(Action from the recent U12 Girls Blitz in Shannon RFC -Credit Dermot Lynch)
Senior: Nenagh had their longest trip of the year thus far on Saturday last as they made the long trek to Eaton Park in Ballymena for the 5th round of their Energia AIL campaign. With an unbeaten record on the line going to this ground where they had not previously managed a win was a big hurdle to negotiate. As we have seen in the opening four rounds though, hurdles don’t seem to faze this side in any way and in reality for large parts they managed this challenge at their ease.
One would have been tricked into thinking it was actually Ballymena who entered this game on the back of a long bus journey as Nenagh looked by far the livelier side, especially in the opening half. Right from the off Nenagh set up camp in the Ballymena half. A combination of forward dominance, particularly in the set piece, allied to sharp transitioning on the counter attack from the back three when they had opportunities, were the dominant features of this performance. Conditions were extremely foggy and quite cold but otherwise favourable for attacking rugby.
In what was to be a recurring theme in the game, Nenagh gained their first foothold in the Ballymena half through ill discipline from the home side. A penalty was kicked to tough about 25 metres out. Kevin O'Flaherty secured good lineout possession and the Nenagh maul got rumbling steadily towards the Ballymena line. Again discipline let the home side down and with an advantage coming Nenagh spun the ball wide where Josh Rowland gladly accepted the chance to slalom in for the opening score of the game. Conor McMahon continued his rich vein of form with the boot to add the extras.
Having shown their strength in the maul the Nenagh pack backed it up at the next set piece when getting the shunt on in a midfield scrum to add to a growing Ballymena penalty account and with the radar tuned in, Conor McMahon pushed the early lead out to 10-0.
It was a tour de force from Nenagh in this period. Ballymena simply could not put phases together with their handling suffering badly in the face of rabid Nenagh defence. Having forced a hurried clearance from Ballymena, the Nenagh forwards had another lineout deep in the home team's half. Once more the maul went to work, this time after a good Jake O'Kelly take. The move broke down but after some quick phases the ball went wide to Conor McMahon who showed he’s much more than just a boot with a scorching break down the left wing. As he looked certain to finish he was taken out by a dangerous tackle from the covering Ballymena defender. As if the home team's woes were not bad enough at this point the ref sent the offending player to the bin for ten minutes and went under the posts to award a penalty try to Nenagh and save Conor the trouble of a touchline conversion. At 17-0 Nenagh were full value for their lead. Finally from the kickoff Ballymena did eventually establish some pressure in the Nenagh half. A good set of phases forced a rushed Nenagh clearance and from the ensuing lineout Ballymena won quick ball off the top to set up what should have been a scoring attack. Quite inexplicably though their out half attempted a speculative chip and chase and Nenagh recovered to win a defensive mark and clear their lines. Perhaps in frustration Ballymena soon coughed up another penalty, worsened by dissent from the guilty party, bringing the award into kicking range for Nenagh after an extra 10 metres were awarded.. Conor McMahon doesn’t need to be asked twice what to do in these scenarios and at 20-0 this was looking easy for Nenagh. With a short amount of time remaining in the half the Ballymena attack finally got itself together. Their no. 14, who up to now had been starved of possession, made a really determined carry up the right wing to establish field position. A series of attacks were repelled by Nenagh but they couldn’t clear their lines and eventually the home team got in for a converted try. Despite a nightmare 35 minutes up to this score Ballymena perhaps seemed fortunate to go in with just a 13 point deficit at half time.
Pride was at stake for the home team, who might have capitulated and shipped an embarrassing scoreline, but they were an altogether different team in the second half. They kept it simple, largely going through simple one out carrying phases but retaining possession much more effectively. Nenagh for their part were organised in defence and absorbed most of the onslaught at their ease. Ultimately the half proved to be a stalemate. Nenagh’s defence stood firm. Ballymena threw the kitchen sink at it in attack but really lacked the guile necessary to trouble a very organised red wall in defence. Eventually it was the home team's Achilles heel on the day, their discipline, that allowed the only scoring opportunity of the half. A high tackle gave Conor McMahon one last shot at the goals which he took for a final score of 23- 7 to Nenagh and four rare and valuable points on the road to Ulster.
Nenagh remain top of the table with a 100 percent record as they reach a third of the way through their year this weekend. After two away dates Nenagh return to home comforts on Saturday and Banbridge are the visitors on this occasion. Some really tough games have played out between these sides over the years in senior rugby. In fact the Co. Down team were the very first visitors to Nenagh at AIL level all the way back in 2005. A bonus point win was the outcome for Nenagh then. They may not have it so easy to get one this time but on their current form they will be confident nonetheless in the face of what will likely be another tough assignment. Kick off is at 2.30pm in Lisatunny on Saturday. This is a team playing really good, exciting, winning rugby right now and we hope to see a strong support turning out to back them up on Saturday
Team: (1-20) P Burke, D Murphy, C Skehan, J O’Kelly, K O’Flaherty, J O’Flaherty, J Healy, E Murphy, N Irwin, B Pope, C McMahon, P Scully, W Coffey, d Gleeson, J Rowland, s Frawley, J Hayes, J Coffey, C O Doherty, D Corcoran.
U15: A strong start and equally impressive finish allowed Nenagh to get the better of Ennis and make it 3 wins on the spin in the Pan Munster League, moving into second place in the table. Nenagh led 12-5 at half time, striking for two tries through their backs. Nenagh's threat out wide was evident from the off and they had the Ennis defence scrambling every time the ball went wide. After some great interplay between forwards and backs the ball went wide to Liam Flynn who showed his finishing skills to round the Ennis defence and score the games first try and put Nenagh into a 5-0 lead. Nenagh continued to cut open the Ennis defence and eventually their superiority told when Hugo Healy beat several defenders on the halfway line and used his pace to dot down under the posts. Charlie Talbot converted to put Nenagh 12-0 up. However, against the run of play Ennis reduced the deficit when their No 10 scored a fine breakaway try to leave the score 12-5 at halftime. Ennis, through their forwards, enjoyed a strong third quarter performance and they reduced the deficit to 12-10 when they scored in the corner after a great break by their No 7. While Nenagh had been the better team they were made to sweat as Ennis threatened to take control. In the last quarter Nenagh dug deep, rolled up their sleeves, cut out the errors and managed to hold onto possession for longer and put Ennis under pressure. After some great carries by Ronan Devlin, Oisin Gleeson, Daragh Boland and Michael Kennedy Nenagh were just held up and Ennis managed to clear their lines. From the resulting lineout on the halfway line, Nenagh secured possession and the ball went wide, was recycled and moved back to midfield where Daragh Meehan took a great offload from Pere, still had plenty of work to do but managed to beat several defenders and score Nenagh’s third try to put Nenagh 17-10 up. Nenagh kept taking the game to Ennis and after some great carries by the forwards the ball went out to Oscar Griffin who stepped inside to score under the posts. Charlie Talbot scored to make it 24-10 to Nenagh, which was a more accurate reflection of Nenagh's dominance. With the last play of the match Ennis no 7 made another great break but was held up just short of the try line. Nenagh refused to concede a score and from the resulting drive the ball was held up and the referee blew the full-time whistle. This was a hard-won battle and Nenagh are looking forward to the visit of unbeaten Waterpark next week. Training continues on Wednesday at 7.15 in Lisatunny. New players born in 2009 are always welcome.
U14: Nenagh Ormond played Shannon in a friendly last Sunday. Nenagh started well but struggled to gain possession in the opposition half. Shannon scored 3 tries in the first half and Nenagh replied with one. Aidan Ryan touched down after Sean Ryan made good yards with a powerful carry. Wholesale changes were made at half time and Nenagh managed to get a foothold in the game. Cody O Connor intercepted a pass in our own half and outpaced the defence to score under the posts. Cody also created the opportunity for another potential try. He intercepted a pass but was hauled down short of the line, Nenagh moved the ball quite well but unfortunately the ball was knocked on and the chance was lost. Shannon replied with another try and it seemed to spur Nenagh on. Scott Powell finished off a try after good work by the forwards and Anluan White also scored in that corner after some clever interplay by forwards and backs. Shannon scored the next try after the ball was turned over in midfield. Nenagh played well in patches with some players playing in new positions for the first time. The final score was 27-22 to Shannon. Training continues Wednesday evening, with our next game away to Birr next Sunday.
U12 Girls: The girls U12 team travelled to Coonagh last Saturday to take part in a blitz hosted by Shannon RFC. The girls had a very strong showing in their 4 games with some excellent rugby on show. A large number of our girls travelled, we were even able to send some of our younger and newer girls to play in some combined U10 games before they lined out for the U12s. All in all this was a very encouraging start to the season and good for the girls to put all their hard work into practice. Girls U12 training takes place every Wednesday evening from 7 to 8 in the rugby club, all are welcome.
Under 9: The Under 9s had an early start on the road Sunday morning, heading to Limerick to a blitz hosted by Young Munster.
We had 3 teams travel to play Young Munster, Ballina/Killaloe & Newcastle West.
We had a great display of rugby, with some great tries & even better tackling.
Under 9s (born 2015) train every Sunday 10-11am, please contact Sandra 087 7916690 to join.
Split the Bucket: Well done to all our recent winners including our most recent winner, senior player Jake O Kelly. Our Split the Bucket fundraiser continues to hand out a minimum of €500 in prize money each and every week. Enter for as little as €2 per week at nenaghormondrfc.com/products or access the link on any of our social media pages.
Your Club Your Country Draw: The Your Club Your Country Draw is a nationwide fundraiser run by the IRFU where all money for tickets sold within a particular club goes directly to that club. It is the main fundraiser for our club’s juvenile section for the past number of years. Tickets are available for 10 euros through our club website. There are fantastic prizes on offer with the top prize of a Summer Tour to South Africa to follow Ireland’s test series there. Log on to nenaghormondrfc.com/products to find the purchasing link. All support would be greatly appreciated as it goes directly to the running of our juvenile club.
Senior: Nenagh vs Banbridge RFC. Saturday @ 2.30pm. (Lisatunny)- Energia AIL
U18.5: Nenagh vs Portlaoise RFC. Sunday @ 12.00pm (Portlaoise)
U16: Nenagh vs Clanwilliam. Sunday @ 11.30am (Clanwilliam)- Pan Munster League
U15: Nenagh vs Waterpark RFC. Sunday @ 12.30pm (Lisatunny)- Pan Munster Conference
U14: Nenagh vs Birr RFC. Sunday @ 12.15pm (Nenagh College)