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U18 V Midleton Munster Club U18 Plate Semi Final 24th March 2019   27/03/2019

U18 Team update

Munster Plate Semi-Final

Clonakilty 29: Midleton 26

Clonakilty secured an u18 Plate final spot with a hard fought semi-final victory over Middleton RFC played in excellent conditions in Bandon on Saturday Morning. Middleton came into the contest having topped their pool with a clean sweep of victories and a convincing quarter final win. A formidable Middleton pack would be ably assisted by a useful back division with some power and pace at their disposal. Clon were bringing some form and confidence of their own with an unbeaten record in the past 3 matches against good opposition. Clon were without the services of Owain Buttimer and Ben Lovell who were only fit enough for bench spots. Kyle Buttimer continued at number 15 with John Allen-Byrne starting on the wing. Craig Bateman formed a center partnership with Jamie Santry and Sean Sexton came into the second row for a start.

Clon showed the better of the 2 teams from the start and made some early line breaks to put pressure on the Middleton line early on. The second row partnership of Sean Sexton and Tomas Tyner were carrying hard and making inroads. Middleton held the line however from the early onslaught, however on the 5 min mark; Clon won a lineout on the opposition 22. An excellent line out take at the rear sent Liam Barry on the march as he took it around the corner at full tilt. A few carries later and it was pressure on the try line. The ball was eventually moved a few out from the breakdown to Jamie Santry who straightened to finish from 5 meters. Tynor converted to bring to give Clon a deserved 7-0 Lead.

This seemed to spur Middleton into action. A few minutes later Fionn McPeake was caught 10 meters out from his own line while trying to deal with a deep kick. Middleton moved the ball left along the backline and sent their blind side winger through a gap from a nice wrap around move to score. The conversion leveled matters up. It was Clon who struck again 22 mins in when No. 8. Michael White forced his way over wide on the left. This followed some sustained pressure again from Clon. Some Strong carries from Craig Bateman and Kyle Buttimer ably assisted by the forwards putting Clon in position for White to force his way over. The conversion was missed leaving Clon with a 12-7 lead.

It was short lived however with Middleton striking back almost immediately. They got some of their big ball carriers into the game to make some ground in midfield and create an overlap out to the left. This sucked up the backfield cover and a chip in behind evaded the covering Stephen O’Hea to hop into the Middleton wingers arms. He showed a clean pair of heels to dot down under the posts and take a 12-14 lead despite Clons better possession and territory. Things were to get worse as Middleton struck again just before half time with another try following some good play by their big forwards. It was now clear this was going to go the wire in the second half if Clon were to pull through this one. Clon could yet regret some opportunities left behind in the first half.

Clon started the second half the better again and got some sustained pressure and territory in the first ten minutes. A penalty was kicked to touch on the Middleton 22 by Darragh O’Conner who was controlling the game well from No 10. The forwards whose lineout work was excellent found a move to send Michael White away around the front of the lineout. He beat a few defenders before offloading to the supporting Liam Barry. The Hooker dotting down in the corner. Up stepped Tyner to slot an excellent conversion, drawing it in beautifully between the sticks to level it up. Clon kept up the pressure and soon got some territory again. Tyner was to convert a penalty with about 15 minutes left to give Clon a 3 point lead.

Middleton stepped it up again however and got some excellent phases going.  They mixed it up well between their big ball carriers and their backs. They were not going away without a fight. With 10 mins to go Middleton dotted down under the posts. The conversion followed to give them a 4 point lead.

It was time for Clon to show that steel and fight that this team has shown all year. Ben Lovell, Owain Buttimer, Tony O’Connell and Daniel Godwin entered the fray to bring fresh legs and energy. Try as Clon might they struggled to get good attacking pressure. When they got close, good defending, handling errors or turnovers seemed to go against them. With the game on a knife edge in the last 5 minutes every refereeing call either way was treated with groans by one team or the other.

As we entered the final 2 minutes Middleton won a penalty which they kicked to touch on the halfway. They won clean lineout ball and moved it to midfield where they had a big ball carrier lined up. A good tackle and Matthew McCarthy got his hands on the ball to execute a fine turnover on halfway. The Clon backs quickly moved it left to Ben Lovell on the wing who made ground into the opposition 22. An excellent tackle by the last defender forced a ruck. Rob Downey quickly moved the ball to his number 10 who hit Chris Walton in midfield coming at pace. Chris showed great skill to get his pass away to Matthew McCarthy who squared up the defense before showing delicate handling to find his winger Tony O’Connell. A nice step saw Tony get within a few meters before the despairing tackle came in. Tony got the offload away to that man again Liam Barry. Liam Squeezed into the corner for the touchdown. That was the looseheads 4th tray in 2 games, this time giving Clon a 1 point lead. Some heated debate followed between the Middleton coaching team and referee about if there was time for the restart. Nothing was going to put off the unflappable Tynor, who slotted the touch line kick, this time from the right hand touch line to crown a magnificent kicking display by the second row. The ball sailing through the posts brought the final whistle and the Clon Players and supporters wild celebrations.

This Clon team don’t know when they are beaten. They kept on fighting for each other and always have the courage to play Rugby with the ball in hand. The final score epitomized how they play. A poach against the odds, slick hands by the backs down one side, a sweeping move back across the field with all 3 front rows showing superb hands and running lines linking with the 10 and 14 to finish in the corner. A fully deserved win at the end of a pulsating game. A game that took 2 good sides who played hard and fast rugby all the way to serve up.

The Final awaits next weekend against Mallow on Sunday 31st in Irish Independent Park. The 6.15 kick-off will draw the curtain on a day of Munster Youth Rugby finals at the Venue. This team has had to battle hard to reach this stage. The result is not guaranteed but heart and entertainment are, so come along and support. I wouldn’t bet against this bunch on the result either!


Clonakilty Panel: Liam Barry, Matthew McCarthy, Danial Godwin, Thomas Tyner, Stephen O’Hea, Joe Collins, Darragh O’Connor, John Allen Byrne, Craig Bateman, Jamie Santry, Kyle Buttimer, Chris Walton, Rob Downey, Michael White, Ben Lovell, Luke Kearney, Alex Hourihan, Fionn McPeake, Tony O’Connell, Jim O’Hea, Sean Sexton, Owain Buttimer.





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Donal Mac Sweeney Club Captain 2018/19

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