Young Munster suffer defeat at home to Clontarf in Ulster Bank League

November 7, 2018

There are times when you have to wonder who would choose tobe a place kicker? “Always the hero or the villain” as the saying goes, but itgoes a lot deeper than that. Willie Staunton has been a stalwart for YoungMunster RFC this season, lest we forget: the clinical drop goal he scored fiveminutes from time at Old Belvedere, his crucial role in the second halfcomeback v Shannon in Thomond Park; his vital points in the mucky day weentertained Cork Con at home to claim the double over them this season; hisinjury time winning penalty against Lansdowne at home; the list goes on and on.He has filled the hero boots on that many occasions we will never allow him tobe labelled the villain. What we must remember is, it is his quality andconsistency in the league thus far that has got us to where we are, with thehelp of a squad of players of course, that all play their own part equally ascompetently. “We probably wouldn’t have been in this position at all withoutWillie,’ Mike Prendergast told Charlie Mulqueen last Saturday, “he hasscored something like 170 points this season and is by the far the league’sleading scorer.”


The game v Clontarf opened with drama from the off asDarragh O’Neill almost got his name on the score sheet immediately however theball crossed the dead ball line before he could touch it down. An early penaltychance for us just outside the 22 and left of the posts drifted right and wideand it wasn’t long before Willie had another opportunity in the same positionon the other side of the pitch. This went wide also and was a worrying sign forthe home side as both were kicks Staunton can usually knock over in his sleep.


Clontarf were first to get points on the board as RichieLane sent one over after 17 minutes. Moments later from the restart, Clontarf’sopenside flanker Barry O’Mahony ran in under the posts for a breakaway try.’It just opened up for me, there was no defence around the ruck, nopillars, and there was nothing in front of me,’ he told Mulqueen. This wascertainly worrying for Young Munster and a very soft try to concede with lessthan 20 minutes gone. Lane knocked over the conversion and we were 10-0 downwith hands on heads wondering how on earth we had let that happen.


A third missed penalty from Staunton was followed by somegreat dancing feet from centre Andrew Burke down the right touchline whichresulted in a try in the right corner in front of the clubhouse to shrieks ofdelight from the home crowd. Staunton landed this difficult conversion fromtouch, with the assistance of the upright and crossbar, to bring the score to10-7 to Clontarf with 25 minutes gone.


We may have had something else to cheer about should theassistant referee on the left touchline have spotted Darragh O’Neill beingtaken out off the ball while chasing a lovely kick through, but no, his flagstayed down, and the home support was furious at what might have been a crucialmissed call.


Our scrum was really finding its footing now, and Liam OgMurphy’s pressure won us a great turnover in their 22. Clontarf’s penalty countwas creeping up as they gave away another penalty shortly after, which wekicked to the corner on this occasion.


Some little errors were cropping up in our game at thispoint that we couldn’t put down to the almost perfect weather conditions in TomClifford Park. Some silly knock-ons, and a miscommunication between MikePrendergast and Darragh O’Neill on a high ball which saw the ball spill and uspenalized. The set pieces were performing well however, with lineouts takingclean ball, and our scrum putting in a great performance once again which sawus turnover their scrum more than once on the day.


It was a very physical day and on the sidelines, supporterswinced while relishing the big hits going in on the field. Just before halftime, Clontarf had a prop, Kenny Dorian, sin-binned. Staunton missed his fourthpenalty just before the break for half-time with the score remaining 10-7 infavour of the visitors.


We started the second half with an extra man and trailing byjust one score. Within minutes Willie Staunton had brought the scores levelwith a drop goal, 10-10. Andrew Burke attempted his own drop a few minuteslater but it was too far out to stay on target and despite Mark Doyle’s attemptto chase as it drifted cross-field, a ‘Tarf player got his hands to it firstand touched down to safety. Staunton missed his fifth penalty kick minuteslater.


Our scrum was still proving a force to be reckoned with andHugh McGrath saw off Ben Barclay’s challenge as the Clontarf loosehead couldn’tkeep his bind on McGrath and we won the penalty as Barclay collapsed the scrum.Andrew Burke lined up this optimistic kick on the halfway line but, while ithad the legs, it drifted wide of the posts. This brought our tally to sixmissed penalties.


Approaching the hour mark, Clontarf got in for their secondtry. This time scored by prop Niall Treston. Lane converted to bring the scoreto 17-10. Then five minutes later, disaster for us and the proverbial nail onthe coffin as ‘Tarf centre Killian Lett gets over the line, and Lane converts,to bring the score to 24-10 against us.


We continued to battle on and Ger Burke put in some greatwork at the breakdown to turn over the ball as the countdown was on in the lastten. On 75 minutes Mark Doyle got in for us at the right corner for a greatindividual try, not too unlike Andrew Burke’s in the first half. It was Burkeywho converted Doyler’s try and going into the last five minutes with sevenpoints down we always had a chance.

On another day, we could have created some magic in thatlast five minutes. There wasn’t going to be any magic dust to make miracleshappen today however, we were all out of supplies. When we won the ball as theref penalised them for being off their feet at the ruck, it felt like we had adecent attacking chance, but Willie’s kick failed to find touch to take us intotheir red zone and Clontarf took the bull by the horns at this point (punintended) and denied us any valuable possession as they kept play in our halfright up to the final whistle.


Final score: Young Munster 10 – 24 Clontarf

YOUNG MUNSTER: R Moloney; M Doyle, A Burke, A Carroll, D O’Neill; W Staunton, MPrendergast; A Cotter, G Slattery, H McGrath, D Gallagher, S O’Neill (capt), LÓg Murphy, J O’Neill, N Melbourne. Replacements used: G Burke, G Flaherty, JMoroney, M Rowley.

CLONTARF: R Lane; M McGrath,K Lett, C O’Shea, T McCoy; E Ryan, D O’Meara; B Barclay, A Dundon, N Treston, BRiley, J Chipman, A Darcy, B O’Mahony (capt), F Cogan. Replacements used: KDorian, C O’Keeffe, S Cronin, J Larbey.

Referee: D. Wilkinson