Shannon RFC News from the week of October 7th

November 7, 2018

It’s difficult to believe we went into last Saturday’s Ulster Bank game looking for our first win on the opening day for the first time since 2007 when we beat Old Belvedere. That’s three seasons when we were playing catch up from the outset of the league, which will always tends to make the journey that bit more difficult so the emphasis on a good start to the campaign was the mantra for the week preceding. Although it’s not the case, the illusion is that we seem to play Dolphin more regularly than other sides in the league, but it’s probably because we seem to play them in the first and last game’s of the league on a frequent basis.

There was no sense of nostalgia though as they set about amassing a healthy lead before we could get our minds attuned to the task at hand. There was no question as to the intent from our lads in the opening 20 minutes , but Dolphin’s struck with a clinical efficiency and two quick tries can easily be attributed to our defence which allowed their captain Eric Moloney to capitalise and swiftly accumulate a 15-3 lead with just 17 minutes gone. It looked rather bleak if truth be told, but there’s an enormous amount of credit due to the lads, who reorganised and chipped away, not necessarily at Dolphin’s lead to any great extent, bar a second Gareth Quinn Mc Donogh penalty, but more to their confidence as the 1st half progressed. Our pack was winning superb lineout ball in the damp and very greasy conditions which continually edged us closer to the line, but the seeds of victory were well and truly sown in the 34th minute when the first of many concerted heaves in the scrum came. It was as if the momentum was sucked out of Dolphin at that point and although no score came from the shove, it was enough to give much optimism for the second half.

That optimism was well founded as almost immediately after the restart Gareth knocked over a penalty, and then a long range effort from Ben Sargent kept the scoreline to a three point margin. To give the impression that we were well on top would be a little unfair to Dolphin who did enjoy a purple patch that almost saw them score in the corner but for a super try saving tackle from Luke O’Dea. It did seem though that, even with time ticking away that we would eventually take the lead, and with the forwards on top in the scrum, that’s where our winner came from. It was no easy task for Ben, but with supreme confidence he knocked over the long range shot, something of a specialty for him.
So while we were obviously delighted to get off to a winning start,  the lads will know that improvement in certain areas will be required as we progress through the campaign, but as always an AIL game victory is nice to savour and quite a number of new recruits were introduced to the Isle in the Thomond park dressing room. The words may not have been forthcoming from them, yet, but they will have been left in no doubt as to its significance to the club.
The task to hand for this week is a trip down to Templehill for a tough assignment against annual contenders Cork Con.

While it was great to play in Thomond Park, what was a greater treat was the return of Ann and Violet into the kitchen where their renowned stew was once again on the post match menu. The tradition continues so welcome back ladies.
In a weekend of campaign openers, we had our thirds take to the pitch for their Gleeson league tie with UL/Bohs in Coonagh and like the seniors it was a close game, but thankfully the result went on our favour. The opening exchanges went in our favour, but gradually UL/Bohs counteracted our early pressure, and it took a strong performance form each of our back three to keep them at bay. It took until the 30th minute until a score was registered and it cane courtesy of our own Fergal Curtain who rounded off a strong attack by the pack and touched down on the corner. With the forwards beginning to get the upper have we should really have extended the lead, but a number of unforced errors allowed UL/Bohs the opportunity to kick a penalty to leave the score at just 5-3 as the break approached. The game turned into a real tussle of the packs in the second half with little to choose between the units, but in the 55th minute Paddy Reidy extended the lead with a well taken penalty, but again costly errors allowed the visitors keep within touching distance with another penalty. It was all getting very tense and the outcome was never guaranteed. It could very well have been UL/Bohs that celebrated in the end, but with the last kick of the game a long range penalty dropped short and instead it was our lads who could claim the opening win of the Gleeson league. It’s a game every weekend from now ‘till the end of November for the thirds which should see them gather good momentum. As usual they welcome any New players and Ken Kiely can be contacted on 086 8287863.

On Sunday it was the turn of our women’s senior side to begin their AIL Division 2 campaign and they certainly maintained the good vibe around the club when they beat a tough and tenacious Ballincollig side by 12 points to 7. It was a hugely enjoyable game to watch with both sides giving tremendous entertainment. A flying start from our impressive scrum half Kate O’Connor gave us the early lead, and while Ballincollig could claim superiority in the scrum, the meet fierce resistance in the loose and our wide where the level of commitment in defence was enormous from our side. The occasions where the visitors broke the gain line with ball in hand was negligible and they were forced to kick for territory regularly. Kate’s solitary score stood until after the break when it was the turn of Tracey Lawler to break away from a maul to cross for another unconverted mid way through the second half. By now our ladies were territorially on top, but in their first attack into our ’22 of the half Ballincollig forced their way over for a converted try which left little between the sides. However any fears of a loss were negotiated with calmness and a well manufactured penalty from Karen Keehan was enough to ensure victory and in the end it was nothing more than they deserved. Next game for the women is in two weeks.

It was probably a bit too much to expect an unbeaten weekend for our adult teams and it transpired on Monday evening that Bruff proved just that bit better than our lads in the seconds league. A final score of 18-15 reflected the closeness of the tie.
Saturday sees the U/21’s begin the South-western Conference of the AIL in Coonagh where they host Old Crescent so anyone not heading to Cork , take a trip out and give them your support.

At underage, the U/19’s had good win over a strong Bruff side but will be looking for a big improvement as the season progress. Despite a generally good performance, where Conor Burns and Alex Mc Namara crossed for a try apiece, a number of key areas will be focused on in training in the coming weeks, particularly the breakdown. In a game where both packs were evenly matched it was our wide where we were most productive, especially when the ball, was moved wide at pace. A rematch with last year’s fellow city finalists, Young Munster should be an interesting affair this Sunday which has a 12pm kick off in Coonagh.
After a great wining performance in their opening game, a loss to an excellent Young Munster side was the fate of our U/13’s last Sunday, but they certainly should remain upbeat with plenty of positives to be taken from this tough encounter.
It proved to be a really busy week both on and off the field with the launch of our New Jersey on Thursday with O2 and the uploading of our new website on Friday.
Thursdays affair saw the O2, Think Big project take prominence on our new look senior jersey and we are delighted to be involved with such worthy scheme. O2’s level of commitment to Shannon over the last 8 years has been phenomenal and in such times, we are extremely fortunate to have a leading brand such as O2 remain as our sponsorship partner. The Think Big project is all about the promotion of mental health awareness amongst young people and we would encourage everyone to look it up on our new website.
It was a while coming , but we are delighted to get our new look website up and running and while there is still quite a bit of work to be done , the main elements are in place. It was, and continues to be a mammoth task, but hopefully the hard work will pay off. It will be updated very regularly and we will soon be putting up membership, lotto and ticket application forms as well as many other useful features. A club twitter feed on the main page will have all the updates from as many games as we can get to, but particularly the Ulster Bank league games. You don’t even have to know what twitter is; just follow the updates from the main page.