Junior League Title : Corinthians 28 - 7 Castlebar

November 7, 2018

By Rob Murphy

Corinthians Scorers: Kieran Dolan 2 tries, Ciaran Dunne and Barry Sullivan 1 try each. Barry Sullivan 2 pen and 1 con.
Castlebar Scorers: Christy Cusack 1 try; Robbie Cusack 1 con.

Every title should be won like this. Every season should come down to one breathtaking moment of sheer brilliance, which crowns everything that has gone before. Corinthians annexed the Junior League title on Sunday in the most dramatic way imaginable with an injury time try from Barry Sullivan that will live long in the memory of all who witnessed it.

With ten minutes remaining at a mild and dry Corinthian Park, a play off seemed the height of the home side’s aspirations as they were three tries short of their target thanks to Castlebar’s plucky resistance but the floodgates were forced open and two tries followed from scoring machine Kieran Dolan setting up the injury time drama.

The fourth try was the perfect end to an incredible campaign; it started just outside the Corinthian 22 with a snipping break from the inspired Ciaran Dunne. The powerful and evasive winger jinked through the cover and released flanker Cormac McGuckian on half way, he drew the cover and executed a back door pass that will be re-enacted in the Corinthians club house for years to come. That set Sullivan on his way to the corner for his moment of glory.

Raucous celebrations from the fired up and knowledgeable home support who had got all the updates from Monivea, were aware that their rivals had managed a bonus point win and knew that only a similar result would suffice for the title to head to Cloonacauneen. The painful news going in the other direction wouldn’t have taken long to reach Monivea, there was nothing they could do, and Corinthians were worthy champions for the first time in 34 years.

Castlebar had arrived with a bag full of tricks. Wayward kicking had seen their early pressure go unrewarded but when the Castlebar scrum locked down under the Corinthians posts and shifted forward on 20 minutes, the just reward for their early efforts presented itself in the shape of a try from the ever reliable Christy Cusack. His brother Robbie tapped over the extras and Castlebar had the lead.

Corinthians upped the tempo and Gary Flaherty looked like he was in for a try before the break only for it to be overruled for a foot in touch. They still managed a penalty from Barry Sullivan but trailed 7-3 at half time. At that stage a bonus point win seemed far fetched.

Even ten minutes into the second half Castlebar still led, at this stage it was 7-6 after Sullivan’s second penalty but the Mayo side were holding their own in a bid to get a win that could have kept them in the hunt for a place in next season’s All Ireland Cup. However Kevin Cox’s sin binning which should have been avoided changed the momentum and Ciaran Dunne got the game’s first try not long after.

Castlebar had half chances at breakaway scores even at 13-7 but the game really started to go the way of the home side when Alex Goor received two yellow cards, one for killing the ball, the second for arguing.

That gave Corinthians the chink of light and Dolan, the Junior league’s top try scorer, finished off a fine move in the corner with ten minutes left which started the late rally. His second score stemmed from a brilliant move in midfield and paved the way for the injury time drama befitting of any league finale.

Corinthians: R Ferguson; C Dunne, J Buckley, D Sullivan, K Dunne; B Sullivan, G Flaherty; M Kelly, D Barber, C O’Shea; J Dileen, G Ward; T Linane, C McGuckian, B McCann.

Replacement: D Murphy, K Diffenthal and S McInearney.

Castlebar: R Feeney; D McLoughlin, M Staunton, N Byrne, F Casey; R Cusack, C Cusack; B Flannery, N Coyle, K Cox; A Gorr, R Hughes; P Flannery, E Murphy, D Staunton.

Replacement: G Prendergast for Staunton, D Conway for Casey.

Ref: N Crowley.