U20’s Corinthians 12 - 7 Shannon

November 7, 2018

Corinthians under 20’s took on the might of Shannon RFC in Cloonacauneen on Sat as they sought to consolidate their play-off position in AIL Div 1. It wasn’t a classic as the refereeing of the breakdown prevented either side from building any continuity, however it was a titanic battle and this ever improving Corinthian side is beginning to show some of the true character and determination required to progress in this very challenging division. There was a period of more than 5 minutes before half time when Shannon laid siege on the Corinthians try line. The intensity of the Corinthian defence was absolutely heroic, encapsulated by one incident when the 15 stone Shannon number 8 broke from a ruck about 1 metre from the line. The only Corinthian between him and the line was the diminutive scrum half 9 stone, Einde Fahy, consistently the teams best tackler, who somehow managed not only to stop the bigger man but drove him back about 5 yards. From the ensuing play Lee Keegan broke up the pitch and off loaded to Shane Casey who in turn found Einde Fahy in support. Fahy then passed to winger Ronan Browne but somehow Shannon got back to stop him on their line. It was that kind of game, huge commitment displayed by both sides with determined defence and some wonderful open field running.

Corinthians got off to a great start when winger Mark Nairn set off on a mazy run after gathering a kick through from the Shannon out half, which he then off loaded to Finn Gormley who in turn released Lee Keegan to run in for an easy try with only 3 mins on the clock. Dave Clarke kicked the conversion to give Corinthians a seven point advantage early on. Corinthians maintained the tempo for the next 20 minutes and some hard work by forwards Karl Egan, Fiachra Tierney and the hard hitting Shane Casey delivered some good ball to an improving backline. After 25 minutes Lee Keegan scored his second try of the game, when from a well worked backline move, outhalf Eric Flynn released him into space and he showed good composure to run in from 30 metres. Corinthians went in at half time 12 points up.

Shannon came out in the second half with a different game plan; with the intention of getting the ball to their very speedy wide men. After 15 minutes it worked when their big pack worked themselves into position before releasing the ball to their backs to attack the blindside and manoeuvre a well worked try which they then converted. Shannon grew in confidence after this and again laid siege to the Corinthian line. Once again Corinthians were up for the challenge and the hardworking Eoin Costello and Johnny Kearney along with the courageous No 8 Liam Carpenter stood out up front. Finally a blockdown by Dara Higgins allowed Finn Gormley to breakout and release the supporting Mitchell Mc Grath into space and lift the siege once again. For the last 10 minutes Corinthians tried valiantly to extend their lead but they continued to be penalised at the breakdown and as a result became more frustrated as the clock slowly ticked away. Eventually the final whistle blew and the team knew they had ground out a hard earned but well deserved win.

Man of the match this week was undoubtedly centre Finn Gormley, who combined a heavy work rate with some very intelligent attacking play and was also responsible for a number of turnovers in the tackle at critical times in the game. Every one of this rapidly developing team showed great character as for 30 mins of the game they played with only 14 men; a result of 3 sin binnings. Discipline is an area coaches Paul Flanagan and Sean Duignan will need to address over the Christmas break. What was very positive is the fact that for the first time this season a full squad of 22 was togged and an indication of the quality in this squad is reflected in the calibre of the subs that came on including Connacht Interpros Aengus O’Connell, Kevin Russell, Shane Conneely and Brendan Carpenter. With a fully fit squad hopefully available after the Christmas break; competition for places will be intense. There is a lot to look forward to.

Team: F Tierney, M Mc Grath, K Egan, S Casey, E Costello, D Higgins, J Kearney, L Carpenter, E Fahy, E Flynn, R Brown, D Clarke, F Gormley, M Nairn, L Keegan Subs: M Nee, P Duggan, R Shanahan, S Conneely, A O’Connell, B Carpenter, K Russell.