U13 report V Kinsale 17th Nov   24/11/2018

U13 Report

Clonakilty V Kinsale 17 Nov 2018

It sounds such a cliché, but if it is possible, Clonakilty U13’s almost felt like winners on a day they lost.  This despite the game slipping to 5 tries to 2 against Clonakilty and final the score-line reading an unpleasant 29-10 come the end of the game.  But, the score really did flatter Kinsale, a point which even the Kinsale coach felt compelled to make in the follow up correspondence between head coaches.  If Clonakilty were gracious in defeat, Kinsale were certainly magnanimous in winning the game and one could not have asked for better hosts!

The devil is in the detail they say.  And no more so than on this day.  Clonakilty travelled by bus to Kinsale on a dry crisp Saturday morning.  Teddy Lowney, distracted by the good craic the lads were having on the bus in fairness, missed a turning just before Kinsale club but got the team there safe and sound in the end and still with ample time for a good warm-up.

Clonakilty U13’s are in one of the tougher league groups in West Cork, with Cork Con, Bandon, Skibb and Kinsale all being formidable opponents.  The lads knew they would be facing a strong organised Kinsale outfit, but as always, they looked very much up for the challenge.  The intensity in warm-up alone led to few knocks, not dissimilar to the previous week against Skibb where there were two blood noses even before KO.  Kev Brady this day had a bit of a lie down after one tackle.  He was brave.  It is a tough game indeed.

A format of 3 x 20 mins had been pre-agreed which allowed Clonakilty to rotate the squad through the game without losing too much shape.  The first 20 minute periods saw Oran Blackburn, Marcus Kelly, Odhran O’Donovan, Culann Finn, Shane Keohane, Joseph Le Blanc, Jack Burton, Sean Flood. Matt Murphy, Fionn Murphy, Dara Walsh, Ryan O'Donnell, Darragh Mc Donald, Jay Hayes and Paudie Hickey take the field. 

The game itself was a very closely contested affair.  Clonakilty probably edged Kinsale for possession and played a bit more rugby.  But some tough decisions against them and some turnovers at key moments of Clonakilty momentum, led to a few scores against the run of play and a distortion of the result in Kinsales favour.  Clonakilty were not blameless though and probably negated some of their hard work and industrious play with a little bit of sloppy handling at times, which is unusual for this side, and perhaps they allowed a few balls too many to be ripped away from them in the tackle.  On the latter point, Kinsale had been well coached and had a second man coming in to support the tackler and look for a turnover or a ripped ball.  This is something that the Clonakilty lads have not got to yet as they focus more on basic core skills while they integrate their large squad.

Matt Murphy led the troops in battle as deserving captain for the day and from the start the young Conor Murry look-a-like had his men firing.  Clonakilty carried hard into contact, recycled and tried to put some width on the ball allowing Darragh Mc Donald, Jay Hayes and Dara Walsh a chance to stretch their legs.  They all looked dangerous.  They did this successfully through multiple passages of play and made steady progress up the field.  Marcus Kelly was having a great game carrying, as was Oran Blackburn, Odhran O’Donovan, Culann Finn and Sean Flood. However, they were met by a staunch, determined Kinsale defence, assisted some cynics might say by getting away with living a little bit off-side. Either that or they have the line-speed of the Canterbury Crusaders…  But you play the whistle and Kinsale were doing just that and containing Clonakilty well, not allowing many line breaks.  It was a tit for tat affair for the opening 10 minutes with Clonakilty looking more in control of the game.  Ironically however it was Clonakilty who now conceded a few penalties for being off-side.  Their seven Jack Burton was quick off the side of the scrum and would listen for the call of “break” before tearing into the Kinsale out-half.  It seemed however that the Kinsale no. 10 was off-limits and Clonakilty were pinged twice in succession for being too quick off the mark which frustrated the Clonakilty coaching staff. Disaster then struck as one of the Kinsale speedsters made a very good break in fairness from his own 22 and got around the Clon men to go under the posts for 5 points.  The conversion attempt hit the post limiting the damage a bit.

Sean Coffey entered the game at 15 minutes and a re-shuffle of positions allowed Shane Keohane to take a rest.  Shane is a man who improves weekly in his first season in rugby and looked as strong as ever carrying the ball this day.  Ryan O’Donnell had played 15 minutes at inside centre in an experiment that worked, but he was brought back into the pack to add some further bulk.  He played wonderfully as always and was eventual man-of-the-match and recipient of the coveted Clonakilty U13 rotating match ball.  The rest of the first 20 minutes went by with no further scores but with Clonakilty losing momentum to penalties against them each time they hit their straps.  The 20 minutes ended with Clonakilty on the wrong side of a 6 to 1 penalty count….. a slightly alarming stat for just 20 minutes of rugby.

James Murnane and Conor Creswell now took the field for Fionn Murphy and Paudie Hickey at 10 and 15 respectively.  There is nothing separating any of these men in terms determination, great attitude and great skills, so it is wonderful for the coaches to be able to rotate the squad and know that depth is being built in key positions which will stand Clonakilty in good stead for years to come.  The next 20 minutes seemed to go the same way with Clonakilty initially not getting any return for some cracking play, and Kinsale being a tough team to break through.  There was again some frustration when Clonakilty were three times given penalty advantages when in the Kinsale half, only for ‘advantage-over’ over to be called each time that Clonakilty progressed but ultimately knocked-on or got turned over.  The play should have come back for the Clonakilty penalties as the rules are simple and if advantage is not gained on a penalty advantage, one reverts to the penalty.  These might have been key turning points in the game, as it was one of these occurrences which again saw Kinsale take the ball up field against the run of play and ultimately dive over.  Clonakilty’s head coach had followed the play and watched as the ball was dropped inches from the ground causing a knock-on rather than a try for Kinsale, but in fairness the ref was unsighted so could not have known.  Still, the beautiful Malbec from the previous day’s wine tasting event had now been forgotten and the grapes this day were starting to taste a bit sour.  The score was 12-0 as the conversion succeeded.

Clonakilty introduced fresh legs in Adam O’Leary, Finn O’Boyle Rafferty and Tom O’Donovan and Oran Blackburn, Jack Burton and Dara Walsh took a seat to allow the rotation.  Irrespective of personnel changes, Clonality are able to continue their game plan without too much disruption and finally the breakthrough came courtesy of a super Darragh McDonald run up the left flank.  The try was scored but the extras missed so the score stood at 12-5. 

Clonakilty were now finding their rhythm.  Kinsale tried to kick their way out of trouble, but Conor Creswell back tracked, fielded the ball and returned it with pace.  It sparked the next wave of Clonakilty attack which ultimately took the Clon men to the Kinsale line.  Joe Le Blanc looked to round off the attack and drove strongly for the line with another trademark monster carry. He was stopped half a meter short and got knees to ground.  Clonakilty coaches had again followed the play and were imploring the Kinsale tackler to release.  He did not.  Clonality were expecting a penalty try or at the very least a penalty, but it did not come.  Someone shout something about ‘Specsavers’ to the ref!  It seemed to have a thick South African twang to it too.  But in truth it was the Clonakilty head coach who could not really see properly now as the tears of frustration welled in his eyes.  He watched exasperated as Kinsale took another turnover against the run of play and ran the length of the field, via a detour into touch some say after pressure for the Clonakilty tacklers, to get another score.  It hurt the Clonakilty lads and with time expiring in the half they leaked another try while still trying to compose themselves and swallow the bitter pill that had been served.  Nothing should be taken from Kinsale as they played what was in front of them and took their opportunities well, so all credit to them.  But at 24-5 down in a game they had been very much in, Clonakilty had reason to feel a little aggrieved.

The last 20 saw Ethan McDermot, Daragh Cullinane, George Russell, Daniel Mcarthy, John Deegan, Cian Wilson, Fionnan Bennett, Calem Harte, Luke Kelleher, Adam Barry, Colum Kennifick and Fionn Ruane-Crissun all enter the game.  What depth the Clonaklity U13’s are lucky enough to have.  The game was now probably gone from Clonakilty but with fresh legs the team approached the last 20 as a fresh new challenge.  Wave after wave of strong carrying and great support play by Clonakilty eventually saw a determined Fionnan Bennett get over in the right-hand corner to narrow the score to 24-10.  His delight was plain to see!  Time was running out now, but strong runs from Calem Harte, Sean Coffey and Luke Kelleher all threatened to make further inroads before time expired.  On defence a great cover tackle from Cian Wilson also snuffed out a dangerous run from the speedy Kinsale winger.  Ultimately though Kinsale were to have the last say, getting over for one more score and earning themselves deserved victory. 29-10.

The Clonakilty lads and coaches were frustrated but once they came together in their huddle and took stock they realised just how much they had grown as a team this day, how they had played every man and held the last 20 minutes to 5 all after a tough first two 20 minutes, how they had kept their composure in the face of some calls that they would have definitely interpreted a different way, and how they had now been drawn into a little bit off off-the-ball stuff that brewed a few times.  The lads are coming good but are realistic about the fact that there is still lots to be done, not least of all with the tricky unknown quantity that is Bantry this weekend, and then the biggest challenge that the team is likely to face all season on 01 December in the form of the currently outstanding Bandon team.


Donal Mac Sweeney Club Captain 2018/19

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