Nenagh Ormond under 18 – Munster Club Cup (Quarter Final)
Cobh 7 Nenagh 5
Having bowed out at the semi-final stage (to Skibbereen) at the same venue last year, Nenagh Ormond under 18’s returned to Cobh last Saturday hoping to reach the last 4 in Munster once again. With the group stages having been keenly contested throughout the province, it was clear to all that this game was likely to be a tight affair and so it proved as home side Cobh Pirates just about shaded victory by the narrowest of margins and only a conversion kick separating the teams.
With a preference for weather conditions conducive to their open playing style, the Ormond lads would have been disappointed to arrive at a wet and windy Cobh Pirates pitch for the second year running. Nevertheless, conditions were the same for both sides and Nenagh, playing with a strong breeze at their backs in the opening half, got off to a flying start with a try from full-back Dylan Knight after less than 5 minutes.
Despite taking the early lead, it was clear that Nenagh were in a battle from the off as the home team brought huge physicality to the game through their big ball carriers and solid set-piece play. Cobh enjoyed a good spell as the first quarter drew to a close when they came close to breaching the line on a number of occasions before being repelled by excellent Nenagh defence and a good relieving kick from out-half Dan Molamphy.
With the wind blowing straight down the pitch, line-out throwing was extremely difficult and as the game developed, the teams tended to keep the ball in play as much as possible. Although both teams carried well throughout, this meant that the game was intensely physical and somewhat stop-start from injury stoppages and handling errors in the difficult conditions. Unfortunately the game was also being frequently interrupted by the whistle of referee Chris Lyons, with an unusually high number of penalties, particularly at the breakdown.
Nenagh came close to a second try as half time approached but the home team managed to survive the attack when a penalty was awarded to them after a ruck infringement. With Cobh now heading into the second half down 5-0 but with the wind at their backs, there was a feeling that the game was now swinging in their favour. Although the home team found themselves deep in opposition territory early in the half, the Nenagh lads defended exceptionally well, again and again frustrating their hosts and managing to carry the ball well into the elements with huge determination.
Fifteen minutes into the half however, Cobh Pirates finally got their breakthrough when, following a turnover, substitute hooker Josh Crone barged through the scrambling Nenagh defence to score close to the posts, much to the delight of the local support. With the conversion successful, the home team were now in control.
Facing a seemingly impossible task, Nenagh showed huge character to work their way up the field in the final quarter, carrying the ball well against the wind with number 8 Jack O’Keefe particularly prominent. With 5 minutes remaining, Nenagh created a great chance when flanker Cathal Ryan broke towards the opposition line but unfortunately could not link with the supporting Jack Keyes and Cobh managed to clear from the resulting scrum. One last attack in the right hand corner with 2 minutes remaining gave Nenagh their final chance to regain the lead however when Cobh were awarded a penalty 10 meters out, they were able to avert the danger and see out the remaining minutes to claim victory.
Although falling just short on this occasion, Nenagh under 18’s and their mentors can be immensely proud of their performance in this match and throughout the latter stages of this campaign. The squad will now re-group and prepare themselves for a tilt at the north Munster cup which will close out the 2018/19 season.