of the swathe of destruction in front of him to stroll over untouched for Tarfs second try. Shannon we’re clearly tiring and luck was starting to go against them as well so when a bit of keystone cops handling on the right released Matt Darcy , the kick ahead was followed up impressively by Kearns and Donellan and Mick Kearney was on hand to score under the posts.
The bonus point was secured with no time to spare after a breakout from the home 22 and some excellent continuity play which included a passable imitation of a runaway truck from Ben Griffen who was odds on to make the line but was felled just short allowing Cormac Daly to flop over and steal his glory . So, a final score of 27-9, a bonus point victory and focus now turns to the visit of unbeaten Trinity next weekend .