Munster U18 Cup Group 2
Young Munster 11 Nenagh Ormond 11
Tom Clifford Park, Sunday 6th January
Having qualified for the Munster Cup competition last year, Nenagh Ormond got their campaign in group 2 underway with a visit away to Limerick rivals Young Munster. This was always likely to be a tight contest and so it proved, with Nenagh coming from 8 points behind to draw level and share the spoils with the final scores tied at 11 all.
Although it was Young Munster who got on the scoreboard first with an 8th minute penalty, the early stages of the half were dominated by Nenagh, who threatened the line on several occasions without making the final breakthrough. Nevertheless, they got back on terms after 20 minutes with a well taken penalty from centre Conor McMahon.
With a discernible size advantage in the forwards, the home side made good ground in the latter stages of the first half, forcing their opponents into conceding a number of penalties, one of which was converted by out-half Aaron Kelley to give his side a slender 6-3 advantage at the break.
Nenagh started the second half brightly enough but when Young Munster broke out smartly from their own half, Nenagh were once again penalised for offside and referee Tomas O’Sullivan, losing patience, issued Ormond out-half Daniel Molamphy a yellow card and a 7 minute suspension to the side-line. Seizing on their opportunity, Young Munster piled on the pressure, launching their big ball carriers at the understrength Nenagh defence. Despite holding out bravely through a number of phases, the Tipperary lads eventually succumbed to slicing drive which broke their defensive line for a home try and an 11-3 lead.
Having to re-organise, Nenagh brought on Kian O’Kelly into the centre and moved Conor McMahon to out-half. This seemed to re-energise the visitors and they were soon once again back in Young Munster territory, pressing for the score that would get them back into the game. It came with 15 minutes left when a skip pass found hooker Dylan Murphy in space on the right. He carried well and then offloaded beautifully to Patrick Finn who sprinted to the corner and dived in for a well taken try. Conor McMahon was unsuccessful with the difficult conversion but Nenagh were very much back in the contest.
With their tails up, Nenagh started to take the game to their opponents, with Kian O’Kelly, Cathal Delaney and Jack O’Keefe particularly prominent. In a pivotal moment with 10 minutes remaining, O’Kelly sliced through close to the line and looked to be clear when seemingly brought down by a trailing Young Munster leg. The referee saw it differently however and penalised the Nenagh player for holding on when grounded. Shortly afterwards, Nenagh got another chance to score with a penalty from just inside the 10 meter line. Having missed narrowly with a similar kick earlier, Conor McMahon made no mistake this time around and the sides were now level.
Although Nenagh pressed for the winning score, the Young Munster defense held firm and both teams had to settle for a share of the spoils – a result which might have caused some disappointment in both camps however this was the first game of the campaign and Nenagh in particular will feel that they can improve on this effort. The Ormond lads will face Newcastle West at home next Sunday (13th) in the second round.