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South Munster U18 Cup Quarter Final   12/04/2017

South Munster U18 Cup Quarter Final   

Dolphin 10: Clonakilty 29

A performance of character and quality rugby had seen Clon defeat Skibbereen at home in the first round of the cup last weekend at home in Clon. This cup quarter final v Dolphin was a scrappier affair but Clon turned on the class when needed and constructed five tries in all to defeat a physical Dolphin side.

A beautiful day in Mahon saw Clon start playing into a slight breeze. From the off Clon attacked in both the narrow and wide channels making meters in the face of a strong Dolphin defence. Clon were penalised three times however for off side offenses at the breakdown and in midfield, all in quick succession in the opening 10 minutes and all within kicking range. Dolphin failed to convert but the quality of Dolphin’s kicker was obvious and Clon would have to be vigilant and measured in defence.

Clon’s strong defence started to win possession. Killian O’Driscoll, Moss Downey, Jamie O’Donovan and Nico Bakker were outstanding, fighting for every inch on the gain line. As a result Dolphin’s big ball carriers struggled to make ground - Clon effectively neutralising their primary attacking threat.

 The lineout and scrum also started to fuction well as it had done last week v Skibb. Jack Ryan, John Beamish and Killian O’Driscoll were again dominant at scrum time supported in the engine room by Mike Murphy and Jamie O’Donovan. The hard working back row of Nico Bakker now at 6, Moss Downey and Darragh O’Connor were willing ball carriers.

The quality ball started to pay dividends as halfbacks Liam Halligan and Maurice Shanley used the ball well, mixing the territory and running game to good effect. Clon’s first score came from two committed carries by Jamie O’Donovan and Moss Downey before the ball was moved through the hands with accuracy for Victor Lovell to power over. The second try soon followed. Man of the match Killian O’Driscoll carried powerfully deep into Dolphin territory. Good support play saw a strong ruck clearance before the ball was moved from right to left. When it went wide Danny Murphy struck a hard straight line. He matched the power shown by O’Driscoll shrugging off two big defensive hits before crashing over in the corner. This physicality, intensity and tempo remained for the entire first half driven by Clon. Players worked in pairs to put up walls of defense not only stopping big Dolphin ball carriers in thier traks but in many cases putting them backwards and flooding the ruck.  

Killian O’Driscoll and John Beamish, Jamie O’Donovan and Moss Downey, Conor Hayes and Victor Lovellk all worked in tandem to stop Dolphin attacks.

The main barometer of winning cup matches is the physical encounters and Clon were winning this battle. It was clear which team wanted the win more and was prepared to work for it. Clon had taken control and were playing controlled hard edged rugby. They had built an advantage in the terrritory battle and had turned this domination into scores – classic cup rugby. Half backs Liam Halligan at 9 and Maurice Shanley at 10 now pose a very potent threat with centres Conor Hayes and Victor Lovell. Hayes and Lovell are class acts and work hard in attack and defence. Danny Murphy and Jamie Santry stretched Dolphin’s defence and Sean Madden’s silky football skill were on show at fullback, giving Dolphin no option to kick long as they soon recognised the counter attacking threat he posed. Darragh O’Connor returned to his favoured position of 7 having played in many positions this season when requested. He showed his strength in his favoured position being the pivotal link  in the the axis between backs and forwards securing posession in the wide channels at ruck time and keeping the ball alive.

As the game moved towards the break Clon continued to push and  Killian O’Driscioll was rewarded for his outstanding performance crashing over himself before half time leaving the score at 17 – 3.

As the second half started Clon let the tempo of the game fall as they seemed to be anticipating and waiting for a Dolphin fight back. Concentration was lost and the lineout which has been a primary source of quality ball for Clon was now misfiring. This had a knock on effect and poor quality ruck ball meant the game lost its momentum.

This suited the big Dolphin pack as they began to get into the game and secure possession. They would have inflicted more damage with this new found possession had it not been from some quality first up tackling from forwards Moss Downey, Jack Ryan, Jamie O’Donovan and Killian O’Driscoll.

Clon did produce two quality scores in the second half however. 15min into the second half clon produced a quality ball from a scrum which saw Liam Halligan accurately hit Maurice Shanley with a super pass. Shanley’s skills are well known and he continued the move hitting Victor Lovell out the back door of Conor Hayes decoy run. The speed and accuracy of pass had opened up the midfield for Lovell. He accelerated to outpace the defensive line and then used footwork to beat the fullback and score by the posts. It was a super try executed by a classy backline. Clon made four changes and the new players made an immediate impact. Michael White, Conor Murphy and Fionn Courtney came into the pack and Owain Buttimer came into the backs.

Dolphin responded and got field position camping on Clon’s line. Clon put up a strong resistance at first but didn’t continue to work the tight in ruck defence. This was disappointing given it has been an area of focus in recent weeks. Dolphin breeched Clon’s line with ease in the end of a second 5 meter penalty. Bandon will pose a similar threat in this area next week so improvement will be required here. Clon were stung and duly reacted. Another super scrum in the middle of Clon’s 22meter line saw the ball moved from right to left. Backline dept and movement saw full back Sean Madden put into space down the left wing. He had 80 meters to go after he had beaten the defence. He lined up and sold the full back to cross the line. It was a super try.

As per last week game V Skibbereen, Clon’s performance wasn’t perfect. An excellent first half performance was followed by a poor second half.

What Clon did show again was the work rate and desire required to gain possession and the game awareness required to use this possession and win cup matches.

The penalty count was much improved and this team is maturing setting its own standards and showing a capability and honesty to recognise when standards are dropping and taking the individual and collective responsibility do something about it.

Clon had once again earned their victory. Final score Dolphin 10 Clonakilty 29

The prize is an away Semi-final in Bandon next Saturday V Bandon 15.4.2017 Time TBC see www.clonakiltyrfc.com for confirmation.

Bandon will look at this as an opportunity to overturn two defeats to Clon this season.

Clon will see things differently however. We have taken those opportunities to right the records of defeats to Skibbereen and Dolphin. Clon are also much stronger and experienced now and can travel to Bandon with confidence.

The squad would like to thank Club Captain Olan Dean who addressed the players before kickoff.

Squad - Fionn McPeake, Jamie Santry, Danny Murphy, Conor Hayes, Darragh O’Connor, Maurice Shanley, Liam Halligan, Jack Ryan, John Beamish, Conor Murphy, Michael Murphy, Killian O’Driscoll, Jamie O’Donovan, Fionn Courtney, Nico Bakker, Sean Madden, Moss Downey, Owain Buttimer and Victor Lovell.





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