U16's v Skibbereen 14th October 2017   19/10/2017

Clonakilty U16's made the journey to neighbour's Skibbereen on Saturday morning last for their first league game of the season. This was always going to be a difficult task for this young Clon team as Skibb are current Munster U16 champions.

The game started at a great pace as both teams settled into it but a fabulous "dummy" by Eoin Downey from a ruck after 15 minutes caught the whole Skibb defence out and he sprinted the 20 yards to touch down to the left of the posts for a great individual try. Craig Bateman added the conversion and Clon had got the start they had hoped for.

A knock on from the re-start gave Skibb field position in the Clon "22" and they used their big forwards to great effect to crash over for their opening try, which was successfully converted. Further Skibb pressure before the half time break yielded two further converted try's leaving the score at 21-7 at the short whistle.

An early Skibb try in the second half pushed Skibb's lead out to 26-7 and now the character of this Clon team faced a serious test. However ,credit where it is due, the lads in red & green put their shoulders to the wheel and refused to lie down to their more physical opponents. James O' Donovan carried powerfully, and the bravery and  defensive work of Shane Crowley, Stephen O' Hea and Cameron Coone was enormous. Liam Barry, Alex Hourihan and Rohan Ager got stuck into the tight exchanges while Mike Maguire, Eoghan Murphy and Luke Knowles never took a step back.

The Clon team eventually got it's reward when Ben Lovell looked certain to score from a kick ahead only to be dragged back by red and white shirt. However the referee had no hesitation in awarding a penalty try to make the scoreline 26-14. This score seemed to give Clon some much needed confidence and Eoghan Ferguson, Aaron O' Donovan and Craig Bateman began to have a great influence on proceedings. A second Eoin Downey try (did he ground the ball or was it knocked on we will never know) really threw the cat among the pigeons as Clon were now back to within one score of taking the lead. Ryan Jennings and Cian Downey were calm and very brave on the wings while Chris Walton ran some hard lines and made some great tackles in the centre. Kyle Buttimer was always a threat before he was forced to retire with injury and Cillian McDonald was confident and assured when introduced at full back.

The effort of dragging themselves back into the game took its toll on a tiring Clon team and two further try's for the home team before the end left the final score line 40-21 in Skibb's favour.  

There can be no question but that Skibb were the deserving winners. They have a big powerful team and will undoubtedly be one of the strongest U16 teams in Munster again this year. However Clon can take great heart from their performance. Over half the team is U15 but the spirit and character they showed was a credit to them. A few unforced errors cost them dearly (hopefully they can learn from these) and there is no doubt that they will get stronger as the season goes on. It was also great that every player on the squad was able to enjoy game time as rolling substitutions have been introduced this year and is a great initiative.  

Next week they are at home to Ballincollig in the league as another stern test awaits them. However if they show the same spirit and determination they will give any team a run for their money. Well done lads, keep up the good work!


Donal Mac Sweeney Club Captain 2018/19

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