Munster Club U16 Plate v Bruff   27/01/2018

Bruff RFC from Co Limerick, just like the hosts Clonakilty RFC, have a great history and tradition in youth rugby in Munster. So when their U16 team visited Shannovale on Saturday last it looked like it had all the necessary ingredients for a great match.

And so it turned out to be. This was a great advertisement for youth rugby as both teams went at it hammer and tongs, without a single nasty or unsporting blow being thrown in the whole game. 

Clonakilty started really well and took the game to their opponents. After five minutes Clon gained some territory just inside the Bruff half. They retained possession for approximately 15 phases, showing great composure and maturity, before the opening appeared for Charlie O Shea to burst through the opposition defence and touch down. A successful conversion from Aaron O Donovan meant Clon now held a deserved 7-0 lead.

They say you are never more vulnerable than in the minutes just after you have scored. This again proved the case today as Bruff gained a foothold deep in the Clon "22" after Clon failed to adequately deal with the Bruff re-start. However some great defence from Clon kept their opponents off the score board and they soon worked their way back down the field. Great pressure from Eoin Downey on the Bruff out half forced a penalty for Clon deep in Bruff territory. Clon decided to back themselves instead of going for the kick at goal and Charlie O Shea carried the ball aggressively towards the Bruff defence. He then slipped a "peach" of a pop pass to James O Donovan, who hit the line like a steam train, and touched down to extend Clon's lead. 

Clon were really motoring at this stage and were well on top. However a loose pass on the opponents "22" was intercepted and the speedy Bruff  first centre ran the length of the pitch to record their first try, which has to be said was against the run of play. Half Time Score: Clonakilty 12 Bruff 7.

The second half was very evenly matched as both teams threw everything at each other, hoping to be next on the score board. Thankfully that score was to go Clon's way as following a line out 5 metres from the Bruff line, Aaron O Donovan stepped up to blast over and dot down. He then beautifully converted his own try (as most tightheads do) to leave Clon 19 - 7 ahead with 15 minutes remaining.

However Bruff are a club with a great tradition and they were never going to give up without a fight. They continued to work hard and were deservedly rewarded with two tries, leaving the score 19-17 with 6 minutes remaining. 

This was a real test for Clon now but they showed great character and bravery in meeting every Bruff attack head-on. Man of the Match Cameron Coone put his body on the line time and time again, bringing down players over twice his size .... before immediately getting up and trying to take the ball back off them. Eoin Ferguson was excellent in the middle of the park, while Cian Downey, Alex Hourihan and Shane Crowley worked tirelessly in support of their team mates.

Liam Barry was having a big game before being forced to retire with injury, while Dylan Hayes had his best game in a red and green jersey, looking dangerous in possession and dealing really well with everything that came his way. David Harte put in some great hits when introduced for the second half while Eoin Murphy and Mike Maguire added some fresh impetus when energy levels were flagging. Rory White was buzzing around and getting stuck in as usual while Cristeoir Hayes put in some "O Gara" style kicks from the number 10 slot, pinning Bruff back and keeping his pack going forward.

Ben Lovell looked really threatening every time he got on the ball and Cillian McDonald was reliable, dependable and cool in both attack and defence.

A special word also for Chris Walton. Chris had indicated that he was not anxious to play the full game because of upcoming committments. However when Ryan Jennings had to sadly withdraw from the game at the last moment due to illness, Chris stepped forward and played his heart out for the full 60 minutes, never shirking a tackle and driving his team mates forward at every opportunity. Well done Chris, the squad and management team appreciate you helping us out when we most needed it.

The final whistle sounded with Clon defending their line, bravely in the trenches, but crucially ahead by 2 points (19-17). There were great scenes among the players as the lads realised they had been put to the pin of their collars but had passed the very stern test set out for them by this Bruff 15.

The management team realise there are areas to be worked on but it was great to see the honesty and determination from every one of the lads in red and green jerseys .... the club, coaches, parents and supporters were really proud of you.

It was a great game to be at.


Donal Mac Sweeney Club Captain 2018/19

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