West Munster U14 Cup – Quarter-final: Killarney 34 Castleisland 20
Played at Castleisland, Killarney played some excellent rugby in defeating Castleisland in the cup quarter-final.
Castleisland opened the scoring with a penalty after Killarney offended at a ruck on their own 22. Castleisland’s number 10 expertly converted to give his team the lead and give Killarney a warning about conceding kickable penalties.
Killarney soon responded with their first try. A smart grubber kick by Pierce Slattery behind the Castleisland defence was hacked on by Gearóid Sugrue – avoiding the potential tackler – and he was able to win the footrace to touch down. Castleisland replied quickly with another penalty to restore their lead. Finn Kennelly had been unable to convert the first try from a narrow angle but he was instrumental in setting up the second Killarney try. His excellent break from on halfway put Killarney well positioned inside the Castleisland 22 – after a number of phases where Killarney stretched the home defence, Alex O’Leary was able to break through the cover to score under the posts. Kennelly was able to convert a relatively straightforward conversion attempt to leave Killarney 12-6. Killarney added a third try shortly before halftime when Josh Coffey broke several tackles to score under the posts – the conversion was good leaving Killarney ahead 19-6 at which point the referee called for half time.
An amusing moment in the first half came when a clearance kick by Castleisland full-back was expertly fielded in centrefield by one of his colleagues who took a soaring catch – probably forgetting temporarily which code of football we were playing. The referee was less amused and awarded a penalty for offside – the defending player having made no attempt to retire behind the kicker.
The early phases of the second half were closely fought but Killarney opened the scoring. A loose clearance kick went straight to Pierce Slattery who had open field and a disorganised defence in front of him, sprinting clear of the Castleisland defence he was able to touch down in the corner. The unconverted try left Killarney 24-6 to the good. Castleisland came back into the game, testing Killarney’s defence and after a long series of phases were able to score their first try. Again, the Castleisland number 10 was able to convert leaving Killarney 24-13 ahead and giving Castleisland an element of hope.
Hope was snuffed out with Killarney’s fifth try – Alex O’Leary getting his second score in similar fashion to the first, as Killarney kept building pressure by recycling the ball quickly from rucks and moving the ball away from traffic. Eventually, the defence could no longer get set and Alex was able to score from close range.
The sixth and final Killarney try was an excellent advertisement for the game and for running rugby – an excellent passing move saw Darragh McCormack put away into space. Looking sure to score, but nearing the goal-line and tight to the touchline and fearing being tackled into touch or touch-in-goal he unselfishly passed inside to the supporting Gearóid Sugrue who – following the age-old openside strategy of
chase the ball – had kept up with play and was rewarded with the simple task to crash over the line to score.
To their credit, Castleisland stuck to the task and Killarney were on the back foot for the final moments and after a long series of phases, Castleisland got their second try – although made to fight hard for it by the Killarney defence. The try was converted by Castleisland’s 10 -who had a noteworthy 4 from 4 with kicks. The conversion was the final play of the game and the referee called time with Killarney victorious by 34pts to 20.
From Killarney point of view this was an excellent performance – the ball was kept in play for long periods by quick rucking with Dara Stack providing an excellent and speedy service from scrum-half. Each player contributed to an open and attacking game plan – much credit to the coaching/management team of Ian Harrington, Mark Doody, and Ed O’Donovan.
Next game is a home semi-final versus Abbeyfeale – currently scheduled for Sat 20th April.