Killarney RFC win the U16 Munster Development Cup – match report
Killarney RFC win the U16 Munster Development Cup – match report by Seamus Grealy
Killarney 13 Cashel-Kilfeacle 10 (Pics courtesy of Ian Cronin Photography)
Killarney U16s captured the silverware in this riveting Munster Development Cup Final played in fabulous Spring sunshine in splendid Irish Independent Park in Cork. The sense of occasion and nervous apprehension was tangible as the teams walked out. Kilfeacle started the game with great purpose and control and dominated territory and possession. The action was intense and unrelenting on the 4G surface. At first the Tipperary side battered the gain line with powerful forward surges and then gradually began to move ball wider. The Killarney defence was resolute and unyielding but also worryingly running up a considerable penalty count. It looked like Kilfeacle were sure to score on 10 minutes but Liam Randles last ditch interception on the 5 yard line saved a certain 7. Thankfully the Killarney lineout was functioning superbly with John McCarthy dominating, and with Brendy O Donoghue bolstering the front row scrums were solid. Another evident feature was Killarney’s ability to counter-ruck and turnover ball while protecting the try line.
However, Killarney looked in deep trouble after 15 minutes when Rob Nealon was binned for continual team infringements. The lads dug in deep and responded to adversity by keeping ball in hand. The breakout duly arrived when Dan Twomey found space and set the platform for the backline to spin ball wide. Skillful passing gave right winger Tomas Clifford a window on the outside and as per usual he took off and outpaced the defence to open the scoring. Kilfeacle’s response was to relaunch their offensive assault. They pounded away recycling cleverly until their powerful lock Dylan O Grady eventually found a chink and burrowed over. Stephen Ferncombe converted to secure a 7-5 lead. The game opened up somewhat before halftime and both teams probed with ball in hand. Unfortunately, Killarney were again reduced to 14 with James Kennelly this time exiting for a mistimed tackle. The large support gave both teams a rousing handclap at halftime with the score 7 to 5 for Kilfeacle.
As expected with the nerves settled the accuracy and tempo increased immediately on the restart. Killarney now began to dominate possession and territory. Suddenly the half backs’ clearances and box-kicks were being chased – superbly pinning Kilfeacle in their half. Props Adam Cronin and Rob Nealon powered into the game. Cormac Rowe began to make hard yards and with Padraic Talbot rotating to centre the backline moved menacingly. Now Killarney were forcing errors and winning penalties. Several short penalty options were tried but met with stiff defence.
With 15 minutes to go Killarney out half Donnchadh Grealy elected to go for goal and cooly slotted the penalty to regain the lead 8 points to 7. Fearing defeat Kilfeacle redoubled their effort and set siege to the Killarney line. Again the pattern of heroic Killarney scrambling defence emerged. Incredibly, Killarney went down to 14 for a third time when Cormac Rowe was sent to the bin for illegal ruck entry. Kilfeacle again came close but brave smother tackling from the backline kept the try line intact. Another kickable penalty offense resulted in outhalf Ferncombe settling for 3 to take a lead with 5 minutes to go.
As expected Killarney launched one final assault. Donnchadh Grealy broke the defensive line and surged into the 22.The ball was recycled and shipped wide to the left and powerhouse Ozdenis Koyun got over the try line before supporting Bailey O Sullivan touched down. Without TMO the tension was unbearable, however after consultation with the linesman the try was confirmed. Killarney now led 13-10. With two minutes on the clock the experience garnered over a long rollercoaster season was evident in the close out. Brendy O Donoghue secured the restart and the ball was retained and recycled until Liam Randles booted it into the stand to signal great scenes of celebration.
Killarney captain Peter Walsh accepted the cup and graciously commended a strong, committed and powerful Cashel-Kilfeacle side on their performance.
This Cup victory provides a huge boost for rugby in South West Munster and for KRFC the future sure looks bright.
The team certainly rose to the occasion on final day. Liam Randles gave a MOTM performance passing superbly, box kicking and tormenting opposition throughout. Ozdenis Koyun and Donnchadh Grealy worked in tandem tackling, counter rucking, turning over possession but also launching the attack. James Kenneally returned from Berlin and slotted into the centre effortlessly. Wingers Tomas Clifford and Dan Twomey injected speed, resolve and defensive steel. Full back Mikey Moriarty superbly marshaled the backfield and tackled tigerishly.
Prop Adam Cronin gave his most complete performance in a Killarney jersey. Rob Nealon stood resolutely as first up tackler throughout. Darren Cronin worked bravely winning turnover ball and Cormac Rowe carried superbly. Killarney thrower Brendy O Donoghue and jumper John McCarthy ran a perfect lineout exhibition and ever valiant Padraic Talbot incredibly plugged all the gaps left by the 3 yellow cards. Bailey O Sullivan also turned in a superb 60 minute performance heroically popping up at the end to secure victory. Replacements Jack Kenneally, Shane McAllister and Mike Moriarty provided the necessary backup. Well done to all the lads on their sustained seasons effort and congratulations on securing a first victory for the club in this prestigious competition.
Congratulations to all the coaching team – head coach Seamus Grealy, manager John O Connell, backs coaches Eoin Seery and Leo Randles, forward coaches Bill Stack, Conn Crowley and Fiona Reidy.