U18s win West Munster Cup

 In Club
U18s win West Munster cup

Our U18.5 boys won a thrilling West Munster Cup final in Tralee on Sunday defeating Corca Dhuibhne 31-18.

Kicking off in brilliant sunshine, Corca Dhuibhne took the early initiative by opting for the posts when awarded a penalty close in.  With the tie-break rules in the event of a draw, first score can be a winning card. Killarney struck back soon after, Bryan Walsh looked sure to score in the corner but although scragged short, Shane O’Sullivan was in hand to get over the line.  “First try”  beats “first score” – slight advantage to Killarney.  Walsh was unable to convert, so Killarney lead 5-3 early on.

The game was open and entertaining, Corca Dhuibhne came back with a try in the corner that was expertly converted from a difficult angle to lead 10-5.   Killarney again came back with a super try from Mark Kennelly converted by Bryan Walsh.  That left the score 12-10 to Killarney at half time.
Starting the second half a defensive mix-up left Killarney under pressure and resulted in a penalty that Corca Dhuibhne kicked to regain the lead by one point. Killarney responded with a try from Chris Doody after a good spell of pressure in the RCD 22.  The conversion was missed so we led by a precarious 4 points, 17-13.  Next score – was probably the decisive one.  A great break by Mark Kennelly saw scrum half Gearóid Sugrue running a super inside trail line to take the offload and run clear to score under the posts.  With a successful conversion by Walsh, Killarney now led 24-13 heading into the last quarter.

Undeterred, Corca Dhuibhne put Killarney under heavy pressure and after a stout defensive stand, a try was awarded following a close in carry.   Conversion was missed – leaving the game balanced at 24-18 with time ebbing away.  Killarney put the game to bed with try from Kris O’Leary Sacristan. Bryan Walsh’s third conversion put us 31-18 ahead with under 10 minutes remaining.  Corca Dhuibhne kept pushing to the end – but another superb defensive effort saw Killarney see the game out to emerge triumphant.

Scorers – Tries (5):   Shane O’Sullivan, Mark Kennelly, Chris Doody, Gearóid Sugrue, Kris O’Leary Sacristan; Cons: Bryan Walsh (3);

After the disappointment of the loss to Waterpark – the eventual champions – in the Munster Cup quarter final this was a great way to finish the season winning a cup and reversing our earlier league defeat to RCD.  It is also creditable that this was their first match since that quarter final defeat at the start of March

Great credit to a super bunch of young men – who played some thrilling rugby but were able to “tough out” close wins on the road when needed. The whole season was a terrific achievement with a small panel  – 9 lads played in all 14 games, 4 others made 10 to 13 appearances over the season. Their resilience, enthusiasm, and will to win was fantastic to witness.   And a special mention to Alex O’Leary – who missed the last few games due to injury –  but who played a huge part in driving the team through the Munster Cup group stages as success in the early conference games enabled the lads to grow in confidence as they entered the Cup group stages.

We must also pay tribute to management team – Seamus Grealy, Bill Stack, and Conn Crowley for mentoring these young men, and to Pat Chambers for his support, and to Pat Herlihy who patched up the walking wounded and made sure player enthusiasm did not get in the way of player safety.

For the lads whose final year this was at U18, this was a great way to sign off as they – we hope – move up to U20 and or senior rugby.  For the lads who get a third year in this grade, we hope they’ll continue to mentor and guide the younger cohort and the upcoming U16s, and we look forward to welcoming everyone back after the summer.
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