Clontarf v Young Munster, AIL Semi-Final, 22nd April 2023

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There are certain days when I seriously wonder whether involvement in sport is good for my health!

Saturday’s AIL semi-final in Castle Avenue landed me with a level of trauma up to and higher than the last 10 minutes of last year’s final. What is it about rugby that creates this level of tension? I think sometimes we expect too much.

Young Munster came to Tarf with a simple game plan that would have been risky had the day been dry, but was perfect for the prevailing conditions which were sloppy.

Defend like monsters, hold on to the ball, earn penalties, kick penalties. To be fair any possession they had was defended by Tarf without too much difficulty. The problem was that Tarf’s game plan, when applied in messy weather, led to a slower tempo than normal which fed the away defence. There were a few occasions when it looked like we were in, only for a dropped ball or a silly offence to break the movement down. This created enormous anxiety on the side-lines. We could not work the breakthrough to create daylight and allow us to compose ourselves to finish them off. It was like a nightmare. You know the one after a night of beer where no matter what you do you can’t get away from the ghoul. You wake up screaming and realise you need to wee!

In the end Dylan Donnellan added to his ridiculous try total and pushed us a crucial 4 points ahead! ….. As mad as it sounds 4 points was a mountain to climb because both defences were dominant. Young Munster managed a final penalty to bring it to a one point deficit, but Clontarf hung on and forced an error to end the agony.

There are many so called rugby supporters who would have chalked this game down as boring. They are part of the “ban the scrum” brigade. Make the game more fluid, more entertaining for the mass market. Get rid of the maul !

They should go ice fishing or take up crocheting. This game was everything club rugby is about. It was ferocious, committed, nail biting, tooth grinding, eyeball bulging, mano a mano passion …. It was brilliant ! ….. That’s why we love it .

Hard luck to Young Munster. A class act from Team, to coaches, to alickadoos, to travelling support. We are looking forward to Greenfields next year already.