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U13 V Skibbereen 3rd Nov 2018   07/11/2018

U13 Match Report

 

South Munster League Conference A

Clonakilty 24: Skibbereen 5


Clonakilty U13’s have had an interesting start to the season. Having swelled their ranks to a squad of 42, with the arrival of 8 new players, some who had never picked up a rugby ball prior to joining this year, the coaches have had their work cut out for themselves in terms of quickly integrating everyone and trying to upskill the new players rapidly. In the build up to this past weekend, a tough draw in the opening round of the League saw Clon go down in a heavy loss away to Cork Con. Clon were caught cold on this occasion having not had a warm-up match and being only a few sessions into their training for the season. This was followed by a tough away friendly the next week against old foes Bandon, designed only to get game time for new players, but it showed how much work lay ahead as Clon’s defence was porous to say the least. Ballingcolig would have been Clon’s next league match, but they withdrew from the league as they have the opposite problem to Clon – too few players to field. So Clonakilty U 13’s were able to beaver away for a few weeks with no matches, in preparation for last weekend’s Round 3 league match away to Skibb.

So, to the game against Skibb. The game was played on Skibb’s third pitch, down the road from the club house and aptly named Marsh’s Field. After a good warm-up which went swimmingly amongst the weeds and surface water at the end of the pitch, it was clear that the Clon lads meant business and were up for it. Their no-nonsense, focussed approach was plain to see.

Clon U 13’s rotate their captaincy every match and on this day it fell to the inspirational no. 8 Marcus Kelly, who with the luck of the coin toss, elected for Clon to play with a strong wind behind his charges and on a slightly downhill surface. This was to prove very helpful as Skibb were pinned in their own half and indeed often in their own 22 from the outset. The tight five of Oran Blackburn, Finn o'Boyle Rafferty, Odhran O'Donovan, Culann Finn and Shane Keohane got straight to work, securing ruck ball and driving effectively, while the back row of Joseph Le Blanc, Sean Flood and Marcus Kelly linked superbly with the backs. Skibb were certainly intent of defending hard but Clon played with enough directness and pace on the ball that the Skibb defence was quickly disrupted, and when the ball went through the hands after a few phases, Calem Harte crossed the white stuff in the corner for his team’s first





try. The conversion was to prove too difficult in the conditions and from the range involved. Taking this into account Calem, crossing for a brace of tries after another very similar passage of play, this time rounded the posts to oblige his fly half and make the conversion easier. Clon now held a 12-0 lead inside of 10 minutes.

Skibb were not going to roll over though. What their smaller squad of 18 players lacked in numbers, they made up for in simple determination and farmer-like toughness and resolve. Clon continued to pin Skibb deep in their half and with a strong breeze against them and playing uphill, both literally and figuratively, kicking their way out of trouble was not an option for Skibbereen. So they turned to their big runners to carry them out of trouble. It threatened to work too as there were some big men that were hard to bring down. But the Clon players met them with a combination of determined pressure defence and some fantastic tackle technique. In particular Matt Murphy playing at 9 and Fionn Murphy at 10 showed that a good low chop tackle or side tackle at the ankles of a big man is as effective as anything you will get. And when 9 and 10 were not showcasing their one on one tackle technique, the midfield of Darragh McDonald and Calem Harte were ganging up with a few of the Clon big men to hold up the Skibb ball carriers and win turnover mauls. A ball eventually was kicked over the top by Skibb as they looked to exit their half and Paudie Hickey gathered it and returned with intent, supported by Dara Walsh who’s pace looked as threatening as ever.

After a few more attacking phases of play, Shane Keohane nearly went over for a try after two big hard carries himself. He was held up at the line and somehow Skibb managed to turn it over. This time they tried to spread it wide and run themselves outside of trouble in the outside channels. Again this nearly worked, but Kev Brady playing on the wing snatched a ball out of the heavens for an intercept and a simple try under the posts. The conversion followed and Clon now led 19-0.

The pressure continued from Clon, as did the misery for Skibb as a great hard run from big Darragh McDonald, from the half way line, saw him beat a number of defenders and shrug off a number of tackles to go under the posts for a try of his own. The conversion meant it was now 26-0.

Another 2 try opportunities were created and were there for the taking with Clon creating massive overlaps out wide following great work from Oran Blackburn, Finn o'Boyle Rafferty, Culann Finn, Sean Flood and Odhran O’Donovan. But the exuberance of youth and a bit of white-line fever sometimes overshadows simple decision making, and Clon squandered a chance to put the game away for good well inside the first half by cutting back into contact when the ball should have gone wide.

Still, Clonakilty were expecting Skibb to be deflated by now. Far from it though, Skibb owned the last 5 minutes of the first half. Up until now Clonakilty had pressed with enough line speed on defence that even when Skibb did get ball they could neither move the ball down their own line, nor get any momentum for their big ball carriers. However a particularly good carry saw their first line break and Clon were suddenly scrambling in defence on their own line. It was only a super Marcus Kelly steal at the breakdown that saw Skibb penalised for holding on to the ball on the ground and killed off their attack. Joe Le Blanc kicked a lovely touch finder for the first line-out of the match. The wind meant the ball was hard to control and Skibb capitalised. They had another good passage of play that brought them into Clon’s 22 again. But once again it was a penalty for holding onto the ball on the ground, under duress from the Clonakilty men, that saw Clon relieve the pressure and kick for touch again, bringing the half to a close just as Skibbereen were hitting their straps.

Fresh legs saw Jack Burton and Ryan O’Donnell come on in the forwards in the second half. The former got straight to work with his usual high work rate as he continued to add to his leading tackle count for the season. The latter brought his great game sense and communication onto the field with him. Ryan was to get in for Clon’s fifth try after a crucial steal and a number of big carries of his own, one of which took him under the posts. The conversion made it 33-0. Daniel McCarthy and Cian Wilson now entered the fray and made telling contributions for the tight 5 on both attack and defence. In the meantime Fionnan Bennett had come on a wing and later moved to 9 where he played with great assurance and a good read of the game. Sean Coffey played the second half too firstly at wing and then as a centre and he too made a number of telling runs. He looks to be a very dangerous attacker given a bit more time, having returned to rugby recently after some time out. Colum Kennifick came on as a wing replacement mid-way through the second half and did not put a foot wrong. His attendance record at training has been second to none and he continues to develop his game as a result.

Some of the coaches thoughts of putting Skibb to the sword with a cricket-score result had evaporated now though, as Skibb were making Clon work much harder than in the first half and playing with the wind behind them they were still very much up for the fight. Time was conspiring against them though and even when they manged to finally get around Clonakilty from deep in their own half and run in a try, one felt that they would not have time to mount a come-back against a determined Clonakilty team. The last 10 minutes of this game did however belong to a hard working Skibb team and Clonakilty had to dig deep as they now found themselves pinned in their own 22. They kept their composure and defended well and were happy to hear the final whistle, rounding off a great game and super performance by Clonakilty against a determined but ultimately out-gunned Skibb team. Final score: 33-5

The match was very well officiated and Skibb played the game in great spirit and were a credit to the game. They were also super hosts and a pleasure to share a sandwich and a chat with after the game. Clonakilty now look to play a largely new panel of players against Skibb in a return challenge match at the Vale this coming weekend.

Squad: Oran Blackburn, Finn o'Boyle Rafferty, Odhran O'Donovan, Culann Finn, Shane Keohane, Joseph Le Blanc, Sean Flood, Marcus Kelly, Matt Murphy, Fionn Murphy, Dara Walsh, Darragh Mc Donald, Calem Harte, Kevin Brady, Paudie Hickey, Cian Wilson, Daniel Mcarthy, Fionnan Bennett, Ryan O'Donnell, Jack Burton, Sean Coffee, Colum Kennifick





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